An Outline for the Apocalypse

21 Feb

Outline for Apocaly[se

from Google Images

According to some scholars, Revelation 1:19 represents a brief outline of the whole book of Revelation, and I quite agree. However, I do not agree with how many of those scholars have interpreted the brief outline we find here. John is first given the command to write in Revelation 1:11. Then, he turned to see who was speaking to him, and at that time he saw a heavenly Being (whom later we understand is Jesus – Revelation 1:18; 2:8) in the midst of the seven golden lampstands (Revelation 1:12-17). Then this heavenly Being spoke again and reiterated his command for John to write. Literally, this Being tells him to write about three things. First, John is told to write about what he saw, and the text describes what John saw, namely a Being in human form (Jesus), who stood in the midst of seven golden lampstands, and this Being held seven stars in his right hand (Revelation 1:10-20).

Secondly, John was told to write “what they are” – that is, he was elaborate on his vision of the seven golden lampstands, and tell more about the Being who stood in their midst (Revelation 1:19; cf. 1:12-16, 20). John’s record of this is found in Revelation 2 & 3.

Finally, John was to write about “what was after these” (G3326, G5023; Revelation 1:19), and John recorded this in Revelation 4 to 22. Most scholars interpret this to mean John was to record what was to occur in the future, even up to and including our modern era. However, this cannot be so, if the context of Revelation 1:1 is taken into consideration. The Book of Revelation was written with a view that the events recorded herein would shortly come to pass.[1] That is, the Book of Revelation discloses the near future to those who trusted in Jesus, and the context concerns believer who lived during the 1st century AD, specifically the time between Pentecost and 70 AD.

Some scholars define after this (G3326, G5023) found in Revelation 4:1 to mean **after** the church age, which they assume comprises Revelation 2 & 3. However, if after this (Revelation 4:1) must pertain to time, viz. after the church age, then how would we define the timeframe of Revelation 7:1, which is the next place in Scripture where after this is found? Should we place Revelation 7:1 after the time Jesus is on the Throne of God, where we see him in Revelation 4 & 5? Such a thing would be ridiculous. It seems to me that after this (G3326, G5023) in Revelation 4:1 must mean “after that vision” (Revelation 2 & 3), implying the coming of another vision (Revelation 4, 5 & 6), which has nothing to do with it being before or after the timeframe of the previous vision. It could be after, but more than likely it is concurrent. So, after this (these) in Revelation 1:19 should be understood as things occurring simultaneously with John’s vision of the churches. We might even say after should be taken as a definition of place rather than time in the sense that after (G3326) is used in Hebrews 9:3, where the Most Holy Place was after the second veil. In this sense, what occurs in Revelation 4:1 and afterward is in a sense behind the scenes as it were (beyond the veil), or in the spiritual realm, unobserved by our human eyes.

It is very interesting in that we find Revelation 1:20 interprets terms written down earlier in the book. It is, therefore, most important that we allow the Bible to interpret the terms we find in the Book of Revelation. In Revelation 1:20 we come to find that the seven lampstands mentioned earlier in Revelation 1:12, in the midst of which the heavenly Being stood (Revelation 1:13), are symbols for the seven churches in Asia. Moreover, the seven stars (Revelation 1:16), which were held in the right hand of this Being, were really the seven angels or messengers of the seven churches (Daniel 12:3). Left to our own devices, we might have interpreted those symbols differently, but the Scripture is quite clear, as to how they should be defined.

Therefore, we need to be cautious, concerning how we interpret the symbols we find in this book. It is best to interpret its symbols by looking elsewhere in Scripture in an effort to find out what they mean, rather than adopt an interpretation according to our own understanding, which may in the end nullify the word of God in order that we might glorify our own traditions or interpretations (cf. Mark 7:13), and, not only so, but we are cautioned with grave consequences of doing so (Revelation 22:18-19).


[1] See my previous studies: The Coming of Jesus, the Messiah, When Was the Apocalypse Written? and The Apocalypse and Irenaeus.

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Posted by on February 21, 2019 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation


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