This book is one of the most controverted of all the books of the Bible. Yet, when given only a cursory examination, towering above all the difficulties involved in interpreting the perplexing visions of the lonely seer of Patmos is the picture of an eternal kingdom ruled by the lamb slain for its purchase. This kingdom which began on Pentecost extends through time and eternity.

Since this picture of the kingdom is the main emphasis of the book, anything that would detract from it would not only be irrelevant but actually at counter purposes with the theme. This being the case, we must reject the majority of the popular interpretations of the book which would see either the establishment of a future kingdom or a forecast of all the minute happenings of history in the book.

There is no lesson text this morning

Our lesson aim is to discover the most practical/rational way to approach the book of Revelation in order to understand its intent both for those of John’s day and those of today.

In our lesson preview we will . . .

  1. Learn that the book of Revelation is a picture book addressed primarily to the imagination.

  2. Study the words “soon” and “near” and discover that the book is an imminent book - written for those primarily of John’s day.

  3. Understand the contrast between a “sealed” book and an “unsealed” book.

  4. Discover that Revelation is deeply rooted in Old Testament language and figures.


    (Read 1:2) The capability of understanding Revelation rests in seeing the pictures.

    1. Revelation Cannot Be Approached the Same Way as Books of History (e.g., Joshua) Or An Epistle (e.g., 1 Corinthians or Philippians). These types of books are literal with only an occasional figure of speech and with little symbolic language.

    2. Revelation Is an Apocalyptic Book

      1. Since Revelation is stated to be a series of visions (Read 1:2 again), we must not only ask “What is the picture?” but also “What does this picture symbolize, portray, or mean?”

        1. One might ask, “Why did he couch such an important book in symbols or pictures?” We may never know the full answer to that question, but here are a few suggestions.

          1. Apocalypse was a type of literature used in the first century to convey the thought of victory of good over evil and apocalyptic literature always used symbols (symbols that the reader already understood) to convey its thought.

          2. Symbols draw a much more dramatic picture than pure words.

          3. Things that are illustrated for the eye and not merely spoken for the ear are much easier remembered. They are thus made both memorial and rememberable.

          4. A picture also makes its point quicker than an essay does.
            NOTE: Because many do not understand that there is a “key” to understanding the symbols in the book, Revelation either is viewed as a “mystery” or is used as a “hotbed” of all kinds of personal views to support favorite doctrines.

      2. The book of Revelation is not a difficult book. It is made difficult:

        1. By the fact that it is a symbolic book.

        2. Also, because of the fact that we have allowed ourselves to view the book superstitiously.

      3. In making an interpretation of the book, we must:

        1. Approach it with a sober mind.

        2. Remember that it is a certain kind of book.

      4. Any set of figures used to convey truth has a key that enables it to convey that truth.

        1. If that key is not understood, it must be explained.

        2. If that key is understood, it does not need to be explained.

      5. The book of Revelation is a “Picture book.”

        1. Things illustrated are made memorable.

        2. The book presents the victory of Christ and the church over the enemies of John’s day.

      6. Our understanding of the visions of this book depends entirely upon our method of approach. If we approach the vision:

        1. Literally, then we will understand it to be a literal picture.

        2. As symbolic of truth, then we will ask not only “What is the picture?” but also, “What does this picture symbolize, portray, or mean?”

    (Read 1:1, 3; 22:6, 7, 10 - 11, 12, 20) There is definite internal evidence which show this book was completely fulfilled in the day in which it was written.

    1. A Study of the Words Translated Soon

      1. “Soon”- lit. with speed of haste, quickly.

      2. “Near” (ENGUS) means in hand, i.e.(present).

        1. Of place and position:

          1. John 19:42 - “The Tomb was nearby.”

          2. Luke 19:11 - “He was near Jerusalem.”

          3. John 3:23 - “Aenon, near Salim.”

          4. John 6:19 - “Jesus approaching boat”.

          5. Acts 1:12 - “Near Jerusalem - a Sabbath-day’s walk.”

        2. Figuratively:

          1. Ephesians 2:17 - Near access to God.

          2. Ephesians 2:13 - Became near by the blood of Christ.

          3. Romans 10:8 - Word is near you already, as if it were in your heart and mouth.

          4. Philippians 4:5 - The Lord is near.

        3. Of time: Concerning things imminent, soon to come to pass.

          1. Mark 13:28-29 & Luke 21:30-31; Matthew. 24:32-33. Summer and judgment at Jerusalem.

          2. Matthew 26:18 - Jesus' time to die.

          3. John 2:13; 6:4; 11:5 - Passover.

          4. John 7:2 - Feast of Tabernacles.

          5. Hebrews 6:8 - Judgment of fruitless land.
            NOTE: (Verb) Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; Mark 1:5; Luke 10:11 - The kingdom. Cf. Luke 21:20 (desolation); Matthew 26:45 46 (Betrayal and Betrayer); Romans 13:12 (The day); 1 Peter 4:7 (Jewish age).

    2. Contrast Between “Sealed” Book and an “Unsealed” Book

      1. Daniel told to “. . .close up and seal the words. . .until that time of the end” (12:4, 9). The reason: Prophecy not for now but to be fulfilled hundreds of years in the future. Read Matthew 24:15 and Luke 21:20.

      2. John told, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book” (22:10). The reason: The time is near, not for the distant future.

    3. The Express Statement of the Book

      1. A blessing is pronounced upon those who understand and take to heart what is written in the book. It would be impossible for anyone to understand something that talked about the distant future.

      2. The book is written between the parenthesis of “The time is near” (1:3; 22:10).

    The book of Revelation is rooted and is in full harmony with the rest of the Bible.

    1. The Language of the Book of Revelation Is Deeply Rooted in the Old Testament Although there is no direct citation or quotation from the Old Testament, out of the 404 verses in the book there are over 350 allusions to Old Testament passages.

    2. Some Passages That Are Rooted in the Old Testament

      Revelation Old Testament Reference


      Description of Son of Man Daniel 7:9ff; 10:5,6 Ezekiel 1:7, 26a; 43:4


      Observe O.T. Expressions as: Tree of Life, Paradise, Balaam, Jezebel, Rod of Iron


      Book of Life Exodus 32:33; Ps.69:28; Malachi 3:16; Isa. 22:22


      Throne Set in Heaven Isa. 6:1; Ezekiel 1:26, 28 The Four Living Creatures Ezekiel 1:10; 10:14; Isaiah 6:1, 10; 10:14


      The Scroll Ezekiel 2:9; Zech. 5:1-3 Lion of Judah Genesis 44:9; Isa. 11:10


      The Horses and Their Riders Psa. 45:3,4: Zech. 1:8;6:3


      Sealing of the Righteous Ezekiel 9


      The Trumpets of Judgment Exodus 7ff - Plagues


      Angels Swearing Daniel 12:7 The Little Book Ezekiel 2:9; 3:4


      Measuring Reed Ezekiel 40:3; Zech. 2:1ff The Two Witnesses Zechariah 4:2ff


      The Woman, Child, Dragon, Michael Genesis 3:15; Psalm 2:9; Daniel 10:13, 21


      The Beast Out of the Sea Daniel 7; 2:31


      The White Cloud, “Like unto Son of Man” Daniel 7:13;10:16 The Wine Press Isaiah 63:3


      The Song of Moses Exodus 15


      Har-Magedon Judges 5; II Chronicles 35


      The Fall of Babylon Isaiah 13-19; 14; 21; 46; Compare also 47; 48; Jer. 25; 50; 51; Ezekiel 27; the Fall of Tyre Daniel 2:7; Habakkuk 3 Invitation to the Birds Ezekiel 39:16-20


      THE APPEAL (18:4-5) Read Jeremiah 50:8; 51:6, 9, 45; Isaiah 52:11.


      The Great Multitude, Their voice (v. 6a). Roar of rushing waters. Read Ezekiel 43:2; Revelation 1:15; 14:2. b. Loud peals of thunder. Read Exodus 19:16; Isaiah 29:4-6.


      Gog & Magog Gen. 10:2; Ezekiel 38,39 The Books of Judgment Daniel 7-10; 12:1; Psalm 69:28


      The New Heaven and Earth Isaiah 65:17ff; 66:22ff The New Jerusalem Ezekiel 48:30ff


      The River of Water of Life; Gen. 2; Ezekiel 47:1-12 The Tree of Life It must be understood that the book of Revelation is rooted in and is in full harmony with the rest of the Bible and must be explained on the basis of the clear teaching of the Bible elsewhere.


Revelation is…​

  1. A “PICTURE” book,

  2. An “IMMINENT” book, and

  3. A “BIBLICAL” book.