Keys to Interpreting Revelation (Article)
AUTHOR AND DATE
Revelation was written by a man named John (1:1), most likely the disciple named John, the son of Zebedee, as suggested by early church tradition and indicated by links between Revelation and the Gospel of John.
John likely wrote Revelation in the mid-90s AD, near the end of the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian, while in exile on the island of Patmos.
Revelation unveils and interprets the unseen spiritual forces operating behind the scenes of past events and events to come.
Revelation is heavily dependent on Old Testament events and symbolism. This follows the interpretive principle of interpreting Scripture with Scripture.
Revelation is a book of prophecy in both senses of the word, namely, forth telling (past and current events at time of writing) and foretelling (future events from the time of writing).
As apocalyptic and prophetic literature, Revelation often utilizes the resources of poetic symbolism - imagery, metaphor, simile, and allusion.
Revelation is addressed to first-century churches in seven cities of the Roman province of Asia as representative of all Christ’s churches.
The general movement of the book is from “the things that are”—the first-century churches’ present situation (Chapters 2-3)—to “the things that are to take place after this” (Chapters 4-22).
Within the general temporal movement, however, visions “double back” to present distinct, complementary perspectives on the same event or phase of the cosmic conflict between Christ and Satan. This means that the order in which John received visions does not necessarily indicate the chronological order of the events they symbolize. We often see different but complimentary perspectives of the same historical or future event.
The overall aim of Revelation is to call Christians of all times to be faithful to Christ amid spiritual war against Satan and sin.
Revelation orients the church in the spiritual war that she is engaged: the cosmic conflict between God and Christ on the one hand, and Satan and his evil allies (both demonic and human) on the other.
The book of Revelation is a triumphant vision of God’s final victory over all the forces of evil in the world through Jesus Christ. Revelation reminds us of the gracious purposes of God in to strengthen his church.
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. – Revelation 1:3
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. - Revelation 1:5b-6