INTRODUCTION

REVELATION INTRODUCTION

 

Reference Scriptures:

1.Revelation 1:,1,4,9 and 22:8

2.Matthew 10:2

 

See this link for further details: John the Apostle

Author

Four times the author identifies himself as John1. From as early as Justin Martyr in the second century A.D. it has been held that this John was the apostle, the son of Zebedee2. The book itself reveals that the author was a Jew, well versed in Scripture, a church leader who was well known to the seven churches of Asia Minor, and a deeply religious person fully convinced that the Christian faith would soon triumph over the demonic forces at work in the world.

 

In the third century, however, an African bishop named Dionysius compared the language, style and thought of the Apocalypse (Revelation) with that of the other writings of John and decided that the book could not have been written by the apostle John. He suggested that the author was a certain John the Presbyter, whose name appears elsewhere in ancient writings. Although many today follow Dionysius in his view of authorship, the external evidence seems overwhelmingly supportive of the traditional view.

 

Date

Revelation was written when Christians were entering a time of persecution. The two periods most often mentioned are the latter part of Nero's reign (A.D. 54-68) and the latter part of Domitian's reign (81-96). Most scholars date the book c. 95. (A few suggest a date during the reign of Vespasian: 69-79.)

 

3 Revelation 2:10

4.Revelation 3:10

5.Revelation 2:13

6.Revelation 6:9

7.Revelation 1:9

8.Revelation 2:14-15,20

See this link for further details: Isle that is called Patmos

Occasion

Since Roman authorities at this time were beginning to enforce the cult of emperor worship, Christians--who held that Christ, not Caesar, was Lord--were facing increasing hostility. The believers at Smyrna are warned against coming opposition3, and the church at Philadelphia is told of an hour of trial coming on the world4. Antipas has already given his life5 along with others6. John has been exiled to the island of Patmos (the site of a Roman penal colony) for his activities as a Christian missionary7. Some within the church are advocating a policy of compromise8, which has to be corrected before its subtle influence can undermine the determination of believers to stand fast in the perilous days that lie ahead.

 

Purpose

John writes to encourage the faithful to resist staunchly the demands of emperor worship. He informs his readers that the final showdown between God and Satan is imminent. Satan will increase his persecution of believers, but they must stand fast, even to death. They are sealed against any spiritual harm and will soon be vindicated when Christ returns, when the wicked are forever destroyed, and when God's people enter an eternity of glory and blessedness.

 

 

 

 

9. Revelation 1:20

10.Revelation 17:1

11.Revelation 17:5,18

12.Revelation 21:9-10

 

 

Literary Form

For an adequate understanding of Revelation, the reader must recognize that it is a distinct kind of literature. Revelation is apocalyptic, a kind of writing that is highly symbolic. Although its visions often seem bizarre to the Western reader, fortunately the book provides a number of clues for its own interpretation (e.g., stars are angels, lampstands are churches9,"the great prostitute10," "Babylon11" [Rome?], and the heavenly Jerusalem is the wife of the Lamb12.)

 

 

 

 

13.Revelation 1:3

14.Revelation 1:4,11

15.Revelation 1:4

16.Revelation 1:12

17.Revelation 1:16

18.Revelation5:1

19.Revelation 5:6

20.Revelation 8:2

21.Revelation 10:3

22.Revelation 12:1,3;

13:13-14;15:1;16:14;

19:20

 

23.Revelation 15:6

24.Revelation 15:7

25.Revelation 17:9

26.Revelation 17:10

 

 

 

 

 

 

27.John 14:9-11.

28.Revelation 6:16

29.John 20: 21

30.Revelation 1:7

31.John3:16

32.Revelation 4:8

33.John 3:16,36

34.Revelation 1:5

 

 

 

35.Revelation 6:16-17

36.John 6:69;10:41

37.Revelation 1:6

38.Revelation 9:20-21

 

Distinctive Features

The Use of Sevens:

A distinctive feature is the frequent use of the number seven (52 times). There are seven beatitudes13, seven churches14, seven spirits15, seven golden lampstands16, seven stars17, seven seals18, seven horns and seven eyes19, seven trumpets20, seven thunders21, seven signs22, seven crowns22, seven plagues23, seven golden bowls24, seven hills25 and seven kings26, as well as other sevens. Symbolically, the number seven stands for completeness.

 

The Revelation of JESUS - NOW:

Dr. John Walvoord says, "It is a revelation of truth and Christ Himself, a disclosure of future events, that is, His Second Coming when Christ will be revealed."

 

Therefore, everything we read must be interpreted and understood in relation to what the events disclose about Him. For the blessing we must read, hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein.

 

Why? For the time is at hand for Jesus Christ to Come Again.

 

Revelation also involves God's self-disclosure. He want us to know HIM, and as He presents information, He also communicates Himself. To John this revelation of the person of God is always a central concern. In his Gospel, John showed that Jesus came in the flesh to reveal to us the Father27. The INCARNATION through which God entered history to share our humanity, was an unveiling that is recognized by faith. Now in the Bible's last book John describes another coming - one still future - in which Jesus' unveiling of God will be recognized by all mankind! Then "every eye shall see him"30. All those who have rejected Jesus as the one "who loved us, and washed us from our sins in own blood34" will see His glory, and "all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.30"

 

John's Revelation of Jesus Christ

 

The Unveiling

 

What was PAST

What is Future

(yet to come)

 

Who

Jesus in the flesh,

the Lamb of God

Jesus in resurrected flesh, the King of Kings.

What

Life, Light, Grace, Truth.

Wrath of the Lamb28

For Whom

Those who believe29

Every eye shall see Him30

Quality of God

Love31

Holiness32

Expression of that quality

Washed us from our sins in His Blood33, 34

Wrath35

Man's response

Believe in Him36

Praise37

Fear, anger38



39.2 Timothy 2:15

40.2 Timothy 4:1-4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRAYER

 

 

 

 

 

41.2 Timothy 2::18-26

 

 

 

 

See this link for further details: Schedule of God.doc

 

 

42.Zechariah 3:1-4

 

To know Jesus now as the one who loved us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve God and His Father brings believers joy and leads to praise. The Holy Spirit's presence in our lives surely causes us to want to study to show ourselves approved unto God39; He causes us to want to share our joy with others by "preaching the word, instant in season, out of season, reprove rebuke, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine40".

 

Yes, we believers are comforted by this Jesus we see in Revelation, but He brings terror to unbelievers and this stimulates them to intensified rebellion. God wants us to see Jesus as the wrathful Lamb. Only you and I, fellow believers, can read, hear and keep these things written in Revelation that points to history's end and only we, through John's vision, fully realize who is and how He will ultimately impact the created universe and on all the world's people.

 

 

Oh, God, we have many relatives and acquaintances who are blind to the message of Christ. We know of many others who are like Hymenaeus and Philtus who concerning the truth have deliberately erred. Make us servants of you, Lord, that we must not strive; but be gentle to all men, apt to teach and patient, and in meekness instructing them that oppose themselves. God, please instruct us in the rescue procedures to save them from the snare of the devil who has taken them captive at his will.41 Amen.

 

 

As we see the Lamb finally releasing His wrath, you and I will be better equipped to make daily choices and evaluate the present view of eternity. And we will have a far greater sense of what it means to live with Him who is the HOLY GOD Where Satan is resisting our relatives and acquaintances from truly living in Christ, it is though His power we can turn them into Joshuas and pluck them as a brand from the fire that is coming!!42

 

 

Interpretation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

43.Revelation 20:1-7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

44.Acts 11:6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

45.Genesis 2:1-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See this link for further details: Second Coming

 

46.2 Peter 1:19.

 

 

PRE- MILLENNIALISM

 

The time of the Second Coming of Christ is the key that unlocks all "Dispensational Truth." The vast majority of Christians believe in the personal return of the Lord, but they differ as to the time. They are divided into two schools, the "Pre-Millennialists" and the "Post-Millennialists." The "Pre-Millennialists" believe that Christ will return before the Millennium, the "Post Millennialists" that He will not come until after. By the "Millennium" is meant the period of 1000 years43. It is a common, but wholly erroneous impression, that Pre-Millennialists base their belief mainly, if not solely, on this passage in the Apocalypse. The fact is, the question of whether Christ's return will precede or follow the Millennium antedates the Apocalypse. The Old Testament prophets in plain language, and in glowing terms, foretold an era or age of universal righteousness and peace on this earth, under the reign of "Messiah the Prince."

 

That the disciples were not mistaken in their belief in such an "Earthly Kingdom," ruled over by their promised Messiah, is evident from the fact that Jesus never reproved them for holding such a belief. And after His resurrection, and previous to His Ascension, when they asked Him if He would "at that time restore the Kingdom to Israel"44 He did not say--"You are mistaken in your idea of an Earthy Kingdom, the Kingdom I came to set up, and that was meant by the prophets, is a Spiritual Kingdom," but He said--"It is not for you to know the Times and Seasons." That is, when it shall be set up. The whole teaching of the Old Testament as to the "Coming of the Messiah" is Pre-Millennial. The only use that Premillennialites have for the "Thousand Year" passage in Revelation43 is to fix the length of that "Age of Righteousness and Peace." In fact Jewish tradition, based on the "Sabbatic Rest" of Genesis45, taught that the "Seventh Thousand Years" from Creation was to be a period of "Sabbatic Rest," or what we call the Millennium. The passage in Revelation simply confirms this tradition. If this passage were missing and you do not weaken the argument; you only leave as uncertain the length of time that Age shall last.

 

The Apostolic Church was Pre-Millennial, and for over 200 years no other view was entertained. The writings of the "Church Fathers" abound in evidence of the fact. But about A.D. 250, Origen, one of the Church Fathers, conceived the idea that the words of scripture were but the "husk" in which was hid the "kernel" of scripture truth. At once he began to "Allegorize" and "Spiritualize" the Scriptures, and thus founded that school of "Allegorizing" and "Spiritualizing" interpreters of Scripture, from which the Church and the Bible have suffered so much. The result was that the Church largely ceased to look for the Lord to return and set up an earthly kingdom.

 

When Constantine became sole Emperor of Rome in A.D. 323, being favorable to Christianity, he united Church and State. A new difficulty now arose in the interpretation of scripture. If, as was at that time believed, Rome was to be the seat of Antichrist, the question arose, or rather was suspiciously whispered--"Is Constantine the Antichrist?" Such a notion was unpalatable to the Roman Emperor, and so a convenient explanation was discovered and adopted, that Antichrist was "Pagan Rome," and that the Millennium commenced when Constantine ascended the throne. This was given color by the great gifts and privileges bestowed on the Church by Constantine, and led to the claim that the millennial blessings of the Old Testament had been transferred from the Jews to the Christian Church.

 

But the claim that the "Papal Church" was the Antichrist would not disappear. When it was found impossible to expunge the Book of Revelation from the sacred canon, it was decided to lock up the Scriptures, and the Bible became a sealed book, and the gloom of night settled down upon all Christendom. The result was the "Dark Ages." But amid the gloom God was not without witnesses to the truth. The Paulicians, Albigeneses, Waldenses, and other sects, bore testimony to the Premillennial return of the Lord.

But the darkness was not eternal. When the fullness of time was come the "Morning Star" of the Reformation, John Wycliffe, arose, and was soon followed by the "Sun," Martin Luther, the brightness of whose light dispelled the darkness. The doctrine of the Premillennial Return of the Lord was revived, but the Reformers did not go far enough. The period was one of religious strife and the formation of new religious sects. The result was an ebb of Spirituality and the growth of Rationalism, which refused to believe that the world was fast ripening for judgment, and a new interpretation of the Millennial Reign of Christ was demanded. This interpretation was furnished by the Rev. Daniel Whitby (1638-1726), a clergyman of the Church of England, who claimed that in reading, the promises made to the Jews in the Old Testament of their restoration as a nation, and the reestablishment of the Throne of David, he was led to see that these promises were spiritual and applied to the Church. This view he called a "New Hypothesis."

 

He claimed that Israel and Mount Zion represented the Church. That the promised submission of the Gentiles to the Jews was simply prophetic of the conversion of the Gentiles and their entrance into the Church. That the lying down of the lion and the lamb together typified the reconciliation of the Old and New natures, and that the establishment of an outward and visible kingdom at Jerusalem, over which Christ and the saints should reign, was gross and carnal, and contrary to reason, as it implied the mingling together of human and spiritual beings on the earth.

 

His "New Hypothesis" was that by the preaching of the Gospel Mohammedanism would be overthrown, the Jews converted, the Papal Church with the Pope (Antichrist) would be destroyed, and there would follow a 1000 years of righteousness and peace known as the Millennium; at the close of which there would be a short period of Apostasy, ending in the return of Christ. There would then be a general resurrection of the dead, followed by a general judgment, the earth would be destroyed by fire and eternity would begin.

 

The times were favorable for the "New Theory." A reaction had set in from the open infidelity of those days. All England was in a religious fervor. The "Great Awakening" followed under Whitefield and Wesley, and it looked, as Whitby claimed, that the Millennium was about to be ushered in. That he was mistaken the events of history since that time have shown. It is evident that we are not in the Millennium now.

 

Nevertheless his "Theory" was favorably received everywhere, and spread with great rapidity and became an established doctrine of the Church, and is what is known today as the "Post-Millennial" view of the Second Coming of Christ, and supposed to be the orthodox faith of the Church. In short, "Post-Millennialism," as advocated in our day, is barely 200 years old, while "Pre-Millennialism" dates back to the days of Isaiah and Daniel.

 

The Second and Premillennial Coming of Christ is the "Key" to the Scriptures. All of the prophetical writings make it their eternal end. This is a dark world and the "Sure Word of Prophecy" is given as a light to show us the way over the stormy sea of time.46 Prophecy is not a haphazard guess, like our weather probabilities, it is History Written in Advance.

The moment we grasp this idea of prophecy and clearly see the relation of Christ's Premillennial Coming to scripture truth, the Bible becomes a new book, and doctrinal and prophetical truths at once fall into their proper place, and our theological system is no longer a chaos but an orderly plan.

 

Premillennial "Schools of Interpretation"

 

Premillennialists are divided into three different interpretations which are fundamentally antagonistic. These are:

Preterists understand the book exclusively in terms of its first-century setting, claiming that most of its events have already taken place.

Historicists take it as describing the long chain of events from Patmos to the end of history.

Futurists place the book primarily in the end times.

 

When all interpreters of Revelation are considered, they fall into four groups. The fourth "School of Interpretation" is the primarily the position of Amillennialists and Post-millennialists. This fourth position is: Idealists who view Revelation as symbolic pictures of such timeless truths as the victory of good over evil.

 

The "Preterist School" originated with the Jesuit Alcazar. His view was first put forth as a complete scheme in his work on the Apocalypse, published in A.D. 1614. It limits the scope of the Apocalypse to the events of the Apostle John's life, and affirms that the whole prophecy was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, and the subsequent fall of the persecuting Roman Empire, thus making the Emperor Nero "the "Antichrist." The purpose of the scheme was transparent, it was to relieve the Papal Church from the stigma of being called the "Harlot Church" and the Pope from being called the "Antichrist." It is a view that is now but little advocated.

 

The "Historical School," sometimes spoken of as the "Presentist" scheme, interprets the Apocalypse as a series of prophecies predicting the events that were to happen in the world and in the Church from John's day to the end of time. The advocates of this School interpret the symbols of the Book of Revelation as referring to certain historical events that have and are happening in the world. They claim that "Antichrist" is a "System" rather than a "Person," and is represented by the Harlot Church of Rome. They interpret the "Time Element" in the Book on the "Year Day Scale." This School has had some very able and ingenious advocates. This view, like the preceding was unknown to the early church. It appeared about the middle of the Twelfth Century, and was systematized in the beginning of the Thirteenth Century by the Abbot Joachim. Subsequently it was adopted and applied to the Pope by the forerunners and leaders of the Reformation, and may be said to have reached its zenith in Mr. Ellicott's "Horae Apocalypticae." It is frequently called the Protestant interpretation because it regards Popery as exhausting all that has been predicted of the Antichristian power. It was a powerful and formidable weapon in the hands of the leaders of the Reformation, and the conviction of its truthfulness nerved them to "love not their lives unto the death." It was the secret of the martyr heroism of the Sixteenth Century.

 

The "Futurist School" interprets the language of the Apocalypse "literally," except such symbols as are named as such, and holds that the whole of the Book, from the end of the third chapter, is yet "future" and unfulfilled, and that the greater part of the Book, from the beginning of chapter six to the end of chapter nineteen, describes what shall come to pass during the last week of "Daniel's Seventy Weeks." This view, while it dates in modern times only from the close of the Sixteenth Century, is really the most ancient of the three. It was held in many of its prominent features by the primitive Fathers of the Church, and is one of the early interpretations of scripture truth that sunk into oblivion with the growth of Papacy, and that has been restored to the Church in these last times. In its present form it may be said to have originated at the end of the Sixteenth Century, with the Jesuit Ribera, who, actuated by the same motive as the Jesuit Alcazar, sought to rid the Papacy of the stigma of being called the "Antichrist," and so referred the prophecies of the Apocalypse to the distant future. This view was accepted by the Roman Catholic Church and was for a long time confined to it, but, strange to say, it has wonderfully revived since the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, and that among Protestants. It is the most largely accepted of the three views. It has been charged with ignoring the Papal and Mohammedan systems, but this is far from the truth, for it looks upon them as fore-shadowed in the scriptures, and sees in them the "Type" of those great "Anti-Types" yet future, the "Beast" and the "False Prophet."

 

The "Futurist" interpretation of scripture is the one that I will consistently employ in writing my lecture notes and study materials.

 

Writing in Code

 

No other New Testament book resembles Revelation in style. Yet during its time similar Jewish "apocalyptic" books (books that symbolically picture the ultimate destruction of evil and the triumph of good) flourished. Authors, writing to persecuted Christians anxious about their future, predicted what would take place. Often, they used coded language to protect themselves; for example, they substituted a word like Babylon when criticizing Rome, just in case their writings fell into the wrong hands. The codes in Revelation are effective--so effective that few people today agree on exactly what they mean. Some people think many of the predictions in Revelation have not yet been fulfilled; perhaps John was writing about events that will come to pass in our own generation, they say. A best-selling book, Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth, interprets Revelation that way.

 

As noted above others explain Revelation in terms of the first century, concluding that many of the events prophesied in code took place during the Roman empire. Still others find clues to John's meaning spread out over 2,000 years of church history, or surmise that he employed symbols merely to describe an idealized battle of good and evil.

 

Two Dangers

 

Because of all the conflicting theories about Revelation, readers are tempted to respond in one of two ways. Some judge the book so perplexingly weird that they can find no reason to read it at all. How can anyone be sure of its meaning? Others fall prey to the opposite danger. They pore over Revelation and conclude they have discovered the secret explanation of each obscure detail. To the latter group, it may be humbling to learn that every generation since the first century has come up with different interpretations of the prophecies.

STUDY QUESTIONS

 

  1. Why is it important to identify the author of Revelation? Who would you say it is?
  2.  

  3. What is significant to you about the location of where Revelation was written? Please share your reasons with your home group.
  4.  

  5. What difference does it make when Revelation was written? Why?
  6.  

  7. Why is it important to see Jesus as the Book of Revelation portrays Him, as well as the way the gospels portray Him?
  8.  

  9. Around your house are you servant, priest, or king? What would your spouse say is your typical role? What role do you really want to be with God's help?
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  11. What three facts about Jesus are especially significant to you? Why are these so important?
  12.  

  13. What does the Second Coming of Christ mean to you as far as:
    1. Meeting together on the Lord's Day?
    2. Observing properly the Lord's Supper?
    3. Loving one another?
    4. Patience?
    5. Holy living?
    6. Watchfulness?
    7. Christian activity?
    8. Abiding in Him?
    9. Judging one another?
    10. Comforting and consoling those who mourn their Christian dead?
    11. Zeal for the salvation of souls?

     

  14. How far would you go to see a friend accept Jesus Christ? How would you go about to "pluck the brand from the fire?" Support your answers with Scripture.
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  16. As you mediate on the material you have just read and studied in this INTRODUCTION, what do you see? How do you feel? Is the overall tone too harsh and/or unloving? Is this more material than you care to study? How deep do you care to go?
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  18. Are you ready to dive into Revelation?

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GROUP PRAYER

 

Is there something our home group can pray with you about?