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The Book of Revelation. Book of Prophecy. Keys to Unlock the Book of Revelation. The book was written to be read. “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”. Revelation 1:3.

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the book of revelation

The Book of Revelation

Book of Prophecy

keys to unlock the book of revelation
Keys to Unlock the Book of Revelation

The book was written to be read.

“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”

Revelation 1:3

slide3

Keys to Unlock the Book of Revelation

The book was written to be understood.

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him toshow His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.”

Revelation 1:1

slide4

Keys to Unlock the Book of Revelation

We must understand that the book was written in symbolic, highly figurative language.

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent andsignifiedit by His angel to His servant John.”

Revelation 1:1

slide5

Keys to Unlock the Book of Revelation

We must understand that the book was written primarily about things that would “shortly come to pass.”

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things whichmust shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.”

Revelation 1:1

slide6

Keys to Unlock the Book of Revelation

The book was written to persecuted Christians—the seven churches of Asia.

“John, to the seven churches which 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.”

Revelation 1:4

slide7

Keys to Unlock the Book of Revelation

To understand the book is to remember that it was written about a spiritual—rather than a physical—kingdom.

“I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation andkingdomand patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Revelation 1:9

slide8

Keys to Unlock the Book of Revelation

One must realize that the book was not written in chronological order, as such, but rather in a series of repetitions, contrasts, and parallels.

“I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Revelation 1:9

slide9

Keys to Unlock the Book of Revelation

One must understand that much of the book’s symbolism is rooted in the Old Testament. (Though the entire book contains not a single OT quote)

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.”

Revelation 1:1

slide10

Keys to Unlock the Book of Revelation

Key to understanding Revelation is realizing that many symbols are alreadyinterpreted for us within the book itself.

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.”

Revelation 1:1

method of interpretation
Methodof Interpretation
  • Idealist (Symbolic) Method (Philosophy of History)
  • That there are few, or no, references in Revelation to happenings, whether at the time of the writing or subsequently. This view is concerned with ideas and principles on which God acts throughout human history. This view makes it relevant for all ages of church history.
method of interpretation1
Methodof Interpretation
  • Idealist (Symbolic) Method (Philosophy of History)
  • Objection:
    • No historical anchorage would make it suspect, in that no other Bible book or letter is so composed.
    • The writer would certainly have said a lot about nothing. Could have provided a shorter message.
    • The immediate needs of the Christians at that time would seem to be lacking.
method of interpretation2
Methodof Interpretation
  • Preterist(meaning “the past”) Method
  • Except for the specific happenings associated with the second coming, everything was fulfilled during the time of John and in the years that immediately followed. There are two schools of thought within this method…
method of interpretation3
Methodof Interpretation
  • Preterist(meaning “the past”)Method
  • Left wing
    • Generally made up of radical and liberal scholars who have no respect for Bible inspiration. This group believes John shared the ideas of most Jewish apocalyptists, who thought that the Messianic age would be preceded by severe upheavals of the earth and visitations from God upon the unrighteous. Since (they believe) all pointed to Rome’s destruction, and Rome did not fall immediately, then John was wrong. They connect Rome’s fall (in John’s mind) with the end of the world.
method of interpretation4
Methodof Interpretation
  • Preterist(meaning “the past”)Method
  • Right wing:
    • Believes the book was inspired by God. Whereas, the left-wing group would place all of the Revelation in the past, the right-wing group would make Chapter 20:1-6 “a millennial” and 20:7-21 and 22 still in the future.
method of interpretation5
Methodof Interpretation
  • Preterist(meaning “the past”)Method
  • Objection
    • No message for the present-day Christian (left wing)
    • No respect for the book’s inspiration (left wing)
method of interpretation6
Methodof Interpretation
  • Continuous Historical Method(Chronological School)
  • The Revelation is a symbolic picture of church events from Pentecost until the end of time.
method of interpretation7
Methodof Interpretation
  • Continuous Historical Method
  • Objection
    • No message for the Christians to whom the book was written. Yet, its purpose was to show them “what must shortly come to pass.”
    • This method attaches an undue importance to the apostasy of the Roman Catholic Church.
    • Leads to false time calculations. Assumes that the Revelation time periods are based on the theory that one day equals one year. Can’t be proven.
method of interpretation8
Methodof Interpretation
  • Continuous Historical Method
  • Objection
    • This method is not based on anything in Revelation itself. This fact allows for different interpretations of details, depending on the interpreter and the time during which he is living. Conversely, the book implies the connection of the church in John’s day with the events themselves.
method of interpretation9
Methodof Interpretation
  • Futurist Method
  • Objection
    • Inconsistent with John’s statement in1:1, where he said “these things must shortly come to pass.”
    • Visions in Revelation were to be fulfilled in the immediate future.
    • The immediate need of the Christians of that time would seem to be lacking; indeed, for all subsequent generations right up to the last. What encouragement does this view offer to the suffering church within the first-century setting?
method of interpretation10
Methodof Interpretation
  • Historical—Background—Prophetic Principle Method
  • Historical aspect
    • The writer wrote his message primarily for the encouragement of Christians in his own time.
    • The background of the writer’s own day is of importance in understanding the book.
method of interpretation11
Methodof Interpretation
  • Historical—Background—Prophetic Principle Method
  • Prophetic aspect
    • Biblical prophecy is not a matter of one’s own interpretation.
    • The vision (Rev.1:12ff) is God’s, and so are the spoken words (1:20).
    • All signs and prophecy are to be interpreted by God. The hermeneutical law of interpreting scripture with scripture must be followed.
method of interpretation12
Methodof Interpretation
  • Historical—Background—Prophetic Principle Method
  • Prophetic aspect
    • When the meaning of the signs in the book is made known, that meaning shall be adopted. When the meanings of the visions are not made known, we will appeal to scripture for similar visions for the interpretation.
    • Since the book is written largely in symbolic language, one must ask…
method of interpretation13
Methodof Interpretation
  • Historical—Background—Prophetic Principle Method
  • Prophetic aspect
    • What is the picture?
    • How does that picture fit into the whole book?
    • We must also keep in mind that Old Testament terminology is used in the New Testament meaning. Within the book’s 404 verses, there are 278 allusions to the Old Testament.
method of interpretation14
Methodof Interpretation
  • Historical—Background—Prophetic Principle Method
  • Prophetic aspect
    • The Revelation speaks to Christians in every age. When we find an event or person in which the prophecy finds application, we can consider it fulfilled in that event or person, but not thereby exhausted; for it is intended more for the purpose of showing us the forces of good and evil that make history (and yet not totally symbolic), than for the prediction of particular events.
revelation and apocalypse
Revelation and Apocalypse
  • Revelation 1:1 uses the Greek word “apokalupsis,” which means “tounveil, to reveal.” Used 18 times in NT.
  • “Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show.”
    • Jesus is both the recipient and the revealer of God’s message.
revelation and apocalypse1
Revelation and Apocalypse
  • The “Revelation” does have some marked differences from typical apocalyptic literature.
    • It is called a prophecy. (1:3; 22:7,10,18,19); and apocalyptic literature is usually distinguished from prophecy. This prophecy is given directly to the living writer.
    • The “Revelation” dealt with real churches that had real problems at the present time and needed to repent then.
    • The Revelation writer gave his real name (John), not a pseudonym.
revelation and apocalypse2
Revelation and Apocalypse
  • The “Revelation” does have some marked differences from typical apocalyptic literature.
    • The pessimism of the apocalyptic writers is not found in Revelation. The writing is optimistic.
    • Apocalyptic writers characteristically retrace history under guise of prophecy. From the standpoint of a person in the remote past, they forecast what will happen in their own day. Not so with the “Revelation.”
revelation and apocalypse3
Revelation and Apocalypse
  • The “Revelation” does have some marked differences from typical apocalyptic literature.
    • The apocalypses normally contain a great deal of vision explanation from the heavenly guide. Some of this is present in Revelation (17:7ff) but not like it is in apocalyptic writing outside the inspired writings.
    • In general, the apocalyptic writers looked forward to the coming Messiah. In the “Revelation,” the Messiah has already come and won a decisive, resounding victory!
authorship
Authorship
  • At the beginning of the writing, and at its end, the “Revelation” claims to be John’s writings.(1:1,4,9; 22:8)
  • John made the following claims:
    • Servant of Christ (1:1)
    • Brother and fellow sufferer (1:9)
    • Named “John”
    • In exile for the word of God and his testimony (1:9)
    • He himself “heard and saw” the things written (22:8)
date of the writing
Date of the Writing
  • Two possible dates—69 and 96 A.D.
    • The Neronian Period (69 A.D.) (Early)
    • The Domitian Period (96 A.D.) (Late)
    • Probably the LATE date
    • WHY???????????????????????
date of the writing1
Date of the Writing
  • Not the Neronian date because:
    • No proof the temple was actually standing in Chapter 11 is as symbolic as Chapter 21.
    • No demand that the Christians worship Nero as deity. The Christians are blamed and persecuted for the burning of Rome in the time of Nero (64 A.D.)
    • Neronian persecution seems to have been confined to Rome.
    • Investigations of Christians at this time separate them from the Jews as a separate sect without legal status.
date of the writing2
Date of the Writing
  • Not the Neronian date because:
    • No “burden” in the writing concerning Jerusalem’s awful destruction
    • No unanimous (seems to be a minority) holding to the theory of the “Nero Caesar” cryptograph
date of the writing3
Date of the Writing
  • The Domitiandate because:
    • The Nicolaitan party, of which there is no certain trace before A.D. 70, is now--in 90-96 A.D.--widely distributed and firmly established.
    • The persecution of the saints, as depicted in Revelation, better fits the Domitian period.
    • Caligula demanded that his statue be worshipped, although there is no evidence of any attempt to enforce the demand. (37—41 A.D.)
date of the writing4
Date of the Writing
  • The Domitiandate because:
    • Claudius reversed Caligula’s policy but drove Christians from Rome because of conflict with the Jews. (41—54 A.D.) (Acts 18:2)
    • Nero persecuted Christians in the Rome district but did not push for emperor worship. (54—68 A.D.)
    • Galba’s reign (68—69 A.D.) was too short a time period to initiate emperor worship.
    • Otho (69 A.D.) reigned too short a time to initiate emperor worship.
date of the writing5
Date of the Writing
  • The Domitiandate because:
    • Vitellius (69 A.D.) reigned too short a time to initiate emperor worship.
    • Vespasian (69—79 A.D.) and Titus (79—81 A.D.) were both practical men who were not concerned about emperor worship.
    • Domitian (81—96 A.D.) seems to have regarded himself as a god. The emperors, at least those before Domitian, did not impose emperor worship.
date of the writing6
Date of the Writing
  • The Domitiandate because:
    • The condition of the churches best fits this period.
    • Deterioration had begun in Ephesus, Pergamum, Thyatira, and especially “dead” Sardis and “lukewarm” Laodicea. (Not so at the time of Paul’s letters)
    • At the time of the Revelation writing, Ephesus was accused of “leaving her first love.” (2:4)
    • In A.D. 58, they were on the right track. (Acts 20:17-38)
date of the writing7
Date of the Writing
  • The Domitiandate because:
    • In 62—63 A.D., they are commended for their love. (Ephesians 1:15)
    • In 1 Timothy (64-65 A.D.), Paul made no mention of a loveless church.
    • Later, in 2 Timothy (67 A.D.), Paul would warn of the coming apostasy.
    • In Revelation, the church at Laodicea is said to be “rich” and “in need of nothing.” (3:17) In 61 A.D., the city was destroyed by an earthquake. This writing must have occurred considerably later.
date of the writing8
Date of the Writing
  • The Domitiandate because:
    • In consideration of a letter, addressed to Polycarp, to the church at Philippi, it would seem that the church at Smyrna did not exist in Paul’s day.
    • The beast of Revelation 17:8 would seem to fit better with the later date, in a much easier way.
purpose of the writing
Purpose of the Writing
  • To give Christ’s church the courage and motivation to be faithful until the end, even unto death (2:10)
  • To comfort the faithful
  • To warn the negligent
  • Accomplished by presenting the victorious Christ in a two-fold manner:
    • By His ultimate, complete triumph with His called, faithful, and chosen
    • By His ultimate, utter defeat of Satan and his forces
theme of the writing
Theme of the Writing
  • The glorious Christ and His kingdom (the church) are indestructible.(1:17,18)
  • Faithfulness is the key to victory.(2:10; 12:11; 17:14)
  • By overcoming the obstacles, they would win the reward!
numbers in the writing
Numbers in the Writing
  • Numerical Symbolism:
    • In Jewish literature, these symbolic numbers are found in many of the Apocrypha passages.
    • Seven is the most prominent number. It symbolizes totality and completeness.
    • Unfortunately, it is the improper use of these numbers that leads so many astray in their attempts to understand the Revelation!
numbers in the writing1
Numbers in the Writing
  • The following numbers are found in the writing:
    • 2
    • 3
    • 3 ½
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
    • 10
    • 12
    • 24
    • 42
    • 144
numbers in the writing2
Numbers in the Writing
  • Other numbers found in the writing:
    • 666
    • 1,000
    • 1,260
    • 1,600
    • 7,000
    • 12,000
    • 144,000
    • 100,000,000 (5:11)
    • 200,000,000 (9:16)
numbers in the writing3
Numbers in the Writing
  • Seven is the predominate number.
  • Occurs 54 times.
  • The entire book is built around a system of sevens:
    • “Seven” letters to “seven” churches
    • “Seven” stars and “seven” candlesticks
    • “Seven” spirits; “seven” lamps
    • Lamb with “seven” eyes and “seven” horns
numbers in the writing4
Numbers in the Writing
  • The entire book is built around a system of sevens:
    • “Seven” thunders
    • “Seven” bowls of wrath
    • “Seven thousand” killed in an earthquake
    • “Seven” diadems upon the “seven-headed” dragon
    • “Seven” heads on the sea beast
    • “Seven-headed” scarlet beast on “seven” mountains, and “seven” kings
numbers in the writing5
Numbers in the Writing
  • Seven is a conspicuous number throughout the Bible.
    • Seventh day when God rested after creation
    • Seventh day—Sabbath
    • Seventh month—especially holy
    • Seventh year--the Sabbatical Year, followed by the year of Jubilee
    • Seven weeks between Passover and Pentecost
    • Seven days—duration of Feast of Tabernacles
    • Seven lambs—offered on Pentecost
numbers in the writing6
Numbers in the Writing
  • Seven is a conspicuous number throughout the Bible.
    • The walls of Jericho fell after:
      • 7 priests, with 7 trumpets, marched around the walls for 7 days, blowing the trumpets 7 times, on the 7th day
    • Naaman dipped seven times in Jordan to be cleansed of leprosy.
numbers in the writing7
Numbers in the Writing
  • Twelve is the next prominent number in Revelation:
    • Spiritual Israel consists of twelve tribes
    • Persecuted woman crowned with twelve stars
    • Heavenly city had: twelve portals, twelve foundation stones, and twelve engraved names
    • Tree of life bears twelve manner of fruits
    • Also found are multiples of twelve--12,000, 144,000, 24 elders.
individual numbers examined
Individual Numbers Examined
  • Numerical Symbolism:
  • Number1
    • This number, because of its solitary position, can be associated with the idea of unity or independent existence.
    • It stood for that which is absolute, unique, or alone. One mind. (17:13)
    • Although the number 1 does not occur in the Revelation, it is at the base of other numbers that do appear.(10; 1000) (17:12)
individual numbers examined1
Individual Numbers Examined
  • Number 2
    • Two are stronger and more effective than one; there’s courage in companionship.
    • This digit came to stand for power, for strengthening, for confirmation—redoubled energy and courage.
    • Jesus sent out the disciples “two by two.”
    • It took “two witnesses” to confirm truth. (11)
    • Two beasts form a formidable enemy. (13)
    • Also, a two-fold instrument—the conquering Christ and the Sickle of Judgment--wages warfare against the two beasts. (14)
individual numbers examined2
Individual Numbers Examined
  • Number 3
    • Because of father love, mother love, and child love, the oriental mind came to think of this number as divine.
    • Found in the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
    • The divine number—God’s number
    • It denotes completeness/perfection. (Three woes (8:13); the three parts of the great city; three-thirds wrath)
individual numbers examined3
Individual Numbers Examined
  • Number 3½
    • A time, times, and half time—42 months; 1,200 days (1260/30=42) (42/12=3½ )
    • One half of the perfect number 7
    • Expresses incompleteness, imperfection.
    • It and its equivalents stood for the indefinite, incomplete, and dissatisfied
    • It, in context, always pointed to the hope of a better day or the end of an evil period.
individual numbers examined4
Individual Numbers Examined
  • Number 4
    • The number that symbolized man’s world (man’s number)
    • Four boundaries—N.S.E.W.
    • Four winds from four sides of the earth
    • Four walls to a city; house
    • Became the number of the cosmos (world)
    • Four living creatures; four angels at four corners of earth; four horsemen
individual numbers examined5
Individual Numbers Examined
  • Numbers 5 and 10
    • Came to describe a perfect man; a complete man was one who had all his toes and fingers intact.
    • The number five, doubled to ten, came to stand for human completeness.
    • In the Apocalypse (13:1), complete power in a physical government (world power) is symbolized by a beast with ten horns. (see Daniel 7,8)
individual numbers examined6
Individual Numbers Examined
  • Numbers 5 and 10
  • In Revelation, the following have doubled five to denote completeness.
    • Dragon (12): ten horns = power
    • First beast (13): ten horns = power
    • Scarlet beast (17): ten horns = power
    • Number ten, as a multiple, occurs in Revelation
    • 70—a very sacred number
    • 1000 is the ultimate in completeness, totality, perfection; completeness raised to the nth degree.
individual numbers examined7
Individual Numbers Examined
  • Number 6
    • To the Hebrews, six had a sinister meaning.
    • Six was the change that met defeat, with success just in its grasp.
    • Six had within it the stroke of doom and defeat (failure).
    • Six was the number that had the ability to be great, but failed.
    • To the Jew, six was an evil number (unlucky 13).
    • The number that falls short of a perfect number.
individual numbers examined8
Individual Numbers Examined
  • Number 7
    • This was arrived at by taking the perfect world number (4) and adding to it the perfect divine number (3).
    • Seven, as portrayed in the Bible, is the most sacred number in the Hebrew mind.
    • Seven—earth crowned with heaven
    • Seven expressing completeness via union (God and man) (perfection)
    • Seven multiplied equals 70 (70 members in the Jewish court; 70 sent by Jesus; the ultimate in forgiving (7x70)
individual numbers examined9
Individual Numbers Examined
  • Number 12
    • The number 12 is obtained my multiplying (3x4 equals 12)
    • This number became a well-known Hebrew symbol of organized religion.
    • 12 tribes of Israel—Old Testament
    • 12 apostles—New Testament
    • 12 gates to the city—Eternity
    • This number was re-duplicated to symbolize the ultimate perfect number, 144,000 (12x12x1000)
individual numbers examined10
Individual Numbers Examined
  • Number 1000
    • The number 1000 signifies completeness.
    • This digit always denoted absoluteness, totality, completeness, or all.
    • Deuteronomy 7:9
    • Psalm 50:10
    • Revelation 20:2,4,5,7