Here is another thought and observation I have about The Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John. This is something to think about and consider if you contemplate the meaning of the last book of the New Testament.
There is something Revelation has in common with other New Testament books. This might not be anything new to you, but it is to me… and something that is quite significant when it comes to understanding The Revelation.
Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God… 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle— not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…
Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:1 Paul,Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
2 Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
Here’s the point. Many of the books in the New Testament were occasional letters… written to real people… dealing with real situations taking place at the time they received the letters.
Now it seems to me as I read The Revelation that it begins the same way the other letters began… The Writer, The Recepients, and A Blessing. In this way The Book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ is no different than any other of the occasional letters of the New Testament.
Conclusion 1. The Revelation MUST have been intended for those who received the letter to understand and apply it. It must have been written first to address situations and events that were taking place in their day.
Conclusion 2. In the same way that the other occasional letters of the New Testamen cannot be understood properly today unless they are first kept in their historical context, so too I think it wise and proper to keep The Revelation in it’s proper historical context so that we can properly apply it in our own context.
Conclusion 3. I don’t think any of us who desire to handle the Word of God accurately would say that Paul or Peter had Christians who would be living in 2009 in mind when they wrote their letters 2000 years ago. That doesn’t mean we can’t be encouraged, blessed, and learn from them… it just means that we need to be sure that we are indeed rightly handling God’s Word today.