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The Book of Revelation: A New Translation and Commentary by N.T. Wright (epub, mobi, pdf, fb2)


The Book of Revelation: A Guide for Beginners




Have you ever wondered what the Book of Revelation is all about? Maybe you have heard some scary or confusing things about this mysterious book of the Bible. Maybe you have avoided reading it because you think it is too hard or irrelevant for you. Or maybe you are curious and eager to learn more about this fascinating book that reveals God's plan for the end times.




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If any of these scenarios describe you, then this article is for you. In this article, we will explore some basic facts and insights about the Book of Revelation that will help you understand its message and meaning. We will also give you some tips on how to interpret and apply this book to your life today.


So, let's get started by answering some fundamental questions about the Book of Revelation.


The Author and the Date




The first question we need to ask is: who wrote the Book of Revelation and when?


The book itself tells us that it was written by a man named John, who calls himself "the servant" of Jesus (Revelation 1:1). He also says that he was on the island of Patmos, in the Aegean Sea, when he received a series of visions from Jesus (Revelation 1:9).


But who was this John? Was he the same John who wrote the Gospel of John and the three letters of John in the New Testament? Or was he a different John, perhaps one of the other disciples of Jesus or a later Christian leader?


There is no definitive answer to this question, as different scholars have different opinions. Some argue that John the apostle was indeed the author of Revelation, based on similarities in language, style, and theology between Revelation and the other Johannine writings. Others contend that John of Patmos was a different person, perhaps a prophet or a pastor who was familiar with the apostle's teachings but had his own distinctive perspective.


Regardless of who exactly wrote Revelation, we can be confident that he was inspired by God and that his message was authoritative for the churches he addressed and for us today.


As for when Revelation was written, most scholars agree that it was composed sometime near the end of the first century AD, probably around AD 95. This was a time when Christians were facing persecution from the Roman Empire, especially under Emperor Domitian, who demanded worship as a god. John wrote to encourage and comfort his fellow believers who were suffering for their faith and to warn them about the coming judgment of God on their oppressors.


The Structure and the Style




The next question we need to ask is: how is the Book of Revelation organized and what literary features does it use?


The Book of Revelation is not a straightforward narrative or a logical argument. It is a complex and symbolic work that uses various literary genres and devices to convey its message.


One way to understand its structure is to divide it into four main sections:



  • The Prologue (Revelation 1:1-8): This section introduces the book as "the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 1:1) that God gave to John through an angel. It also gives a blessing to those who read, hear, and keep its words (Revelation 1:3) and declares that Jesus is coming soon (Revelation 1:7-8).



  • The Letters to the Seven Churches (Revelation 1:9-3:22): This section contains seven individual letters that Jesus dictated to John for seven specific churches in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). These letters address the strengths and weaknesses of each church, commend them for their faithfulness or rebuke them for their compromise, and exhort them to repent and overcome. Each letter also contains a promise to those who conquer (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21).



  • The Visions of Heaven and Earth (Revelation 4:1-22:5): This section is the longest and most difficult part of the book. It consists of a series of visions that John saw in heaven and on earth, depicting the cosmic conflict between God and Satan, the tribulation and the judgment of the world, and the ultimate victory and restoration of God's people. These visions are full of symbols, images, numbers, and colors that have various meanings and interpretations. Some of the most notable symbols are the seven seals, the seven trumpets, the seven bowls, the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, the harlot Babylon, the Lamb, the 144,000, the two witnesses, the new Jerusalem, and the tree of life.



  • The Epilogue (Revelation 22:6-21): This section concludes the book by affirming its reliability and urgency (Revelation 22:6-7), warning against adding or taking away from its words (Revelation 22:18-19), inviting all who are thirsty to come to the water of life (Revelation 22:17), and praying for the speedy return of Jesus (Revelation 22:20-21).



As you can see, the Book of Revelation is not a linear or chronological account of future events. Rather, it is a cyclical and thematic presentation of God's sovereignty and salvation in history. It uses various literary genres and devices to communicate its message, such as:



  • Apocalyptic literature: This is a type of Jewish and Christian literature that emerged during times of crisis and oppression. It uses visions, symbols, and allegories to reveal God's hidden plan for the end times and to encourage faithfulness and hope among God's people.



  • Prophecy: This is a type of literature that speaks God's word to a specific situation or audience. It often predicts future events or outcomes based on God's will and purpose. It also calls for repentance, obedience, and trust in God.



  • Epistle: This is a type of literature that is written as a letter from one person or group to another. It usually follows a standard format of greeting, body, and farewell. It often addresses practical issues or problems that affect the recipients.



By using these genres and devices, John was able to convey his message in a way that was relevant and meaningful for his original audience and for us today.


The Message and the Meaning




The third question we need to ask is: what is the main theme and purpose of the Book of Revelation?


The Book of Revelation has many themes and purposes that can be summarized in one word: revelation. The word revelation means "unveiling" or "disclosure" of something that was previously hidden or unknown. In this book, John reveals several things that are crucial for our faith and life:



  • He reveals who Jesus Christ is: He is not only the crucified and risen Savior who died for our sins, but also the exalted and glorified Lord who reigns over all creation. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8; 22:13). He is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth (Revelation 1:5). He is the Lion of Judah who has conquered by his blood (Revelation 5:5-6). He is also the Lamb who was slain who will judge the nations by his word (Revelation 19:11-16). He is coming soon to reward his servants and to punish his enemies (Revelation 22:12).



# Article with HTML formatting (continued) The Interpretation and the Application




The fourth question we need to ask is: how can we understand and apply the Book of Revelation today?


The Book of Revelation is not only a historical document or a literary masterpiece. It is also a living and powerful word of God that speaks to us today. But how can we interpret and apply its message correctly and wisely?


One way to approach this question is to consider the various methods or lenses that Christians have used to interpret Revelation throughout history. These methods are not mutually exclusive or exhaustive, but they can help us appreciate the diversity and richness of Revelation's meaning.


Traditionally, there are four main methods of interpreting Revelation:



  • The Preterist Method: This method views Revelation as primarily referring to events that happened in the first century AD, especially the persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70. According to this method, Revelation was written to comfort and encourage the original audience who were facing these trials and to assure them that God was in control and would vindicate them soon.



  • The Historicist Method: This method views Revelation as a panoramic overview of church history from the first century AD until the second coming of Christ. According to this method, Revelation contains symbolic predictions of various events, movements, and figures that have shaped or will shape the course of history, such as the rise and fall of empires, the emergence and spread of heresies, the development and reformation of doctrines, etc.



  • The Futurist Method: This method views Revelation as mostly referring to events that will happen in the future, especially in the period immediately before the end of history. According to this method, Revelation describes a series of cataclysmic events that will occur during a seven-year tribulation, followed by the return of Christ, the millennium, and the final judgment.



  • The Idealist Method: This method views Revelation as a timeless portrayal of the spiritual conflict between good and evil that transcends any specific historical situation. According to this method, Revelation uses symbolic language to express universal truths and principles that apply to all generations of Christians who face opposition and temptation from the world, the flesh, and the devil.



Each of these methods has its strengths and weaknesses, its insights and blind spots. None of them can claim to have the final or definitive interpretation of Revelation. Rather, they can complement each other and help us see different aspects and implications of Revelation's message.


A fifth method that has gained popularity in recent years is called the Eclectic Method. This method tries to combine the best elements of the other methods and avoid their pitfalls. It recognizes that Revelation has multiple layers of meaning and application that are relevant for different audiences and contexts. It also acknowledges that Revelation is not a literal or chronological account of future events, but a symbolic and thematic presentation of God's sovereignty and salvation in history.


Whichever method we use to interpret Revelation, we should always remember that our interpretation should be faithful to the text, consistent with the rest of Scripture, respectful of other views, humble in our claims, and practical in our application.


How then can we apply Revelation to our lives today? Here are some suggestions:



  • We can worship God for who he is: He is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come (Revelation 4:8). He is worthy of all praise, honor, glory, and power (Revelation 4:11). He is holy, just, faithful, merciful, and gracious (Revelation 15:3-4; 19:11; 21:6).



  • We can trust Jesus for what he has done: He is the Lamb who was slain for our sins (Revelation 5:9). He has redeemed us by his blood from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (Revelation 5:10). He has overcome death and hell by his resurrection (Revelation 1:18). He has given us his Spirit as a seal and a guarantee (Revelation 7:3-4).



  • We can follow Jesus for what he will do: He is coming soon with his reward and his judgment (Revelation 22:12). He will wipe away every tear from our eyes and make all things new (Revelation 21:4-5). He will reign forever and ever with his saints in the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 22:3-5).



  • We can obey Jesus for what he commands: He calls us to repent of our sins and to keep his words (Revelation 2:5; 3:3; 22:7). He commands us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Revelation 2:4; 3:19). He instructs us to be faithful, pure, and holy in the midst of a corrupt and wicked world (Revelation 2:10; 3:4; 14:4).



  • We can witness for Jesus for what he promises: He assures us that he is with us always, even to the end of the age (Revelation 1:17-18; 22:16). He guarantees us that he will never leave us nor forsake us, even in the face of persecution or death (Revelation 2:10; 3:10; 12:11). He invites us to share in his glory and his joy, even in the midst of suffering and sorrow (Revelation 2:7; 3:21; 7:9-17).



Conclusion




The Book of Revelation is a remarkable and rewarding book to read and study. It reveals who Jesus Christ is, what God is doing in history, how we can understand and apply its message, and what our hope and destiny are as followers of Christ.


As we read and study Revelation, we should not be afraid or confused by its symbols and visions. Rather, we should be amazed and inspired by its beauty and power. We should not be obsessed or distracted by its details and mysteries. Rather, we should be focused and motivated by its main point and purpose.


The Book of Revelation is not a book of doom and gloom. It is a book of hope and joy. It is not a book of speculation and debate. It is a book of worship and action. It is not a book of fear and despair. It is a book of faith and love.


Let us read Revelation with reverence and awe, with curiosity and humility, with prayer and obedience. Let us hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Let us keep what is written in it. And let us say with John, "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20).


FAQs




Here are some common questions and answers about the Book of Revelation:



  • What does the number 666 mean in Revelation? The number 666 is the number of the beast, a symbol of the Antichrist, who is a human agent of Satan who opposes God and his people (Revelation 13:18). The number represents human imperfection and rebellion against God, in contrast to the number seven, which represents divine perfection and completion. The number may also have a historical reference to Nero Caesar, a Roman emperor who persecuted Christians in the first century.



  • What are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse in Revelation? The four horsemen of the Apocalypse are four symbolic figures that represent four kinds of judgments that God unleashes on the earth during the tribulation period (Revelation 6:1-8). The first horseman rides a white horse and represents conquest or false peace. The second horseman rides a red horse and represents war or bloodshed. The third horseman rides a black horse and represents famine or scarcity. The fourth horseman rides a pale horse and represents death or pestilence.



  • What is the mark of the beast in Revelation? The mark of the beast is a symbol of allegiance to the beast or the Antichrist, who forces people to receive his mark on their right hand or forehead in order to buy or sell (Revelation 13:16-17). The mark may be literal or figurative, but it signifies loyalty to Satan's system and rejection of God's grace. Those who receive the mark will face God's wrath (Revelation 14:9-11).



# Article with HTML formatting (continued) FAQs (continued)





  • What is the rapture in Revelation? The rapture is a term that refers to the event when Christ will return to take his faithful church out of the world before the tribulation period begins (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The term rapture comes from the Latin word rapio, which means "to snatch away" or "to catch up." Some Christians believe that Revelation teaches a pre-tribulation rapture, meaning that the church will be raptured before the seven-year tribulation starts (Revelation 3:10; 4:1). Others believe that Revelation teaches a mid-tribulation rapture, meaning that the church will be raptured in the middle of the tribulation, after the first three and a half years (Revelation 11:11-12). Still others believe that Revelation teaches a post-tribulation rapture, meaning that the church will be raptured at the end of the tribulation, just before Christ's second coming (Revelation 19:7-8).



  • What is the millennium in Revelation? The millennium is a term that refers to the thousand-year reign of Christ and his saints on earth after his second coming (Revelation 20:1-6). The term millennium comes from the Latin words mille, which means "thousand," and annus, which means "year." Some Christians believe that Revelation teaches a literal and future millennium, meaning that Christ will literally reign on earth for a thousand years before the final judgment and the new heaven and earth. This view is called premillennialism. Others believe that Revelation teaches a symbolic and present millennium, meaning that Christ is already reigning spiritually in heaven and in the hearts of his people until his second coming. This view is called amillennialism. Still others believe that Revelation teaches a progressive and future millennium, meaning that Christ's reign will gradually expand through the gospel until he returns to usher in the new heaven and earth. This view is called postmillennialism.



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