The last book of our Bible has become an enigma for nearly everyone who reads it, today. For example, Christian critic and biblical scholar, Elaine Pagels, claims the Apocalypse wasn’t even written by a Christian, as we understand the term. She says: “There’s no indication that (the author) read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or that he read the gospels or Paul’s letters… He doesn’t even say ‘Jesus died for your sins.’” The problem with Ms. Pagels’ conclusion is that it is either uninformed or purposely dishonest. Actually, not one book in the New Covenant scriptures says: “Jesus died for your sins,” but Revelation 1:5 seems to come fairly close: “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”
It seems to me that the first century believers may have been the only Christians in history who actually knew what it all meant. After all, John was told not to seal up the things he wrote, and, if the book was written to that generation (Revelation 1:4), and if they were blessed if they ‘read, hear and keep’ the words of this prophecy (Revelation 1:3), then it is logical to assume that it was expected that they would understand what was written. Our problem, today, seems to be that we have listened to what too many men (and women) have to say about the book, and have not investigated it for our ourselves on its own merit.
According to the text, this book is called The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1). While the Greek word for revelation, apokalupsis (G602) is found 18 times throughout the New Covenant, it appears only once in this book, and that is in its very first verse. We often understand the word to mean: an unveiling or a revealing of something heretofore unknown or not understood properly. Although there is some sense of this meaning in the Apocalypse, the book doesn’t reveal many things about Jesus that we don’t find revealed elsewhere in the Bible. Therefore, I believe we miss something very important, if we don’t at least consider that the word could be understood in the same manner that it is understood in places like 1Corinthians 1:7 and 1Peter 1:7, where it is translated the coming or appearing of the Lord. If we did so, and thought that would be a better understanding of the book’s theme, its title might be quite different and more objectively picturesque. It might read: The Coming of Jesus Christ, or The Appearing of Jesus Christ, because it is to the Coming or the Appearing of the Lord that the whole book points.
The text also claims that God gave (G1325) this revelation to Jesus, but how should we interpret this? I don’t think it is something like giving one a tangible gift like a book. Rather, I believe the word, gave (G1325), should be understood as showing or disclosing (Jesus’ coming), as it is used in Acts 10:40 to show Jesus openly, or it can be understood as the word is found in 1Corinthinans 7:25 and 2Corinthians 8:10, namely, to give advice or judgment (cf. yield – G1325 – in Mark 4:7-8). In other words, the Father gave or disclosed Jesus’ coming in order for Jesus to give this information to his servants (disciples), and this is exactly what he did. He sent it to John through an angel, who showed it to him by means of the symbols found in this book.
Furthermore, we need to keep in mind, while reading the Apocalypse, that Jesus once told his disciples that even he didn’t know when his coming would take place (Mark 13:32). Although he may have suspected when that might have been, he didn’t speak out of his own understanding, rather he spoke only those things the Father had given him to say (John 12:49; 14:10; 15:15; John 3:11, 32; 5:30). Nevertheless, what was not made known to Jesus during his earthly life (Mark 13:32) was now made known to him by his Father, and Jesus disclosed this revelation to John through his (Jesus’) angel (Revelation 1:1).
According to Revelation 1:1, what the angel gave John was clearly made known (G4591; signified in KJV) to him, because what is contained in that message or teaching would shortly come to pass (Revelation 1:1, 3; cf. 22:6). This book is the only prophecy in the Bible that claims its contents would shortly come to pass. Peter wrote that everything revealed under the Old Covenant was made clear to its recipients that it was not to their generation that they spoke, but to Peter’s (1Peter1:11-12). In other words, all things contained and revealed in the Old Covenant scriptures pertain to the generation in which the Lord was crucified. Daniel was told to seal up his vision (Daniel 8:26) but John was told not to do so (Revelation 22:10), because the things that John wrote about would shortly come to pass.