The Revelation as a Christian Prophecy

Exploring Prophecy

Revelation is ‘an apocalyptic prophecy in the form of a circular letter to seven churches in the Roman province of Asia.’ RB, Theology of the Revelation, p. 2.

That is the simplified take on ‘what kind of book is Revelation,’ The first division in chapter one of Richard Bauckham’s ‘Theology of the Book of Revelation.’ The remaining first chapter sections are as follows.

— Revelation as a Christian Prophecy:
— Revelation as an Apocalypse:
— Differences from other Apocalypses:
— Revelation as a Circular Letter:
— Understanding the Imagery:

Revelation as a Christian Prophecy

Among the points RB makes here are these:

  • Early Christian prophets communicated their revelations to the churches [Ac 10:9-11:18]. John was a prophet, and Revelation was his vision report.
  • John had an extraordinary vision. He also reflected on it deeply for a long time. The form of Revelation is astonishingly complex.

[Note: This opens room for theological purpose and author personality, factors usually reserved for other authors. This seems to open a new factor in our reading/understanding of the Revelation of Jesus Christ].

  • John wrote as a Jew in OT prophetic tradition. His commission was patterned after Ezekiel’s prophetic commission [Ezkl 2:9-3:3 cf. Re 10:8-11]. But John was also a Christian prophet, led by the Spirit [Re 1:10].
  • As a prophet himself, John need not rely on OT prophets. But he alludes to them numerous times [though he never quotes them].
  • In his prophetic work, John refers to earlier OT writings, just as later prophets borrowed from former prophets.
  • John is therefore able to reinterpret the prophets and use their work to serve his own, Spirit-shaped purposes as a Christian prophet.

Reading Prophecy

Lastly, RB makes an intriguing point regarding the oracle against Babylon in Re 18:1-19:8. He says that the oracular prophesy of Re 18-19 ‘echoes’ OT oracles against Babylon [Is 13:1-14:23; 21:1-10, 47; Je 25:12-38, 50:1], plus two oracles against Tyre [Is 23; Ezek 26-28].

If John borrows from multiple authors speaking to several situations, a large question mark hangs over any prophecy ‘expert’ who flatly ties an OT statement to a text in Revelation. That there are several hundred allusions to the OT but not one single OT quote is also reason for caution.

Reading Scripture Sanely

Caution is exactly what is needed in broaching such a book. It is also what is so lacking in Fundamentalist and Evangelical treatments of Revelation and other Scriptures. So again, it isn’t that one doesn’t necessarily believe the book of Revelation. It’s that the theology is sufficiently important that it must be done well. That’s the rub.

4 thoughts on “The Revelation as a Christian Prophecy”

  1. are you suggesting that the whole Babylon /whore of Bany longer may not be the Catholic Church or the pope?!?!? 😱😱😱 An that the Russians aren’t the army of the North that will try to wipe out Israel ?!? 😱😱😱 An that when I watch the news everyday I don’t have to try and find the signs of the end times in everything going on??!? 😱😱 That I could live a wonderful life filled with love and passion !?! That I don’t have to live in impending doom ?!? That I don’t have to believe my father when he said “you boys shouldn’t worry about dating and relationship or marriage because Jesus is going to come back before that …” wow all the years waste not being able to date. It’s no wonder I have no skills in the relationship charming women department.
    Bahaha oh but my eyes are open an I no longer worry so much about wants next.

    1. Dear Adam F:

      While we certainly have things about which to be concerned, the Babylonian whore is not the Roman Church, or the pope. What Russia, Israel or anyone else does won’t fulfill prophecy as such. Conflicts are an outworking of social, economic, political and military relations. However the Revelation DOES give us a kingdom-of-God perspective from which to assess those social, economic, political and military relations. And as they support worldly/secular social/economic/political/military relations under the banner of ‘patriotism,’ your local IFB sect may have as much entitlement to the designation of the ‘False Prophet’ as Rome ever did.

      Of course, this doesn’t make said IFB sect ‘THE’ whore/false_prophet; as I see it, John never INTENDED for his work to be read in that manner.

      Remember that everything John wrote in the Revelation was rooted in the culture of his day. All the imagery/allusions that we struggle to grasp, they understood straightway. Preterism scores high marks for getting that issue right. But while ROOTED in that time, the message of Revelation is not BOUND to that time. It TRANSCENDS time and in that sense is ageless.

      What John does is to give us an alternative set of symbols by which to know God’s PERSPECTIVE on the world and our relationship to/with it. But I’m getting ahead of myself… Blessings!

  2. 😉😉 oh I agree with you and I wrote my statement above in a mocking tone. But their was a time many in my 20’s as I broke away from my IFB roots that I lives in fear and high anxiety of the future. I” lived in a Doom is coming so why should I try in life.” outlook it was a very gloomy and sad outlook on life. But then God came along through a kind and patient Methodist preacher. Who helped me to see a bright and happy outlook on life and the future.

    1. Dear Adam F:

      And that ‘mocking tone’ was not lost on me 😉 Someone I know rather well has done that frequently… another 😉 Blessings!

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