Why do you want to study Revelation? This is an important question. Some people seek this information to look knowledgeable to others. Some like to discuss it because they enjoy frightening others with colorful prognostications. Some others look into it because it is now fashionable to know about Revelation. All of these reasons are improper. Revelation was written for sincere and humble servants, called of God, who seek to learn what He has been doing, is doing, and will be doing. He will reward those who diligently seek Him in faith. (Hebrews 5:6)

The Title

The title of this last book of the Bible is taken from its first verse: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John" It is important to consider the meaning and implication of this title.

When John received this message from God, Jesus had been gone from the earth for about 60 years. This was the last written message to His Church, all of whom wanted to know about his return. Revelation, while it does deal with Jesus' return, also does much more. It tells about the nearly 2,000 years which would intervene before Jesus' return. Note the words again in the first verse: "...things which must shortly come to pass." Revelation is a history in advance of the events in the religious world starting in John's day and leading into the time of the return of Jesus. One of the purposes of this booklet will be to lead you through that history. Many seem to think that Revelation is only about events when the Lord returns. Much of the book, however, is about history that, in our day, is already past.

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass..." This phrase has another implication in it. If you read it carefully, it says: "This book is about the way the understanding of Jesus will gradually be given to his church beginning with the time of his departure, and continuing through many years as the events of history clarify to all of his servants the prophecies concerning him." In other words, Revelation is not primarily about how Jesus will be revealed when he returns, but rather it is primarily about how he will be revealed to his Church while he is yet absent — how the events of history will gradually allow the church to understand Jesus' power and presence with them before his personal return. Understanding this major concept will change the way this book is interpreted. The book does deal with his personal return, of course, but verse 1 cautions us against stressing this one event.

* This booklet will use the King James version of the Bible since it is yet the most common English Bible in use. If different translations are helpful, they will be specified.

Does It Mean What It Says?

You may have noticed in verse I another peculiar phrase: "...he sent and SIGNIFIED it by his angel..."

Many people quickly fall into erroneous interpretations of Revelation because they fail to note this phrase. "SIGNIFIED" here means "PUT INTO SIGNS (OR SYMBOLS)." This booklet will help you learn how to interpret these symbols. First, however, it is mandatory that we believe the first verse and realize that this book is in symbols or a code language. When it says "beast," it does not really mean a beast; when it says "heaven," it may not mean heaven; when it says "angel," it may not refer to an actual spirit-being. Difficult? Yes! Once the symbols are unlocked, however, the results are, indeed, beautiful — as we might expect from a book By God, GIVEN to Jesus, SENT through an angel, and WRITTEN by the Apostle John.

Last For a Reason

Revelation is placed last in the Bible for a reason. Not only was it the last book written, but it presupposes that its readers will have a working Familiarity with all of the other books of the Bible which come before it. Revelation does not stand alone. In it are quotations and references to other parts of the Bible. To study Revelation without a knowledge of the rest of the Bible is like trying to study calculus before learning arithmetic.

A successful appreciation of Revelation relies on a solid background of Scriptural information and principles. The next chapter will attempt to summarize the Biblical story. Without this information, going further will be fruitless. The study of Revelation will require scholarship, faith, and prayer, but "blessed is he" who knows and lives by what he finds. (Revelation 22:7)

Next Chapter