Category: Book of Revelation

The key to Bible interpretation, especially for the book of Revelation, is to have a consistent hermeneutic. Hermeneutics is the study of the principles of interpretation. In other words, it is the way you interpret Scripture. A normal hermeneutic or normal interpretation of Scripture means that unless the verse or passage clearly indicates the author was using figurative language, it should be understood it in its normal sense. We are not to look for other meanings if the natural meaning of the sentence makes sense. Also, we are not to spiritualize Scripture by assigning meanings to words or phrases when it is clear the author, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, meant it to be understood as it is written.

One example is Revelation 20. Many will assign various meanings to references to a thousand-year period. Yet, the language does not imply in any way that the references to the thousand years should be taken to mean anything other than a literal period of one thousand years.

A simple outline for the book of Revelation is found in Revelation 1:19. In the first chapter, the risen and exalted Christ is speaking to John. Christ tells John to “write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” The things John had already seen are recorded in chapter 1. The “things which are” (that were present in John’s day) are recorded in chapters 2–3 (the letters to the churches). The “things that will take place” (future things) are recorded in chapters 4–22.

Generally speaking, chapters 4–18 of Revelation deal with God’s judgments on the people of the earth. These judgments are not for the church (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 9). Before the judgments begin, the church will have been removed from the earth in an event called the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Chapters 4–18 describe a time of “Jacob’s trouble”—trouble for Israel (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 9:12, 12:1). It is also a time when God will judge unbelievers for their rebellion against Him.

Chapter 19 describes Christ’s return with the church, the bride of Christ. He defeats the beast and the false prophet and casts them into the lake of fire. In Chapter 20, Christ has Satan bound and cast in the Abyss. Then Christ sets up His kingdom on earth that will last 1000 years. At the end of the 1000 years, Satan is released and he leads a rebellion against God. He is quickly defeated and also cast into the lake of fire. Then the final judgment occurs, the judgment for all unbelievers, when they too are cast into the lake of fire.

Chapters 21 and 22 describe what is referred to as the eternal state. In these chapters God tells us what eternity with Him will be like. The book of Revelation is understandable. God would not have given it to us if its meaning were entirely a mystery. The key to understanding the book of Revelation is to interpret it as literally as possible—it says what it means and means what it says.

The seven churches described in Revelation 2-3 are seven literal churches at the  time that John the apostle was writing Revelation. Though they were literal  churches in that time, there is also spiritual significance for churches and  believers today. The first purpose of the letters was to communicate with the  literal churches and meet their needs at that time. The second purpose is to  reveal seven different types of individuals/churches throughout history and  instruct them in God’s truth.

A possible third purpose is to use the  seven churches to foreshadow seven different periods in the history of the  Church. The problem with this view is that each of the seven churches describes  issues that could fit the Church in any time in its history. So, although there  may be some truth to the seven churches representing seven eras, there is far  too much speculation in this regard. Our focus should be on what message God is  giving us through the seven churches. The seven churches are:

(1) Ephesus (Revelation  2:1-7) – the church that had forsaken its first love (2:4).

(2) Smyrna (Revelation  2:8-11) – the church that would suffer persecution (2:10).

(3) Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17) – the church that needed to repent  (2:16).

(4) Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) –  the church that had a false prophetess (2:20).

(5) Sardis (Revelation  3:1-6) – the church that had fallen asleep (3:2).

(6) Philadelphia (Revelation  3:7-13) – the church that had endured patiently (3:10).

(7) Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) – the church with the lukewarm faith  (3:16).

(How many of the seven Churches of Revelations sound like the church of today?)

Author: Revelation  1:1,4,9 and 22:8 specifically  identify the author of the Book of Revelation as the apostle  John.

Date of Writing: The Book of Revelation was  likely written between A.D. 90 and 95.

Purpose of  Writing: The Revelation of Jesus Christ was given to John by God “to  show his servants what must soon take place.” This book is filled with mysteries  about things to come. It is the final warning that the world will surely end and  judgment will be certain. It gives us a tiny glimpse of heaven and all of the  glories awaiting those who keep their robes white. Revelation takes us through  the great tribulation with all its woes and  the final fire that all unbelievers will face for eternity. The book reiterates  the fall of Satan and the doom he and his angels are bound for. We are shown the  duties of all creatures and angels of heaven and the promises of the saints that  will live forever with Jesus in the New Jerusalem. Like John, we find it hard to  describe what we read in the book of Revelation.

Key Verses:  Revelation  1:19, “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take  place later.” Revelation 13:16-17, “He also forced everyone, small and  great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on  his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is  the name of the beast or the number of his name.” Revelation 19:11, “I  saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is  called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.” Revelation  20:11, “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth  and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.” Revelation 21:1, “Then I  saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had  passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”

Brief Summary:  The Revelation is lavish in colorful descriptions of the visions which  proclaim for us the last days before Christ’s return and the ushering in of the  new heaven and new earth. The Revelation begins with letters to the seven  churches of Asia Minor, then goes on to reveal the series of devastations poured  out upon the earth; the mark of the beast, “666”; the climactic battle of  Armageddon; the binding of Satan; the reign of the Lord; the Great White Throne  Judgment; and the nature of the eternal city of God. Prophecies concerning Jesus  Christ are fulfilled and a concluding call to His Lordship assures us that He  will soon return.

Connections: The Book of Revelation  is the culmination of the prophecies about the end  times, beginning with the Old Testament. The description of the antichrist  mentioned in Daniel 9:27 is developed fully in chapter 13 of Revelation. Outside of Revelation, examples  of apocalyptic literature in the Bible are Daniel chapters 7-12, Isaiah chapters  24-27, Ezekiel chapters 37-41, and Zechariah chapters 9-12. All these prophecies  come together in the Book of Revelation.

Practical Application:  Have you accepted Christ as your Savior? If so, you have nothing to  fear from God’s judgment of the world as described in the Book of Revelation.  The Judge is on our side. Before the final judgment begins, we must witness to  friends and neighbors about God’s offer of eternal life in Christ. The events in  this book are real. We must live our lives like we believe it so that others  will notice our joy about our future and want to join us in that new and  glorious city.