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Revelation - a study guide

About the Book of Revelation: its author, date and purpose

The author of Revelation gives his name as John (1:1). John was one of the 12 disciples (special students) of Jesus, who later became the apostles (the first leaders of the Christian church). He also wrote the Gospel of John and three letters that are in our Bible. The Gospel is his account of Christís life.

People sometimes say that another Christian leader called John could have written the Book of Revelation. We have seen no evidence to support this idea; in fact, we have seen the opposite. The author uses similar words, phrases and ideas in both books. For example: witnesses (John 1:7-8; Revelation 1:2), the Word as a title of Christ (John 1:1; Revelation 19:13), the water of life (John 4:10-15 and 7:37-38; Revelation 21:6). Both books end with the promise of Christís return (John 21:20-23; Revelation 22:20).

Although John wrote the Book of Revelation, the ideas in it were not Johnís ideas. John insists that everything in his book came from Christ. Johnís title for the book is ĎThe Revelation of Jesus Christí (1:1-2). Christ had chosen to show his people the things that must happen in the future. Christ wanted his people to understand Godís plans. Christ showed all these things to John by his angel (special servant of God); John merely wrote them down (1:12-20).

The original readers of the book were the 7 churches in chapters 2 and 3. Those churches were all in the region then called Asia, now part of Turkey. However, the message of the book is for all Godís people, and not just for those churches. All Godís people need to know about his future plans.

John wrote his book from an island in that region, called Patmos. He seems to say that he was a prisoner there because of his belief in Christ (1:9). These facts seem to show that the book has a later date. All the first apostles, including John, began their work for God in Jerusalem. They later moved into different regions to continue that work. An army from Rome destroyed Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D. (after Christ).

By the time when John wrote, there were churches in all the main cities of the region called Asia. The government of Rome had started to act with great cruelty against the Christians.

These facts cause us to think that John wrote near the end of his life. He had a long life, as John 21:23 shows. Therefore, the date of the Book of Revelation may be about 80 or 90 A.D.. However, that can only be a guess. We really have very little evidence to give an accurate date for most Bible books. The date of these books is much less important to us than their message.

The purpose of the book is very clear. John did not write it to teach his beliefs, or even to tell people his ideas. He wrote it because Christ commanded him to do that (1:19). John was simply obeying God.

Godís purpose for the Book of Revelation is also clear. God wants his people to be strong when they suffer troubles. So, by this book, he shows his plans for future ages. Evil forces will not always rule this world. There must be severe judgements against them to defeat their power. Then Christís rule on earth will begin. In the end, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, where God will always live with his people.

Next part: A summary of each chapter in the Book of Revelation


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© 2016, Keith Simons.