Revelation #1 Introduction 7 Keys Necessary To Understand Revelation


Revelation #1 Introduction 7 Keys Necessary To Understand Revelation

 During the next few weeks, we are going to be exploring the book of Revelation.

 It is a fascinating book.  Easily misunderstood, but if rightly understood is truly one of the most revealing books in the Bible.

 Revealing what, you may ask, and I ‘m glad you did.

What is this book about?

 Revelation 1:1 (NIV)

 The revelation of Jesus Christ,

which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.

In the original language, the word revelation is written as “apocalypsis”

which means an unveiling, a disclosure, and a making known.

 What is being revealed?  Jesus Christ.

 1.  That’s our first key to understanding what is written.

 Everything we read is about Jesus--This book has a message that tells us who this Lord Jesus Christ is and the result of His work.

2. The next key to understanding Revelation is to realize that the author, John, used a style of writing very familiar at the time that scholars have named Apocalyptic Literature.

Now apocalyptic literature has some unique characteristics--

They include:

 a.  Symbolism--meaning is veiled under parables and symbols, even numbers are symbolic.

 b.  Crisis--the audience is people going through a very difficult time.

 c.  Upheaval--Nothing short of divine intervention can right the wrongs.

 d.  Triumph of Good--even though things look impossible for the good guys,

win in the end.

 e.  Determinism--events propel us down a path that seems to be laid out, like fate, that gives meaning to the events that are transpiring.                

f.  Dualism--good is pitted against evil. 

As John reveals to us Jesus, he will use all these tools to convey his message.

 3. The next key to understanding Revelation is critical. 

Any interpretation of what is written can only be valid if the meaning we understand would have made sense to the original audience.                  

We dare not budge from this principle: The words that the author used can not have meant something other than what the author intended them to mean. John writes from a certain culture, at a certain time, using symbols that were readily understandable in his time. So the next key, actually it’s an extension of the last, we must look to the time and culture and what was happening in the world at the time that John was writing.

 When did John write? Sometime during the last two decades of the first century, most likely around 95 AD  

 John was being held as a political prisoner on the island of Patmos, a place known as Patino today. How do I know that John is a political prisoner? Because Patmos is where Rome sent the political prisoners they did not execute. What was John’s crime against the state? He was a believer.

 Rev 1:9 (NIV)

 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

 When you know what was going on in the Roman world around 95 AD,

It is easier to understand the meaning of the words that John has written.

 4.  The fourth key to understanding the Book of Revelation is John didn’t write in a vacuum. 

 In other words, he didn’t make this stuff up, he used the Hebrew Bible what we call the Old Testament today --the first 39 books in your bible. This is where a lot of symbolism comes from. There is also imagery from other sources he utilized.

 5.  Another key to understanding Revelation is not to switch our interpretation stance back and forth from literal to figurative. 

By literal I mean that we will take the words written at face value and not allow them to have a figurative or metaphorical meaning. By figurative I mean that we will allow the words to paint pictures of meaning for us and not take them literally.

John uses primarily figurative language--That is very much in harmony with the apocalyptic style of writing he is using to convey his message to us. So we will allow John to use his words as a painter and the page as his Canvas.

 6.  The sixth key to understanding Revelation is a very difficult concept.         

Our brains have been trained to think in a Western culture. When we talk about the end and the future, We usually use those words interchangeably. But there is a distinction.                                               

Revelation 1:19 (NIV)

"Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.

 Revelation does not predict the future. Revelation paints a picture of the end. The end state. 

Now that sounds like double-speak so let me try to explain. Webster defines end to mean: a point that indicates the full extent of something; the conclusion. Revelation tells us about the full extent of Jesus' work. John tells us that because of what Jesus has already done, this is what the rest of history will end up looking like.

 When we talk about the future, we get bogged down immediately in thinking that this is what must happen between “now” and  “then.” We are usually very ego-centric when we do so. This scripture has been around for close to 2,000 years.  It has meant something to every generation that has ever read it. But we tend to take this book and make “now” its starting point and then scan the headlines and say— look it’s written in Revelation. What we do when we read Revelation is to place ourselves on a timeline. We make a logical conclusion that since the “end” has not yet occurred, the following events herald the end, they predict the end is coming. Every person who has approached the Book of Revelation from this point of view has misinterpreted it.

 John tells us that because of what Jesus has already accomplished this is the final result. He doesn’t tell us how history will unfold, He tells us what the end will look like.         

7.  The seventh key to understanding the book of Revelation is that it communicates the same message to every generation that reads it.                 

 i. Everything we read is about is somehow related to Jesus— 

ii. The author used the Apocalyptic genre to communicate his message. 

iii. Any interpretation of what is written can only be valid if the meaning we understand would have made sense to the original audience. 

iv. John makes use of the Old Testament 

v.  John wrote in a figurative style 

vi. Revelation is a picture of the end, it does not predict the future. 

vii. Revelation communicates the same message to every generation that reads it.

 With those seven keys in mind let’s see what John has to tell us about Jesus and ultimately how we should live our lives in the light of who Jesus is.

 Now if you are going through a really tough time, today, steal 15 minutes and read chapters 20 and 21.  These chapters describe where things are headed, this is what it looks like when it’s all said and done. Don’t give up. 

For next time you can prepare for the teaching by reading chapter 1 of Revelation. 


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