Revealing Revelation – The First and Last

08Mar11

It is at this point we begin our overview and review of the Book of Revelation. This is not going to be, by direct intention, a commentary of the entire book, but rather a systematic overview of the themes previously discussed as they appear in the book. For a verse by verse commentary or a more in depth look at the Book of Revelation I would recommend the following:

  • Revelation, Four View: A Parallel Commentary by Steve Gregg
  • Back to the Future by Dr. Ralph Bass
  • The Days of Vengeance by David Chilton

Though there are several other options out there the above contain the system of interpretation that will be employed here. My highest recommendation would be the parallel commentary by Gregg as it is easy to read and presents the four basic views side by side for comparison. Also, I should note the Dr. Kenneth Gentry will be releasing a full commentary on the book of Revelation shortly.

With this post we will be dealing with the theme of the first and last chapters of the book of Revelation. Even a cursory glance should enlighten the reader as to the primary theme the threads itself throughout the entire book. The “soon” coming of the judgment against the enemies of Christ and His Church.

Below note how both the beginning and the end of the book carries this theme. It is not just a momentary notation in John’s writing but rather a strong thrust of position. It is almost like the book is “bookended” with this theme in order that the reader cannot miss it! Oddly enough, the vast majority of readers tend to miss it. I have placed in bold the timing restraints for emphasis.

Rev. 1:1-3 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, [2] who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. [3] Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

Rev. 1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so.

Rev. 1:9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

Rev. 1:11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

Rev. 1:19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.

So, John sees a vision of things that were to take place soon and were near. These events were so near that those who pierced His side would see them unfold. These visions of events involved a tribulation that he also took part in at the time of the writing. John is instructed to send this letter to seven physical and actual Churches because they were to take part in these events that were to soon take place. These events were to take place after this which denotes an immediacy of a “soon” and “near” variety.

Take note now how John closes the book. Also take careful not of how John even uses the actual words of Christ as a testimony to the authenticity of the soon and near approach of these events.

Rev. 22:6-7 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place. ” [7] ” And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

Rev. 22:10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.

Rev. 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.*

Rev. 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

So here John closes the book with an even stronger emphasis of the nearness of the coming. Note how the coming, though, is one of recompense and repayment, not one to set rescue, rapture or restore. This is not the Second Coming in which we find restoration and the completion of the plan of God.

This simply cannot and should not be missed. To ignore or avoid the plain text will guarantee a failed understanding of the text. If one cannot properly place within the historical context the immediacy of these words will be doomed to false interpretations and misguided exegesis.

We have previously dealt with the words soon, near, at hand, etc. These should not come as a surprise. When taken in conjunction with the understanding that this coming is one associated with those that pierced Him and involves the repayment for that act and for the persecution of the Church, the events described make more sense and, as Dr. Gentry note in his latest book, “You CAN understand Biblical prophecy.”

Why and how?

Because His word is trustworthy and true!

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3 Responses to “Revealing Revelation – The First and Last”

  1. 1 gary

    Hi whoever,
    I am sorry to see you have already missed the point of revelation chapter1. it is not soon”, it is not speaking about the nearness of His Coming but the speed at which it will happen. the greek word tacho means quickness not nearness.
    Indeed the very same Greek word is found in Rev 22:20 which you quote mistakenly again. “John closes the book with an even stronger emphasis of the nearness of the coming.”
    I do hope that you will study again the text and put your theological interpretation in the light of that.

    In Christ,
    Gary

    • 2 low5point

      This has been shown over and over to be incorrect especially in light of the fact that John also uses the term “at hand” which means within the reach of the speaker. the same terms used are also used elsewhere in the New testament and the ONLY definition is the first definition used in every lexicon and that is the nearness of the events in question. AT HAND can ONLY mean the above definition and “quickly” cannot account for the demand that the letter be sent post haste because of the the time being at hand and that those who pierced His side would be the recipients of this judgment coming.

      The “quick” argument is new and novel and few if any interpreters ever tried to make it mean that before the awful onset of dispensationalism. The speed argument again cannot account for every command and usage of the term. Also, you misspoke when you said “tacho” means speed or quickness. It can, but in most lexicons it is actually one of the last definitions used.

      Even if anyone allows for the quickness argument for the term “soon” it cannot account for the “at hand” which ONLY means within an arms reach. i dealt with this in much detail in a previous post. If “at hand” at does not mean near or close than Judas must have been somehwre in downtown Detroit when Jesus said he was at hand while in the garden. But since he appeared immediately as Jesus spoke then at hand must have meant at hand…NO OTHER definition is possible!

  2. 3 gary

    Hi low5point
    that was certainly a quick 🙂 reply a tacho reply. I did not expect you to reply so quickly.
    I must read your blog on at hand and near and soon, however, from what I can see of the Greek text of revelation 1 there is no use of “at hand”. Certainly there is the phrase in greek “for the time is near.” and time here is kairos.
    I have looked at just one expository dictionary of Biblical words and Vine’s lists tacho as swift or quickly. I am for present am only dealing with the book of revelation and the actual words used by John there. You as a good expositor of God’s Word must grapple with what words are being used and their meaning and not craft your theology by what you want it to say.
    In Christ
    Gary


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