How to study the Book of Revelation?

I’ve just begun a study of the Book of Revelation. I am excited to study this most interesting book. Before studying a new book of the Bible I like to remind myself of some helpful tidbits when studying the Bible.

Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Prayer is most important. When studying the Bible–including Revelation–you should humbly depend on God to give you wisdom and understanding. It is wise to pray before, during, and after your study, asking God to direct you. It’s a responsibility the Holy Spirit enjoys and takes seriously, “He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:13). How wonderful it is to have the interpreter dwelling within you as you read.

Understand the big idea of the book of Revelation.

Determining the meaning of Scripture is a very most important task. God says you must read and study the Bible with care (2 Timothy 2:15). When it comes studying the Book of Revelation it is critical to study verses in their context. Let the text speak for itself. Often, weird interpretations of Revelation are birthed by someone taking one verse out of its context. This is dangerous and a sign of very bad interpretation skills.

When determining the meaning of an entire book of the Bible it is good to have read through the entire book. It is too simple to say that the book of Revelation is about the future, that’s not the main purpose of the book. The main purpose of the book of Revelation is to reveal Jesus Christ. The book begins by stating “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” To properly study the book of Revelation you must see Jesus as the main character.

Understand the flow of the book of Revelation.

Revelation is divided up into three main veins. Revelation 1:19 describes the divisions as:

(1) Past: “the things which you have seen.”
(2) Present: “the things which are.”
(3) Future: “the things which shall be hereafter.”

Understanding these veins will help you follow the flow of the book of Revelation.

Understand the difference between figurative and literal language.

The Book of Revelation is graphic, but it is not a graphic novel. You do not have to be a literary scholar to know the difference between figurative and literal language. The apostle John describes future things that did not exist when he was writing the book of Revelation. As a result, he described what he saw in terms that were used in his day. When John uses terms such as “like” or “as” he is using symbolic language to to describe what he witnessed. This is common with any prophetic literature. Be careful not to over interpret figurative language, but embrace it’s ambiguity and mystery.

Take scrupulous notes.

You are bound to stubble upon passages in Revelation that will make you scratch your head in wonder or awe. Anything you read that is confusing or meaningful jot it down in a journal. I love to use type notes on my computer and organize them by Scripture reference or theme. It is fascinating to look over previous notes I took and compare them to newer passages I study.

Expect to be blessed.

Revelation 1:3 says, “Blessed are they that read, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein.” As you study the book of Revelation, and marvel at Jesus Christ and obey what you learn from it, you can expect to be blessed. Revelation is one of the most fascinating books of the Bible. It will certainly stir you to worship Jesus Christ in a powerful and moving way.

blessed

Your Blessed Life Now

  • “We are a blessed.”
  • “We live in a blessed nation.”
  • “Count your blessings.”
  • “God bless you.”

These are a few of the praises we hear as anthems in our personal arenas. I am so blessed that I don’t even know what being blessed means anymore. Blessed has become as shallow as the word love. As we enter the book of Ephesians we see blessing defined.

EPH 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

Paul begins his letter by blessing God for pouring down on His people every spiritual blessing in Christ. The word blessed [Εὐλογητὸς, eulogy] simply means praise. “Blessed” in the NT always refers to God as Creator and Father [Rom. 1:25; 2 Cor. 1:3; 11:31]. Ephesians 1:3–14 is one long sentence, but in one breath Paul empties rich praises from the caverns of his soul praise for God’s grace. It should be noted that there are no commands in this passage telling us how to live only a praise song showing us how to lift up Christ.

Eulogy to Praise a Living God

This sentence is a eulogy for what God has done and giving Him the glory He is due. Normally a eulogy is for someone who is dead, but God is not dead. This eulogy is an enormous and extremely humbling list of all “spiritual blessings” God has blessed His followers “in Christ” [x11 in 1:3-14]. I am the beneficiary of a blessed inheritance now and later that is literally: out of this world.

One can also observe how the Trinity works together in our salvation, as seen in this chart:

Who gives the spiritual blesses? What is the spiritual blessing? How is this a spiritual blessing?
FATHER [vs.3-6] chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” [v.4] Before we were created God chose us to be His children. Blessed are those who respond to His grace.
“predestined us for adoption” [v.5] God invites us to become His sons and daughters. We become children of the King with all the benefits of the kingdom. God lovingly rules and reigns as our Abba Father. He willed it.
What is to be our response? “to the praise of His glorious grace” [v.6]
SON [vs.7-12] redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” [v.7] Christ purchased our salvation through His blood—the perfect sacrifice for sin [cf. 1 Cor.6:20; Gal.3:13; 4:5].  My sin had a debt I could not pay and Christ paid the ransom with His life.
makes known to us the mystery of His will” [vs.8-9] Through Christ we have the capacity to understand and know the will of God. Jesus made God’s plan visible to the entire world.
“we have obtained an inheritance” [vs.10-11] Through Christ I am an heir of all that God owns. What does God own? Everything. You cannot put a price on everlasting life—it’s priceless.
What is to be our response? “to the praise of His glory” [v.12]
HOLY SPIRIT [vs.13-14] sealed” [v.13] At salvation the Holy Spirit declares that we are beneficiaries of all the above, right now. We do not have to wait for it. He has given us His stamp of approval as a guarantee.
inheritance” [v.14] There are some things we cannot have just yet, but the Holy Spirit let us know we can bank on Him [cf. 1 Peter 2:9].
What is to be our response? “to the praise of His glory” [v.14]

Think about the lengthy list of blessings we have in Christ. It is infinitely better than Bill Gates and Warren Buffet dumping their wills in my lap. How do you respond to God’s grace? Are you amazed?Are you caught up in a chorus of praise with Paul? Does the Almighty God who has masterminded your salvation move you? This melodic eulogy that sounds a mountainous symphony of my salvation stuns me. God is blessed for revealing His gracious redemptive plan. Syntactically and structurally, the mystery God is revealed and summed up “in Christ.” Jesus gives meaning to the mystery because He is the mystery [cf. Colossians 1:20-22]. Therefore, the crescendo of this eulogy trumpets glory to God because He is:

EPH 1:9 making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Blessed Predestination

Paul reaches back before creation, before time began, and into eternity-past when only God Himself existed. Election is described with different facets of God’s gracious, saving purposes: “will” [1:5, 9, 11], “mystery” [1:9], “purpose” [1:9, 11], “appointment” [1:11], and “plan” [1:11].

What does it really mean that God has predestined and elected man? Does this mean man has no responsibility before God? What did He choose us to be? He chose “us” [i.e. saints, believers] to “be holy and blameless before Him,” [1:4] “predestined us for adoption as sons,” [1:5] and “be to the praise of His glory.”

Predestination is to a relationship with God the Father through his Son Christ. Election is always and only in Christ. God chose “us” in connection with Christ and our response to His work of redemption. God chose the believer for His glory and redemption is only accomplished though Christ. Being adopted into God’s family as sons [and daughters] is an incredible privilege, since we were at once “sons of disobedience” and “children of wrath” [cf. 2:2, 3].

Think of election and predestination like being given a special assignment at school or work. What does it feel like to be chosen for a special assignment? Election and predestination do not take away man’s responsibility in fact they enhance man’s responsibility. Election does bring privilege, but it also carries with it weighty responsibility. The divine purpose in our election was not simply to repair the damage done by sin but also to fulfill God’s original intention for humankind—to be conformed to the likeness of Christ [Rom. 8:29–30]. Therefore, I am responsible to respond to God’s gracious redemptive plan and praise Him for His glorious grace [1:13].

Marvelous Mystery Revealed

Think about the list of blessings we have in Christ. How do you respond? Are you amazed? Are you caught up in a chorus of praise with Paul? Does the Almighty God who has masterminded your salvation move you? This melodic eulogy that sounds a mountainous symphony of my salvation stuns me. God is blessed for revealing His gracious redemptive plan. Syntactically and structurally, the mystery God has revealed in Christ is the crescendo:

EPH 1:9 making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.

The mystery of life, everything and the meaning of our existence are solved in Christ. Through Christ I can be a child of the King, live eternally with Him, and have the hope to live holy and blameless before Him. This plan of God revealed in Christ put into poetry makes me what to shout with Paul, “To the praise of God’s glorious grace. To the praise of God’s glorious grace. To the praise of God’s glorious grace.” [1:6, 12, 14]