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The Book of Revelation Decoded (Revelation Bible Study)





 
Are you confused, perhaps bewildered by the symbolism and mystery of the Book of Revelation? Most of us are. Revelation seems to be written in some sort of code that we have to have special knowledge to break.

I googled "decode Revelation" and found about 189,000 references. Yep, there's LOTS of confusion out there. And people are cashing in on it big time. Look in any book store and you can find a plethora of books to aid you in this "demystification."

Chances are you already have the codebook to deciphering Revelation. No need to buy one that's probably wrong anyway. It's your Bible!

To understand the symbolism of Revelation, there are two things that are necessary:

  1. Knowledge of the historical world context in which it was written.
  2. A great deal of familiarity with the Bible itself, especially the Old Testament.


The Historical Context

Christian Persecution


Revelation was most likely written late in the 1st century BCE. The writer, John, may have been the Apostle or someone else by that name. We know that he received his vision on the Roman prison island of Patmos, off the coast of modern-day Turkey.

Paul had been imprisoned because of his Christian beliefs and practices. In many respects he was fortunate. The penalty for not recognizing the Emperor as a god was death, and that penalty was enforced more strongly in Asia Minor than anywhere else in the Roman Empire.

Jewish Background/Old Testament Knowledge


The writer of Revelation unquestionably had extensive knowledge of the Old Testament. And his intended audience was believers in Jesus Christ who generally had this background as well. So John did not give Old Testament references as he described things. He assumed that what he was talking about would be obvious to the reader.

Today, most of us don't have that level of familiarity with the Old Testament, so we're left confused and fumbling to understand. We'll be "deciphering" these symbols and cross references as we continue our study of Revelation. For now, if you re following along with this study, look at the cross-references in the margins of most Bibles. Follow those and you will likely see where John found the foundation for a particular "mysterious" image.

History and OT Knowledge Combined


When we combine the persecution of Christians with the knowledge that most had of the Old Testament, the purpose of the symbolism becomes much clearer.

Apocalyptic writing is an "unveiling." In modern usage, we've come to think of it more as pending destruction, quite wrong!

John wanted those on the inside, Christians with a strong Jewish background, to be able to easily understand what he was saying. At the same time, he wanted the Romans to be confused and see Revelation as nonsense. That was important. His life and the lives of believers depended on it!

Revelation still raises many questions for us, especially with the when and how of the End Times. But when we have a grasp of the context in which Revelation was written and an intimate knowledge of the Old Testament, most of the mystery of the symbolism simply fades away.

This blog is part of an ongoing series based on my notes from a weekly Bible Study. For all of the blogs in this study, see: A Study of the Book of Revelation: Index of Blogs

Shalom,
Art
Alive in The Word

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Posted: Dec 15 2010 12:08:40pm by Art Schnatterly+
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Art Schnatterly+ (@aliveintheword)
Dec 16 2010 08:04:22am
  Jeff, thanks for the comment.

I refer to Paul as the writer because the "author" of the most of the words/message was Jesus Christ Himself, delivered to Paul in a vision.

Biblical scholars are divided on whether the Apostle Paul was the writer of Revelation. See my blog: Who Wrote the Book of Revelation?

In the end, it is the message of Jesus that is important, not who recorded His words. This is true of every Book of His Holy Word.

Daniel is one of my favorites. It is the OT's apocalyptic (unveiling) literature.

God's Word is the ultimate authority... always!

I deeply appreciate your input. This blog is a part of what will be a very long study of Revelation. It's an amazing Book!

Shalom, Art

Keldon Salyer (@ktsalyer)
Dec 16 2010 07:24:08pm
  I too like what you had to say on the subject. Just one interjection, John most definitely wrote the book of Revelation. It is said several times throughout the book. Other than that, good job. :)

Author: Art Schnatterly+
Posted Dec 16 2010 10:32:14pm
  TK. :welcome: to CB! We're delighted to have you join us.

I apprecaite your visit and comment.

As to the write of Revelation, John is identified as the writer, but he does not identify himself as the Apostle. John was a very common name during this time.

Christian tradition holds that it was indeed John the Apostle who reported his vision. I believe that to be the case. However, he would have been well into his 90's and would have survived exile on Patmos. These were very harsh conditions for anyone of that age.

Please see: Who Wrote the Book of Revelation? (Link in the comment above)

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Art

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