Summary: An introduction to the book of Revelation
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AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF REVELATION
1. Revelation is an UNVEILING.
The revelation [apokalypsis] (v. 1a).
- The word “apocalypse” comes from the Greek work apokalypsis (used 18 times in the NT). Sometimes Revelation is called “the Apocalypse.”
- Apocalyptic literature was filled with symbols. Many of Revelation’s symbols come from the OT books of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah.
- The book of Revelation is not a concealing of truth, but a revealing of truth.
2. Revelation is ABOUT Jesus Christ.
Of [about] Jesus Christ (v. 1b).
- There are many characters in Revelation, but Jesus is the main character.
- The Gospels reveal Christ in His humiliation; Revelation reveals Christ in His exaltation.
3. Revelation is FROM Jesus Christ.
Of [from] Jesus Christ, which God gave him (v. 1b-c).
- Jesus is the One revealed and the Revealer.
4. Revelation was written to the SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA.
To show his servants (v. 1d).
- These churches were located in modern-day Turkey.
- See 1:4; chs. 2-3.
- “Show” means to “reveal” or “unveil.”
5. Revelation was written to reveal FUTURE EVENTS.
The things that must soon take place (v. 1e).
- “Must”: These things are secured by God’s sovereign purpose and power.
- “Soon”: see 22:7, 12, 20.
- Does this mean “swiftly” or “without delay”?
- Illustration: “I’ll be there soon.”
- If “soon” means “without delay” what about the 1900 years that have gone by since Revelation was written?
- 2 Peter 3:3-4, 8-9
- People often ask, “Are we living in the last days?” Yes. But the “last days” began a long time ago. The whole period of time from the first coming of Christ until His second coming are the “last days” (see Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:1; 1 Peter 1:20).
- Illustration: 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988.
- “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32).
- “So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority” (Acts 1:6-7).
- Jesus said, “You don’t know, and you’re not supposed to know.”
- “The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (2 Peter 3:10). The coming of Christ will be unpredictable.
Five schools of interpretation:
• HISTORISM - The prophecies of Revelation are being fulfilled throughout history.
• PRETERISM – Most of the prophecies of Revelation were fulfilled in the early days of the Christian church.
• FUTURISM – Chapters 4-22 refer primarily to events that will take place at the end of time.
• IDEALISM – The symbols of Revelation do not relate to historical events but rather to timeless spiritual truths.
• MIXED – A combination of more than one of the above views.
6. Revelation was written by JOHN.
He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw (vv. 1f-2).
- Who is “John” (see also 1:4, 9; 22:8). He is the apostle John. He would have been well known to the churches of Asia because he ministered in Ephesus.
- There was a four-state process by which Revelation came to the church: (1) God gave it to Jesus; (2) Jesus gave it to “his angel”; (3) the angel gave it to John; and (4) John wrote it down for the churches (and for us).
- When was Revelation written? Possibly A.D. 95 or 96.
- Where was Revelation written? From the Island of Patmos (see 1:9).
7. Revelation promises a BLESSING to all who hear and obey its words.
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
- This is the first of seven beatitudes in Revelation (1:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14). One of the distinctive features of Revelation is its frequent use of the number seven (52 times).
- There is a threefold blessing to the reader, the hearer, and the “heeder.”
- Revelation warns and promises.
- Revelation is not just about eschatology; it’s also about ethics.
- Challenge: Read Revelation.