As we study through the Book of Revelation on Monday nights, we’re going at a fast enough pace that we’re not to spend time on some of the more complex details in the book, or on the discussions that have surrounded the book throughout church history. Nevertheless, for those of you who’d like to do more study, I want to share some resources that have helped me think about the book of Revelation.
I plan to start collecting them all on one page for easy location. But, for now, here’s three articles you might be interested in. These are from a theological journal, which is an academic journal (like the sources you use for papers in college) published by a seminary or theology department of a university. These particular articles are all written by Robert Thomas, who wrote one of my favorite commentaries on Revelation.
(One note: in these circles, the book of Revelation is often called “The Apocalypse.” Don’t get confused–they’re not talking about the battle of Armageddon or the return of Jesus. They’re talking about the book of Revelation.)
Here you go:
The Structure of the Apocalypse – From the abstract: “The number of divisions of the Apocalypse, a longstanding problematic issue, finds its best resolution in allowing for the structural dominance of the numbered series in the book. Though a theory of recapitulation in dealing with those series has its merits, stronger evidence militates against such a system…Recapitulation does play a supporting role in some of the book’s sections…but the overall scheme of the book is that of progression, not repetition.”
(Translation: The structure of the book of Revelation helps you interpret it, and understanding that the book does not retell the same story several times helps you know what’s going on as the action progresses.)
The Kingdom of Christ in the Apocalypse – From the abstract: “In spite of admitted limitations in knowledge about the future, a fairly good understanding of the kingdom of Christ as it is portrayed in the last book
of the Bible is possible. Though allowance is made for a present aspect of the kingdom, the time of the kingdom in its ultimate form is clearly future. The location of the kingdom is fixed in the earthly sphere rather than a heavenly one. The nature of the kingdom is political and outward in the common understanding of the terms and not merely spiritual and hidden… The span of the kingdom covers the period between Christ’s second coming and the creation of the new heavens and new earth, a period of one thousand years on earth as it is now known, and then an unlimited phase after the new creation.”
(Translation: We don’t have to settle for thinking that we can’t really get any details about the future from the book of Revelation. For instance, the Millennial reign of Christ on the earth is real, and it’s awesome.)
Promises to Israel in the Apocalypse – From the abstract: “Recent opinions that Israel’s covenants and promises are missing in Revelation 20:1-10 have rested on poor hermeneutical foundations. Three major OT covenants with Israel are prominent throughout the Apocalypse and therefore are foundational to what John writes in chapter 20. God promised Abraham a people who are quite visible in Revelation 7, 12, and 14, and in 2:9 and 3:9, where physical descendants of Abraham are in view. The geographical territory promised to Abraham comes into view in 11:1-13 as w ell as in 16:16 and 20:9. Close attention is given to the Davidic Covenant in 1:5 and 22:16 and many places between, such as 3:7, 5:5, and 11:15. The New Covenant comes into focus whenever the Lamb and His blood are mentioned in the book, and particularly in 21:3 which speaks of a new relationship with God. Obvious references to God’s covenants with Israel are often ignored because of deviations from sound principles of interpretation by those who practice what has been called eclectic hermeneutics. According to Revelation, God will in the future be faithful in fulfilling His promises to Israel.”
(Translation: When John writes about Israel in the book of Revelation, he means Israel–not the church.)