Summary: This is the first instalment of a Devotional and somewhat Analytic commentary on the book of Revelation.
Just a word of warning. This first instalment is really long. This will not be the case for every instalment.
Also, the portion right under the text is a bit academic for some people. The cross-references are there for those of you who want to take this as a challenge, and use these devotions/sermons as a stepping-off point to delve deep in the fertile soil of the Revelation.
For those with the drive and time for such study, may you find many treasures as you dig deeper.
THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST
The book of Revelation is one of the most exciting and controversial books in the Bible. Marcion felt it was not a New Testament Book. Martin Luther felt it should not be included in the Canon of Scripture. Some charge that much of the image of Jesus in Revelation is antagonistic to a loving and forgiving God. Surely the picture of Jesus in the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ makes many people uncomfortable. It is not the image of Jesus come to establish the New Covenant (New Testament). It is the image of Jesus come to finally and forever fulfill the requirements of the Old Covenant. Therefore, some of the criticisms are valid, in that the book of Revelation is not fundamentally about the New Covenant. But the critiques are wrong that somehow conclude, therefore, that the book is not a part of the inspired Word of God.
Before we get into the study, you should know some of my presuppositions and biases:
? Many call the Revelation a ‘closed book’. I believe that Revelation is an understandable book. The first word in the book-apocalypsis-(?p????????) means the ‘unveiling’. It is not the concealing, or closing, or sealing, or confusing. It is the Revelation.
? There are 4 main approaches to the book.
1. One is that the book was written for Christians the end of the first/beginning of the second Century.
2. The second is that its predictions have been fulfilled already by various events in history.
3. The third is that most of its predictions will be fulfilled in the future, and
4. the fourth is that it is intended as an analogy, describing the fight between good and evil, and that good wins in the end.
Some commentators focus on one approach to Revelation to the exclusion of others. I believe the Revelation has a message to the church of John’s day, and for all times. Jesus, John, Peter, Paul, and all New Testament writers seem to understand prophetic utterance as requiring a literal fulfillment, therefore I expect to see literal fulfillment of the prophecies of Revelation, many of which have been fulfilled, and many of which shall be fulfilled in the future. The symbolic nature of the Revelation, also, cannot be denied. That it presents an apocalyptic perspective of events, in which God is in control of human history and good triumphs in the end, is undeniable. Therefore, I believe all four approaches have some valuable contribution. I will approach the text from all four perspectives at various times in the study.
? Of the 400+ verses in Revelation, there are more than 400 direct and indirect quotations of the Old Testament Scriptures. This should give us a hint as to the nature of the book. All of the symbolic images in the Apocalypse are found in, and should be interpreted based on, the Old Testament. Some early church father said, “in the Old Testament concealed, in the New Testament revealed” (most attribute the statement to Augustine). In other words, the wars, cultic practices, and prophetic utterances of the Old Testament are sometimes incomprehensible, but can often be understood when viewed through the filter, or lens, of the New Testament Scriptures. In the book of Revelation this trend is reversed. In the book of Revelation concealed, in the Old Testament Scriptures revealed. In other words, the images, symbols, and events described in the Revelation have a direct correlation with some passage in the Old Testament, and when there is confusion about the Revelation, a quick look at the Old Testament Scriptures will probably clear it up a bit.
? I feel that Scripture is the best commentary on Scripture. Therefore, this study has very, very few quotations and such. Instead, a verse-by-verse approach is used, with cross-references for verses in the Bible referring to similar subjects, and notes for Greek words for which some explanation might be helpful. This will be followed by my attempts to apply the principles taught in each portion to our lives today. In that sense it is a kind of cross-reference guidebook, with a devotional thought or two thrown in. I hope this approach is helpful and not distracting. Concerning the more academic, cross-reference portion, I leave it to the reader to study for him or herself to see if my conclusions match with Scripture. With that, Let’s look at the first verse of the book.