The Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Lecture notes by Dr Don Hender.
‘When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense, other wise it becomes non-sense’. Take the Word of God literally, unless symbolism becomes obvious and then it becomes explained in the same context perhaps, i.e. chapter, book or found explained in Scripture elsewhere, e.g. dragon, satan and the devil in Revelation 12.
Genesis is the commencement. Revelation is the consummation of all things. Parallels of many facts found in both books, e.g. garden, creation-new creation, river, tree of life, plus some opposites, e.g. man formed: man transformed; sin entered: sin barred; Paradise lost; Paradise regained; ground cursed: no more curse.
Christ is the First and the Last Word; the Alpha and Omega.
Three Methods of Interpretation.
1. Clement of Alexandria originated the non-literal view, with Origen and later Augustine, motivated by their anti-millennial, or non-literal acceptance of Scripture. The first two centuries of the early Church, in addition to the New Testament epistles, held the Premillennial and literal acceptance of the Word of God. Clement, Origen and Augustine claimed spiritual interpretation was the true interpretation, as opposed to the literal interpretation of Scripture, especially Biblical Prophecy. Though the early Church regarded the ‘spiritualisation’ of Scripture, especially Prophecy, as heresy, the later influence of Augustine has affected the Church right down to this present day. These men were responsible for turning the early Church away from the Premillennial, literal interpretation of Scripture, especially Prophetic Scripture. Theirs was called the Allegorical or Spiritualisation of Scripture.
2. The Preterist view. This view holds the opinion that Revelation is a record of conflicts of the early Church with Judaism and Paganism, with the closing chapters showing a picture of the triumphant Church. It is a historic rather than a prophetic view. Hendrickson, who has a well known commentary on Revelation dismisses both the historic and futuristic views, assuming that the book was intended for the use of the first century Christians to whom a detailed prophecy of the entire Church Age would have no meaning. Hendrickson suggests that the book is symbolic as a word of encouragement to early Christians suffering persecution, and illustrating the ultimate triumph of Christ. This Preterist view destroys any future significance of the book. Preterist means what is already past.
3. Historical view. Total Church history culminating in the Second Advent of Christ. Joachim, a Roman Catholic scholar is largely responsible for this view. Strange that this view is was adopted by the Reformation period and since, which counteracted the falseness of the Roman Catholic Church. The problem with this view is that each generation put themselves as the climax of the book of Revelation! Thus it was repeated in every generation that the Pope was the Antichrist and one beast of Revelation 13. The identification of various personnel, placing them in Revelation context clearly states that this cannot be the correct interpretation.
The historical or spiritual interpretations characterise modem A-millennialism.
4. The Futurist View. This is the view Premillennialists hold, i.e. the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is before He sets up the Millennium, i.e. the Church does not set up the Millennium by its Gospel efforts. (This is Post-millennialism). The Futurist view sees the future from Revelation 4, though the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3 does have some future view as well as a historical view of the Church through the Church Age. Chapters 4 to 19 relate to future events preceding the coming of the Lord to the earth, the Second Advent. This is generally regarded as the chapters covering the seven years of Daniel 9:24-27, with the emphasis upon the second 3½years of the Great Tribulation, also called the ‘Day of Jacob’s Trouble’. Revelation 19 describes the coming of the Lord to the earth and its results concerning the two Beasts, the nations, the nation of Israel, linked with Zechariah 14. Always compare Scripture with Scripture. Revelation 20 refers to the Millennium Kingdom, with chapters 21&22, the same plus what follows the Millennium – New Heaven and New Earth.
The Futurist view alone allows for literal interpretation of the book of Revelation, especially following chapters 1 to 3. Daniel and other, Old Testament prophets clearly enhance the Futurist view, concerning the end of Gentile powers and the salvation of Israel, as a remnant nation. Even many New Testament letters, plus the words of Jesus in the Gospels, strengthen the Futurist view.
John Calvin wrote commentaries on every book of the Bible except Revelation. As he took the Historical view as a Reformer he felt he could not adequately provide a commentary on the book of Revelation. This is not surprising.
Rev. 1:1 – ‘Things which must shortly come to pass or take place’. Shortly or quickly, does not mean soon. It may take 2000 years, as it has done before God acts according to His Word. The word ‘shortly’ or ‘quickly means ‘suddenly’, as in 22:20. The Greek for ‘shortly’ is ‘en tachei’ which means quickly or suddenly coming pass, indicating rapidity of execution after the beginning of an action takes place. The idea is not; that the event may occur soon, but that when it does, it will be sudden. A similar word ‘tachys’ is translated ‘quickly’ seven times in Revelation, ending with 22:20. When the Lord does act, He acts with swiftness, suddenness, unannounced. We may get our word tachometer from this Greek word. It is used for measuring speed and velocity, when it occurs, as well as perhaps distance. The flood was sudden and dramatic, so also destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah – swift and decisive, when it came. It had been promised long, when the judgment came, it was sudden. The first coming of Jesus was promised long before, about 700 years, by Isaiah. When God does act, it is sudden, rapid, decisive and purposeful (see Galatians 4:4 re: first coming). He always achieves His objective. The events of chapters 4 to 19 cover a brief period of time, though detailed. The events will happen with great rapidity of succession and speed of occurrence. This will be especially so regarding the final seven bowls of wrath to be poured out in the second 3½years of the Great Tribulation. The mills of God grind slowly but surely for all this long time, then suddenly, action! (see Isaiah 48:3, 5a, 6-9, 12). The parable of the servants in Matthew 24 especially verse 48, ‘if that servant shall say in his heart, my lord delays his coming’… etc. The parable, may seem to suggest the context of delay. Not so. God’s wisdom directs His actions. He is never early or late, always on time. Wait, watch, work and warn the world. In these days it is very relevant for the Church to watch for His coming (1st Thessalonians 1:10).
See Titus 2:11-13. He is coming first for His Church and at the end of the Tribulation period, Christ will return and we will return with Him (Jude 14:15; Revelation 5:10) to the earth. He will reign from Jerusalem and over the nations.
The next great event is 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18. When events begin eventually to happen, they will occur with rapid sequence and succession. Note suddenness and speed of Matthew 24:27, ‘as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be’. Revelation 22:12, ‘Behold, I am coming quickly (suddenly), and my reward is with me, to give to everyone according to his work’. World events seem to get faster and come on the world scene rapidly without warning these days. When the Rapture and Resurrection of the true Church takes place, events will happen with swiftness and sureness. Consequently His revelation to this earth will come with similar, sudden, swiftness. Parables of the Talents, Matthew 25:14,19 and the Pounds, Luke 19:11-12 suggests long time, but then sudden action coming again.
The parable of the Unjust Judge tells us that God will speedily avenge His elect (Luke 18:8). Note – will Jesus find real faith on the earth when He comes back, suggesting possibly not, because faith comes by hearing (Romans 10) and our ability to hear and receive faith comes by the hearing of the Word of God. That is becoming less and less now with many substitutes for the exposition of the Word of God. Where is the Bible expository ministry today? Where are the Bible teachers being raised up today?
Revelation 22:10, The book of Revelation was never sealed up and hidden from man. Also, the instruction given to Daniel, chapter 12:4&9 was to seal up the vision given to him until the time of the end. Now Daniel is truly being unfolded, unlocked and unsealed today.
Revelation 1:3 & 22:7 means read and grasp this book’s teaching.
“Blessed” One whom God makes fully satisfied, not because of favourable circumstances but because God indwells the Believer.
He that reads (singular), they (plural) who hear (collective listening). 1st Timothy 4:13 says, ‘Till I come give attention to public reading of Scripture.’ They (all believers, plural), who keep this word in their hearts, are affecting their lives and longings. Note the seven blessings in Revelation 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7 & 14. Why is the book of Revelation rarely read, listened to & pondered in our hearts? (Mary pondered over her revelation) – why not the Church of all this present Age ? (See Luke 2:19).
Revelation 1:3 – Time. Gk. Kairos. Means the necessity of taking action at a certain time, whether convenient or not. It is the right time and right opportunity comes for certain action in order to fulfil foreordained events. Kairos is a distinctly different word from ‘chronos’.
‘The words of this prophecy’. The book must be prophetic and not otherwise. Remember the above differing views.
‘The time is at Hand’. ‘Kairos’. Not immediate fulfilment, but will come with swift rapidity when God appoints the time. It does not mean ‘soon’, but it does mean ‘sudden’, swift and brief, when compared with the time waiting for the events to happen in history.
NB. The events mentioned in chapter 6 and up to the Second Coming of the Lord in chapter 19 cover the seven years of the Great Tribulation, the Day of Jacob’s Trouble (for Israel – but Israel will be delivered out of it, (Jeremiah 30:7). Many events are recorded for such a brief time. The seven bowls of wrath, spoken of in Revelation 16 take place rapidly in the second 3½ years of the Great Tribulation, the judgments of God continuing to chapter 19.
Matthew 24:31-44, referring to Israel, is a suggestion of suddenness of occurrence, not the nearness of the time. Nearly 2000 years have gone by already. The prophesied events will happen and suddenly too. Noah was a preacher of righteousness for 120 years, then came swift retribution judgment against sin with devastating rapidity, though it appeared slow in coming. It came in time, at the right time, of God’s appointing.
Matthew 24:22. ‘Shortened’ there means ‘limited’, in duration of time, not reduced length of days or hours.
Revelation 1:11 – ‘Write what you have seen (and heard, verse 12 onwards). NB. I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. We hear God’s voice from what we read and see from His Word.
Chapter 1:19 – ‘Things which are’. Chapters 2 & 3 and hereafter. Chapters 4 to 22. For example.
Chapter 4:1 & 8 – ‘After these things.. the things that are… I looked… I heard… again the voice spoke of the things which take place after this’ This verse gives strong indication that the interpretation of this book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ must be the Futurist view, even though for chapters 2&3 we accept the historical view may be accepted providing we can also see the Futurist view even there, also. Verse 8 says that the Lord God Almighty ‘which was, and is, and is to come.’ This relates to chapter 1:19. ‘Which are… and are to come’, indicating present and future events.
Consider chapter 1:3 again. ‘Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things that are written there: for the time is at hand.’
Deuteronomy 4:2 says. ‘Do not add to the Word that I command you, neither shall you take away from it, that you may keep the commands of the LORD your God which I command you’. This has a parallel in Revelation 22:19. ‘If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life and out of the holy city and from the things ‘that are written in this book.’
Christians will not do this, but liberals and apostates certainly will endeavour to try to.