Revelation

by Dr. Grant C. Richison

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Introduction

Importance of Revelation

Revelation is the culmination of all books of the Bible Revelation brings to conclusion the many prophesies of the Bible Revelation puts in context the end-time events for God's purpose for creation

Author

A. Justin Martyr directly affirms that John was the author

B. Irenaeus (disciple of Polycarp, who in turn was a pupil of the apostle John) attributes the writing of Revelation to John

"Not very long time since, but almost in our day towards the end of Domitianís reign." Domitian died in AD 96, John was then allowed to return to Ephesus

C. Others: Clement, Origin, Tertullian, Hippolytus

D. Johnís name occurs as the author: 1:1,4,9; 22:8

E. Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Eusebius, Apollonius, and Theophilus, the bishop of Antioch all accepted Revelation as inspired Scripture

F. By the 3rd century, Revelation was widely quoted as Scripture

Occasion of Writing

A. Direct command (1:10-23)

B. Condition of the churches

1. Fierce persecution at times (not a universal policy) One Christian already executed (2:13)

2. Serious problems within the churches: Ephesus (2:2) Smyrna (2:10) Pergamum (2:13) Thyatira (2:22) Philadelphia (3:10)

Date of Writing -- AD 96

Place of Writing -- Patmos, a penal colony (where John was exiled)

A small rocky island in the Aegean Sea, 48 km from Ephesus 18-13 km long and 1.5 km wide

Purposes

A. To give the final truth about Jesus Christ the unveiling of His person, power and purpose (1:1)

B. To show the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of Christ

C. To give a new perspective on history

D. To give incentive for holy living

E. To show that God will ultimately deal with the problem of evil

F. To give a preview of future events

Theme: The revelation of Jesus Christ (1:1; cf. 1:7; 3:11; 22:30)

Revelation is Christ centered

Key Words

"revelation" (unveiling) "lamb" (29times)

Key Verse

"Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this" (1:19).

Addressees (1:11)

A. All churches situated in Proconsular Asia

B. Churches selected as representatives for churches today

C. Located in the western third of modern Turkey

D. John came to Ephesus in 67-70 (Ephesus, the capital of Proconsular Asia)

Reasons Revelation Must Be Clearly Understood

A. It is a "revelation" (apocalypse) which means an unveiling. (contrast an apocryphal book which is hidden)

B. Revelation is not a sealed book (22:10)

C. A blessing is promised to the people who read and to those who hear the words of this prophecy (1:3)

D. The last analysis of the book is simple (1:19)

Theology: -- Christological (1:1-3; cf. 5:47; 19:11, 16, 17; 21:9)

A. Person of Christ chapter one

B. Glorious reign of Christ (complete victory over Satan)

Apocalyptic Character of the Book

A. An apocalyptic book unfolds the future

B. "apokalupsis"--removing of a veil; Revelation is written to be understood

C. Symbolism of the book is found elsewhere no less than 400 allusions to the Old Testament

D. Daniel and Ezekiel are similar in style

Miscellaneous Matters

A. Revelation is the cap stone of Scripture

B. Revelation is the only prophetical book in the New Testament

C. Revelation bears similar features to the book of Daniel

D. Revelation is the only book with a promise of blessing to readers (1:3)

E. Contains 22 chapters, 404 verses and 12,000 words

1. 285 verses contain Old Testament language

2. 70 references to angels

3. No quotes from the Old Testament

F. Seven beatitudes: 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7,14

G. The chronological construction of the book gives the prophetic program (1:19)

H. Over one half of the book describes the tribulation

I. The number seven occurs frequently throughout the book

J. A prophecy is a prevision of the future

K. Revelation was written in order to be understood

L. The symbolism of the book furnishes the key to the interpretation of the book

M. Revelation is a book of consummation

Interpretations

A. ALLEGORICAL VIEW

1. Definition: the Book of Revelation is an extensive allegory interpreted non-literally

2. Symbolic picture of the struggle between good and evil

3. Originated in the Alexandrian school (Clement of Alexandria, Origin)

4. Goes far beyond natural symbolism

5. Influenced Augustine and Jerome

6. Problem: too subjective

B. PRETERIST VIEW

1. Definition: Latin for "past." Revelation has already been fulfilled in the early church (by the time of Constantine, AD 312)

2. A symbolic history of the first century

3. Problem: ignores specific predictions (1:3, 19; 22:18, 19); gives arbitrary meaning to symbols

C. HISTORICAL VIEW

1. Definition: the Book of Revelation is a symbolic picture of the history of the church between the first and second comings of Christ.

2. Held by many post-millennialists who believe that the world is getting better and this will usher in the Kingdom of Christ.

3. Problem: No two interpreters agree as to which passage refers to which event. They each finds fulfillment of a given passage in their own generation.

D. FUTURISTIC VIEW

1. Limited to conservative scholars only

2. Allows for literal (normal) interpretation of prophecy while recognizing symbolism

3. Offers a relatively clear understanding of the principal events of future fulfillment

4. Structure of the book revolves around chronology: Chapters 1-3: Church Age Chapters 4-22: Future Events

5. Objection: Those opposed to this view say that Revelation would not comfort if it were largely future

Outline

INTRODUCTION,

1. Prologue (1:1-3) 2. Salutation (1:4-8)

I. "THINGS YOU HAVE SEEN" (Chapter one)

The glorified Christ (1:9-20)

II. "THINGS WHICH ARE" (Chapters two and three)

Seven messages to the churches (2:1-3:22)

III. "THINGS WHICH SHALL BE" (4:1-22:5)

A. The Church at the Heavenly Throne (4)

B. Seven-sealed Scroll of the Tribulation (5)

C. Tribulation (6:1-18:24)

D. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb (19:1-10)

E. Second Coming (19:11-21)

F. Millennium (20)

G. New Heaven and Earth (21:1-22:5)

CONCLUSION (22:6-21)

1. Epilogue (22:6-20) 2. Benediction (22:21)