1 It is usually connected to a historical situation (in this case, Domitian’s persecution of Christians).
2 The message is usually presented through visions.
3 There is an element of prediction present
4 There is a strong use of the dramatic element, for vividness.
5 Symbols (i.e., where ideas, etc. are represented by concrete things) are prevalent throughout apocalyptic literature.
6 Numbers are used often in Revelation. Here are some possibilities as to what they represent:
|5||humanity (5 fingers)|
|6||falls short of perfection. 3x – malevolence|
|12||God’s people. (12 tribes. 12 Disciples. 144000 = 12 x 12 x 1000)|
|3 ½||Mid point of a total complete thing|
Apocalyptic Literature was often used to encourage persecuted Christians.
Regarding interpretation, try to “study each scene and each image in light of what Revelation itself tells about them, in light of relevant OT backgrounds, and in view of other historical information of which Joh’s first-century audience would have been aware” (KBH, p. 445). Guard against interpreting symbolic imagery too literally.
If you believe that the events described in Revelation (4-22) are in the future, then a present day application would be to ensure that you make wise choices in your life (i.e., “in light of this vivid picture of God’s future triumph through Christ.”23)