Lesson 1 – “*The Revelation of Jesus Christ: Rev. 1*”
Why some do not study Revelation:
* It is too difficult~/mysterious to understand
* “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” – Winston Churchill
* If godly men, who study God’s word cannot figure it out…
Ø John Calvin, the greatest commentator of the Reformation did not attempt a commentary on Revelation
* I’m not supposed to know the day or the hour so…
* One cannot take a firm stand on interpreting Revelation, so why bother trying
! 2. Why we should study Revelation?
It is scripture (*2 Ti 3:15-16*; *Psa 119*; *2 Pet 1:20-21*)
It promises a blessing (*Rev 1:3*; *22:7*)
The author is Jesus himself (*Rev 1:1*)
It’s purpose is to reveal truth, not hide it (*Rev 1:1*, *Dan 12:5-9*)
In Genesis God reveals the beginning of the world; in Revelation He reveals it’s grand conclusion
It reveals truth relative to every important fundamental of Christian theology (Bibliology, Theology Proper, Christology, Pneumatology, Ecclesiology, Anthropology, Hamartiology, Angelology, Soteriology, Israelology)
It was written to encourage those experiencing severe persecution (*1Co 15:58*)
In it are many fulfillments of O.T. prophecy (*Dan* *7:13,14; 9:24-27*)
It displays the wrath of the God’s judgment upon mankind (*Isa* *2:12-22*)
It declares and describes the demise of Satan
It provides a vivid picture of the eternal state
*It’s focus is the 2nd Coming of Christ*
“My prayer is that each reader will fully understand what the Holy Spirit is saying through this part of His Word, so that His revelation may lodge in the mind of believers and bring greater obedience and faithfulness—to the glory of our great God.” – John MacArthur
! 3. How to approach the study Revelation?
* In depth, according to the grammatical-historical-literary-theological method
* In general, it says what it means and it means what is says
* With humility and respect for others who do not agree with “our” viewpoint
! 4. What kind of writing is Revelation?
Ø “John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come…” (Rev 1:4)
– “to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place;” (Rev 1:1)
Ø It claims to be prophecy (Rev 1:3; 22:7,10,18,19)
Ø A message of comfort to the afflicted righteous A call to repentance and warning to the straying (Rev 22:7,10,18,19)
Ø Apocalypse = “revelation”
Ø It is like other apocalyptic literature
§ Angels appear commonly
§ Written during a time of intense persecution
§ Use of vivid images and symbols
§ Use of numbers which convey more than count units
· (7) churches, angels, seals, trumpets, bowls, thunders, beatitudes
· Fractions (1~/3, ¼)
· Multiples of 12 (i.e. 12, 24, 144,000)
Ø It is different than other apocalyptic literature
§ It claims to be inspired by God
§ It identifies the name of its true author
§ It predicts the future
“an *epistle* in the *apocalyptic* mode that *predicts* events of the future under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit” – Steve Gregg
! 5. When was Revelation written?
* Two Possibilities
Ø End of Nero’s reign (54-68 A.D.) – held by preterists and scholars of 19th century
Ø End of Domitian’s reign (81-96 A.D.) – held by most modern scholars
Ø Arguments for an early date (Nero)
§ Apparent existence of the temple (Rev 11:1-2)
§ Existence of tension between the church and its Jewish detractors (Rev 2:9; 3:9)
§ John speaks of a sixth king as the current king (Rev 17:10) (Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius and then Nero)
§ The number 666 associates with a Hebrew representation of “Caesar Nero” (Rev 13:18)
Ø Arguments for a late date (Domitian)
§ Emperor worship fits Domitian better than Nero (Rev 13)
§ “Mortal wound that was healed” alludes to a well-known superstition about Nero’s death (Rev 13:3,12,14).
Domitian was called the “2nd Nero.”
§ Domitian had a much wider reaching persecution of Christians
§ Spiritual decline of the churches in Ephesus and Laodicea would have taken longer
§ Some claim that the church of Smyrna did not exist in Paul’s lifetime (67 A.D.)
§ Iranaeus claims that John’s vision was seen at the end of Domitian’ reign (Iranaeus was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John)
Ø Conclusion: We can’t conclude for certain, but the later date seems most likely
! 6. Who wrote Revelation?
* Two Possibilities (Rev 1:1,4; 21:2; 22:8)
Ø John the Apostle (Justin Martyr, Iranaeus, Clement, Tertullian)
Ø John the presbyter (Dionysius of Alexandria)
Ø Arguments for John the presbyter
§ Quote from Papias (“4 Views” pg.13)
§ Other writings of John exhibit much better Greek
Ø Arguments for John the Apostle
§ He only identified himself as “John”
§ Early church fathers held this view
§ Commonalities in words & phrases with his other writings
Ø Conclusion: John the Apostle
! 7. How is Revelation interpreted?
* Historical Approach
Ø *God revealed the entire church age (history to us) in advance through the symbolic visions in Revelation.
Specific historical events are aligned with details in Revelation.*
Ø The papacy is the Antichrist
Ø A day in revelation is equivalent to a year of real time – “year-for-a-day” principle.
Ø Many classic theologians held this view (i.e.
* Preterist Approach
Ø *Most of the events in Revelation were fulfilled in the fall of Jerusalem (70 A.D.).
Some see in later chapters, the fall of Rome, and then the 2nd Coming of Christ.*
Ø They link much of Josephus’ writings to details in Revelation
Ø It has immediate relevance to the early readers, but to us only as other fulfilled O.T. prophecy
Ø It takes literal the passages that state “must shortly come to pass” and “the time is at hand”.
Ø A more detailed account of the Olivet discourse (Mark 13, Matt 24, Luke 17, 21)
Ø Revelation was written during the time of Nero
* Spiritual (Idealist) Approach
Ø *It does not look for literal fulfillments of the prophecies of revelation, but that the visions only depict symbolically spiritual lessons or principles, which may recur in history.*
Ø Interpretation tends to be non-literal or allegorical