How to do you read and interpret the book of Revelation? Are you ready to be challenged?
Unfortunately, I see so many Facebook posts and video on YouTube about the Book of Revelation that are deceptions.
I don’t say that I have all the answers and I don’t say that my study is the truth, but we have to read the Book of Revelation through the historical contest and with a Jew/Biblical mindset.
The book of Revelation is prophetic, and we need to understand the historical context and the language that John and Jesus used.
In fact, this book is full of Jew symbols with many references to the book of Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah in which these books prophesy and speak about the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.
Reading the book Ezekiel and comparing it with the book of the Revelation we can see, that there is a similar prophetic structure that speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem.
In the book of Ezekiel, the destruction of Jerusalem has been caused by the Babylonians and also has been prophesied the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Instead, in the Revelation’s book, John prophesies the destruction of the great Babylon and then speaks of the new Jerusalem, new heavens and the new earth. Right??
PS: It’s a strange case that the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem that Ezekiel spoke was in the year 586 BC and the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 AD but both of the destructions were on the same day of the Jewish calendar.
Anyway, the primary goal of the book of Revelation is to reveal Jesus Christ and the new covenant, the covenant of grace, and to encourage the early church that Jesus was coming soon (really soon), with his judgment.
Let me explain: Jesus had prophesied the destruction of the temple and the judgment against that generation who refused to believe in Him.
You can find more details in the book of Matthew 23-24 and also in Luke 11.
“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Matthew 24:30-34
Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all. Luke 11:50-51
When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfilment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Luke 21:20-24
Also, we know that after the death of Jesus, the early church suffered, so much persecution by the Jews people and this you can understand from many Paul’s letters (Thessalonians) and also from the 7 letters to the churches in the book of the Revelation.
Therefore, among God’s churches, we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. 2 Thessalonians 1:4
You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Revelation 2:3
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. Revelation 2:10
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. Revelation 2:10
I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Revelation 2:19
The first things in this study I want to prove to you that the book of Revelation was written around the 65 A.D. before the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, which happened in the 70 A.D. So many people believe that this book has been written in 95-100 A.D. but is impossible and wrong, and I am going to prove this. Let’s go!
- The first versions of the Gospels was the Syriac and at the introduction of the book of the Revelation, it was written that John was on the Island of Patmos because of the emperor Nero in which he reigned from 54 A.D. to 68 A.D.
- John in the chapter 17:10 he is speaking about KINGS says “five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, it will have to last a short time.” So analyzing the history, the five kings who fell were: Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Galio and Claudius.
One is Nero (who was reigning), the other has not yet come, and when it comes, it will have to last a short time. That it was Galba, who only lasted 6 months. So this is another proof that shows the historical time in which John wrote the book of revelation.
- In chapter 1:7 John wrote: Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him — even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen.
So even those who had crucified and pierced Christ saw his coming. And from a Jew’s perspective, we need to clarify that the coming of Messiah on the clouds was a biblical and Hebrew symbol for the coming of the Messiah bringing a judgment over a nation and you can see this picture in other books on the bible.
- The first chapters of the book of revelation speak of the persecution of Christians by the Jews people., and you can read in almost all the 7 letters of the churches. And clearly, this persecution was before the destruction of the temple which took place in the 70.
After the destruction of the temple, the Jew people could not persecute anymore anybody, as they have lost completely the power and the strength.
- In almost all the 7 letters to the churches, you can see the strong influence of the Jews, that they wanted to pervert the gospel of grace and convert people to Judaism, back to the law. This was possible only before the destruction of the temple because as I have already said, after without the temple the Jews people have lost completely the authority, influence and the power.
- In chapter 11, John speaks of the measurement of the temple in Jerusalem, this means that the temple still existed and there is no mention of a spiritual temple.
- In chapter 1 and chapter 22 John wrote that the time was near, and that Jesus was coming very soon, and this makes sense because Jesus came through the destruction of the temple, and you can see this in the gospel of Matthew in chapter 23 and 24.
Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation. Matthew 23:34-36
- As we know John died as old man, and when he wrote the book of Revelation, Jesus had told him that he still had to prophesy on many peoples, nations, tongues and kings, so logically John was still young when he received this prophecy.
- Jesus tells to John not to seal the word of this prophecy, because the time was close.
Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. Revelation 22:10
Instead in the book of Daniel, we can see that God said to seal the prophecy because the times were not yet near.
Why all this point? To prove when this book has been written before the destruction of the temple, and this is important to get the right time. Ok, now we’re going to have fun!
In the book of Revelation Jesus speaks to John prophesying and like a prophecy, God speaks through a vision, a word, a feeling, an impression or even an experience of the heavenly places.
Personally, when God speaks to me for another person, he gives me a specific word or a vision, and often I don’t fully understand what I receive, and sometimes it doesn’t make sense to me, but it makes full sense to that person. Because Jesus speaks through me but uses a symbolic language that the other person will understand.
Have you ever receive a prophecy for someone that doesn’t make sense for you, but make 100% sense to the other person?
For example, the 7 letters to the churches are an amazing prophecy, because Jesus takes something specific in the natural from that particular city and make a prophecy. For example, read the letter at Laodicea.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
You need to know that this city was famous for 4 things:
- Black wool
- A special eyewash
- Warm water
- Rich city
Laodicea was built on the river Loco, but this river was always dry so to get the water into the city they build two aqueducts from two different cities. One city was Hierapolis and one city was Colossi.
From Hierapolis was coming hot water, because that city was famous for the thermal water, and it was a tourist city. Instead, from Colossi was coming cold water because the water was coming from Cadmus mount.
So, when the water was arriving in Laodicea was lukewarm, so was not hot and was not cold (and was disgusting to drink).
Laodicea was a rich city because it was the capital of banks, there was a production of a special garment from the black wool and there was the production of a famous eye drops.
Jesus takes something from the natural and rebuke them from an issue in the spirit. And obviously, that church reading this letter could completely understand the word of Jesus, better than us.
This is to tell you that to have a correct and better interpretation of the book of Revelation (and also all the Bible), we must considerate the historical context and have knowledge of the Jewish-Biblical symbols and languages.
Meaning “Revelation” & Jesus to be revealed
Think about the name of the book: “Revelation of Jesus Christ”… is like that this book was written to reveal Jesus Christ and show things that were coming. And also is why Jesus often says “I am coming soon”… be ready.
In the first verse of this book in chapter one is written:
Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the things that are to take place shortly, and which he made known by sending his angel to his servant John Revelation 1:1
Reflecting on the word revelation, look like that Jesus was still hidden or veiled. And with a biblical perspective, what does it mean veil?
Paul in the second letter to the Corinthians explains clearly who were those who had not received the revelation of Jesus Christ and what means still have the veil.
So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.
But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:11-18
The Mosaic covenant was like a veil that was hiding the revelation of Jesus Christ to the Jews people. Of course, the mosaic covenant after the death and resurrection of Jesus, was finished for God, but in the reality, the Jews people who did not believe and recognised Jesus they were still offering animal sacrifices and doing all the other rituals established by the law. All these rituals did not have any value in the sight of God and to be honest, I think it was an offence for God because they did not recognize what Jesus has done on the cross, but put faith in the law and rituals.
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the old covenant has been made completely obsolete, and this is also written in Hebrews 8:13
When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear. Hebrews 8:13
Also, we can see that the church in the first century was waiting for Jesus to be revealed. This is something that Paul and Peter wrote many times in their letters. Personally, I think because the early church suffered so much persecution from the Jews people, Paul and Peter in their letters encouraged the churches to go ahead and wait for the coming and manifestation of Jesus, so they knew that Jesus was coming soon, to bring a judgment against the Jews people and freedom to them. (Remember Matthew 23-24 and Luke 11 and 21)
These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.1 Peter 1:7
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 1 Pet. 1:13
God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7
Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 1 Corinthians 1:7
Geographic Location of the Book of Revelation
Now we’re going to see the geographic location that the book of revelation is talking about. Many people think that the book of Revelation is speaking a worldwide catastrophe, this because unfortunately, the translation is wrong, but actually, the book points to a regional event.
The Greek word often translated in “Earth” or “World” in the book of Revelation would be better translated in “land”. Also, the Greek language has two words translated for “earth”: Kosmos and Ge.
“Kosmos”: which is mean the entire planet and the word “Ge”, which means “a local inhabited earth” or “the land of a particular nation”.
You need to know that the word “Ge” in the book of Revelation has been used 67 times, instead of the word “Kosmos” is used only 3 times.
And the only 3 times are these:
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world [kosmos] has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever”.
All inhabitants of the earth [ge] will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world [kosmos].
The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world [kosmos] will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.
In all other places where is written, the word “world” is referring to a local area and not to worldwide as many people think.
The Scroll and Babylon
In chapter 4, John finds himself in the heavenly places, where he sees the throne of God, the 24 elders and the 4 creatures, and it was a time of honour, adoration towards God. Then John, in chapter 5, sees that on the throne there was the scroll in which it was written inside and outside and had 7 seals. These types of scrolls at that time they were a special scroll and not a normal scroll. It was a divorce certificate. So, it seems to be a divorce certificate, where God was divorcing from the great prostitute, Babylon.
Ok, now we are going to see who is Babylon…
In all the book John wrote about “the great city” and he was talking about “the fall of the great Babylon” that the great city is Babylon
And in chapter 11:8 is written:
Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified.
So the great city is Jerusalem. Where Jesus has been crucified. Here, we see that John used the name of Sodom and Egypt to refer to Jerusalem called also Babylon and great city. This is because Jerusalem became like Sodom and Egypt in God’s eyes, and the plagues, the destruction that once came on Egypt and Sodom were now coming on Jerusalem.
Woe! Woe to you, great city, you mighty city of Babylon! In one hour your doom has come! Revelation 18:10
Woe! Woe to you, great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin… Revelation 18:16–17
Was there ever a city like this great city? Revelation 18:18
Woe! Woe to you, great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin! Revelation 18:19
With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. Revelation 18:21
About the divorce….
We saw that this type of scroll in that time was connected to a certificate of divorce, so God was divorcing from the system of the old covenant and also from the unfaithful Israel.
I know sound harsh, but through Jesus, the old covenant has been made obsolete. Also, we can see in other scriptures that God was speaking about a certificate of divorce with Israel.
Thus says the Lord: Where is your mother’s letter of divorce with which I divorced her? Or to which of my creditors have I sold you? Behold, you have been sold for your iniquities, and your mother has been rejected for your transgressions. Isaiah 51: 1
And although I had rejected rebellious Israel on account of all her adulterers and had given her the divorce pamphlet, I saw that her wicked sister Judah had no fear, but she too went into prostitution. Jeremiah 3: 8
Now you can see more clearly the picture that God divorced from Israel and the old Mosaic system and want to reveal Jesus and the covenant of grace.
The opening of the scroll!
In the chapter 5 we see that John was crying, because no one could open the scroll but an elder tells him “do not cry because the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David has won and is worthy to open the Scroll”.
Now we see the presence of the Lamb, in which he takes the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne, that is God the Father, and the lamb is glorified and praised by the elders in which they say “with your blood you bought us to God from every tribe, tongue, people and nation, and you have made us kings and priests for our God, and we will reign on earth ”.
Obviously, this is connected to the sacrifice of Jesus that he made on the cross, in which he bought and redeemed us, and made us kings and priests! So this event is connected after the death of Jesus Christ because the lamb had already been killed, as the elders say in verse 12.
PS: In the presence of the lamb, this time, the elderly prostrated themselves but with a different characteristic compared to the chapter before.
In the previous chapter the elders they were near the throne of God, throwing their crowns before the throne, but this was before the revelation of the lamb, and, after the lamb was slain and he won, the elders bow down but it is not written that they removed the crowns from their heads, because there was a transition from the old to the new covenant, with a release of the new Royal Identity for all the children of God. The crown is a symbol of royalty, victory, and authority and is a symbol of our authentic identity in Christ and is a gift from Christ himself, which he gave to all the believers who follow him.
In fact, today we are called to reign and as children of God, we are seated in heavenly places; we are priests, kings and prophets, and we are called to release and decree the Kingdom of God here on earth. Jesus himself gave us authority, so we don’t need to remove the crown from our head as is a gift from him.
As I have already said, the early church had experienced a transition from the old covenant to the new covenant, and because of the Jewish people, Christians suffered a lot of tribulation. This can be understood by reading the letters of Paul, but also by reading the letters to the 7 churches, which Jesus also speaks of a synagogue of satan referring to a synagogue the Jewish people.
Let me be clear, with the death of Jesus on the cross the new covenant had already been established for God, but the old covenant still existed for the Jews since there was the temple and the Jews they were doing sacrifices…
The history and the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 23-24 confirm the destruction of the temple in the 70 A.D., which he said that generation was responsible for all the blood that has been shed and a judgment was about to fall upon them and this judgment was nothing more than the prophecy of the destruction of the temple by the Romans.
The incarnation of Jesus Christ
In chapter 12, John speaks the story of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
John was seeing a woman who gives birth to a male child and who will rule the nations. This woman was the rest of Israel, the faithful and small Israel. And this child is the promise of the new covenant: which is Jesus.
John describes the war that had taken place in heaven, with Michael and satan, in which satan has been defeated by the cross of Jesus and he has been thrown on earth and makes war against the legacy of Jesus, his church. This is the image of the history and the finalisation of the new covenant of grace. Jesus, who came to earth as a child, born from the rest of Israel, has defeated the devil through his life, his death and his resurrection.
The beast and its mark
In chapter 13, John writes about the beast and its mark. By studying history we can understand who is the beast was and also the mark.
John writes that the beast had seven heads, one of which was fatally wounded. These 7 heads were the 7 kings of the Roman Empire.
In chapter 17 John writes about the Kings, and said: “five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and, when it comes, it will not last long”.
So, the five kings who fell, were Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Galio and Claudius then John says One is, which it was Nero, who was reigning and then Galba, that has been on the throne for only 6 months, in fact John wrote “the other has not yet come, and when it comes, it will have to last a short time”.
The beast was Nero with the Roman Empire, and everyone had to worship him.
It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
In fact, to get into the market, there was the main door which each person had to pay tribute and give and adore the emperor Nero.
So, when the person had paid, he was given a sign with some ashes on his forehead or in his hand and he could access into the market.
But if the person was refusing to adore the emperor and pay the tribute, he could not access into the main market.
So he couldn’t, sell or buy anything. And this is the mark of the beast, and the beast was the Nero, and his number was 666, that means Nero.
New heaven, the new earth and the new Jerusalem.
After John describes the new heaven, the new earth and the new Jerusalem. Many believe that this is something that will happen in the future or that it is the end of the world or will be the paradise but in reality, Jesus speaks of the new covenant of grace, the new creation which began after his death and resurrection.
So, we can see in the description in the chapter 21 and 22 that there are some aspect about heaven, but there are a lot of correlations with the new creation and the covenant of grace which is for today.
Is like the Kingdom of God is here, is in us, but the fullness will be one day in heaven.
Also, Jesus said, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End”, and he speaks about the living water, which is his love, life and salvation, describes the 12 foundations, describes the new Jerusalem which is without a temple made by human hands, he said that God’s dwelling place is now among the people, he speaks about “He will wipe every tear from they eye” it speaks of the nations that will walk in his light, so it means that there are still nations and tears… it says that the doors will never be closed, because, if a person repent and accept Jesus, will be washed in his blood and will enter into the Kingdom of God. Also, he said “I am making everything new!” and this is a process of the new creation which is for every man who accepts Jesus and this a reality started after his death and resurrection and of course the fullness will be one day in heaven.
All this looks like a description of the new covenant that we should live today, with the perspective and the fulness that will be in heaven one day.
The letter of Revelation is all about the revelation of Jesus Christ and the new covenant of grace and is like a seal to all the books of the new testament.
In this article:
I hope this study has blessed you and brought new revelation. I understand that there are many interpretations but I believe that this is based on a historical context and also on the Bible.