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A Bible Study:

The Revelation to John

May 30, 2006


A Study of The Revelation to John

By Bernie Parsons - May 30, 2006

I have studied the Revelation to John from 1970 until the day of this posting, in 2006. While others spoke of how foreign and mysterious it sounded, and how it was too difficult to understand because it was written in code, I saw it differently. Early in the study I was struck by what the Revelation had to say, and how well it integrated with the other New Testament writings. I was 19 years old at the time, and older church members and preachers found my understanding of this colorful book to be alarming and subversive.

From a child, I was reared to study the Bible to try and understand it in its true context, rather than seeing in its pages only support for traditionally handed-down doctrines. I commend my godly mother for instilling this desire to know the truth in me and my siblings. It has served me well over the years.

Some have asked me, "Why even study Revelation, because it is so divisive?" Some have said, "The Revelation is too hard to understand--why bother to try?" Still others have opined, "It does not contain the path to eternal salvation, so why deal with it at all?" My answer is simple: "2 Timothy 3:16: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"

The foundation to understanding the Revelation is to study as one should any other book of the Bible, by asking the basic questions one should ask in all such study:

Who wrote this book of the Bible?

To whom was this written?

Why was it written?

When was it written?

What is the message to its intended audience?

The answers are quite simple. John wrote it. It was written to the seven churches of Asia. It was a warning of things that would shortly come to pass. It was most likely written around 67 to 70 AD. The message was that, since these things would shortly come to pass, the Christians in Asia (Minor) needed to persevere throughout whatever hardships might come upon them--even death itself.

Simple! And, yet, so controversial and divisive. Ask one hundred people what Revelation is talking about, and you might well get one hundred different answers. How do we then settle upon a standard rendering of this great book? Only by accepting what it says, and realizing that it fits well into the prophecies of both Old and New Testament books will we come to agreement. There is no room for the wild, fantastic "prophecies" of today's self-styled "prophets".

Furthermore, we must abandon language not found in the Bible, for it divides and confuses, rather than uniting and enlightening. For instance, words like "rapture", "millennialism" (including both pre- and post-millennial doctrines), "preterist", and similar words need to be dropped from our vocabulary. Even phrases like "the end of time", which is not found in the scriptures, need to be forsaken, as they create unscriptural doctrines.

Open your mind, diligently pursue truth, and accept that truth when it is obvious. Prayerfully enter into this study without preconceived notions, or at the very least, be prepared to relinquish your hold on such notions.

Without apology, I use the King James Version throughout the study. Since many Bible students will not look up Bible references that are furnished within a body of work, I have taken the liberty and the pains to copy relevant portions of scripture from both Old and New Testaments to support the study. Sometimes I copy entire chapters. It may seem, at times, that I have overdone it by including so much material. I have chosen to present the study in this way in order to encourage the serious student of the Revelation to read the relevant scriptures, rather than skipping them just because it is too inconvenient to open a printed Bible, or a Bible computer program. Sometimes I repeat portions of scripture, because they are relevant in more than one part of the Revelation.

Some of the prophetic scriptures deal with events from the past history of Israel and Judah. I include them because (1) they show that the language of Revelation is quoted from the prophecies; (2) sometimes they are about a past event that closely parallels an event in Revelation; and/or (3) the scripture is both a prophecy about something from Old Testament history, and at the same time, a prophecy intended for the believers in the age of Jesus and His apostles. For instance, to understand the remarks regarding "Mystery, Babylon", it is necessary to go back and read about the original Babylon.

I do not say that I know one hundred percent of what the Revelation is saying. It was written for those of that generation almost 2,000 years ago, so it follows that since the things written were relevant to them, that they understood them, while we may not. I keep an open mind and an open Bible. Sometimes I see certain aspects a little more clearly than I did thirty years ago, or even five years ago. Therefore, I do not write this as a definitive work that should be taken for granted, nor should it be adopted as being as important as the Bible. It is simply my understanding of the Revelation to John, as I understand it on this date, after (so far) thirty-six years of study.

Let me close the foreword by sharing the following scriptures:

2 Timothy 2:15: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

Romans 3:4: "God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged."

John 8:32: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

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