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REVELATION – INTRODUCTION
I. THE TITLE OF THE BOOK: “REVELATION”
A. Greek word: “APOKALUPIS” – English: “APOCALYPSE”
B. Thayer: “an uncovering, prop. A laying bare, making naked.” “A disclosure of truth, instruction concerning divine things before unknown” (Luke 2:32, Romans 16:25, Gal. 1:12, 2 Thess. 1:7)
D. Vine’s Expository Dictionary: “An uncovering.”
E. The Book is an “unveiling” of a message from God to His people. Therefore, we should approach the Book with an attitude that it was written to be understood and expect to gain insights.
1. Rev. 1:3 “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of the prophesy, and keep the things that are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
2. Rev. 22:7 “And behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he that keepeth the words of the prophesy of this book.”
II. KEY TO UNDERSTANDING HEBREW APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE
A. Appeared in the years 200 B.C. to A.D. 200 – patterned after the writings of Daniel, Ezekiel, and parts of Zechariah.
B. Again, these writings were not to hide or obscure the writer’s message, but make it “more vivid and impressive through dramatic figures.”
C. “These writings were designed to stress the virtue of loyalty, and to stimulate faith by showing in vivid fashion the certain overthrow of evil and the final victory for God’s righteous cause.”
D. This type of literature occurred in times of danger when both reader and writer would not be safe if their communication were known by an unsympathetic conceal the message from the outsider, but to reveal its message to the initiated.
1. These “revealing” while at the same time “concealing” takes the form of writing words which “signify” things needing to be communicated.
2. “…and he sent them and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” (Rev. 1:3).
E. Characteristics of Apocalyptic literature:
1. Reflect dark times in human history.
2. Personifies Good and Evil in a situation of conflict
a. Animals are often used to represent or signify men and nations.
b. Their struggles are often like horror-
c. Dramatic element: Rivers of blood, hailstones weighing 100 pounds, dragon knocking down stars, etc
3. Predictions are made about the outcome of the struggle.
4. Message is communicated through visions.
5. Common symbolism is used.
a. God’s people are represented by domesticated animals, while evil forces are represented by wild beasts.
b. Numbers signify meaning beyond the number itself.
(1). Fractions: (1/4, 1/3 – a minor PART of the whole under consideration.
(2). ONE – symbolizes that which is alone, unique, UNITY
(3). TWO – symbolizes STRENGTH
(4). THREE – symbolizes an ordered whole, a DIVINE number
(5). FOUR – connected with the world in which men live; four boundaries of the earth – North, South, East and West
(6). SEVEN – expresses PERFECTION or COMPLETENESS (4+3)
(7). SIX -
(8). TEN -
(9). TWELVE – a number of organized RELIGION
(10). ONE THOUSAND – multiples of 10 – FULLNESS UPON FULLNESS
(11). THREE AND A HALF – 42 months, 1260 days equivalents. Half of completeness or“seven” therefore, signifying an INDEFINITE PERIOD OF TIME
(1). White – PURITY
(2). Red – BLOOD
(3). Black – DEATH
6. Usually untraceable as to their authorship
a. Four times the author refers to himself as JOHN (1:1, 4, 9, 22:8) – Five times in KJV (21:2) while some fictitious writer could have used his name, historical evidence points to John the apostle as the
b. Justin Martyr (A.D. 110-
judgment of Revelation 20. (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew – LXXX-
7. Usually said to have been sealed – closed and its contents hidden for future generations to discover.
III. KEY TO UNDERSTANDING: HISTORICAL SETTING
A. As characteristic of apocalyptic literature to being tied to a time of persecution, the Book of Revelation connects with such times (2:10, 13; 6:11; 13:15; 17:5, 6; 20:4)
B. Different historical persecutions offered as the background setting for the Book:
1. Early persecutions of Christians by the Jews – prophesying therefore of the destruction of the city of Jerusalem – therefore written before A.D. 70.
a. If so, why does John write to the seven churches of Asia and not to the church in Judea?
2. Persecution of Christians by Roman Emperor NERO – therefore written during A.D. 64-
a. Syriac Version (2nd. Century A.D.) Book entitled as: The Revelation which was made by God to John the evangelist in the island Patmos, into which he was thrown by Nero Caesar” (Foy E. Wallace, Jr. The Book Of Revelation, p. 28.
b. Persecution was limited to the area around Rome – not Asia Minor to whom Revelation was written (seven churches of Asia).
3. Persecution of Domitian (A.D. 81-
a. Persecution was empire wide.
b. Unlike Nero, who believed that deification of Emperors was only proper following their death, he claimed Deity while alive.
c. With the Jews conquered in the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Domitian no longer had to tolerate their practices. To not worship the emperor was grounds to be recognized as Atheists – troubling time for Christians who serve only one Lord (13:11-
d. Irenaeus (2nd. Century); Origen (2nd. – 3rd. Century); Eusebius (upon the tradition of Irenaeus) claimed the Book of Revelation was written at the close of Domitian’s reign; fifteenth year of Domitian which would be A.D. 95-
IV. PURPOSE AND THEME OF THE BOOK
A. The Book is designed to comfort the Christians undergoing persecution against an
oppressive government and to exhort the saints to bear their trials with hope of
victory while at the same time give warning to the enemies of God’s people.
B. Theme: Victory of Christ and His people, the church, over Satan and his allies, Roman paganism (cf. 17:14).
V. PLACE WHERE BOOK WAS WRITEN
A. “…was in the isle that is called Patmos (1:9).
B. Patmos was a rocky desolate island ten miles long and about six miles wide. It is
located approximately 70 miles southwest of Ephesus. Rome used this place to
VI. OUTLINE OF STUDY FOR THE BOOK
Lesson One: Christ’s Glory and Majesty (Chapter 1)
Lesson Two: Letters to the Seven Churches (Chapters 2-
Lesson Three: The Throne Scene in Heaven – God on Throne (Chapter 4)
Lesson Four: Loosing of the Seven Seals (6:1 – 8:5)
Lesson Five: Seven Angels Sound Seven Trumpets (8:6-
Lesson Six: Spiritual Warfare: Christians Persecuted – Persecutors Judged
Lesson Seven: Bowls of God’s Wrath – Battle of Armageddon (Chapters 15-
Lesson Eight: Fall of Babylon – The Harlot (17:1-
Lesson Nine: Victory of God’s Cause and His Saints (19:11-
Lesson Ten: The Holy City Glorified – Glorification of Saints (Chapters 21-