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Sermon delivered sans manuscript, the outline below follows my basic rhythm.  The question and answer sessions allow for an informal conversational sermon and help members of our small congregation prepare to join weekly Bible Studies.  Our Strategic Planning Team has asked that this be included (periodically) into the Sermon rotations as new members may never have experienced our style of Bible Study…

Today, I am not here to preach or to tell you my opinion, or to bring you a “message…”  Today I am here to prepare you for the next stage of our services.  I am here to introduce you to the Book of Revelation! (If you would like to follow our Lesson Plan, please download the attached WordDoc: 07October2012_Revelation)

This is going to be a little interactive, I invite you to participate…the things we talk about will help guide you as you go through the process of learning over the weeks ahead.

“Christ is neither taught nor know in [Revelation],” said Martin Luther in 1522.  What do you think?  Make an informed decision.

1. Have you read the book?

2. What do you know about it?  Or, better yet, what do you think you know about it?

  • It’s scary
  • It talks about Hell
  • It talks about the future

3. What makes this book so controversial?

  • It starts with a promise of blessings to all who read and hear the prophesy
  • ½ of the verses have an Old Testament reference (404 verses total)
    • Of these 348 are allusions/indirect quote
      • Joel: (locusts look like horses and teeth like lions)
      • Zechariah: 6:1-8 (four horsemen); 4:1-14 (4 lampstands and 2 olive trees); 1 and 10 (4 living beings); 2:8-3:2 (sweet as honey edible scroll)
      • Daniel: 7 (beasts); 10:5-6 (angel who gives revelation);

4. Should this book be taken literally?  Or symbolically?
5. Where the events talked about in the book just about the day of John or did they include future events?
6. Who was John?
7. Is this letter referring to Israel or The Church?

Don’t think/read this today only, read it again.  Remember even Martin Luther changed his mind, “As we see here in this book, that through and beyond all plagues, beasts, and evil angels, Christ is nonetheless with the saints and wins the final victory” (1530).

People Agree On These Things:

1. Location in the Bible:

  • New Testament
  • Final Book

2. Written in:

  • Koine Greek

3. Title:

  • The first word of the text “apokalypsis”
  • Which means unveiling or revelation
  • Book of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine or The Apocalypse of John (reference to Author)
  • Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ (reference to opening line)
  • Revelation (or wrongly Revelations) or The Apocalypse

4. Dated

  • Believed to be written around 95AD to 70 AD

Criticism

  • Robert G. Ingersoll: “the insanest of all books”
  • Thomas Jefferson, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, and he ignored Revelation, “merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherence’s of our nightly dreams”
  • Friedrich Engels, “it’s merely a political and anti-Roman work”
  • George Bernard Shaw, “a curious record of the visions of a drug addict which was absurdly admitted to the canon under the tile of Revelation
  • Martin Luther, 1522: “Christ is neither taught nor known in it”
  • Martin Luther, 1530: “As we see here in this book, that through and beyond all plagues, beasts, and evil angels, Christ is nonetheless with the saints and wins the final victory”

Literary Terms

1. Biblical Literary Genres

  • Epistolary: contained in or carried on by letters; suitable to a letter (Rev 1:4 to 3:21)
  • Apocalyptic: marked by distinctive literary features, particularly prediction of future events and accounts of visionary experiences or journeys to heaven, often vivid in symbolism.
  • Prophetic: uses the words prophesy, prophesying, prophet 21 times (more than anywhere else in the New Testament)

2. Interpretation

  • Historicist: see Revelation in a broad view of history; the events will be fulfilled gradually, through the centuries
  • Preterist: treat Revelation as mostly referring to the events of the apostolic era (1st century); or at least the Fall of the Roman Empire, fulfilled in 70AD
  • Futurists: believe that Revelation describes future events
  • Idealist/Symbolic: consider that Revelation does not refer to actual people/events, but is an allegory of the spiritual path and the ongoing struggle between good and evil; see it as spiritual lessons and principles in the symbolism, simply put have faith, God will prevail!

3. Story

  • Plot (Battle between)
    • Good and Evil
    • the forces of Good and the forces of Evil
    • God and Satan
  • Characters
    • Main Character: John, the Writer
    • Protagonist: Jesus, the Hero
    • Antagonist: Satan, the Bad Guy

People DISAgree On These Things:

1. But what was this book really…

  • What is the meaning of this letter?
  • Should the words be taken literally or are they symbolic:
  • Did the letter concern event just in the day of John or did it include events in the future?
  • Was John the Apostle John or another John?
  • Does this letter refer to Israel or to the church?

2. Author: see Revelation 1: 9

  • Text identifies John and says he was on the Island of Patmos in the Aegean
  • Traditionally this is John the Apostle: John (supposedly after writing the Gospel and Epistles of John) was exiled on Patmos in the Aegean archipelago
  • Recent scholars have hinted at a putative figure they name John of Patmos (the evidence AGAINST John the Baptists minimal, based on grammatical and writing style differences with the John’s Gospel.
    • Believed to have been a Jewish Christian

3. Includes important figures/images

  • Whore of Babylon
  • The Beast
  • Second Coming of Jesus Christ
  • 4 successive groups of 7
    • 7 churches
    • 7 seals
    • 7 trumpets
    • 7 bowl judgments
    • 7 stars
    • 7 lampshades
  • A Letter to 7 churches in the mainland cities of
    • Ephesus: will Eat from the Tree of Life (2:1-7)
    • Smyrna: given The Crown of Life (2:8-11)
    • Pergamum: given The Hidden Manna to eat (2:12-17)
    • Thyatira: given Power to dash Nations with a Rod of Iron (2: 18-29)
    • Sardis: will be clothed in white garments (3:1-6)
    • Philadelphia: will be made a Pillar in the Temple of God (3:7-13)
    • Laodicea: granted opportunity to sit with the Son of God on His Throne (3:14-22)

4. Note: The Book of Revelation is the only apocalyptic document in the New Testament canon, though there are short apocalyptic passages in various places in the Gospels and the Epistles.

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