Genesis 1-3 are almost parallel to Revelation 20-22 (sometimes called the “New Genesis”)
Written by the Apostle John, this is the revelation given to John about Jesus Christ.
Revelation can seem long and complex—but it’s actually very well-outlined and what we don’t understand about it could be put in a very small pile compared to what we do understand about it.
Remarkable parallels between Revelation and the Olivet Discours (Matthew 24-25, Luke 21).
Revelation builds on several Old Testament prophetic books: Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the Psalms.
“Jesus in His [Olivet] discourse was clearly anticipating what He was to show John in much greater detail more than six decades later here on the island of Patmos.” (1.)
The “New Genesis”
There’s no shortage of interpretations on the book of Revelation.
“The Apocalypse offers to the pastors of the church an unrivaled store of materials for Christian teaching if only the book is approached with an assurance of its prophetic character, chastened by a frank acceptance of the light which the growth of knowledge has cast and will continue to cast upon it.” (3.)
Don’t come to the text with an idea of how you think things are supposed to be, but with “an assurance of its prophetic character.”
Interpreting Revelation: Hermeneutics
Hermeneutic: how we approach the Bible, the way we come to the text.
There are two ways a person might read Revelation: symbolic or literal.
We need to think carefully about how we handle this text.
Historicist: sees Revelation as a prophetic panorama: something that happened historically but not exactly what we hold to today. Generally post- or amillennial.
Idealist: sees Revelation as an allegory/symbolism, it’s a helpful book but not really the way we’d teach it.
Preterist: sees Revelation as having occurred in the past. The antichrist is a past Roman emperor.
Futurist: sees Revelation as describing events to come: eschatology. The antichrist is yet to come. Primarily premillennialists.
Context and theology cover a multitude of interpretational sins. If you spend time looking at the context in which something is written and integrating it theologically with the rest of the counsel of God, you’re in very safe lanes.
I would argue the only interpretation which uses a contextual, theological hermeneutic is the futurist interpretation. Revelation is written about something that is going to happen but has not yet been fulfilled. These things are yet to come.
Interpreting Revelation: Genres
“Revelation has been generically categorized in a variety of ways, the most common of which are as a letter, as a prophetic book, and as an apocalypse…” (4.)
Apocalyptic: (Ezekiel 1:1-14) Highly symbolic, the text is “lifting a veil” and disclosing or revealing something.
Prophetic: (Isaiah 53:1-6) Not all prophetic voice is something that’s going to happen in the future but revealing what God has said. Here, *prophetic is speaking specifically of something in the future.
Epistolary: (1 Corinthians) Teaching, instruction, clarification.
In Revelation, we have all 3: At times, Revelation reveals or unveils, some of it speaks to the future, and it is instructive in nature.
“The purpose of the Book of Revelation is to reveal events which will take place immediately before, during, and following the second coming of Christ.
…the book devotes most of its revelation to this subject in chapters 4–18. The Second Coming itself is given the most graphic portrayal anywhere in the Bible in chapter 19, followed by the millennial reign of Christ described in chapter 20. The eternal state is revealed in chapters 21–22. So the obvious purpose of the book is to complete the prophetic theme presented earlier in the prophecies of the Old Testament (e.g., Daniel) and the prophecies of Christ, especially in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24–25).
…In addition, many verses suggest practical applications of prophetic truths to a Christian’s life. Specific knowledge and anticipation of God’s future program is an incentive to holy living and commitment to Christ.” (5.)
The Seven Churches
A clear pattern in these letters: the Church is mentioned, Christ is described, Condemnation, Rebuke, Exhortation, Promise.
Believers are exhorted to holy living. Unbelievers are warned of judgments to come.
Chart of the letters to the 7 churches.
“John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:4-8
- God will ultimately and finally deal with sin
- God will ultimately and finally save His own
- Solemn warnings persist as long as it is day
- Every knee will bow
There is no other. He is the only God, King, Only One who is True and faithful.
The Bible opens with creation and a wedding and closes with the same. The bride is His church for whom He lived, died, was buried, and resurrected. He presents her to Himself the bride with no spot or wrinkle.
- Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1—7: An Exegetical Commentary, pp. 53-54.
- Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa, Talk Thru the Bible (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1983), 515.
- Swete, p. viii, cited by Alan F. Johnson, “Revelation,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews through Revelation, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 399.
- David E. Aune, Revelation 1–5, vol. 52A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1997), lxxii.
- John F. Walvoord, “Revelation,”in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 927.