As the crowning book of the Bible, Revelation stands as a “praise chorus” of God’s personal and victorious self-revelation in Jesus Christ. The book portrays the coming judgment and victory of God in Christ, and it also purposes to encourage faithful people in the present to find enduring courage through faith in Jesus Christ.
The tradition of the early church is that Revelation was penned by the Apostle John (1:1). His format is a letter, but it includes elements of foretelling and forthtelling prophecy (1:3). Addressees are seven representative churches of Asia Minor (1:4; 22:16), specifically identified as “bond-servants” (1:1). John’s order may indicate the route of the messengers. Two things are significant. As bond-servants (“slaves”), they are the largely uneducated majority of early church members. Second, ordinary people in churches are to be encouraged by its message, expected to act on its imperatives, and share its message with an unbelieving world.
John writes from exile on the island of Patmos, about ninety miles off the coast of Ephesus (1:9). John was exiled because he was faithful to share the Word of God and Jesus (1:9). He writes at the command of the Lord (1:10-11, 19). The Lord’s purpose is “to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place” (1:1). John’s circumstance compares to the churches’ circumstance: “your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus.” Caesar Domitian ruled Rome from 81 until his death in 96 A.D. John likely returned to Ephesus upon release of exiles when Domitian died.
The reader of Revelation will find it helpful to keep three questions in mind for each passage. One: What does this passage say from or about God and the Lord Jesus Christ? Second: What does this passage say to or about the faithful followers of Jesus Christ? Third: What does this passage say to or about all opposition to God and the Lord Jesus?
Every interpreter comes to Revelation with preconceived ideas. I am conscious that opinions are widely divergent, and are likely to remain so. My aim in this study is to present as best I can the plain, straightforward reading and meaning of the text to encourage churches to persevere against oppression, to live a holy life before the victorious Lord Jesus Christ, and to urge unbelievers to repent and come to Jesus Christ in faith.
Dr. David Moore is a Baptist preacher in Pampa and an online instructor in Bible and theology for Taylor University and Nations University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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