Next week I start the extended series on the book of Revelation and by then many people will have had the opportunity of registering for email notifications and so will be able to follow the series from the very start. If you haven’t yet, please click on the little green plus button at the top to sign up for the series.
The book of Revelation (in the NIV) begins with the words ‘The revelation of Jesus Christ …’. The word ‘revelation’ is a translation of the Greek Apokalipsis, which means a disclosure, an unveiling of Jesus Christ, from Jesus, and about Jesus. If taken as a subjective genitive or genitive of source (excuse the technical jargon) it means ‘given by or from Jesus’; if read as an objective genitive it means ‘about Jesus’. So, verse 1 of chapter 1 can be expanded to read ‘The revelation of, from and about Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.’
This first verse reveals much about what is to follow:
It identifies the book as a form of prophecy; it is God speaking to His people. It is conveyed from The Father, to Jesus the Son, who transmitted it via an angel to the apostle John, who then wrote it and sent it to the church.
It centres the book on Jesus – The Lord Jesus presented then, over time, now, and at the end of all things as we know them. This is a vitally important ‘revelation’ – it’s all about Jesus. If we fail to see this then we will misinterpret much of what follows in this complex and often mysterious last book of the Bible.
It alerts us to the fact that the action and events depicted will ‘soon’ take place in that the events prophesied will start to occur in John’s own time. Some Bible teachers have taken the ‘soon’ to mean that everything revealed must happen in a very short space of time and therefore at the very end of the age, but by teaching this, they effectively push almost all of the contents of the book into the 21st century or beyond. If this were indeed so then most of Revelation would be of little value to believers from John’s day right through to our time. This cannot be so if we accept that the Bible is the inspired written Word of God for all of the church age.
The mention of an angel also alerts us to how the book is formulated and it soon becomes obvious that angels are consistently featured as the narrators, or at least conveyers, of the revelation. In fact, as you will see later, they are the only characters in the book not depicted by symbols and stylised pictures – instead, they are the ones who deliver and help interpret the mysterious pictorial language of revelation.
Verse two defines the content of the book as ‘the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ’. This seems to indicate two separate but joined sources, but it is better to understand the phrases as parallel to one another: In other words the Word of God is the testimony of Jesus Christ. This is confirmed near the end of the book where it states that ‘the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’ (Rev 19:10 NIV). The Amplified Bible makes matters even clearer when it translates this verse as; ‘for the substance of the truth revealed by Jesus is the spirit of all prophecy’.
Now, prophecy is God communicating with us and so we can be encouraged that God is saying something important to us in and through the book of Revelation. It is not a sealed up mystery awaiting some future interpreter, it is for us, just as it was for all believers who came before us. So, if it is prophecy, and it is all about Jesus, then it is both important and relevant, and you and I need to comprehend it. This excites me and I am looking forward to experiencing more of the Lord Jesus as we discover Him together through this series of posts.
Remember Rev 1:3; ‘Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy…’. I recommend that you read through the book of Revelation before and while we embark on this journey together.
To encourage you further I include here a testimonial from someone who attended the recent series that I presented at the Lonehill Village Church.
“It was an immense privilege attending Dr Christopher Peppler’s six-week course on the book of Revelations. Dr Peppler’s wisdom, insight and in depth study of provided me with an eye-opening experience. I used to be a little fearful of the end of days; now, I realise Revelations and the Bible are indeed the ‘Greatest Love Story’ ever penned. I am filled with hope, faith and excitement at what the future holds.
Dr Peppler has the most wonderful manner – his words are reassuring; his wisdom is astounding and his ability to share knowledge is unsurpassed. Thanks to Dr Peppler’s gift of teaching, my love for Jesus has grown. Thanks to this incredible short course, my relationship with God Almighty has been enriched.
All I can say is that if people have the opportunity of joining a course given by Dr Peppler, they are to quite literally jump at it!” SAM