Why the subtitle?

I heard an archaeologist of repute make a comment about the 'Mushrooms of Patmos' and I thought "what's that about?" and "that could be the title of a book!". Had to get it in somewhere as a challenge to investigate the Book of Revelation more fully, a book which is often sidelined, except for a few favourite quotes.

The Approach

From time to time I have read what some 'big names' have written about the Book of Revelation.
Interesting, frightening, bizarre, parochial, narrow minded - adjectives which spring to mind...
Other descriptions include : great, wonderous, mysterious, fantastic, confusing, blessing!

I read the newspaper - I see the violence and deception John describes in the Book of Revelation.

I look at history - I see the outworking of the things John describes. Though I do not see verse Y fulfilled by X in year Z.
Unlike Nebuchadnezzar's dream of Daniel 2 (which is so accurate, was it written in modern times?).
Other parts of Daniel? Surely must have been written late 20th century (post 1917, 1948, 1967)!

Then one day a church advertising a Sunday morning series on the Book of Revelation caught my eye.
Interesting approach, one which I could feel comfortable with.
The final word on the matter? - unlikely.

However, I thought I would to jot down a summary in my own words and see where that took me.
Not got very far at this point, although I did create an article category for that purpose.
After sometime it occurred to me that I could at least start to write an introduction!

The Purpose

The book of Revelation, as its very name states, is an unveiling a peeling back of the heavens allowing us, the reader, to glimpse things unseen to the naked eye. In this series we will see how Revelation's major theme of King Jesus triumphing over the enemy serves as the ultimate encouragement to his followers today.

The book of Revelation has a dual nature:

  • Pastoral - teaching Christians how to live lives faithful to God and Christ in the midst of a hostile pagan world. The letters to the seven churches and the following visions are linked. Present-day realities in the life of the church and the world, recorded in the letters, are also found portrayed in the visions.

  • Prophetic - picture of the sovereignty of God working through the ups and downs of human history. It gives a heavenly perspective on the victory of God.

The visions in Revelation are described in the order in which John saw them. The visions overlap / go back in time so are not a linear progression of human history, rather they are the same events viewed from different perspectives.

The books has three major messages for believers:

  • The way of the cross is the path to final victory.
  • God is sovereign over human history.
  • The history which began in the first garden-temple ends in the garden-temple of the new Jerusalem.

The Benefits

Near the end of John's Gospel he outlines the purpose of his book "that you may believe" John 20:31.

In his first letter he outlines why it is written "to make your joy complete" 1 John 1:4

At the beginning of the Book of Revelation John declares a blessing on those "who hear it and take it to heart" Rev 1:3.

In each of these he claims to be an eyewitness - touched, seen, heard.

Wow! This sounds like big stuff - ignore it at your peril!

The Author

So who was the Apostle John?

  • Disciple of John the Baptist.
  • Witnessed Jesus' baptism.
  • In his gospel refers to himself as the "disciple who Jesus loved".
  • Recorded the words "For God so loved the world that he gave ...".
  • From the cross Jesus asked John to look after his mother, Mary.
  • Only disciple not to die a violent death.

Date of Writing

Identifying Rome with Babylon suggests a date after the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem AD70. The imperial cult of emperor worship was initiated by Domitian (81-96), early Christian leaders, including contemporaries of John, place the date of writing around AD90. After writing Revelation and the end of Domitian's rule John appears to have been released from Patmos and 'retired' to nearby Ephesus.

Old Testament Allusions

Unlike elsewhere in the New Testament there are no direct quotes of Old Testament, but Revelation is full of Old Testament allusions, more than elsewhere. We must interpret Revelation using the Bible itself as our base, not current news reports.

Why the Use of Symbols?

The use of symbols in Revelation is possibly rooted in the same reason Jesus used parables. The purpose of using parables was to render the gospel message hard to understand for unbelievers, whose hearts were thus further hardened. However, the parables serve to drive those whose hearts are right deeper into a desire for understanding (Matthew 13:13-14, Proverbs 4:5-9).