7 Interpretive Helps for Revelation

Justin Childers has a helpful post on interpreting the book of Revelation.

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1. Revelation focuses on Jesus Christ.
The point of this book is to make known the power, might, glory, and victory of the Lamb.

2. Revelation is given to reveal (make known).
The purpose of this book is not to confuse, but to reveal. Revelation is not trying to hide something. Its intent is to show something clearly.

3. Revelation must be interpreted in light of the rest of Scripture (particularly the OT).
MacArthur says 278 of its 404 verses allude to the OT Scriptures.

4. Revelation must be interpreted with humility.
Godly scholars vary in their interpretations on this book. Being dogmatic about something that is not clear is unwise. Humility demands that we use words like, “most likely,” “possibly,” “sometimes,” “could,” “may,” and “probably.”

5. Revelation has an original audience (like every other Biblical book).
Revelation is a letter written to real churches. Real original readers were supposed to hear the content of this book and be encouraged. Thus, interpretations that neglect the original readers should be suspect.

6. Revelation was written to suffering Christians.
The purpose of this letter is to encourage persecuted Christians to hold fast to the gospel. It is written so that Christians could know with certainty that the Lamb will triumph.
“God gave us Revelation not to tickle our fancy, but to strengthen our hearts.” –Poythress

7. Revelation is about Jesus Christ.
Since this is Revelation, I had to have a list of “7.” So, I just restated the first one to make the most important point again.

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I love Justin’s final point. Perhaps I would make the seventh point this: Revelation is given to prepare us and whet our appetite for Jesus Christ’s appearing and the consummation of all things in Him.  “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

One thought on “7 Interpretive Helps for Revelation

  1. I agree with your first 6 points, but would add as the 7th. It is that the revelation is also sent to the end-time generation. “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place”, as it says in Mark 13:30 and Luke 21:32

    I was puzzled by the book of Revelation for many years and searched for a way to understand its meaning. Revelation begins with the charge that it is a message to show Jesus’ followers “the things that must shortly take place”. Why shortly unless it is referring to those who will be living in the end times.
    Revelation clearly says that we need to understand the revelation message, yet it seems unclear. Why would God send us a message that we could not understand and then expect us to follow it? How could we understand the truth? This was the first challenge of Revelation to me. A second challenge comes from the book of Matthew. Jesus said, “See that no one misleads you”. The bottom line, Jesus challenged us to try to understand the book of Revelation and to not be misled.

    There are hundreds of interpretations and thousands of writings containing people’s views of the revelation. Who should I believe? As I studied and prayed for a way to address these challenges a thought came to me; could it be that Jesus has left us the information we need to unlock the mystery of the book of Revelation elsewhere in the Bible? This began my effort to assemble all the verses in the Bible that address the end times to see if they would guide me to greater understanding. This is what started me on the journey to write a book. It is an amazing story that is different than what I expected when I began. Jesus has provided us what we need to unlock Revelation, and I believe that the Holy Spirit showed me the way.
    The key is that Revelation was written out of chronological order at God’s direction to conceal its meaning until the end-times. But why would the Apostle John, who was directed to write the revelation by God, write it out of order? The answer is that he didn’t. He was told to “Write in a book what you see.” Do you see the key? Revelation is confusing because it appears to be written in chronological order but is not. It is like a play that God showed John, but several scenes were shown to him out of chronological order. As a result, each generation could read events from their own time into the revelation events. This would lead them to believe that they were living in the end-times while preserving the true meaning of the revelation to be discovered as the end-times draws near. In this way people could read the same words over hundreds of years yet the details of the revelation could be seal up until the generation is alive that God wants to show “the things which must shortly take place”.

    The reordered text reveals a new paradigm for understanding Revelation and answers many of the questions that have plagued Christians for hundreds of years.

    Charles Huettner, Author
    Jesus Reveals Revelation
    http://www.jesusrevealsrevelation.com
    August 29, 2008 1:31 PM

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