OVERVIEW OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION
TITLE: "Revelation" is from the Greek word apokἁupsis, from which we get the word "apocalypse." It literally means a disclosure or unveiling. Based on this the book of Revelation can be seen as both a prophetic and an apocalyptic unveiling of the character and program of God.
AUTHOR: The author simply called himself "John" (1:4, 9; 22:8). He was a prophet (22:9) and a leader who was known in the churches of Asia Minor to whom he writes (1:4). Revelation indicates a similarity with the Gospel of John, employing words that are common to both: word, lamb, witness, true, overcome, dwell, fountain of living waters and others. A vast majority of Bible scholars believe the Holy Spirit used John, "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (Jn. 19:26), to record for us three kinds of divinely inspired literature: the Gospel of John, the epistles 1, 2, 3 John, and the book of Revelation.
PURPOSE: The stated purpose of Revelation is to reveal Jesus Christ (1:1): His person, His power and His plan for the future.
THEME: Central to the book is the existence, power, sovereignty, justice, wisdom and goodness of God the Father and Jesus Christ.
DATE & ORIGIN: The traditional view for the date of Revelation is during the reign of emperor Domitian (A.D. 81-96). The early church fathers affirmed this and most scholars since have agreed. The date has been traditionally set at between A.D. 94-96 (during the final and most severe years of Domitian's reign). It is likely that John wrote Revelation during his exile on the island of Patmos.
KEY IDEAS: The book opens and closes with similar ideas and phrases, among them are the words of Jesus, "I am coming soon" (1:1-8; 22:12-21). In between, the book deals with vivid descriptions of God's judgments on sin.
KEY VERSES: Rev. 1:7: "Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen" (cf. Rev. 19:11-16). Rev. 1:19: "Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things."
KEY WORDS: Two key words are repeated throughout the whole letter. They are "lamb" (29 times) and "throne" (47 times). The duel ideas of sacrificial atonement and God's sovereignty and judgment dominate the letter. Four numbers also play a significant role throughout Revelation: "seven" (55 times), "four" (29 times), "twelve" (23 times) and "ten" (9 times).
KEY NOTE: While there are no formal quotations from the Old Testament, there are many allusions. Bible scholars have identified between 250-500 Old Testament allusions in the book of Revelation.
IMPORTANCE OF REVELATION:
DESCRIPTIONS OF CHRIST IN REVELATION: Since Revelation is "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" (NOT the Revelation of St. John, as erroneously titled in some Bible translations), it demonstrates His glory, wisdom and power (1:1-20), and portrays His authority over the church (2:1-3:21) and His power and right to judge the world (5:1-19:21). But as the revelation of Christ, it is loaded with descriptive titles. In particular, it describes Jesus Christ (1:1) as:
CONCLUSION (Rev. 22:6-21):
PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Have you accepted Christ as your Savior? If so, you have nothing to fear from God's judgment of the world as described in the Book of Revelation. Jesus Christ, the Judge who is coming, is on our side-we are His possession. But before the final judgment begins, it is our responsibility, as messengers of Christ, to witness to friends, neighbors, and people in the workplace about God's offer of eternal life in Christ. The events in this book are real. Importantly, we must live our lives like we believe it so that others will notice our joy about our future and want to join us in that new and glorious city!