Revelation Explained

This site contains my personal views on Revelation. I will be teaching through the book verse by verse. My teachings will be from a conservative evangelical background.

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Location: Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Key Note of the Book of Revelation

"Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen." (Revelation 1:7 - New International Version)

This verse has been called the keynote of the book of Revelation. The entire book has to do with the return of Christ. It tells us about the events leading up to and following the physical return of Jesus to this earth.

In Acts, we are told, “And when He (Jesus) had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11 - King James Version)

John never forgot that day when He saw Jesus ascend into heaven. He knew that one day Jesus would return in the clouds.

When Jesus left a few people saw Him depart. When Jesus returns the whole world will behold Him. It will not happen secretly but in open. He will come in power and glory. We will learn more details about this later in Revelation.

In the day of judgment, when all stand before Jesus even those who nailed Him to the cross of Calvary will behold Him. What a terrible meeting that will be for them!

The return of Jesus will not be a happy event for all people. John tells us that all tribes and classes and groups of people will be beating themselves in grief when He comes. For many, it will be a day of terror, fear and judgment. Someone has said, “The coming of Jesus will bring the greatest grief the world has ever known.” So many are unprepared.

For those who have accepted Jesus as Saviour, it will be a glorious day. But for those who have rejected the Bible, and God, and Jesus, it will be a horrible day. This is an event which will happen. It may happen soon.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Salutation: Revelation 1:5b, 6

Verses four to eight of Revelation chapter one are the Apostle John's salutation to his readers. John's greeting contains four elements: a prayer for blessing from the Trinity, an expression of Christ's work, a promise of Jesus' return and a declaration of God's greatness. My previous blog dealt with the prayer for blessing. This one will look at John's expression of Christ's work.

". . . Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Revelation 1:5b, 6 - New King James Version)

John mentioned Jesus Christ, God the Son, last in His prayer because he wished to expand upon the nature and work of Jesus. Verses five and six present six truths about the Lord Jesus Christ. These are not just theological ideas, they each have a huge impact upon our Christian hope.

First, Jesus is the faithful witness. He is a trustworthy Prophet of truth. We can depend upon every word that He said. We can build our lives, our hopes and our dreams upon what Jesus taught and never be disappointed.

Second, Jesus is the first begotten of the dead. Although there have been others whom God raised from the dead, such as Lazarus. These others were brought back to life in their old sinful bodies to die again. Jesus was raised in His new glorified body never to die again. One day we will receive our own glorified, sinless and eternal bodies. The fact that Jesus has His is the foundation for our hope in our own future resurrection.

Third, Jesus is the prince or ruler of the kings of the earth. The King James Version uses Prince. However, ruler is the better translation. The word in this passage does not carry the idea of one waiting to inherit authority. Rather it is one who is already ruling. Jesus rules over all the kingdoms of the world. He sits on the throne of the universe. Although many are in rebellion against Him, although He allows many to act contrary to His wishes, He has not lost control. One day, all people and powers will bow to Him. Revelation tells us how He brings an end to the rebellion.

Fourth, Jesus loves us. Love is this verse is in the present not the past tense. He loves us now. We should sing with joy, “Jesus loves me. This I know, for the Bible tells me so!”

Fifth, Jesus has washed us from our sins by His blood. Paul expands upon this in Romans. He wrote, "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts." (Romans 6:11,12 - New American Standard Version)

Jesus has freed us from the penalty of sin, from the power of sin and one day He will free us from the presence of sin! We need not fear being judged for our sin. We need not let sin rule our lives. One day, we will receive new sinless bodies.

Sixth, Jesus has made us a kingdom of priests to His God and Father. This is the idea rather that kings and priests. Israel was to be a nation of priests. God said through Moses to the people of Israel, “Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” (Exodus 19:6a - King James Version)

Israel was to represent God before the other nations. They were to draw people into a relationship with God. They failed to live up to their responsibility.

All who are born again Christians, children of God, are in the Kingdom of God. All the citizens of this kingdom are priests. A priest is person who can approach God personally. He is also God's representative.

All Christians can freely come before God's throne in prayer; we need no other mediator except Jesus. We also are to be God's representatives before lost men and women. We have a duty to tell them about Jesus Christ, that they too might become citizens of heaven.

John ends this discussion of Christ's marvelous work with an expression of praise. “To Him be glory (praise, honor) and dominion (strength, power) forever and ever. Amen."

Friday, August 26, 2005

Salutation - Revelation 1:4,5a

Verses four to eight of Revelation chapter one are the Apostle John's salutation to his readers. He wrote specifically to the seven Churches of Asia. In New Testament times, Asia was a small area which is now the western part of Turkey. We will learn much about these seven churches when we study chapters two and three.

John's greeting to these seven churches contains four elements: a prayer for blessing from the Trinity, an expression of Christ's work, a promise of Jesus' return and a declaration of God's greatness.

"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, and from Jesus Christ, . . ." (Revelation 1:4, 5a - New King James Version)

“Grace be unto you and peace” is a common New Testament greeting. Grace refers to God's affection for those who do not deserve it. It is a far reaching term that sums up the basis for all of God's dealings with us. He does not give us what we deserve, but because of His Grace, He acts with patience, mercy and love.

To say “Grace be unto you” is similar to our modern expression of “God bless you.” It is a prayer that God would give you that which is good.

Peace in this passage refers to peace of mind and heart. At least some of John's readers were not experiencing physical peace. They were under growing persecution. This would continue.
However, internal peace is of much more value than external. To have peace of conscience, knowing that God has forgiven our sin, allows us to face death with hope and confidence. To have peace of spirit allows us to relax even when the storms of life rage. To have peace of mind frees us from worry.

Peace is a great thing. But how can we have such peace? By putting our complete trust in the One to Whom John was praying. He makes it clear from where Grace and peace come.

First, they come “from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come.” This is a reference to God the Father. The idea is that God exists in the present, in the past and in the future. He is not just untouched by time, He lives outside of time!

The very nature of Revelation, being prophetic, requires such a God. To our heavenly Father, time is no limitation. He sees the future as clearly as He sees the past and the present. If we have God's Grace resting on us, then we need not worry about the future, because He already knows what will occur.

Second, Grace and peace come “from the seven Spirits who are before His throne.” This expression has been much debated.

Some believe this refers to seven angels. However, this interpretation has two major difficulties. It would seem blasphemous to mention angels between a reference to God the Father and God the Son in the way this verse does. Also, we do not need nor should we pray for the grace or peace that angels could give. Such an expression would encourage the worship of angels.

The best interpretation is to take this as an expression referring to the Holy Spirit. This is really the only acceptable view. Why then is the Holy Spirit referred to as the seven Spirits?

Listen closely to Isaiah 11:2. “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” (King James Version) This verse gives seven different ministries of the Holy Spirit.

He is the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of understanding, the Spirit of counsel, the Spirit of power, the Spirit of knowledge, and the Spirit of the fear of the Lord. John is representing the seven fold ministry of the Spirit by referring to Him as the seven Spirits.

The Holy Spirit is also portrayed as standing before the throne of God. This indicates that He is ready to go to and fro upon the earth to fulfill the bidding of God the Father. He is the member of the Trinity Who puts into action the plans of the Father.

Thirdly, Grace and peace are “from Jesus Christ.” He is God the Son.

So John prays that his readers would receive the blessings of the Trinity, and would have the internal and spiritual peace that only the Trinity can give.

Although this was a common Christian expression of New Testament times, it is still a beautiful expression. We should wish that other believers would have the Grace and peace of God the Father, God the Holy Spirit and God the Son.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Revelation 1:3

"Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near." (New American Standard)

This verse answers the question that I sometimes hear people ask, "Why should I study the book of Revelation?"

This verse is promise from God that those who read will be blessed. The basic idea of blessed is happy. Those who hear it will be happy. Those who pay attention to what it says and respond to it will be happy. We should study this book not just to learn but in order to understand better how God wants us to act.

So if you want to happy three time over: read the book of Revelation, listen to its words, and respond to what it says. As we study Revelation, we must be ready to apply what we learn to our lives and do what God wants us to do.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Revelation 1:1,2

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants - things which must shortly take place." (New King James Version)

This book is meant to reveal something to the servants of Jesus. His servants are those who have accepted Him as their Savior and Lord. As His servants, we are to seek to obey Him daily.

The things revealed are events which "must shortly take place." So this book claims in its opening statement to be prophetic. It reveals events that had not occurred when it was written.
The word in the original Greek translated shortly is tachei. Elsewhere in the New Testament, it is translated quickly (Acts 12:7) and speedily (Luke 18:8).

Although some believe that the events predicted in Revelation were fulfilled soon after the book was written, I do not. In order to believe that Revelation has been fulfilled, you must assume that the actual events were a lot less severe than what the words of Revelation literally describe.

The events predicted in Revelation are not events that were to occur soon after they were written, but rather events that when they start to occur will follow one upon another quickly. Once the first seal is opened, the events described in Revelation will occur one after another without any significant pause between them.

"And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw." (New King James Version)

Although part of Revelation was given to John by Jesus directly, most of it was given through the agency of an angel. Angels are God's supernatural servants.

The John who wrote this book is the Apostle John. At the time that he wrote this, he was the last living Apostle. In this book, he describes the future through a series of visions given to him.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Understanding Revelation

It is important in interpreting Revelation that we follow the same rules as for any other book of the Bible. There are few basic rules for understanding Scripture.

First, examine the context. One way to do this is to answer a few questions about the passage. Who is speaking? When are they speaking? About what are they speaking? Why are they speaking? What is their motive? The Bible quotes a lot of different people. Recently someone shared with me a statement by a well known TV preacher. This preacher used a passage from Job as proof for his statement. By looking at the context of this passage, it was easy to see that what he was using as "proof" was just one man's opinion, not something that God had said.

Another rule for interpretation: if the simple sense makes sense, seek no other sense. Do not make the Bible more complicated than it needs to be.

Also, when you are studying a passage of Scripture that uses symbols, look for other passages of Scripture that use the same symbol. For example, leaven is used as a symbol of sin throughout the Bible.

Finally, compare your interpretation with what other passages in the Bible teach. Especially, use non-symbolic passages to help you understand passages that use symbolism. The Bible is a unit. It does not contradict itself. The more we learn about the Bible, the easier it becomes to understand it. One section of Scripture will shed light on other parts of the Bible.

There are other rules for interpretation, but these are some of the most important. They will help us to understand Revelation, just as they would help you to understand any other book of the Bible.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Introduction Part 3

God wants us to understand the Book of Revelation. The name of the book suggests this. The purpose of Scripture supports this.

Also, the Book of Revelation itself tells us that this is the case. In Revelation 22:10, we read, "And he said to me, 'Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.' " (King James Version)

The idea of sealing up a prophecy is not that the words of the prophecy itself would be kept hidden, but that the meaning of the prophecy would be hidden. This verse teaches us that the meaning of the prophecy of Revelation is open for us to study and understand. Of course, we will not fully understand it until the events occur. But we can understand the basic ideas and teachings and have a general idea of what the future holds.

In contrast to this, Daniel was told to seal up his prophecy. "But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase." (Daniel 12:4, King James Version)

Daniel's prophecies were sealed. There meaning was hidden to those of his time. He did not hid the words themselves. They were freely distributed among the Hebrew people. Only the people of Daniel's time could not understand them. However, I believe that we are now in the "time of the end." The prophecies of Daniel are no longer sealed. As we study Revelation, we will relate many of the events predicted in Revelation to prophecies in the book of Daniel.

We should not consider the Book of Revelation a mystery or a difficult book to understand. There are some parts that are difficult, but the majority of Revelation is not.

I knew a man who had taught Sunday School for many years. I asked him once about the meaning of a passage in Revelation. He replied, "We do not understand Revelation. So we do not study it." That is sad. The Book of Revelation is exciting and motivating. It is a shame to ignore what it has to teach us.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Introduction Part 2

So God wants us to understand the Book of Revelation. The name of the book tells us this.

As well, the purpose of Scripture supports this truth. God inspired individuals to write His Word because He wanted to communicate with us. God has spoken to us through the Scriptures. The New Testament was written in the language of the common people. The Bible commends the believers in Berea. In Acts it says, "These (the Bereans) were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17:11, King James Version)

As individuals, we should read the Bible for ourselves. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to reveal to us spiritual truth. We can learn from others. I hope you learn some truths from this blog. But we should not just accept whatever people tell us. We need to check that what they say agrees with what the Bible teaches. The Bible warns us that there are those who use religion as a means to spread falsehood. We should be on guard.

Also, no man has perfect understanding of Scripture. We all hold to ideas that we think are based upon Scripture that are incorrect. There are many truths that are clearly taught in many passages in the Bible about which we can be certain. There are other truths that are less clear. In these areas, we need to be open minded. We should consider what others say about these things and check what we believe against what is written in the Bible.

God has given us His Word, including the Book of Revelation, because He wants us to understand eternal truths.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Introduction Part 1

The name of this book is significant. The name comes from the first phrase: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ." (King James Version).

The New Testament was written in the common Greek of the first century. The Greek word translated revelation is apokalupsis. This is the root of the English word apocalypse. Sometimes the book of Revelation is referred to as the Apocalypse.

This word means to unveil, disclose, uncover, reveal, make manifest.

Considering the meaning of this word, I find it strange when I see books with titles such as The Key to Understanding Revelation or The Mystery of Revelation Revealed. Revelation is not supposed to have hidden meanings or be a mystery. It was inspired by God to reveal truth to us. God wants us to understand the Book of Revelation.

More about this next time.

My Purpose on This Blog

I plan to post on this site, my personal views on the Book of Revelation. I have taught through Revelation in a couple different settings, and am presently part way though teaching it again in a home Bible study. So I see this blog as just another way of teaching Scripture to those interested. I teach from a conservative evangelical background.

I will try post something new at least once per week. My work may prevent this at times.

These posting will either be a continuation of the study or replies to comments or questions from you the reader. My purpose is not to debate but to explain. I will try to clearly expain my personal views. If you do not agree, that is fine, as long as, you are willing to think about what I say.

My prayer is that you will find this enlightening and that it will make Revelation easier for you to understand.