Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Introduction to The Revelation

   Though he wrote a commentary on the rest of the Bible, Mr. John Calvin, a noted Bible teacher, and originator of the Calvinistic branch of theology felt too inadequate to do a commentary on The Revelation.  

   According to the common consensus, The Revelation is the hardest book in the Bible to explain, and yet there are more commentaries on The Revelation than on any other book of the Bible.

   Many learned scholars and deep-thinking servants of God hold other views, concerning The Revelation, then I have expressed here.  My intention was to study The Revelation and to make some notes of my own, now that I have done that I would like to share my findings with you, my readers.

Literal or Symbolic

   One of the interesting things in this study has been to notice the almost innumerable interpretations of any given text.

   We were taught that if plain sense makes common sense seek no other sense.  The trend in my Bible studies is to take a very literal interpretation of the Bible whenever possible, but obviously, if horses have lions heads, 9:7-8, we must admit that we are not reading about normal horses. 

   A careful reading shows that much of The Revelation is figurative.  One example is 17:1, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, and 17:15 says, The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.  So we see, the harlot (who is not really one woman) is not sitting on many waters literally, but rather she is involved in the lives of the people of many nations.  Allowing figurative language is not the same as spiritualizing the truths; the practice of spiritualizing Biblical truths and facts, is, as it should be, taboo in good Bible commentaries.

  Some feel comfortable spiritualizing the Apocalypse; some call it a work of fiction; some, like me, like to take everything in the Bible literally; however, The Revelation does not co-operate with literalists, and so the symbolic approach is freely used in this study.

The argument for the re-arrangement of subject matter in these posts, it seems to me, are stronger than the arguments against it are.  Many Bible teachers insist that The Revelation must be followed through in the order in which we have it recorded.  With that view in mind it is not surprising that The Revelation is impossible to understand.

The Outline 

A different approach is taken here; The Revelation is divided into five parts:
a) The introduction,
b) The main body,
c) Individual scenes that must be interlaced into the main body,
d) the afterlife and
e) the conclusion.

   To get any meaningful grasp on The Apocalypse it is imperative to re-arrange 12:1-22:6 into the correct sequential order and then dovetail those sections into the proper place into 6:1-11:19. In these posts, that adaptation has been made to help better grasp the picture.

The Jerusalem Bible, in its introduction to The Revelation, puts this slant to the problem of the repeated information.  There are repetitions and interruptions, and there are passages out of context.  One promising hypothesis is that the strictly prophetic part of the book is made up of two different “apocalypses” written at different times and later conflated.  That is the premise that is being followed here.  This re-arrangement shows up before we even start chapter two of our studies.

   Surely, no one who has studied The Revelation will dogmatically insist that he has all the right answers and that anyone who disagrees with him is categorically wrong.  Even while studying and writing about The Apocalypse, at many places one wavers as to the position that needs to be taken.

   If you are planning to follow along with these posts, there are a few things you might appreciate knowing.

   Bible quotations are in red, other quotations are in blue, and when I put words into peoples mouths they will be in purple.  The text used is the New King James Version and if another version is used the difference is noted.

   In Greek, the word "Apocalypse" has the same meaning as "The Revelation" does in English, and this study uses the two titles interchangeably.

   This is the outline I purpose to follow:

A. The Introduction to The Revelation 
B. Conflict 
C. Letters to the Seven Churches
D. John Visits Heaven
E. The First Six of the Seven Seals
F.  Six Trumpets and Six Bowls of Wrath
G. The Great City
H. The Seven Angels
I.  The Little Book
J.  Harvest Time Has Come
K. The Rapture Takes Place
L.  The Saints Worship Jehovah

  According to Shakespeare, Polonius said, To thine own self-be true.  Therefore, I post those ideas that I believe to be true, or at least consider to be worth thinking about as being true!

   In the next post, we will start our studies of The Book of the Revelation. I will keep the posts short so that you need not devote a lot of time at any one sitting, and yet, the plan is, that we will come to the end of the book before the end of time.

  I hope that even though some of the thoughts and the arrangement expressed in this blog, are not orthodox, they will at least be a blessing to you, the reader. 

Thanks for joining me.

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