Later, medieval manuscripts elaborated the title to “ Apocalypse of John the Theologian and Evangelist ” and “ Apocalypse of St. John the Theologian .” The name as it stands in the KJV is a variant English rendering of this last title. ( between the end of the Roman Empire in the 5th century and the early 15th century )
Rev. 13-22 covers events connected with the Second Advent itself
The Letter(s) to Seven Churches to be addressed initially to seven first-century churches over which John had a supervisory interest, and also extended as well [by symbolic representation] to the seven major periods of Christian history (Rev. 1-3).
Octavius was called Augustus ( Sebastos , Reverend).
The Emperor Caius Caligula not simply claimed to be divine, but actually demanded that his statue be set up for worship in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. He was killed in January a.d. 41 before he could execute his dire purpose.
The worship of the emperor did not disturb the worshippers of other gods save the Jews and the Christians, and in particular, the Christians were persecuted after the burning of Rome when they were distinguished from the Jews.
Christians were regarded (as by Gallio in Corinth) as a variety of Jews and so entitled to tolerance, but they had no standing in law by themselves and their refusal to worship the emperor early gave offence, as Paul indicates in 1 Cor 12:3.
The emperor Domitian condemned his relatives Clemens (nephew) and Domitilla, together with others he suspected of conspiracy, on a charge of Atheism and Jewish manners, an association of ideas which could properly applied only to Christians.
Those ideas boarded on refusal to recognise him as Lord above or on the same level with other Lords & refusal to offer sacrifices to him.
Nicodemus, a benevolent Christian of some distinction, suffered at Rome.
Timothy was the celebrated disciple of St. Paul, and at some point a bishop of Ephesus, where he zealously governed the church until Timothy severely reproved the procession as idolatrous, they fell upon him and beat him with clubs, expired of the bruises two days after.
It was generally recognized as a capital crime to be connected to the church, and it had been the custom to put an accused Christian to the test by requiring him to sacrifice to the image of the emperor.
The church of Asia was in the midst of an awful and bloody persecution which was resulting in the torture and death of multitudes of Christians.
When the news of his death reached the Senators, they tore down and shattered all images of him in their chamber, and ordered that all statues of him, and all inscriptions mentioning his name, should be destroyed throughout the realm.
Domitian (81 - 96) exercised his cruelty socially, politically, economically, and religiously.
Eusebius, Church father & historian ( Ecclesiastical History iii . Vol. 20. pp. 8, 9) records that John was sent to Patmos by Domitian, and that when those who had been unjustly banished by Domitian were released by his successor, Nerva (AD 96–98), the apostle John returned to Ephesus.
Christians and Jews refused to bow or sacrifice to Emperor Domitian (The last 12 th Caesar ).
The strong emphasis against Roman Emperor/Caesar worship:
Law of God (Sabbath)
The figurative cry of the saints under the alter (5 th Seal of Rev. 6:9-11) is a response to these persecutions – and represents the cry of the persecuted saints throughout the centuries (between the time of writing & Parousia ).
Tina Pippin – female scholar feels that the book was written against women:
The woman of Rev 17 & the mention of Jezebel.
Tina Pippin, Death and Desire: The Rhetoric of Gender in the Apocalypse of John (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1992), p. 105. See also work by the same author, “Eros and the End: Reading for Gender in the Apocalypse of John,” Semeia 59, 1992, pp. 193-210; “The Heroine and the Whore: Fantasy and the Female in the Apocalypse of John,” Semeia 60, 1992, pp. 67-82.
Ford maintains that John the Baptist wrote the Book of Revelation.
She contends that chapters 4-11 came from the pen and thought of John the Baptist and the rest of the remaining chapters [12-22] originated from the disciples of John the Baptist. [Josephine Massyngberde Ford, “Revelation,” Anchor Bible 38 (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1975), p. 28.]
She is a loner in this view.
John the Baptist was not an apocalyptic prophet, and he understood himself as a “forerunner” for Christ.
Rev. 1:1 “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants, even the things which must shortly come to pass: and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John ;”
Rev. 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 that are before his throne;”
Rev. 1:9 “ I John, your brother and partaker with you in tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus , was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”
Rev. 22:8 “ And I John am he that heard and saw these things . And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel that showed me these things.”
The Greek form of this name, Iō α nnēs (see on Luke 1:13), represents the common Hebrew name Yochanan , “Johanan,” which appears numerous times in the later books of the OT, the Apocrypha, and Josephus.
This identifies the author as a Jew.
ii. The author did not use a pseudonym, but used his real name.
Many Jewish authors and Christian apocalyptic works bore pseudonyms , and were attributed to Hebrew Patriarchs and Prophets, and to Christian Apostles.
The author gives his name because he was known among the Seven Churches of Asia Minor (Rev. 1:9 “your brother”).
In the intertestamental period, there was no recognised prophet among the Jews , and religious writers used the names of the ancient personage of high repute to their work in order to gain general acceptance.
The son of Zebedee, who was one of the 12 Apostles,
John who was surnamed Mark, and a relative of the high priest Annas before the crucifixion of Jesus (Acts 4:6 “ and Annas the high priest was there , and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest.”
Analysis of Possible Authors through process of elimination…
a. Obviously the author of the Book of Revelation could not be John the Baptist, for that John died before the crucifixion of Jesus;
There is no evidence that John the Baptist’s disciples wrote any book or even continued to operate after the death of John.
There is no evidence that Jews that were baptised by John the Baptist wrote books, except that they were re-baptised by Paul (Acts 19:1-4).
Hippolytus at Rome (died c. A.D. 235; Treatise on Christ and Antichrist xxxvi );
Irenaeus at Lyons (c. A.D. 130 – c. 200; Against Heresies IV. 20. 11 ); Irenaeus (op. cit. iii. 3. 4; ANF, vol. 1, p. 416) claims that in his youth he had seen the aged Polycarp of Smyrna, who “conversed with many who had seen Christ,” among them John, who remained permanently at Ephesus until the days of Trajan (A.D. 98-117).
Strong evidence for John’s authorship in Domitian’s era (as opposed to Nero’s)…
Irenaeus claims to have had a personal connection with John through Polycarp, and Polycarp declared of the Revelation: “For that was seen not very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign” ( op. cit. v. 30. 3; ANF , vol. 1, pp. 559, 560 ).
Victorinus (died c. a.d. 303) says, “When John said these things he was in the island of Patmos, condemned to the labour of the mines by Caesar Domitian. There, therefore, he saw the Apocalypse” ( Commentary on the Apocalypse, on ch. 10:11; ANF , vol. 7, p. 353; see on Rev. 1:9).
Polycrates (A.D. 130 – c. 200), bishop of Ephesus, the eighth of his family to be a Christian bishop, testifies that Revelation was written by John “who reclined on the Lord’s bosom…. he rests at Ephesus” ( Epistle to Victor and the Roman Church Concerning the Day of Keeping the Passover; ANF, vol. 8, p. 773 ).
The Book of Revelation fits the description of prophecy (Rev. 1:3; 22:7, 10, 18, 19) because it was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The Book of Revelation looks into the future to events that “must soon take place,” (Rev. 1:1), and those that would “take place hereafter,” (Rev. 1:19).
Revelation has a prophetic touch. Taking after Old Testament prophecy, the book addresses and responds to the issues and needs of its primary and immediate context - the situation of Christians in the seven churches in Asia Minor .
John, a Christian prophet, following in the footsteps of the Old Testament Jewish prophets, did not only see visions, but he acted out or participated in the unfolding of the vision (Cf. Rev. 10:1-11; with Ezekiel 3: 1-3 and Hosea 1:1-11.)
People longed for the coming Kingdom because of the anguish and persecutions of God’s people from the time of Antiochus Epiphanes in 137 B.C. to the uprising of Bar Kokhba in 135 B.C.
Apocalyptic literature is characterized by the view that the current world is meaningless, evil, wicked. God has given it over to destruction and in due time he will intervene and bring in the end of this age while inaugurating his kingdom.
The Apocalyptic Literature has the following basic characteristics:
(a) Striking contrasts : demarcates between good and evil; God’s forces & Satan’s; righteous and wicked; salvation for God’s children and doom for their enemies; seal of God & mark of the beast; virgin of Rev. 12 and harlot of Rev. 17; armies of heaven and armies of earth; fruit of the tree of life and the wine of the fury of God’s wrath; Glories of New Jerusalem & destruction of Babylon; sea of glass & lake of fire.
(a) Cosmic sweep : classical prophecy concentrates on local & contemporary situations as its primary focus – with a certain degree of broadening to depict a final great day of the Lord. Apocalyptic concentrates on cosmic sweep or universal scope; good and evil in apocalyptic prophecy are not approached from local and contemporary historical framework, but from the vantage point of the entire world and for the whole span of human history. E.g. Dan. 2 & 7 (from time of Dan. to the setting of God’s kingdom - the same with Rev.
(c) Eschatological emphasis : general prophets broaden their scope of the doom oracles to portray briefly a final judgment at the end of earth’s history – but the major thrust of their writing is for the situation of their own day. Apocalyptic prophecy (while treating history through the stream of time) focuses on the end-time events. Apocalyptic prophecy describes an ongoing struggle between good & evil in history - (history degenerates as it proceeds in time). General Prophets looked at history from their standpoint and time – apocalyptic prophets looked a history from its eventual climax.
(d) Origin in times of distress and perplexity . Dan. & Rev. arose in times of distress, perplexity, and persecution. Apocalyptic literature is intended to give comfort, hope and encouragement in time of distress – and it teaches that God is still active and in control.
(f) Extensive use of symbolism : classical / general prophecy uses symbolism to some degree, apocalyptic prophecy may be distinguished by it. The Book of Revelation is permeated with symbols of various sorts; its imagery is particularly rich.
(g) Use of composite symbolism : classical / general prophecy uses true-to-life patterns, whereas apocalyptic prophecy uses unconventional forms (e.g. animals that are non-existent in nature – seven-headed dragon, sea beast of Revelation, the winged lion and four-headed leopard of Daniel. Composite symbolism was common in the art and literature of ancient Near East.
(i) Literary Form of Apocalyptic . Much prophecy is in poetic form, whereas Apocalyptic prophecy (and similarly non-canonical literature) is almost entirely in prose, with only an occasional insertion of poetry, particularly in the case of hymns (Rev. 4:11; 5:9, 10; 11:17, 18; 15:3, 4; 18:2–24; 19:1, 2, 6–8).
The word "Preterist" is from a Latin word meaning “past.”
The Preterist interpretive approach, sometimes labelled “contemporary-historical,” sees the entire book of Revelation as the ancient history whose events take place during the author’s time and finding their fulfilment in 312 A.D., and not excluding the era of the conversion of Constantine to Christianity.
This approach is usually ascribed to the innovation of Luis de Alcazar, a Spanish Jesuit around the 1610s.
The proponents of this view identify the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 as the main focus of Revelation.
John’s vision of the beasts, in Revelation 13, is interpreted to mean the “Imperial Rome and the Imperial priesthood.”
The messages of John, according to this view, are intended only for the encouragement of saints in their historical setting, addressing issues facing them in their context, but not to apply to any other context.
This approach, which sometimes is labelled “non-historical,” or “ahistorical,” interpretation, states that John’s messages did not target any particular people and church in history, but it is a struggle between righteous and evil for the duration of the church’s pilgrimage until Jesus Christ comes.
This view does not relate or derive meaning of symbols and allusions from either history or future.
The negation of historical context renders the interpreter vulnerable to subjectivity.
The internal evidence of the book of Revelation (4:1) disputes this approach because the factors of concrete events in history, names of places and persons, and also John’s future predictions militates against the idealist approach.
While the futurist approach focuses to the future, but it also wipes the Christian era clean of any prophetic significance by removing the bulk of the prophecies of Revelation (and certain aspects of Daniel) to the end of the age for their fulfilment.
This approach ignores the fact that Rev. 5 took place soon after Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Apocalypse is a prophetic compend of church history and covers all Christian centuries – from the time of John to the final consummation.
It speaks of things past, present, and future; some of its prophecies are fulfilled, some are now being fulfilled, and others await fulfillment in the yet unknown future.
Reasons why Adventists prefer this methodology…
Meaning for the primary audience : the epistolary form must is taken seriously. The futurists come into grief on this datum.
Revelation looks beyond John’s day : The theme of the Second Coming is quite strong, and all visions move towards the end – the New Jerusalem & Advent – “a new heaven and new earth” (Rev. 21:1). The Preterist School is devoid of this aspect of the visions.
3. Genuine Sequential movement : We should note Rev. 1:19 “Now write what you see, what is and what is to take place hereafter.” There is a movement of visions towards the end – a development in time.
Examples of development in time / sequence of events
Rev. 12 – the woman is pregnant; she gives birth; the child is snatched away; the woman flees to the desert; she finds protection for 1260 days (years); the dragon makes war with the rest of her offspring.
Rev. 13 – there is a sequence of some sort: dragon, sea beast, and land beast; the land beast promotes the sea beast; the sea beast, in turn devises existence for the dragon; the dragon, having failed to destroy the holy Child, pursues the “seed” of the women (Rev. 12:13, 17).
d. Symbols embody a philosophy of Divine Activity : Events in history provide understanding of Rev., and also the symbols provide an understanding of transcendal view or philosophy of divine activity – a timeless portrayal of the struggle between the forces of good and evil. Rev. brings more than hope for the Second Coming; it speaks existentially to all loyal followers of the Lamb, especially those who are undergoing persecution.