The Revelation is the only prophetic book of the NT and it is the keystone of the Word of God. The Holy Scriptures start with a revelation on the past (Genesis 1) and they end with a revelation on the future.
The Revelation is a very solemn book speaking much about divine judgments but it is also a wonderful book in which we find the completion of God’s ways up to eternal glory.
As with all prophecies the Revelation also is not easily understood. This is why it is sometimes called “the book with seven seals” and is much neglected by many Christians.
The main thought of OT and NT biblical prophecy is the still future introduction of the reign of the Lord Jesus’ over creation as well as the preceding events, especially in relation to Israel, God’s earthly people.
The assembly of the Living God, the body of Christ, is not mentioned at all in OT prophecies. The assembly or church is subject of a divine mystery revealed in the NT only (compare Ephesians 3:2-11).
The assembly also plays a subordinate part in the NT prophecies. This heavenly company’s expectation is not centred on happenings of the last days. It is much rather centred on the coming of the Lord Jesus to rapture the believers.
And this rapture will happen anytime (compare Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:20). Most biblical prophecies including the ones in Revelation concern the time after the rapture.
There have been many attempts up to the present day to interpret the Revelation in a different way. The Past Interpretation sees the battle of Christendom gaining strength against heathen Rome ending with faith’s victory. The historical interpretation sees in it a description of the whole time of Christendom.
This way of interpretation was especially popular during the time of Reformation: Luther for example saw the Antichrist in the Pope. The spiritualizing method looks at the book as timeless symbolizing the fight between good and evil.
The correct way however to consider the Revelation is to look at chapters 4 to 22 regarding the future (see also paragraph 2 Purpose and Subject). This view has already been seen, in part, by the Church Fathers.
The book of Revelation is the fulfilment of every biblical prophecy. It cannot be understood without knowing the OT prophets (Ezekiel and Daniel especially), nor without knowing the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 24; Matthew 25; Matthew 1 and 2 Thessalonians.
The language of Revelation is largely symbolical. One can only explain these symbols in connection with the Holy Scriptures as a whole and especially in connection with prophecy as a whole. For we learn from Peter, in 2 Peter 1:20, “…that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”
The Revelation is the only book in the NT mentioning John as author. John mentions his name four times in the book (Revelation 1:1; Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:9; Revelation 22:8). Justin the martyr (around 100 to 165 AC), Irenaeus (around 140 to 220 AC) and the Muratori Canon (end of 2 nd century) confirm that the Apostle John is the author.
He is the author of the forth gospel and of three epistles. Irenaeus also mentions that John has written the book of Revelation towards the end of the Roman emperor Domitian’s reign. Domitian reigned from 81 to 95 AC.
According to Revelation 1:9 John was in the isle called Patmos which is 50 miles off the coast of Asia Minor (now Turkey). This is where he wrote the Revelation of Jesus Christ around 95 AC upon God’s command.
If we were to conclude from that, however, that the Revelation is addressed to the seven churches of Minor Asia mentioned at the beginning we would misunderstand the purpose of the Holy Spirit.
The final words of Revelation which are directed to all the saints contradict this thought.
But the introductory words of the book also distinctly show that the Revelation is directed to all Christians.
Blessed is he who reads and they who hear the words of this prophecy.
The number seven of the churches in Asia Minor (chap. 1:11 and chap. 2 to 3) is the expression of divine perfection and points to the fact that the whole church (or assembly) is spoken of.