Revelation was likely the last book of the New Testament to be written, and was placed last in the New Testament. It was probably written in the 80s or 90s AD by the Apostle John while he was exiled on the Island of Patmos.
The apocalyptic imagery in Revelation makes the book difficult to understand and open to a wide variety of interpretations. Some believe the book describes events of John’s time, others believe it describes portions of the history of the Roman empire, while others believe it describes events that still have yet to occur. Many others think it describes portions of those three times along with other events, while others think it is entirely symbolic or allegorical.
The book opens as the revelation of Jesus is communicated to John, who is instructed to write down all he hears and sees. A brief description of Jesus is given. All of this happens in Chapter One.
Chapters Two and Three describe messages from Jesus to seven churches in the province of Asia. These messages include greetings, compliments, warnings, punishments, and rewards.
Due to lack of trustworthy records, it is often difficult to verify statements about history, especially when those statements are written by writers who may be biased. This is an ongoing challenge for those who study the history of the early churches.
One fact remains indisputable: the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem and virtually wiped out that city in 70 AD. For a long time afterward, Jews were out of favor with the Roman government. It seems likely that, from 70 AD on, Christians sought to separate themselves from being associated with their Jewish counterparts and any favor or special privileges Jews once had from the Romans were no longer valuable.
It was about this time when the churches started growing because of dedicated evangelistic efforts, as well as the advent of the gospels and letters which would become the bulk of the New Testament. Even though the church was growing, it was still too small to receive much recognition or persecution from the Roman Government. However, there were localized pockets of persecution.
John wrote Revelation as the first century was coming to a close. Jesus had been dead for more than five decades, and the Christians were unsure about when He would return. False teachers tormented churches throughout the empire. Some churches were not doing so well. Jewish leaders were no longer persecuting Christians, but persecution by local officials and citizen groups was growing. Overall, Revelation was written in a time of great uncertainty and turmoil.
To modern readers, Revelation appears to be a confusing mix of prophecies and symbols that address mostly events future to modern times. It is often unclear what these events are or when they will occur. Although it is a difficult read, it is still a valuable part of the New Testament. As John wrote in the opening: “Blessed are those who read and hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things written in it; for the time is at hand.” You don’t have to understand Revelation to be blessed by reading it.
John the Apostle – John Ferguson
Elder of Laodicia – Guinn Powell
Peter – Francis Fuselier
Mighty Angel – Nick Gilley
Michael – Bryan Pitts