INTRODUCTION TO THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST
Rev 1:1-2 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
This book of the Bible is often referred to by the descriptive name Apocalypse, a Greek word meaning that it is a book containing many prophecies and lifts the curtain on their disclosure. From the lesson text we know that the Revelation originated with God. It was His word, which He gave to His Son, Jesus Christ, and He was to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass. By a miraculous vision, Jesus sent it by His angel unto His servant, John, who wrote these things and bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. It is the revelation of God, told to Jesus Christ, told to His angels, told to John, and was finally told to all people of the world.
As we begin this study of The Revelation of Jesus Christ, given to His apostle John, we immediately notice that it is entirely different from other New Testament books. It is not a historical recording of Jesus Christ, as we find in the first four books, known as the Gospels, nor is it like the book of Acts, which is a testimony of the establishment of His Church by His apostles. Likewise, it is not a doctrinal discussion of God's commandments as those found in the epistles. The Revelation is a book of prophecy designed to reveal the future. However, it must be understood by its readers, that it contains only the revealed future as it relates to the church of Christ. It is a book about which there has been more disagreement and less scriptural understanding by bible scholars, as well as all readers of its pages.
Although there is much debate on these basic facts, the vast majority agree that its author was John, the brother of James, the son of Zebedee, and a beloved apostle of Christ Jesus. It was most probably written during the latter portion of the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian, which would give it a date of approximately A.D. 95 or 96. It was written from the island of Patmos, to which John had been banished by Domitian, in his attempt to destroy Christianity through extreme persecution. John, known to the Roman government as a chief follower of Christ, was exiled to this small rocky isle, which lies off the coast of Asia Minor in the southern part of the Aegean Sea. It was, and remains, a desolate island, only ten miles long and six miles wide. It was used by the Roman government as a place to banish criminals, and here John was sent. And, according to Christian tradition,Johnremained there approximately eighteen months. It was while exiled on the isle of Patmos that John received this Revelation of God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Views of the Revelation differ from one extreme to another. Some say that the revealing visions of John apply mainly to the Jewish nation, as well as to Pagan Rome, and other countries under its dominion. Contrary to this, others hold that the prophecies found in this book apply mainly to future religious and worldly events. Then there are those that claim that these scriptures contain events that, although were to take place in the future, but afterwards were fulfilled and now are considered to be historical in nature. The latter interpretation seems to be more accurate since John, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, stated that the prophecies contained in this book were things which must shortly come to pass. They were future events that that would shortly become historical. The Revelation was certainly not a full outline of all history, but only that which applied to the future triumphs and tribulations of His body, the church of Christ.
John was to record the things he saw in a series of visions, which represented future events that were soon to take place. These events were portrayed to him as symbolic pictures that seemed to pass before his eyes. The meaning of each symbol, brought to our attention in this study, will be, to the best of my ability, defined and discussed in order to gain the most from the verses of this Revelation, which was observed, and recorded, by the apostle John. The overall scope of this book brings most bible scholars to conclude that false religious teachers and pagan powers would attempt in various ways, and over many decades of time, undermine, persecute, and destroy the soul-saving influence of the church of Christ.
Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand (Rev. 1:3). We must read, hear, understand to the best of our abilities, and keep what is written in these scriptures. Their fulfillment was near at hand.