Who wrote the book?
The author of Revelation mentioned his name, John, four times throughout the book (Revelation 1:1, 4, 9; 22:8). Christians throughout history have given almost unanimous affirmation to the identity of the book’s author as John the apostle, who had been exiled to the island of Patmos by the authorities for preaching the gospel in Asia. Some traditions say that the Romans dropped John into a vat of boiling oil, but when the apostle did not die, they instead banished him to the barren rock of Patmos.
The title of the book, Revelation, comes from the Greek word for apocalypse and refers to an unveiling or a disclosure of something as yet unknown. This title is certainly appropriate for the book, a work so interested in making known the events of the future.
Where are we?
The apostle John wrote the book of Revelation around the year AD 95 from his exile on the island of Patmos. He addressed his work to seven Asian churches—Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Because John worked in Ephesus for so many of his later years, it would have been natural for him to communicate this vision to the churches under his immediate care and influence. Each of those seven churches received a message directed specifically to them (chapters 2 and 3) before John launched into his account of the future which he received in his vision from God.
Why is Revelation so important?
The book of Revelation provides the clearest biblical portrait of the events of the tribulation, dealing with the specifics of that terrible time (chapters 4–18). The tribulation will be a time of judgment, a time when those left on the earth after the rapture will suffer deeply for their nonbelief. John pictured this judgment as a series of twenty-one events—inaugurated by the breaking of seven seals, the blowing of seven trumpets, and the pouring out of seven bowls. This grand judgment on the sinfulness of humanity shows the seriousness with which God views sin—payment will be exacted from those not covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.
What's the big idea?
While Revelation offers many details on the tribulation—even if they are often couched in the mystery of symbolic language—it is the final four chapters that dictate the overall message of the book. Revelation 19–22 portrays Christ’s future triumph over the forces of evil and His re-creation of the world for the redeemed. Ultimately, the book—and the world—end in a final victory for truth and goodness and beauty.
For the bulk of its sixty-six books, the Bible portrays a world deep in the throes of suffering. Human beings have had a problem with sin since the fall in Genesis 3, and verse after verse has recorded our problem in painstaking detail. The brilliance of Revelation is that it provides a final answer to this problem, a hope that Jesus will once and for all heal the wounds wrought by sin (Revelation 19), reign for a thousand years on earth (Revelation 20), and then re-create the world into a place that represents God’s original design (Revelation 21–22). The Bible’s narrative is a simple one: creation, fall, re-creation. Without the completion of the redeeming work of Jesus recorded in Revelation, we wouldn’t have the end of the story, leaving our hope for the future in serious doubt.
How do I apply this?
Usually when people mention the book of Revelation, they immediately think about judgment. And without a doubt, much judgment occurs in the book. However, Revelation does not end with judgment. Instead, it provides a striking bookend for the entire Bible, which begins in Paradise and ends in Paradise. More than judgment on the evildoers, Revelation is a book about hope for the faithful in Christ.
What pains or indignities have you suffered? What broken relationship have you wept over? Has death’s sword struck deep into your heart? Revelation promises a world where pain and tears and death pass away. Revelation reminds us that there is indeed hope beyond the momentary trials and struggles of this life. One day the darkness will pass away, and we will all dwell in perpetual light.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus! God be praised.
“Who do people say that I am?” (Mark 8:27) Jesus asked this question two thousand years ago, and the answers are still coming in: a rabbi who preached compassion, a brilliant leader who touched the hearts of thousands, a misunderstood innovator who died as a martyr. His enemies said He was a devil, a rabble-rouser […]Read More
I’m not an Anglican, although there is much that I appreciate from my Anglican roots. Some examples are…the heritage, the rich tradition of orthodox, apostolic faith, the liturgical prayers, which taught me evangelical theology from a young age, and the church calendar. Yes, you read correctly, the church calendar. It’s a wonderful pattern of organising […]Read More
When I was growing up, I never knew cursing, drinking, divorce, or what people commonly call “the wild life.” And believe it or not, at the time I didn’t know the rest of the world was any different. Today many feel that growing up in such a protected environment, free from the dangers of the […]Read More
Death raises many questions: When will it happen? What will it be like? What is the soul’s destiny? Chuck Swindoll addresses that last question in Growing Deep in the Christian Life: When the believer dies, the body goes into the grave; the soul and spirit go immediately to be with the Lord Jesus awaiting the […]Read More
Have you ever read a book in instalments? Perhaps one of those serialised novels the newspapers occasionally publish. The first couple of chapters are enough to get you hooked, and then you have to wait for the next edition of the news to keep on track with the rest of the story. In the meantime […]Read More
2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Revelation 17-18 A friend of mine ate dog food one evening. No, he wasn’t at a fraternity initiation nor a hobo party . . . he was actually at an elegant student reception in a physician’s home near Miami. The dog food was served on delicate little crackers with a wedge of […]Read More
For the longest time, I didn’t understand the new-car industry. I had always thought when a person wanted an automobile, he or she dropped by the local dealership, kicked a few tyres, and placed the order with the salesperson. I figured that when headquarters got the specs, they’d scurry around the shop to find the […]Read More
Question: I recently read the book, The Da Vinci Code. I know that it is fiction, but it has caused me to question everything that I’ve always believed about Jesus. How do we know that Jesus is God in the flesh and not simply a good teacher? Answer: For two thousand years, critics have chipped […]Read More
Israel is like no other place on earth. To an aged wanderer, it was the Land of Promise: “To your descendants I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7). It was the land of a proud man who limped away with a new name after his encounter with God: “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, […]Read More
The “Book of Life” is a New Testament concept with deep roots in the Old Testament (Exodus 32:32-33; Daniel 12:12; Malachi 3:16). Believers during Old Testament times were saved by grace, through faith, as they honored the old covenant. When Jesus initiated the new covenant He told His disciples, “rejoice that your names are recorded […]Read More