Least read Book-Revelation

The Book of Revelation is the least read book of the New Testament and consequently the least understood. Although this book has often been neglected because of its mysterious character, it is the only book in the Bible which contains:

(a) A special promise to obedient readers (1:3);

and

(b) At the same time promises a curse upon those who tamper with its contents (22:18-19).

The central figure of the Book of Revelation is the Lamb of God – the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, the Lamb who alone is worthy to receive all honour and glory. The Lamb is mentioned 28 times in this Book. The word “revelation” means to “unveil” or “uncover”, and the intent of this book is to reveal the person of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 17:14).

The Book has a two-fold purpose –

(i) To encourage the seven churches in Asia Minor;

(ii) To reveal the future of the church, with a special emphasis on the “end of the age”.

The Book of Revelation belongs to a particular genre of literature, known as “apocalyptic”, expressing meaning through symbols and imagery. It finds its origins in the Old Testament and clues to its meaning can be gleaned by comparing Scripture with Scripture.

Genesis is the book of beginnings. Revelation is the book of the consummation of God’s great plan for mankind. The divine plan of redemption is brought to fruition, and God is over all. Revelation is the only book which focuses completely on prophetic events, for it reveals God’s program for the closing of this age. Please note here, not the end of time but an age. It tells of the revealing of God’s holy city, the New Jerusalem, of Paradise restored and accessibility once again to the Tree of Life.

The visions of the book belong neither wholly to the past nor wholly to the future, for the prophecies of God are written in such a manner as to be read, interpreted, and applied by each succeeding generation and most often have primary and secondary fulfilments.

That is to say some of it has happened, while some is happening, and some will happen, but to place the whole book in the future conflicts with Scripture.

The Praetorists could then be right in finding early fulfilment, the Futurists in expecting as yet undeveloped ones, and the Historicists in looking for fulfilment along the whole line of history.  History repeats itself, and the predictions of the Bible are not exhausted in one or even many fulfilments. Many prophecies have an immediate fulfilment for the day in which they were written, a further fulfilment in future years, and for an ultimate fulfilment in the drawing together of God’s great plans both for the nations and His all-enveloping plan of redemption.

We believe that the Historicists view is by far the best approach to hermeneutical investigation of the Book of Revelation as it produces an understanding that does not conflict with other scriptures.

In HIS hands Dr. Ian Traill

 

Outline of Revelation

  • Introduction and greeting (1:4)
  • The things he saw, a vision of Christ – (1)
  • A message to the seven Churches (Chapter 2 & 3)
  • A description of heaven with seven parts of the vision. (4-22)
  • The Seven Seals (6:1-8:1)
  • The Seven Trumpets (8:6-11:19)
  • The Seven imageries to describe people (12:1-13:18)
  • Seven Bowls (15 – 16: 21)
  • Judgment of Babylon (17:1-18:24)
  • The Return of the Lord Jesus Christ to set up His Millennial Kingdom (19:1-21)
  • God on the Great White Throne for judgment (20:1-15)
  • Eternal State with the New Heaven and New Earth (21:1-22:5)
  • Imminence of Christ’s return, Epilogue, the closing benediction, Christ speaks (22:6-21)

John’s letter is one of encouragement and correction.

The symbolic metaphoric language style used in Revelation was chosen to hide the true nature of the book from the unbeliever. The believers would understand what John meant and be encouraged. This however may have made the Romans very angry if they knew the meaning. Others, non-believers, found this language confusing. In much of the symbolism, John was portraying the account of Jesus’ life and death, the inauguration of the Church and the final salvation of the Church by the returning King.

Most commentators agree that the significance of Revelation 11 is that, whether it is symbolic or literal, the use of Old Testament imagery and its hermeneutical structure has theological significance, as shown in Hebrews 12:22 and Revelation 22:1. It is a Hebrew apocalyptic message like the Book of Daniel. John expands the prophecy of Daniel 2, 7, and 12 drawing comparisons to the beast of Daniel 7:1-8, to Revelation 13:1-2. John used apocalyptic language, referring to the Babylonian exile and how the judgment would come upon the offenders and the final Divine intervention to save the faithful.

It is advisable to have a historical understanding of that period along with an overall Biblical concept to understand the information hidden within. The Book of Revelation sets up the picture of the Godhead in its pre-eminence and holds them in their rightful awe and majesty.

In HIS hands Dr. Ian Traill

 

THE GOSPEL OF REVELATION

This is John’s final account. He was on the Isle of Patmos where he had been exiled by the Romans under Emperor Domitian, 81 to 96 A.D., because of teaching about Jesus and the Word of God. Patmos is southwest of Ephesus and west of Miletus.

The Church was under external pressure and the deterioration of society was forcing Christians to go underground. John wanted the churches to return to their first love through repentance, renewing their spirituality in the face of persecution, in the light of the Lord’s return. There is some dispute about the apostle John being the author of this book, but it is certain that this John had several churches under his leadership, thus we would conclude he was an Apostle too. The majority of early church leaders such as Melito, Bishop of Sardis, Ireneus, Tertullian, Clement, Eusebius and Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis believed that the Book of Revelation was written by John, the son of Zebedee, who also wrote the Gospel of John.

We may call the Book of Revelation, “The Fifth Gospel”, as it gives a clear picture of the life of Christ, His death and resurrection. It outlines the history of the Church under persecution along with a section concerning correction to the churches under John’s apostleship. The Book of Revelation covers the whole of Church history. Revelation records that John had seen things, the things that were happening in his present day in chapters 2 and 3. He was also commanded to write that would happen in the future chapters 4-22.

The apocalyptic writing style in the Old Testament is seen in Daniel, Ezekiel, Zephaniah, Zechariah, and many more are used when referring to end times. John, the writer of Revelation, draws from this wealth of synergy to construct his final teaching. The prophets of old as well as John saw the vision as an outflow of the history of the Church. Eschatological teaching and language were used to bring about a conceptual understanding of the world around the Church and what had happened, what was then happening and what would happen. The reader is impacted by the use of numbers, symbols, colours, stars and allegories to give a significant picture of future events. Many of the symbols had a particular meaning for that time, but some have applied it to our own contemporary situation, which may or may not be right. That is the mystery of the Book of Revelation.

Dr. Ian Traill