Book of Revelation

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The Four horsemen of the Apocalypse by Albrecht Dürer

The Book of Revelation,[1] or simply Revelation, is the final book of the Christian Bible (The New Testament).

It records a series of visions received by John, an Apostle of Christ, while John was imprisoned on the island of Patmos.[2][3] Jesus Christ Himself provided the visions to John.

Letters to the Churches

Chapters 2 and 3 consist of seven letters written to congregations located in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey): the congregations at Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

Four of the seven churches (Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, and Thyatira) are commended for their actions but also warned that if they did not repent of certain deeds done, punishment would come upon them. The church at Philadelphia is commended only and not admonished; the churches at Sardis and Laodicea are not commended at all but only admonished (the wording for the Laodicean church differs from the others in that they are either told or warned of impending punishment -- the KJV says that he "would spew them out of his mouth", while other translations state that it was a warning of future punishment -- then told to repent).

There are three historical interpretations for the letters, all of which could be simultaneously true:

  • The most common interpretation is that the letters were to the congregations directing them of certain actions needed (all seven cities historically existed and each was known to have a local congregation in it).
  • Another interpretation posits that it is intended to describe different types of churches which exist (the Ephesus church being one doing a lot of good and commendable works but not doing them with a love for God, for example).
  • The third interpretation is that each congregation represents various periods within the Church Age (in order from Ephesus to Laodicea, the latter being either the church just before or during the prophetic events described beginning in Chapter 4).

Prophetic Visions

The visions describe the end times and the second coming of Jesus Christ.[4]

Revelation also describes the final rebellion of Satan (at Armageddon), the final defeat of Satan by God, and the return of peace to the world.

Works and concepts based on Revelation include "666" as the number of the devil, the great writing by Dante in his Inferno, and Michaelangelo's Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel.[5]

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Revelation first describes the arrival of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death. However, the Bible itself only directly names one horseman, "death".

There is wide agreement concerning the identity of the first horseman, which many interpret to represent the Antichrist. Some equate it to worldwide gospel preaching, as many post-millennialists believe.

The four horsemen are synonymous to the first four seals, and there is a direct correlation between the events of the seals and the list of events found in the Olivet Discourse, as found in Matthew 24. According to this view, the first four seals are usually perceived as being the beginning of birth pangs (Matthew 24:4-8).

Mark of the Beast

Revelation describes a time in which the a mark consisting of the Number of the Beast will be required on all people in order to buy or sell.

Plagues

Twenty-one judgements are pronounced on the earth: the seven Seal Judgements, the seven Trumpet Judgements, and the seven Bowl Judgements. The sequence of the order of these plagues are disputed among prophecy teachers. The concurrent or overlapping interpretation postulates that the judgements overlap each other while the 7 Seals are the longest in duration, while the Trumpet plagues are shorter, and while the Bowl plagues are the shortest. The consecutive or crescendo interpretation teaches that the next set of plagues occur after the previous set of plagues. Therefore, the 7 Seals occur first, the 7 Trumpets next, and the 7 Bowls afterwards.

Interpretations

There is much modern emphasis that Revelation prophesizes the future and the end times. These views usually consider the end times to be relatively close to being fulfilled. Other views postulate that the writing describes a period of persecution in the early church either during the reign of Nero (54 - 68) or Domitian (81 - 96).

History

The Book of Revelation was one of the last books to be fully accepted into the New Testament Canon largely due to its difficulty in being understood.

See also

References

  1. It's formal title is The Revelation of St. John the Divine, also called The Revelation to John, The Apocalypse of John.
  2. In ancient writings as going back as early as Justin Martyr, it was held that the author of this book was John the Apostle.
  3. The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Press, 1985, Pg. 1923
  4. Preterists disagree, believing the book describing events fulfilled at other points in history.
  5. http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/circle3.html