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INTRODUCTION TO REVELATION

 
 
I. IMPORTANCE OF THE BOOK
 

Revelation is the culmination of all books of the Bible.

Revelation brings to conclusion the many prophesies of the Bible.

Revelation puts in context the end-time events for God’s purpose for creation.

Revelation is Christ-centered

 
II. AUTHOR
 
A. Justin Martyr directly affirms that John was the author.
 
B. Irenaeus (disciple of Polycarp, who in turn was a pupil of the apostle John) attributes the writing of Revelation to John.
 
“Not very long time since, but almost in our day towards the end of Domitian’s reign.” (Domitian died in A.D. 96, John was then allowed to return to Ephesus)
 
C. Others who support John as author: Clement, Origin, Tertullian, Hippolytus
 
D. John’s name specifically occurs as the author: Rev 1:1,4,9; 22:8; (cf. Rev 21:2)
 
E. Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Eusebius, Apollonius, and Theophilus, the bishop of Antioch all accepted Revelation as inspired Scripture
 
F. By the 3rd century Revelation was widely quoted as Scripture
 
 
III. OCCASION OF WRITING
 
A. John received a direct command to write Revelation (1:10-23)
 
B. Condition of the churches
 
1. Fierce persecution at times (not a universal policy in the Roman Empire)
 
One Christian already executed, Re 2:13
 
2. Serious problems within the churches
 
· Ephesus, Re 2:2
· Smyrna, Re 2:10
· Pergamum, Re 2:13
· Thyatria, Re 2:22
· Philadelphia, Re 3:10
 
 
IV. DATE OF WRITING
A.D. 96
 
 
V. PLACE OF WRITING
 
Patmos, a penal colony (where John was exiled)
 
A small rocky island in the Aegean Sea, 30 miles from Ephesus, 6-8 miles long and one mile wide.
 
 
VI. PURPOSES
 
A. To give the final truth about Jesus Christ – the unveiling of his person, power, and purpose (Re 1:1). 
 
B. To show the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of Christ.
 
C. To give a new perspective on history.
 
D. To give incentive to holy living.
 
E. To show that God will ultimately deal with the problem of evil.
 
F. To give a preview of future events
 
 
VII. THEME:
 
The revelation of Jesus Christ — Re 1:1 (cf. Re 1:7; 3:11 22:30)
 
Revelation is Christ-centered
 
 
 
VIII. KEYWORDS:
 
“revelation” (unveiling)
 
“lamb” (29 times)
 
 
 
IX. KEY VERSE:
 
Re 1:19, “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”
 
 
 
X. ADDRESSEES (Re 1:11)
 
A. All churches situated in Proconsular Asia.
 
B. Churches selected as representatives for churches today.
 
C. Located in the western third of Turkey today.
 
D. John came to Ephesus in A.D. 67-70 (Ephesus, the capital of Proconsular Asia). 
 
 
 
XI. REASONS REVELATION SHOULD BE CLEARLY UNDERSTOOD
 
A. It is a “revelation” (apocalypse) which means an unveiling
 
(contrast to an apocryphal book which is hidden)
 
B. Revelation is not a sealed book (Re 22:10)
 
C. A blessing is promised to the person that reads and to them that hear the words of this prophecy (Re 1:3)
 
D. The last analysis of the book is simple (Re 1:19).
 
 
XII. THEOLOGY
 
Christological (Re 1:1-3; cf. 5:47; 19:11,16, 17; 21:9)
 
A. Person of Christ – chapter one
 
B. Glorious reign of Christ (complete victory over Satan)
 
 
XIII. APOCALYPTIC CHARACTER OF THE BOOK
 
A. An apocalyptic book unfolds the future.
 
B. “apokalysis” –removing of a veil; Revelation was written to be understood
 
C. Symbolism of the book is found elsewhere – no less than 400 allusions to the Old Testament
 
D. Daniel and Ezekiel were similar in style
 
 
XIV. MISCELLANEOUS MATTER
 
A. Revelation is the capstone of Scripture.
 
B. Revelation is the only prophetical book in the New Testament.
 
C. Revelation bears similar features to the book of Daniel.
 
D. Revelation is the only book with a promise of blessing to readers (Re 1:3).
 
E. Contains 22 chapters, 404 verses, and 12,000 words.
 
1. 285 verses contain Old Testament language
 
2. 70 references to angels
 
3. No quote from the Old Testament
 
F. Corresponds to Daniel of the Old Testament
 
G. Seven beatitudes: Re 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7,14
 
H. The chronological construction of the book gives the prophetic program (Re 1:19)
 
I. Over one-half of the book describes the tribulation period
 
J. The number seven occurs frequently throughout the book
 
K. A prophecy is a prevision of the future
 
L. Revelation was written in order to be understood
 
M. The symbolism of the book furnishes the key to the interpretation of the book
 
N. Revelation is a book of consummation
 
 
 
XV. INTERPRETATIONS
 
A. ALLEGORICAL VIEW
 
1. Definition: the book of Revelation is an extensive allegory interpreted non-literally.
2. Symbolic picture of the struggle between good and evil.
3. Originated in the Alexandrian school (Clement of Alexandria, Origin).
4. Goes far beyond natural symbolism.
5. Influenced Augustine and Jerome.
6. Problem: too subjective.
 
B. PRETERIST VIEW
 
1. Definition: Latin for “past.” Revelation has already been fulfilled in the early church (by the time of Constantine, A.D. 312).
2. A symbolic history of the first century
3. Problem:
-ignores specific predictions (Re 1:3, 19; 22:18,19);
-gives arbitrary meaning to symbols
 
C. HISTORICAL VIEW
 
1. Definition: the book of Revelation is a symbolic picture of the history of the church between the first and second comings of Christ.
 
2. Held by many post-millennialists who believe that the world is getting better and this will usher in the Kingdom of Christ.
 
3. Problem: No two interpreters agree as to which passage refers to which event. Each finds fulfillment of a given passage in his generation.
 
D. FUTURISTIC VIEW
 
1. Limited to conservative scholars.
2. Allows for literal (normal) interpretation of prophecy while recognizing symbolism.
3. Offers a relatively clear understanding of the principal events of future fulfillment.
4. Structure of the book revolves around chronology:·
1-3, Church Age
4-22, Future Events
5. Objection: Those opposed to this view say that Revelation would not comfort believers if it were largely future
 
 
 
XVI. OUTLINE
 
INTRODUCTION, 1:1-8
 
Prologue, 1:1-32.
Salutation, 1:4-8
 
I. “THINGS YOU HAVE SEEN” (Chapter one)
 
· The glorified Christ, 1:9-20
 
II. THINGS WHICH ARE” (Chapters two and three)
 
· Seven messages to the churches, 2:1-3:22
 
III. “THINGS WHICH SHALL BE” (4:1-22:5)
 
A. The Church at the Heavenly Throne, 4
B. Seven-sealed Scroll of the Tribulation, 5
C. Tribulation, 6:1-18:24
D. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb, 19:1-10
E. Second Coming, 19:11-21
F. Millennium, 20
G. New Heaven and Earth, 21:1-22:5
 
CONCLUSION, 22:6-21
 
1. Epilogue, 22:6-20
2. Benediction, 22:21
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