What This Booklet Is and Is Not Supposed To Do

It is not the purpose of this booklet to give an in-depth or detailed interpretation of Revelation. Instead, it will provide an outline that is generally accepted as sound by serious, enlightened students of the Bible. It also will provide the tools and processes which, if applied, will help to understand the meaning of this wonderful prophecy.

Do Not Add Or Take Away

Revelation 22:18, 19 is a warning: "If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book, And if any shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life..." Some, unfortunately, have been so frightened by this as to miss the point. No sincere Christian would want to add or subtract anything from God's Word. Time, however, has done that very thing. Now that we live at a time when the older manuscripts and fragments of the Bible have been found, we are learning that most translations have been flawed by omissions or additions to what was originally written. In this booklet we may state that certain words or sections of Revelation are SPURIOUS — fraudulent. They have somehow been allowed to creep into the Bible over the centuries. We may also state that extra words should be added. We base these statements on the best available scholarship being done on older manuscripts. Rather than adding to or subtracting from the Bible, we are trying to correct the additions and subtractions which have already been made.

It is also of value to know that the early Bibles did not have chapters, verses, punctuation, or even spaces between 'Words! It is easy to understand why translators must struggle so.

Five Basic Methods In Good Bible Study

Revelation,- like the rest of the Bible, is best understood when five methods of investigation are kept in mind. (There are other important elements in good Bible study, but these five are of fundamental importance.)

Studying one topic, or even one word, to find its consistent meaning will help the reader to avoid jumping to conclusions which the writer did not intend. For instance, a study of IMMORTALITY in all the New Testament books will reap far greater rewards than the study of Ephesians as a unit. An exhaustive concordance (such as STRONG'S) is invaluable in this kind of study. Revelation should, thus, not only be studied by chapter, but also by subject. For instance, a study of the phrase "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues" will reveal a great deal throughout Revelation.

When topical study is used, it is possible that seeming contradictions will arise. This frequently is because a word can be used both symbolically and literally. (The Bible usually explains the symbol when we search.) For instance, it is possible to find texts which indicate the destruction of the earth (e.g., 2 Peter 3:10). It also is possible to find texts which state or imply the opposite (e. g., Matthew 5:5; 6:10; Ecclesiastes 1:4). Once we learn that EARTH sometimes symbolizes the current social order, the difficulty disappears and we have a reliable symbol to use in prophetic interpretation. The planet will remain; the social order (which is corrupt) will be destroyed and replaced with a perfect one. Revelation is a book of symbols (Revelation 1:1).

Closely related to symbols are types and shadows; these are events which have occurred but which are prophetic of more significant events later. For instance, Paul, by saying in 1 Corinthians 5:7, "Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us," opens up an entire new world of investigation. He is clearly telling us that the Passover experiences of Israel TYPED or FORESHADOWED something else. The deliverance of Israel pictures the deliverance of the whole world. Thus John the Revelator calls Jesus a "lamb" and James calls the church "firstboms." Both terms come from the type of the Passover recorded back in Exodus.

All serious writing is related to what has come before and to what follows after. Too many sensationalists make claims based on Bible passages which, when examined, are being used totally out of harmony with the passage from which they were lifted. This has given rise to the saying that the Bible is an old fiddle on which any tune can be played. When properly examined, the Bible can be used to play only one harmonious tune.

Context also includes considerations such as (1) Who is being addressed? (2) About whom are they speaking? (3) Which salvation is being mentioned? (4) Is there any peculiarity of the history of the time which affects this passage? This will all be of great import in the study of Revelation. Verses from Revelation must be studied in context and in the context of the history of the last two thousand years.

Not all scriptures nor all Scriptural injunctions apply at all times. For example, there was a time when God dealt with the Jewish nation and no one else (Amos 3:2); and there is tiow a time when placing ourselves under the ten commandments of the Jewish Law is inappropriate (Galatians 3:10, 11, 24, 25). Some scriptures apply only during the Millennial Age — the thousand years of Christ's reign. (e.g., Revelation 22:12; Ezekiel 18:2, 3; etc.) In the study of Revelation, it will be of value to keep appropriate time frames in mind. Revelation requires an HISTORIC/PROPHETIC approach. Events must be located in their proper time frames.

Annotated Chart

CHART OF THE AGES — an invaluable help in the study of any part of the Bible. References will be made to it from time to time in this booklet.

One More Point

To save space, not all passages under consideration will be quoted. It is expected that the reader will study with an open Bible when he can and will read thoroughly the texts mentioned.

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