The vision John received in Revelation opens with instructions for him to write to seven churches. He both commends them for their strengths and warns them about their flaws. Each letter was directed to a church then in existence, but also speaks to conditions in the church throughout history. Both in the church and in our individual lives, we must constantly fight against the temptations to become loveless, immoral, lenient, compromising, lifeless, or casual about our faith. The letters make it clear how our Lord feels about these qualities.
This revelation is both a warning to Christians who have grown apathetic and an encouragement to those who are faithfully enduring the struggles in this world. It reassures us that good will triumph over evil, gives us hope as we face difficult times, and gives guidance when we are wavering in our faith. Christs message to the church is a message of hope for all believers in every generation.
Written by the apostle John (Revelation 1:4), brother of the apostle James who was martyred in A. D. 42 by Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:2).
John may have either been exiled to Patmos himself or there voluntarily as a witness to the Jews exiled during the reign of Nero (A. D. 54-68), rather than during the reign of Domitian (A. D. 81-96).
To Whom Written:
To “the seven ekklesias which are in Asia” (Revelation 1:4). Although delivered to the leadership of the dispersed Jews of John’s day, the fulfillment of the book is entirely in the distant future. I am beginning to take more of a partial preterist view on the end times.
In his book, Approaching the Bible, Michael Penny placed the martyrdom of John (Matthew 20:23; Mark 10:39) in A. D. 61 or 62, shortly after Acts 28:28. Revelation could not have been the last book of the bible written, as that privilege was reserved for Paul (Colossians 1:24-26; II Timothy 4:6-7). Stories told about the late first-century “John of Ephesus” (who died at a very old age in his bed) are not consistent with the truths written by the martyred apostle John. We have no writings of the so-called John of Ephesus, and the stories about him came from Polycarp, who also left no writings. Thus, the stories were third-hand, from Polycarp’s disciple, Irenaeus, and later from Tertullian.
The purpose for the book of Revelation was to prophesy events that will be shown unto the servants of God living in a yet future dispensation. Aside from the introductory verses (1:1-9), Revelation is a book of prophecy concerning the Day of the Lord (including the later tribulation period, the 1,000-year parousia of Christ, and the “little season”) and then continuing on to the Day of God (the new heavens and new earth). It does not pertain to the current dispensation of grace or the coming Day of Christ (the kingdom of God that fulfills the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 and encompasses at least 500 years).
To download a PDF outline of Revelation click here.
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