New Testament Survey: The Book Of Revelation
The Book Of Revelation
- John (Son of Zebedee) Mentioned by name 4 times: (Rev 1:1,4,9)(Rev 22:8)
(For more on John see: Survey: The Book Of John)
- Beginning with Papias (who Irenaeus said was a “hearer of John”), the early church fathers (Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, Eusebius) universally agreed that the Apostle John was the author of this letter.
- Because there are great differences in style and content between Revelation and John’s other writings, a small group of commentators have tried to attribute this letter to another man named John (i.e. possibly a man named John the Elder, or “Presbyter John” who supposedly was a contemporary of John and lived in Ephesus). However, the evidence for the Apostle John being the author is overwhelming. Some examples are:
1. In addition to the universal agreement of the early church fathers, all other tradition confirms John was the author. In fact, only a few years had passed after the death of John until Revelation was quoted and ascribed to him by writers (i.e. Justin Martyr [100 – 165 A.D.] and Irenaeus [130 – 200 A.D.]) who either knew him in person, or who had derived their information from those who sat at his feet.
2. The Bible tells us in (Gal 2:9) that John (along with Peter, and James the Lord’s brother) was a “pillar” of the church in Jerusalem. Tradition says that John remained in Jerusalem as a leader in the church until Paul was martyred in 67 A.D. After this, but before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D., John moved to Ephesus, where he became the “superintendent” of the churches in that area. It is almost certain that the 7 churches of Asia Minor that John focuses on in (Rev 2 & 3) are the churches he was in charge of for the rest of his life.
3. There are a number of key words that Revelation shares with the Gospel of John:
- Jesus is called “the Word” in (Rev 19:13) and (Jn 1:1,14). Other than in (1 Jn 1:1, 5:7), this is used nowhere else in the Bible.
- Jesus is called a “Lamb” 27 times in Rev, and two times in (Jn 1:29,36). He is called a “Lamb” nowhere else in the Bible.
- Only in (Rev 21:6)(Rev 22:17) and (Jn 4:10-15)(Jn 7:38) is Jesus described as “water.”
- Only in (Rev 1:7) and (Jn 19:37) is the Greek word “ekkenteo” used for the word “pierced.”
- The word “true” (Gr. = “alethes/alethinos“) is used 20 times in the Gospel of John, and 10 times in Revelation. This is by far the most of any other books in the Bible.
(Revelation also shares with John’s other writings the contrasts of light and darkness, good vs. evil, love vs. hatred, etc…)
- Chapters: 22
- Verses: 404
- App. 95-97 A.D.
- There was a great persecution of Christians that broke out near the end (95 A.D.) of the reign of Domitian (81-96 A.D.). During this time, Domitian exiled John to the isle of Patmos for proclaiming “the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev 1:9).
- Irenaeus (as well as nearly every other historical writing) confirms this in his writings saying, “Revelation was seen no long time since, but almost in our generation, towards the end of the reign of Domitian.”
** Note: Remember the important chain we discussed in our New Testament Survey: Pre-Survey, that Irenaeus (130 A.D.-200 A.D.) was a pupil of Polycarp (69-155 A.D.), and Polycarp was a pupil of John, therefore, there was only one link between Irenaeus (who was one of the most prolific Christian writers in history) and John.
- When Nerva very briefly succeeded Domitian as emperor, he allowed John to return to Ephesus, where he died a natural death several years later in app. 98 A.D., at about the age of 90 under the reign of Emperor Trajun (98-117 A.D.).
- Some scholars believe that Revelation should be dated near the latter part (the 14th year) of Nero’s reign (54-68 A.D.). However, several proofs refute this:
1. Since John did not even move to Ephesus until about 67 A.D., it would have been impossible for him to have established his ministry for a long enough time to write to the 7 churches.
2. The 7 churches were not even founded until about 55-58 A.D., and showed no sign of spiritual decay from this time to the 60’s when Paul visited them. (They were in decay in Revelation: 2:4,14,20 3:1,15-18.)
3. The term used for Sunday, “the Lord’s Day” (Rev 1:10), wasn’t used until late in the 1st century, and from the 2nd century onward. Before this time, it was called “the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7)(1 Cor 16:2).
4. The false teaching Nicolaitans of (Rev 2:6,15) are not even mentioned in Paul’s letters, and almost certainly did not gain prominence until well after his death.
5. The question should also be asked, why would Nero murder Paul and Peter, but only exile John?
- The isle of Patmos (Rev 1:9)
- Patmos was a barren, rocky (primarily volcanic rock) island about 30 miles in circumference, which was located in the Aegean Sea, about 60 miles southwest of Ephesus. It was one of a group of islands called the Sporades.
- The 7 churches of Asia Minor (modern Turkey)(Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea)(Rev 1:11).
- This was almost certainly a circular letter, sent first to Ephesus (the closest to Patmos and the most prominent of the 7 churches), and then working its way to each of the other churches in a clockwise semi-circle. (Because of its widespread distribution, it gained early acceptance.)
(Rev 1:3,19)(Rev 13:16-18)(Rev 19:11-16)(Rev 20:11-21:4)(Rev 22:18-20)
- The Revelation Road! (To any who deny the deity of Jesus, including Jehovah Witnesses, who love the book of Revelation)
Ask The Question: “Who is the “Alpha and the Omega?” (Their answer will be: “God.”)
Reply: Ok, let’s see if you are correct.
Go to (Rev 1:8) – Show them they are correct. Alpha/Omega, Beginning/End, right?
Next, go to (Rev 21:5-7) – Again correct. Alpha/Omega, Beginning/End.
Next, go to (Rev 22:13) – Again correct. Alpha/Omega, Beginning/End, First/Last.
Finally, go to (Rev 1:17) – Read then STOP. Confirm it is the same as the previous verses. Then, continue to (Rev 1:18).
Ask The Question: “Are you saying God died??”
Facts About Revelation:
- The word “Revelation” comes from the Greek word “Apokalupsis” which means an uncovering or unveiling of something that was previously hidden.
- The original title of Revelation (not Revelations) has always been “Apokalupsis Ioannou” or “Revelation of John.”
- Most consider Revelation a book of prophecy (more below). Jesus revealed the book to John in a series of visions, which John then recorded. He uses the term “I saw” 37 times.
- Revelation is a book filled with symbols and signs such as numbers, colors, animals, jewels, objects, etc…, with each referring to a different person or thing. Some are clearly identified in the text (i.e. “the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven candlesticks (lampstands) are the seven churches” (Rev 1:20), and “the dragon… called the Devil, and Satan” (Rev 12:9). Others have to be interpreted elsewhere in the Bible i.e. the “woman” (Rev 12:1-17), who represents Israel (Isa 54:5-6)(Jer 3:6-8)(Jer 31:32)(Ezek 16:32)(Hos 2:16), and “the great whore (harlot)” (Rev 17:1,15-16)(Rev 19:2), who represents the apostate church (Jer 3:6-9)(Ezek 16:30)(Ezek 20:30)(Hos 4:15)(Hos 5:3)(Hos 6:10)(Hos 9:1).
- About two-thirds of the 404 verses in Revelation refer back to the Old Testament.
- The events in Revelation are not in chronological order.
There are four different methods that are used to interpret Revelation:
1. Preterist: The prophecies of Revelation have all been fulfilled in the past, mainly in the later 1st century events of the Roman Empire.
2. Historicist: Revelation is viewed as a progressive history of the church from John’s time until the Second Coming of Christ. Some see it predicting such events as the rise of the Roman Catholic Church (ch.12), the Reformation (ch. 10), and Islam.
3. Idealist: Revelation is simply symbolic of the eternal struggle between good and evil. It contains no history or prophecy.
4. Futurist: Almost the whole book of Revelation, except for the first 3 chapters, prophecies future events that will occur before the end of time. Events are described such as the Tribulation, the Second Coming of Christ, the Millennium, and the eternal state.
- “To show unto His (Jesus Christ’s) servants things which must shortly come to pass” (Rev 1:1).
- To give hope to the saints that Jesus Christ will ultimately vindicate them when He is victorious over Satan and the world.
- To fully reveal Jesus Christ and show that all prophecy in the Bible points to Him.
- The book of Revelation begins with the words, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev 1:1). Descriptions of Jesus abound all through this letter. He is:
|“Son of God”||(Rev 2:18)|
|“the Almighty”||(Rev 1:8)|
|“the Alpha and Omega”||(Rev 1:11)(Rev 22:13)|
|“the beginning and the ending”||(Rev 1:8)|
|“the first and last”||(Rev 1:11,17)|
|“the Lord”||(Rev 1:8)|
|“Son of Man”||(Rev 1:13)|
|“He that liveth and was dead” but now is “alive forevermore”||(Rev 1:18)|
|“the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead”||(Rev 1:5)|
|“the prince of the kings of the earth”||(Rev 1:5)|
|“holy and true”||(Rev 3:7)|
|“the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God”||(Rev 3:14)|
|“the Lion of the tribe of Judah”||(Rev 5:5)|
|“worthy Lamb”||(Rev 5:12)|
|“the Lamb”||(Rev 5:6,8)(Rev 6:1)(Rev 7:17)|
|“Faithful and True”||(Rev 19:11)|
|“the Word of God”||(Rev 19:13)|
|“KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS”||(Rev 19:16)|
|“the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star”||(Rev 22:16)(Also see: Rev 5:5)|
|“Lord Jesus Christ”||(Rev 22:21)|
|Portrayed as the bridegroom||(Rev 19:7-9)|
- The number “seven” (which signifies completeness or fullness) is used 48 times in Revelation.
(“Seventh” is used 5 times.) Some examples of this are:
|“seven churches” (Rev 1:4,11)||“seven trumpets” (Rev 8:2,6)|
|“seven spirits” (Rev 1:4)(Rev 4:5)||“seven thunders” (Rev 10:3)|
|“seven golden candlesticks” (Rev 1:12-13)||“seven heads, and seven crowns” (Rev 12:3)|
|“seven stars” (Rev 1:16)||“seven plagues” (Rev 15:1,6)|
|“seven lamps” (Rev 4:5)||“seven golden vials (bowls)” (Rev 15:7)|
|“seven seals” (Rev 5:1)||“seven mountains” (Rev 17:9)|
|“seven horns and seven eyes” (Rev 5:6)||“seven kings” (Rev 17:10)|
|“seven angels” (Rev 8:2,6)(Rev 15:6)|
In addition, the “Lamb” was slain to receive “power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (Rev 5:12). (Seven things)
Those in white robes worshipped God saying, “blessing and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God” (Rev 7:12). (Seven things)
The word “blessed” is used 7 times: (Rev 1:3)(Rev 14:13)(Rev 16:15)(Rev 19:9)(Rev 20:6)(Rev 22:7,14).
- The words “overcometh” (and overcome) (Gr: “nikao“) (11 times), “throne” (Gr: “thronos“) (39 times), “write” (Gr: “grapho“) (16 times), Jesus as the “Lamb” (27 times), and “angel(s)” (76 times) are used more in Revelation than any other book in the Bible.
- The word “king(s)” is used 23 times. This is more than any other book in the New Testament.
- Three major divisions of Revelation must be clearly held if the interpretation is to be sane and coherent.
1. Things past, “the things thou hast seen,” i.e. the Patmos vision, 1:1-20.
2. Things present, “the things which are,” i.e. things then existing – obviously the churches, 2:1-3:22.
3. Things future, “things which shall be hereafter,” lit. “after these,” i.e. after the church period ends, 4:1-22:21.
(Survey from Scofield Reference Notes [1917 ed.]: Public Domain)