OceanSide church of Christ
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A STUDY OF REVELATION (3)
Victor M. Eskew
A. If a class is asked which book of the Bible they would like to study, many would request the book of Revelation.
B. At the outset, let’s make three points.
1. The title of the book is Revelation, not Revelations.
2. It will be impossible for us to come to absolute agreement on this book.
3. There is a blessing pronounced on those who read the book (Rev. 1:3).
C. After the introduction to Revelation, we will be studying the book chapter-by-chapter.
D. Let’s begin with an Introduction to Revelation.
I. THE NAME OF THE BOOK
II. THE AUTHOR OF THE BOOK
III. RECIPIENTS OF THE BOOK
IV. THE PLACE OF WRITING
V. THE THEME OF THE BOOK
VI. THE KEY VERSE: Revelation 17:14
VII. THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK
VIII. NUMEROLOGY IN THE BOOK
IX. THE DATE OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION
A. NOTE: The date of the book will determine how a person interprets the figures in the book of Revelation.
B. All revelation was completed before the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
1. In Daniel 9:24-27, the prophets sets forth a series of events that would transpire before the fall of Jerusalem. One of them is “to seal up the vision and prophecy.”
a. The words “to seal up” mean “to close up, to complete, to finish as in sealing up a letter, or to make an end.
b. Thus, the prophet tells us that visions and prophecy would be completed and finished before the fall of Jerusalem.
c. If this is the case, then all revelation came to a conclusion prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans armies in A.D. 70.
2. A similar argument was advanced by the late Franklin Camp in the book, The Works of the Holy Spirit in Redemption, pages 43-61 in a discussion of Joel 2:28-32.
C. Arguments for the A.D. 70 date and the destruction of the city of Jerusalem.
1. The Syriac Version of the New Testament
a. Some refer to this version as the Peshito (simple).
b. It was made in the second century.
c. It is the earliest of the direct versions.
d. This version places the Apocalypse during the reign of Nero, hence, before the destruction of Jerusalem.
e. “This fact is cited by MacDonald, in The life and Writings of John, on page 171, as follows: ‘In the Syriac version this book is entitled: ‘The Revelation which was made by God to John the evangelist in the island of Patmos, into which he was thrown by Nero Caesar’” (as quoted by Foy E. Wallace, Jr. in The Book of Revelation, p. 28).
2. The persecutions mentioned in the book are well-suited to the time of Nero.
a. Two verses:
1) Revelation 2:10
Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried ten days…
2) Revelation 3:10
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
b. Nero’s persecution was the first major persecution of Christians in the empire.
1) The city of Rome burned in A.D. 64. Nero needed a scapegoat and blamed the tragedy on Christians.
2) This would set the stage for the persecution of Christians which would soon follow. “Inasmuch as the persecutions in the Apocalypse were impending, and yet lay in the future, it identifies the date of the Book of Revelation in the reign of Nero and before the destruction of Jerusalem” (Wallace, p. 29).
3) Nero’s persecution was extremely intense. “But, if one will turn to Tacitus and other historians who covered the reign of Nero, he will find persecution of the magnitude described by John. Not only was Nero’s the first ‘state’ persecution by the Romans, it was also extremely intense spreading from Rome to the area of Asia to which Revelation was written, and it lasted some four years; until the suicidal death of Nero in 68 AD, and was never equaled in intensity” (Avenging His Holy Saints, Apostles and Prophets, D. Gene West, p. 39).
4) NOTE: It was Nero who gave the order for the siege of Jerusalem which resulted in the destruction of the city.
3. The reference to the fact that these were impending events.
a. John tells the seven churches of Asia to read, hear, and keep the things written in the book. He exhorts them to this end because these things are shortly come to pass.
1) Revelation 1:1
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass…
2) Revelation 22:6
And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
3) Revelation 22:10
And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
b. The word “shortly” means “quickly, soon, speedily and immediately.” It refers to something that is “near at hand, or impending.”
1) “Hence, the word cannot refer to occurrences hundreds or thousands of years in the future” (West, p. 66).
2) “Metzger put the matter very bluntly when he said, ‘The word soon indicates that John intended his message for his own generation’” (West, p. 67).
c. If these events were far into the future and not really applicable to the readers there would have been no reason for the readers to be that concerned about the things that were written.
d. If they were going to transpire in a matter of months and years, it behooved the readers to take heed and prepare for the events to come.
e. “The description of these events is parallel with and an extension of the same events more briefly pictured in the Lord’s summary of them in Matthew 24.
4. There is mention in the book of the Jews being part of the hardship these Christians were suffering.
a. Two verses:
1) Revelation 2:9
I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
2) Revelation 3:9
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
b. Prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jews were very antagonistic toward the church.
5. The letter notes the activities of Judaizing teachers within the churches.
a. Revelation 2:2
I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.
b. “But after the destruction of Jerusalem, the demolition of the temple, and overthrow of their theocracy and the end of the Jewish state, the activities of the Judaizers became nonexistent, and their influence null and void” (Wallace, p. 31).
6. The images found in Revelation indicate that the Jewish state was still in existence.
a. Revelation 7:4
And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
b. If Israel had fallen, these symbols would not have meant as much to the readers.
7. The representation in the vision that the temple of Herod was still standing
a. Revelation 11:1-2
And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
b. Again, if the temple had already been destroyed, this figure would not carry the importance that it does.
8. There is the indication that apostles other than John were still living.
a. There were some still traveling about trying to deceive the church into believing they were apostles (Rev. 2:2). In the mid 60s, several of the apostles were still living. The churches did not personally know all of them. Therefore, a person making a claim to be an apostle would need to be tested.
…and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.
b. The death of an apostle would have been widely reported. If the date is the late date, all of the apostles except John had died a martyr’s death. Those at Ephesus would have known John. If another came to them, they would not have to try him. They would merely reject him because he was not John the one apostle still living.
9. The date of the book is assigned to the sixth emperor of Rome