God rules history, and he will bring it to its consummation in Christ. “At the center of the book are the visions of Christ (1:12-16) and of God (4:1-5:14)…The central visions foreshadow the consummation of History, when God’s glory will fill all things (21:22-23; 22:5; see the commentary on 4:1-5:14)” (Poythress, The Returning King , 40).
“ Revelation is first of all God-centered. God controls the course of history. He protects his people and punishes rebellion. He will bring his purposes to final, spectacular realization in the new heaven and the new earth” (Poythress, The Returning King , 40).
Jesus is presented as the lamb because of his sacrificial death. Jesus shares “God’s name (the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, 1:8, 17; 22:13), his throne (22:1), his attributes (1:13-16 compared to Dan. 7:9-10), and his worship (5:13)” (Poythress, The Returning King , 41).
Furthermore it is by the person and work of Jesus that God’s plan and purpose for history is unfolded (5:1-10) and God’s ultimate judgment is arbitrated through Christ (6:1; 19:11-21).
Humanity is caught in the middle of this great battle.
“ By adopting this spiritual perspective, Revelation does not eliminate human responsibility and the significance of human action, but rather sets them in their final, cosmic, and theistic context” (Poythress, The Returning King , 43).
Purity and corruption, Beauty and Ugliness, Truth and Deceit.
As Revelation contrasts between these polar opposites it has the effect of shocking its readers: to those who are comfortable in their faith Revelation afflicts them, and to those who are afflicted Revelation comforts them.
“ Some people today come to Revelation with the recipe, ‘Interpret everything literally, if possible.’ That recipe misunderstands what kind of book Revelation is. Of course, John literally saw what he says he saw. But what he saw was a vision. It was filled with symbols, like the Beast of 13:1-8 and the seven blazing lamps in 4:5. It never intended to be a direct, nonsymbolical description of the future” (Poythress, The Returning King , 47).
Common themes shared between revelation and the gospel: “Among the foremost of which are the Exodus-Moses motif, Christology (Jesus as Word, Lamb, and Son of Man and as glorified even through death), eschatological ideas, and the manner in which both use early exegetical traditions” (Beale, Revelation, 35).
What are the characteristics of the time when Revelation was written? Persecution was a real and impending threat (2:10, 13). Emperor worship was rampant. The church seems to be entrenched in major cities throughout Asia Minor.
Question: “What time period of the first century is characteristic of these events?”
The Roman historian Suetonius writes: “Besides other taxes [under Domitian], that on the Jews was levied with the utmost rigour, and those were prosecuted who without publicly acknowledging that faith yet lived as Jews, as well as those who concealed their origin and did not pay the tribute levied upon their people” (Seutonius, Domitian 12.2). Before the fall of the Temple in Jerusalem Jews paid a two drachmas tax that went to the temple, yet after 70 A.D. the money went to the temple of Jupiter in Rome. This tax could be paid as an alternative to emperor worship (Poythress, The Returning King , 52).
Under the Roman system the Jews were protected in their monotheism; however, the Christians were free game. Judaism was known as a ( religio licita) “Permitted Religion.”
Ancient Roman writers said that toward the end of Domitian’s reign there was more chaos in the cultural and social spheres of the empire than at any prior time.
The use of the title “Babylon” in Revelation points to the probability of a late date. “’Babylon’ refers to Rome in Jewish literature after 70 A.D. and roughly contemporary with the Apocalypse” Beale, Revelation , 18-19).