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                        "THE BOOK OF REVELATION"

                           Concluding Thoughts

As stated in the introduction to this study, the book of Revelation is
unique in that it contains apocalyptic literature. Filled with figurative
and symbolic language, it has been subjected to much abuse by many who 
have proposed to interpret it, especially by those who take a futuristic
approach to the book.

I am persuaded the key to handling and understanding Revelation properly
is to let the first three chapters set the context in which the book 
should be interpreted.  In those chapters we learn that the book:

*  Was intended to be understood (a revelation = an unveiling) - Re 1:1

*  Was about things that would soon take place, not thousands of years
   later - Re 1:1,3; 22:6,10

*  Could be understood even by an individual reading to a public audience
   - Re 1:1

*  Is filled with signs and symbols ("signified"), likely understood by
   the original readers - Re 1:1

*  Was addressed to seven specific churches in Asia, so any 
   interpretation must first be applicable to those churches and their
   times - Re 1:4,11; 2:1-3:22

*  Was written to churches who had already experienced persecution from
   unbelieving Jerusalem and pagan Rome, with more to come - Re 2:9-10,13

*  Contains promises to those in the seven churches who overcome by
   remaining faithful, even to death, which promises are mostly depicted
   in their fulfillment by visions later in the book - Re 2:7 (cf. Re
   22:2,14); Re 2:11 (cf. Re 20:6,14; 21:8); Re 2:26-27 (cf. Re 20:4-6);
   Re 3:5 (cf. Re 7:14-17; 20:12,15; 21:27); Re 3:12 (cf. Re 7:15;
   21:1-27; 22:4); Re 3:21 (cf. Re 20:4-6; 22:5)

The theme of the book is clear:  Jesus is coming to judge! He now
reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords! (Re 1:5,7; 11:15; 17:14).  His
coming judgment(s) as depicted in Revelation involve judging churches 
(Re 1-3), unbelieving Jerusalem (Rev 4-11), pagan Rome (Rev 12-19), 
Satan and the world (Rev 20-22).

Efforts to interpret the book should give special attention to clarifying
statements found throughout the book like these:

*  "...where also our Lord was crucified" (Re 11:8) - identifies the city
   being judged in the first half of the book as Jerusalem. 

*  "Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of
   the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666." (Re
   13:18) - makes clear that the identity of the beast could be known by
   the original recipients (likely "Nero Caesar", or the "Latin One")

*  "Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven 
   mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings. Five
   have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he 
   comes, he must continue a short time. The beast that was, and is not,
   is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to
   perdition." (Re 17:9-11) - Identifies the harlot as being supported by
   Rome.  Also, that whatever the beast represented, it "is not" at the
   time of the writing of Revelation.   That suggests to me that the book
   was not written during the time of Nero or Domitian, but more likely
   during the reign of Vespasian. Similarly, that "kings" could not
   symbolize world empires, for that would rule out the Roman empire as
   having anything to do with the identity of the beast (since the Roman
   empire was in existence at that time). 

*  "These words are true and faithful" (Re 21:5; 22:6) - This expression
   prefaces and concludes the description of the new heavens and new 
   earth, along with the New Jerusalem, the holy city which descends out
   of heaven from God.  "True" means "real, genuine" and "faithful" means
   "trustworthy".  This suggests to me the possibility that the 
   description of the eternal state of the redeemed in Re 21-22 are more
   realistic and reflective of that which is to come than were the 
   visions seen earlier throughout the book (which were clearly 
   symbolic).  It certainly coincides with other scriptures that are not
   figurative in their context (cf. He 11:16; 13:14; 2Pe 3:13-14).

Despite its challenges, I find the book of Revelation fascinating and
filled with much benefit for the Christian today.  Studying Revelation,
we learn of Christ's power and sovereignty over the kingdoms of this
world.  Like other books of the New Testament that may have been written
to address specific situations affecting churches in the first century,
we can make application to our own lives should we find ourselves facing
situations similar to those endured by the Christians of the first 

And remember, at some point Satan will be released once more to deceive
the nations in a last attempt to destroy the church (Re 20:7-10). Should
we find ourselves living at that time, let us never forget the key 
passage in this book:

   These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them,
   for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with
   Him are called, chosen, and faithful. (Re 17:14)

So with the aid of Christ and the rest of the New Testament to guide
us, let us heed these words of the apostle Peter...

   Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens 
   and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved,
   looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him
   in peace, without spot and blameless; (2Pe 3:13-14)

And may our attitude always be that as expressed by the apostle John at
the end of Revelation...

                  Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Re 22:20)
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