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Understanding Revelation


Apo means "away from" & Kalupsis means "a veiling" = The uncovering, the unveiling, or the disclosing.

Purpose of Revelation

  • To show the culmination and closing of God’s written Word.

  • To show God’s mercy and that He’s in control.

  • To be encouraged through faith and perseverance.

  • We are not living with just random events – there is a very specific ending.

  • Shows us Christ’s victory over evil, suffering and death.

  • It depicts the past, current and future battle between Satan and God’s people.

  • These battles show us the greater conflict between Satan and God.

  • A message from God to all who are concerned about the future.

  • Gives us concern for those who reject God and His Son, Jesus.

Literal vs Symbolic

  • Interpret literally except where the context clearly calls for symbolic reading.

  • Symbolic does not mean it did not happen – that it doesn’t have any historical backing - Revelation uses picture language to show historical reality. 

  • Interpretation should match the understanding of the author’s current time – which is why some imagery either doesn’t make sense or is used to explain two different things. 

** Example: the word “Star”.  “Seven Stars” refers to the angels of the seven churches (Revelation 1:16, 1:20, 2:1 & 3:1).  However, in Revelation 8:10-12 a single star refers to God’s agents of judgment and in Revelation 22:16 refers to Jesus.

Read Revelation in a Different Way

  • Read it like a pastoral letter to the churches – a letter meant to shape their perceptions of their everyday lives and to motivate them in their time of need.

  • Read it from God’s point of view – not ours.  This book is about His ultimate glory through His love, authority, mercy and final judgments.

  • As a message to each one of us. ** Don’t read it as terrible undeserving judgments – rather how God is ultimately fixing for us to join Him so there is no more sorrow and pain.

  • As a message to the entire Church.  

  • As a message to seven specific churches.  ** He provides us with what these churches are doing (good or bad), how to fix these issues and what they will receive if they do.

  • As a message of prophecy.  ** It WILL happen – there is no changing the way this ends!   

4 Types of Interpretation

  • The Preterist View – believes that the bulk of Revelation was fulfilled in 70AD, when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.

  • The Historicist View – revelation is a record of the course of history from the time of the apostles to the end of the world; it is thus still in progress.

  • The Idealist View – maintains that the prophecies of the Apocalypse are not specific events or indicate any specific historical or future happening. Rather, they are only poetry and symbolisms.

  • The Futurist View – a prophecy describing the culmination of God’s sovereign plan for the universe. 

John's Understanding

  • Revelation is divided into 404 verses, of which at least 265 contain quotes drawn from the Old Testament, and many from the New Testament. 

  • For John to write that many quotes from both the Old Testament and the New Testament – he must have had excellent knowledge of ALL the other books of the Bible. 

What was Happening?

  • Peter is martyred – 64–67 AD

  • Christians experience great persecution in Rome – 64–65 AD

  • Paul the apostle is executed in Rome – 64-65 AD

  • Jews revolt against the Romans – 66-73 AD

  • Gessius Florus, the governor of Judea from 64-66 AD, allows a massacre of Jews in Caesarea.

  • Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the temple comes to pass when the Romans destroy Jerusalem and burn the temple in 70 AD.  The second destruction of the temple.

  • John writes his Gospel and later, the books of 1st, 2nd and 3rd John – 90 AD

  • Domitian, the Emperor of Rome, exiles John to the island of Patmos where he writes Revelation – 95 AD

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