This modules runs from April to June of 2021 and will be led by Rev. Paul Chan.
Why Study the Book of Revelation?
Revelation is probably one of the most difficult to understand books in the Bible. Apart from a few chapters of direct exhortation with a minimum use of symbols, the rest of the book is filled with symbols that are hard to understand, especially in modern times. As the book is primarily an “apokalypsis” (hence the title of the book, given according to the first word of the book in its Greek original), this genre is necessarily about the future and that adds to the confusion as to what time in the future each particular passage is referring to and if the events are necessarily chronological in order. You may want to refer to many fine commentaries of a conservative tradition to learn more about the four schools of interpretation which include:
- The “preterist (meaning past) view” which interprets the book from its first-century historical setting which opines that the major prophecies of the book were fulfilled either in the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 or the fall of Rome in A.D. 476 — the major problem of this view lies in the fact that the decisive victory of Christ prophesied in the latter chapters have yet to happen, even in our time;
- The “historical view” relates the visions in the book to the entire span of church history and seeks to match up various key events in history with John’s visions. Such matchings tend to be very arbitrary and subjective;
- The “futurist or eschatological view” sees that everything from Revelation 4:1 onwards belongs to a period in the future which will only come to pass right before the Parousia, Christ’s return;
- The “idealist or timeless symbolic view” which was very popular throughout the medieval period interprets basically everything allegorically. This approach is in direct conflict with the stated purpose of the book which is “to show His servant what must soon take place” (1:1).
Obviously, the choosing of one of the above views will yield a very different interpretation and understanding of the message of the book and so it naturally begs the question: why then should we study Revelation at all? And the question: can this book be properly and meaningfully understood at all?