Presentation on theme: "Study on the Book of Revelation. Overview Revelation completes the themes and narrative of the whole Bible in an uncanny fashion. Revelation provides."— Presentation transcript:
Study on the Book of Revelation
Overview Revelation completes the themes and narrative of the whole Bible in an uncanny fashion. Revelation provides the greatest amount of closure in the culmination of human history and the victory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation gives us images of Jesus as He is the central character in the whole book and shows us what He is like.
Author Revelation was written by the apostle John, who is known as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” in the Gospel of John. It is believed that John was one of the elders or pastors in Asia Minor when he was exiled to Patmos. According to tradition, John is the only apostle to not be martyred despite attempts to the contrary.
Author Some have suggested that there was another “John the Elder” from Ephesus who wrote this book, but this is based on a later church father. The sources and Church Fathers closest to the first century credit John the Apostle with its authorship. We can quite firmly agree that John wrote this book as tradition suggests.
Date and Place of Writing Historical Possibilities The Reign of Nero (54-68 AD). This was the first wave of persecution particularly devastating to the church. Nero used the empire’s power to hunt Christians down and torture them, and he tended to blame them for his political problems. The Reign of Domitian (81-96 AD). Domitian also used the state to hunt Christians and torture them. He is the one who exiled John to Patmos for one year (95-96 AD), yet John returned because his reign was over in 96 AD.
Date and Place of Writing Date Date depends on historical setting. Choosing Nero’s era is believed to be too early. Revelation cites several internal conflicts in the Church, including their love growing cold, which would not happen even 20 years after Christ’s ascension. Domitian is the better option because John tells us that he is exiled on Patmos, for one. Plus, it leaves enough time for internal Church issues.
Audience Revelation 1:4ff tells us about the audience, the fledgling churches throughout the Roman province of Asia Minor. There are seven churches in Asia Minor specifically addressed in the opening of Revelation and chapters 2-3. These would have most likely been Gentile- based churches, although each church would have contained Hellenized (Greek culture) Jews as well.
Audience Although the historical audience is the seven churches in Asia Minor, the book of Revelation would have been circulated among many of the churches. The audience of the book is the church present now. We are also an audience of Revelation as we seek to understand this prophetic message for us. It is meant not only for them then but for us to apply now.
Setting and Purpose Setting Emperor Worship was a big deal for the church to deal with. The Emperors began proclaiming themselves gods and demanding worship from their provinces. A common hail was “Caesar is Lord” which every Christian changed to “Jesus is Lord.” Persecution of believers was dialed up several notches and most lived in fear of physical, social, political and economic persecution.
Setting and Purpose Setting The end times are used by John as a backdrop to show that Jesus will indeed repay every wrong, will avenge the persecuted saints. Each image is one of victory against the worst evil. Purpose John wrote visions, prophecy, apocalypse and imagery to show Jesus as Victor and Judge to encourage the persecuted Church. John also wrote a warning to those who violated the Church that the Judge would soon reign with justice for His persecuted people. Jesus is not just a far off Victor but a present Lord who suffers with us in our persecutions.
Interpretive Methods Preterist – most if not all of the events found in the book of Revelation were meant for and fulfilled in the first century AD. Historical – every part of Revelation is about the Church throughout the ages and its historical happenings. They usually denote seven different church ages according to the book. Idealist/Spiritualist – the book is primarily figurative and symbolic, full of timeless truths rather than tied to any specific persons or events.
Interpretive Methods Futurist – a literal view that everything in the book especially after chapter 4 or 6 has yet to happen and will be part of the happening of the end times and the coming of Christ. Old Testament Prophetic – Much like the futurist, it interprets Revelation as one would address the Old Testament Prophets, a future prophecy with present consequences for its audience.
1. Preterist AdvantageDisadvantage The book in its original setting is for the churches in Asia Minor, and it says so as it opens with the declaration of its audience. They would have best understood the imagery. The book, although addressed to specific first century churches, would have been circulated beyond these churches and refers much to the Church in a much larger view than the original audience, and the cosmic imagery and events seem to be more universal than just for these seven churches.
2. Historicist AdvantageDisadvantage This seems to fit well with the first part of the book where there are imagery and language for the churches that seem to be useful for the church in different ages today, like when the church grows cold for its first love. There is no clear connection that John would have done this on purpose or would have known that the church throughout the ages would have these historical ties. The historical view also does not fully account for everything in the book and at times has to stretch its interpretation.
3. Idealist/Spiritualist AdvantageDisadvantage Because of the many apocalyptic, cosmic and symbolic images, events and numbers, this view lends itself quite nicely to the book’s framework. It also helps to make the book applicable to every believer in every time period and situation. It neglects some of the clearly futuristic events such as the Millennial Reign of Christ and also the letters to the churches which are quite literal and historical rather than symbolic. The actual events are given to us as events that have happened or will happen. It could minimize the predictive ability of prophecy.
4. Futurist AdvantageDisadvantage This view takes literally the events and people in the book and it allows free reign for predictive prophecy, suggesting that these were indeed visions of John about the future, and the struggle is to explain a future he does not understand. The view minimizes the symbolism in the book and the apocalyptic imagery attempting to make literal what is intentionally symbolic. It stretches interpretation to make sense of cosmic imagery.
Literary Genre Revelation is an apocalypse, a specific type of genre in which symbols and images are used to convey truth. Apocalypse was used by the prophets from time to time in the Old Testament, but is most notably a specific genre form from about 200 BC through the first and even second centuries AD.
Literary Genre Apocalypse tended to have certain characteristics: Pseudo Author – a made up name, or the name of an Old Testament author, would be used to give credibility to the work. Symbolic cosmic images that were not taken literally but represented a certain position or idea. A prophetic recounting of already finished history, almost like telling someone about something that already happened, but doing it in a way that makes the work sound like it was written before it happened.
Literary Genre Revelation is markedly different as an apocalypse: John tells us it is him and makes no pseudo name at all. He makes no claim to someone else’s fame. John does indeed use symbolic and cosmic imagery throughout Revelation, so we will be aware of such images as they arise and discuss them as much as we can know what they are and mean for him. John does not retell history. He foretells what God is going to do in the end times.
Literary Genre Revelation also contains marks of an epistle, or Greek form letter in these ways and areas: Salutation and Audience Address (Rev 1:1-9) Mini epistles to seven churches (Rev 2-3) Epilogue (Rev 22:6-21) Revelation contains predictive prophecy of the future and allusions to Old Testament prophecies throughout the book. Revelation contains poetry sections as well throughout the book.
Theological Themes The Victory of God – Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb who holds all power over human history and is in complete control over what happens through final salvation and judgment. The Finite Rule of Evil – Evil will reign for a time and it will fully gorge itself on the human race, but it will not last forever. Evil’s days are numbered in Revelation, and God controls evil forces by His will and as part of His judgment.
Theological Themes Allegiance to God or the Devil – Throughout the book, the allegiance of every human being is clearly observed. No one is riding the fence in the end times. Final Judgment for Current Suffering – The persecution and suffering that we face as believers will be avenged by God through His wrath and the Tribulation. Evil will be judged rightly by the Great Judge!
Theological Themes Spiritual War Amidst Physical Existence – along with physically living in this world, there is a spiritual world that we are often not attuned to observe. Revelation brings that spiritual world into the physical world so we can see the battlefield and results. We are in a war spiritually no matter where we are physically.
Our Approach We will approach with humility – I confess up front that I don’t know everything about this book. There are prophecies that have not yet come to pass. I will not dogmatically force opinions I cannot prove from Scripture. Room for Disagreement – No one perfectly interprets this book, so if we have a disagreement, that does not frighten me. I believe that we can still hold fellowship without being mindless automatons. We will agree on the overall message of Revelation, but perhaps not on the details.
Our Approach Revelation will be viewed as images of Christ with the backdrop of the events of the end times. I will look for an image of Jesus in each event and apply that image to current Christ-centered living. I will interpret with a hybrid of the four interpretive methods, mainly using futurist and spiritualist frameworks impending on the strengths of each method. Theologically, my approach is that of a Pretribulational, Premillennial view of the book. I believe the rapture happens before the Great Tribulation and I believe that Christ returns before the Millennial Reign.