The Book of Revelation – Introduction Pt. 1
This revelation is about Jesus from the Father. At the same time, it is also the revelation by Jesus for us.
We know the writer had the name John – which John? There are many options and word count is short and everyone can Google. My take is that it is the Apostle John. St. Irenaeus, who was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John, says that John wrote in the 1st century during the time of the emperor Domitian – in the 90s while John was exiled to the prison island of Patmos. I go along with the teaching that John left Patmos at the death of Domitian and returned to Ephesus and to pastor and plant churches until the reign of Emperor Trajan where he probably died.
I lean toward the position the Revelation was written before John’s Gospel. The three Synoptic Gospels were already written 25 years earlier and after his release from prison, John was pressed to write his own account of Jesus while he walked the earth. Was Revelation actually John’s first Gospel? (I will discuss this more in Introduction Pt. 2.)
We also need to study the role of the Caesars. At this time there was a tremendous amount of Caesar / Emperor worship and much of Revelation is to proclaim to the churches that no matter what their eyes see, no matter what they are told, no matter what they may be experiencing, Jesus, the slain lamb is in charge. We will discuss this later, but often it is missed that the book tells us the terrible things happening on earth and then flashes back to a heavenly scene to assure the churches what is actually happening. This was the cause of the Roman persecution against the church – Emperor worship and the refusal by Christians to participate. The Book of Revelation is loaded with the words the angels are singing, things like ‘you are above all Lord’ and that is precisely the language the Caesars wanted for themselves. Because the Christians would not worship the Caesars, they were charged with various serious crimes such as being atheists – refusing to worship the ‘true’ god. John, preaching this message of Jesus is Lord and not Caesar is probably what got him exiled to the prison on Patmos.
We will see that Roman persecution is the concern of the visions, and we will see that chapters 4 & 5 are the ones on which the whole book turns. God reveals himself to us on the cross as the Lamb slain. This book is solely about Jesus Christ and his Church – it is not about Israel, it is not about anti Christ, it is not about a 1,000 year earthly millennial kingdom – it is about Jesus Christ.
Below are some lists and charts of what you must be familiar with if you wish to really understand this book. I know it looks like a lot, but do the work – read, study and compare the passages listed.
Numbers in Revelation: (a partial sample)
1 = Unity, primacy, sovereignty, divine completeness: Christians saw this number as symbolic of God the Father
3= The number three always signifies some important event in Salvation History: Jesus’ ministry lasted three years – He arose from the dead on the third day – the earth was separated from the waters on the 3rd day. It is one of the four “perfect” numbers. Christians see this number as symbolic of the Trinity
4= This number signifies God’s creative works in association with the earth –the four seasons, the four winds, etc.
6. = Symbolic of man who was created on the 6th day; a symbol of man in rebellion against God (especially in multiples of six – “666”).
7 = This is the second “perfect” number signifying perfection and fullness, particularly spiritual perfection. It is the number of the Holy Spirit and the number of covenant.
8 = The number symbolizing salvation, rebirth, resurrection and regeneration – eight people were saved in the Ark, an Israelite child was reborn into the covenant on the 8th day of life, and Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the 8th day.
10. = This is the third perfect number which signifies perfection of divine order – the Ten Commandments.
12. = The fourth perfect number signifying divine government – the Covenant people/ the Church. It is the number of Israel (descendants of the 12 physical sons of Jacob) as well as the number of the New Covenant Church (spiritual descendants of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles).
40. = The number signifying trial and/ or consecration – the series of 40 days in the Flood narrative, Moses’ 40 days on Mt. Sinai, and Jesus 40 days of testing in the wilderness.
50. = The number symbolizing divine deliverance/ mercy -the celebration of the Jubilee Year every 50th year.
And what about numbers such as 144,000 & 1,000 or 3 ½ and 666?
Sevens in Revelation:
|Spirits||1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6|
|Golden lamp-stands||1:12, 20; 2:1; 4:5|
|Stars||1:16, 20; 2:1; 3:1|
|Lamps of fire||4:5|
|Seals||5:1; 5:5; 6:1|
|Angels||8:2, 6; 15:1, 6, 7; 15:8; 16:1; 17:1; 21:9|
|Heads||12:3; 13:1; 17:3, 7, 9|
|Plagues||15:1, 6, 8; 21:9|
|Golden bowls||15:7; 16:1; 17:1; 21:9|
|Last seven visions||Chapters 20-21|
Visions in Revelation – Ezekiel:
|Parallels between the visions in the Book of Revelation and the visions of the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel||Ezekiel||Revelation|
|1. The throne vision||Chapter 1||Chapter 4|
|2. The book opened and eaten||Chapters 2:9-3:3||Chapter 5:7-10; 10:8-9|
|3. The four plagues||Chapter 5||Chapter 6:1-8|
|4. Those slain under the altar||Chapter.6||Chapter 6:9-11|
|5. The wrath of God||Chapter 7||Chapter 6:12-17|
|6. The seal on the Saint’s foreheads||Chapter 9||Chapter 7|
|7. The coals from the altar||Chapter.10||Chapter 8|
|8. The 1/3 destruction||Chapter 5:1-4 &12||Chapter 8:6-12|
|9. No more delay||Chapter 12||Chapter 10:1-7|
|10. The eating of the book||Chapter 2||Chapter 10:8-11|
|11. Prophecy against the Nations||Chapters 25-32||Chapter 10:11|
|12. The measuring of the Temple||Chapters 40-43||Chapter 11:1-2|
|13. Comparing Jerusalem to Sodom||Chapter 16||Chapter 11:8|
|14. The cup of wrath||Chapter 23||Chapter 14|
|15. The vine of the land||Chapter 15||Chapter 14:18-20|
|16. The great harlot||Chapters 16, 23||Chapters 17-18|
|17. The lament sung over the city||Chapter 27||Chapter 18|
|18. The scavenger’s feast||Chapter 39||Chapter 19|
|19. The resurrection||Chapter 37||Chapter 20:4-6|
|20. The Battle of Gog and Magog||Chapter 38-39||Chapter 20:7-9|
|21. The New Jerusalem||Chapters 40-48||Chapter 21|
|22. The River of Life||Chapter 47||Chapter 22|
Visions in Revelation – Daniel
|Parallels between the visions in the Book of Revelation and the visions of the Prophet Daniel||Daniel||Revelation|
|1. Three and a half time period (a time, 2 times and ½ a time)||Chapter 12:7||Chapter 11:9, 11|
|2. The 10 horns||Chapter 7:8||Chapters 12:3; 13:1; 17:3, 8|
|3. The Leopard, the Bear, and the Lion||Chapter 7:4-6||Chapter 13:2|
|4. The Beast mouthing boasting and blasphemies||Chapter 7:8,11||Chapter 13:5|
|5. The war against the Saints||Chapter 7:21||Chapter 13:7|
|6. The worship of the Beast’s statue||Chapter 3:5-7, 15||Chapter 13:15|
|7. The Son of Man coming on the Glory-Cloud||Chapter 7:13||Chapter 1:7 & 14:14|
Introduction Pt. 2 – Next Week