Download PDF: Revelation Bible

When studying the book of Revelation, it is important to note, first of all, that it is comprised of 3 genres: epistle (1-3), prophecy, and apocalyptic. As such, it reflects characteristics of the corresponding genre (see earlier sections on epistles and prophecy). The apocalyptic aspect of the book is the most complex; therefore, it helps to understand some of its characteristics and what to expect from it:22

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:

# Possible Meaning
1 unity
2 partnership
3 Trinity
4 world
5 humanity (5 fingers)
6 falls short of perfection. 3x – malevolence
7 perfection
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)

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