AM Bible Study Archives
"An Introduction to the Revelation of Jesus Christ"
Wednesday AM Bible Study
This morning, we begin a study of the last book of inspired Scripture to have been given by God to His church. The Revelation of Jesus Christ (its God-given title) is not a book intended to be obscure or difficult. It is not like Daniel—which was, for a time in God's program, a closed and sealed book (Daniel 12:9); but rather, is a book that is an unsealed prophecy (Revelation 21:10). It is an "open" book that begins with a blessing to those who read it (1:3); and closes with a warning not to add to it or take away from it (22:18-29).
There have, traditionally, been four ways of interpreting this book. The Preterist view (praeter is Latin for "past") holds that the book is strictly describing events that occurred in 70 A.D.; and therefore was written after the facts as God's description of the significance of those events. The Historical view holds that the book is describing events that would occur in the unfolding history of the church; and therefore concerns itself with events that are occurring even now. The Symbolic view holds that the book presents lessons in the form of allegories and symbolisms; and is therefore not concerned with objective historic events but rather with abstract spiritual concepts. The Futurist view—the view we will follow in this study—assumes that the writer is prophetically describing—through signs and symbolisms—literal events that will occur in the future. The Futurist View allows that some portions of the book describe an unfolding history over long-periods of time (e.g., chapters 2-3), or that the book contains much that symbolically represent spiritual truths. But its primary interpretive principle is that the book is a prophetic view of literal, future events.
There have also been three basic views of the structure of the book. A Linear Structure sees the events as flowing in a straight, chronological sequence (i.e., the seven seals is followed by the seven trumpets, which is followed by the seven bowl judgments). A Telescopic Structure sees the events as contained one in another (i.e., the seven bowl judgments are contained in the seventh trumpet, and the seven trumpets are contained in the seventh seal). A Recapitulation Structure sees the description of the events as a repetition (i.e., the seven seals are the seven trumpets, which also are the seven bowl judgments). Our study will follow a modified form of the Recapitulation approach. It sees the telling of the seven seals of 6:1-8:1 as being repeated in the pageant of the woman and the dragon in chapters 12-13; and the telling of the seven trumpets of 8:2-11:19 as being repeated in the seven bowl judgments of 15:5-16:21.
The key verse of this book is Revelation 1:19; where our Lord tells John, "Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this." This gives us the three main divisions of this book: "the things which you have seen" being described in 1:10-18; "the things which are" being described in chapters 2-3 (see 1:20ff); and "the things which will take place after this" being described in chapters 4-22:7 (see 4:1ff).
This precious book needs to be handled with the utmost humility and reverence; always keeping the great theme—the revealing of the Lord Jesus Christ—ever in the forefront. We learn much about how to approach this book from the introduction in the first three verses.
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