The Book of Revelation
The book of Revelation is a curious one; there is none other like it in the Bible. It is perhaps the most scrutinized and misunderstood section. While I will not make any attempt to explain it, I will offer some context as a guide:
- This book is written by John, but it is not his revelation; it is Jesus’ revelation (Revelation 1:1).
- John confirms the book is a prophecy, and we are blessed merely by reading it, hearing it, and taking it to heart (Revelation 1:3). But he doesn’t say we need to understand it!
- This book is a letter to the seven churches in Asia. Just as Paul, Peter, and John write letters to various people and different churches, this is another one of John’s letters (Revelation 1:4).
- The contents of the letter are supernaturally given to John in a vision when he is communing with God in the spiritual realm (Revelation 1:10).
- The purpose of the book may be found in Revelation 19:10: to worship God and celebrate Jesus.
We can consider Revelation in three sections:
1) Chapter 1 is the Introduction: In addition to setting the basis for the rest of the book, chapter 1 is awesome in that is hints at what our relationship with God can be like when we connect with him in the spiritual realm. We should not consider this unique to John, and we should embrace it as available to us—if we are willing to pursue it.
2) Chapters 2 and 3 Give Specific Messages to the Seven Churches: The letters to the seven churches are written to them. While we can receive encouragement from their successes and learn from their failures, we need to remember they are the primary audience and we are the secondary one, just like all the other letters in the Bible. We need to remind ourselves of their context and not make them into more than what they are intended to be.
3) Chapters 4 through 22 is a Future Prophecy: From the final nineteen chapters of Revelation, the intend is not for us to decode when these events will happen. After all, Jesus says, no one knows the time and date of when the end will occur. There is no secret plan for us to decode.
Instead I see three key things as I read the words in Revelation: God is awesome and worthy of our worship, Jesus is powerful, and for those whose names are written in the book of life (Revelation 20:15), the ending is a happy one. If you don’t believe me, read the last two chapters (Revelation 21 and 22) and be in awe—even if we can’t comprehend the details.
What do you like or not like about the book of Revelation?
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.