Chapter 1 of
"Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment"
Initial considerations for the
study of Revelation
The Origin of Revelation
God the Almighty is the author of Revelation, and thus the book has its origin in his mind, coming, originally, from the Heavens where he abides. This is affirmed in the very first words of the Revelation.
"The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place." Revelation 1:1
So then, the “God and Father” of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:5-6) “who gives life to everything” and “who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see,” (1 Timothy 6:13-16) is THE ONE who authors Revelation, giving it to his Son Jesus Christ!
So simple an assertion! Its very simplicity is rather disarming, I would think, to the truly objective mind. Like: “Why doubt it?” Not even a greeting at the beginning. Just a plain, clear affirmation using elementary words.
And so profound. A “revealing” of things that must -not "might," but "MUST"- take place beginning in the near future. A “revealing” by that Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified in Jerusalem about 30 a. d. How did he come by that “Revelation?” God his Father gave it to him! Where? In Heaven, for Jesus had left Earth 65 years before Revelation was given to John, as we shall see when answering the question: When was Revelation written?
And so encompassing! Why was the “revealing” given? The answer from God himself: “…to show his servants what must soon take place.” Beings in Heaven; beings on Earth. Communication between them on future events and situations of such importance that they merit a supernatural revelation. Interaction and communication on a grand scale.
If all this is not true, then John would have to be categorized as one of the greatest and most astute deceivers of all time. “John, you wrote all that revelation stuff yourself, from beginning to end, inspired by other apocalyptic literature of your times. You are just smarter than most, making it sound like what you wrote really did come from a supernatural source. Yes, you are astoundingly bold to affirm in your first words that what you write is from God himself. But that is not true; you deceive."
"Mr. John, I say Revelation is your own phantasmagorical, mystical, superstitious creation in a setting of first-century Christianity and your own theology-cosmology. You were ‘unschooled,” just ‘ordinary’ (Acts 4:13) when that Jesus of Nazareth called you, but, man, you have become quite educated over the years, haven’t you? Writing in excellent Greek with such style, color, concision, vigor, and mind-boggling imagery. How is that? Anyway, most of your ‘Revelation’ makes no sense to anybody, especially in our enlightened world.”
Much like the rest of the New Testament, Revelation contains a powerful and impressive mixture of both the positive and the negative. While respectfully reading and studying it objectively brings blessings, treating it disdainfully, even derisively, exposes one to the opposite.
“Makes no sense,” not to any and everybody, but, mostly, to people with little spirituality, little knowledge of the Bible and history, little awareness of where they actually stand on the timeline the world rolls along, little or no appreciation for symbolic imagery and language, little interest in digging into these subjects, even though they have the power to help determine eternal destinies, etc.
Personally, my firm conviction is that no, really intelligent, objective human being with ample understanding of Revelation could ever make such crass accusations against the apostle John, and I back that conviction with all the data in this commentary. For it is not just the initial words of John that have the ring of truth but a substantial part, if not the whole, of the entire book!
Of course, much study of some scenes and projections, as well as of unaltered history, is required to appreciate the truth and logic in them. Revelation is definitely not for the intellectually lazy nor “ignorant and unstable people” who “distort” what they find “hard to understand” or appreciate in the Bible. 2 Peter 3:16. Common sense would instruct them not to even dabble in Revelation until they have greatly increased in mental-spiritual statue. It is for the one “who correctly handles the word of truth,” of which Revelation is a part. 2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Timothy 4:12-16
Granted, some of these affirmations and observations are on the subjective side, but, not entirely without weight, I think.
So then, all those spectacular scenarios and powerful dramas of Revelation were formed in the mind of God the Father before they were ever given to his Son Jesus Christ. Whether he inscribed them on a very high-speed computer chip and gave it to Jesus or used some other much more sophisticated, celestial method to communicate them to him, I dare not speculate and it is, after all, beside the point. The POINT is: If all that is in Revelation originated in the very MIND of GOD, IT MUST BE SUPREMELY IMPORTANT! Could not be a mere hodgepodge of meaningless mysticism, of undecipherable prophetical nonsense.
“God “who lives in unapproachable light" is THE ONE who authors the BOOK of REVELATION.
That is the case if you believe, as I do, based on a mountain of evidence, that the God of creation and the Bible is sane, honest, truthful, supremely intelligent, and anything but a supercilious concocter of religious fantasies. He therefore would surely not give “his servants” (Revelation 1:1) a document so weird, dense, convoluted, dark, deep, and mythological that a great part of it would be of no value to them whatsoever. Do you agree?
According to that very plain affirmation in Revelation 1:1, four beings played distinct roles in the procedure of making known to the church, and, by means of the church, to all humanity (Ephesians 3:10-11), the book of Revelation, a circumstance that adds to its importance. Three celestial beings and one human being. The four are:
God the Father is the one who conceived the book and composed its message.
Jesus Christ received the content of the book from his Father.
An angel received “the revelation” from Jesus Christ.
The apostle John received “the revelation” from the angel.
Who Wrote Revelation Down
Here on Earth?
The apostle John did. He himself affirms he received Revelation, together with the order from God the Father and Jesus Christ to “write” it “on a scroll.”
Revelation 1:1. God "made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw…"
Revelation 1:4. "John, to the seven churches in the province of Asia."
Revelation 1:9. " I, John… was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day, I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: 'Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea."
Revelation 22:8. " I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things…”
The following writers from the 2nd century and the first part of the 3rd century of the Christian Era testify that the apostle John received and wrote the book of Revelation:
Justin Martyr (c. 100 – c. 165 a. d.), Irenaeus (130 – c. 202 a. d.), Clement of Alexandria (150 – 215 a. d.), Origen of Alexandria (185 – 254 a. d.), Tertullian (Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus. Circa 155 a. d. to after 200 a. d.), and Hippolytus of Rome (170 – c. 235 a. d.).
Where was Revelation received and written?
"…on the island of Patmos.” Revelation 1:9
The location of Patmos, its size, and topography.
Patmos is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea, between the mainland of Greece and the area that was the Roman province of Asia, now a part of Turkey.
“The island is 10 miles long, and
about 6 wide along the northern
coast. It is for the most part rocky.
The highest part is Mount Elias, which rises to a height of over 800 ft. As in Greece, and in the adjacent mainland of Asia Minor, the land is treeless. In Roman times Patmos was one of the many places to which Rome banished her exiles. In 95 AD, according to a tradition preserved by Irenaeus, Eusebius, Jerome and others, John was exiled here - in the 14th year of the reign of Domitian - whence he returned to Ephesus under Nerva (96 AD).”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.