This post follows on from two previous posts on the book of Revelation. In the previous posts I argued that the vision of Revelation 4-22 is telling a single, coherent story, and then explained how the first 3 chapters of the book connect to what follows. That structure indicates that it is important to be clear of the messages given in Revelation 2-3 if we are to hear Revelation 4-22 correctly. This post attempts to draw out those messages to the 7 churches, so we can tune in correctly to the visions that follow.
The other day, I wrote about my reading through the book of Revelation, as I seek to work out the kind of book and how it communicates. This post follows on from that, and looks at how Revelation 1-3 connects with Revelation 4-22. Where do the letters fit in? What is the structure of the book as a whole?
I've been reading through the book of Revelation, asking myself what kind of book it is, and how we are meant to read it to hear its message. I've found myself wondering if I've been asking the wrong questions. I used to see the most important step in interpreting Revelation to be finding the key to map it onto the real world. I now wonder if the most important step is to enter into and follow the story. Stories have power to teach without needing to be an exact allegory.
I assume colour is significant in the book of Revelation.
I was reading chapter 20, and realised that in Revelation 20:11 we have a "great white throne" and someone seated on it. This takes us back to Revelation 4:2, where we had a throne with someone seated on it. But this one is specifically white.
In this book we have
I often hear it said that if you join a local church, you haven't just joined a branch of the church, or a part of the church. You are a member of the church. Each local church is the church. At the same time, the church throughout the world is one.
One thought just struck me that makes this clearer.
In the book of Exodus, the people are told how to build a tabernacle, a tent in which God can live. One of the pieces of furniture in that tabernacle is a golden lampstand. It symbolises that God lives amongst his people.
In February 2017, General Synod refused to take note of a report by the House of Bishops on human sexuality. I wrote on this at the time: It really is time to choose.
I'll just park this here for future reference.
Sometimes you see writers say that certain parts of the Bible are written in the "apocalyptic" style of writing.
Recognising the "genre" of part of the Bible can be very important when it comes to reading it properly. For instance, parables and historical narrative communicate in very different ways; you'd completely misread the gospels if you confused them.
It's customary to refer to Revelation chapters 2 and 3 as the "Letters to the Seven Churches".
As I've studied, and we've preached, our way through these chapters, I'm not convinced that's the best heading to give them.
In fact, the whole of Revelation is a single letter. It's an epistle, like Philippians is. We get that from verse 4 that begins:
“John, to the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace …”
The whole of Revelation is a letter. It was written to seven churches in Asia Minor.
I've heard Revelation 3:20 used many times in an evangelistic talk: Jesus stands at the door of your life and knocks — will you let him in? Here's the verse:
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.