Considerations when studying Revelation

When studying Revelation it tends to be a book which gets to be an area of two extremes, one is if a person focuses on it almost exclusively to the exclusion of other parts of the Bible, the other is to neglect it, often for fear of either not wanting to deal with the imagery, or for fear of creating dispute. Neither was is Biblical, and we need to study Revelation within its proper perspective of the rest of Scripture. On top of this, it is impossible to study Revelation fully without studying the rest of scripture as well. During the presentation in this class we see Dr. Ed Hindson discuss how Revelation takes for granted that we know some of the imagery used such as the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, while at other times it seems as though John is attempting to describe the indescribable.[1] Both are definitely true and therefore while there is figurative language it is also literal as well. This is part of why the language of the book of Revelation is troublesome to classify to make life easy for the Bible scholar.

With this in mind, Revelation is definitely an apocalyptic letter. While it is an apostolic letter, there is also elements of an epistle, specifically with reference to the churches who are mentioned in the first four chapters of the book. This section is being written to the four specific churches as an epistle. However, there is a historicist perspective, which often considers these churches to be stages or parts of the church. As Hindson would say, the puritans considered themselves the pure church.[2] We know this to be false, but this approach does have some merit. We shouldn’t say that a specific part of the church is the church in Philadelphia for example, but we can see some patterns of the universal church fulfilling parts of the description with this view. However, its not worth making any type of big deal out of, but it is worth noting because at any point in time a local church could be any one of these churches. Basically, we need to realize that we can apply entire book of Revelation not only as future events to be fulfilled, but also personally to ourselves, and the church in which we are involved. This is even true later on in the book where it shifts more into visions where we can see the wrath of God falling upon the world, there are parts we can apply to our lives. For example we can see the reign of evil that has grasped the world, and we can notice the overwhelming rule of evil and how our world continues to get worse.

Therefore, we see that while there are portions of the book of Revelation that are Epistles in nature, they are still partial prophecy since the book as a whole is prophecy from start to finish. This also helps to give hope for Israel since Israel as a nation must be restored, and then we can also see the church is going to avoid the tribulation, but will continue to exist as a remnant through the witnessing of the 144,000. Beyond this, there is much more in store for those who come to Christ after the rapture as well as Israel, and therefore there is a hope and a future for both Israel and the Church. Which is essentially a futurist perspective to hold.

[1] Daniel Mitchell and Ed Hindson, “Presentation: Mapping the End Times in Revelation,” Liberty University, accessed September 25, 2014, http://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=/webapps/blackboard/execute/courseMain?course_id=_99188_1.

[2] Daniel Mitchell and Ed Hindson, “Presentation: Mapping the End Times in Revelation,” Liberty University, accessed September 25, 2014, http://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=/webapps/blackboard/execute/courseMain?course_id=_99188_1.


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