In the Sunday Morning Forum (5/5/13) we looked at the Book of Revelation (in a general way) and the appointed reading, Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5 (in a specific way).
In general: What we are hearing (reading, if we must) is a book [Revelation] that is (a) prophetic in content, (b) apocalyptic in form, and (c) pastoral in intent.
Prophetic: the function of the prophet is to interpret history as reflecting the action of God. What we see is what is happening on the human scale; what is really going on is the work of God.
Apocalyptic in form: the word apocalypse is the Greek equivalent of revelatio in Latin. It means to unveil or disclose. What is really going on in history is not evident until the prophet draws back the curtain to show what he has seen.
Pastoral in intent: John writes to strengthen and encourage his fellow Christians in a time of peril. Horrors he knows: he has witnessed (or heard about) the execution of Christians in Rome under Nero in 64, the fall of Jerusalem at the end of the Jewish War in 70, the civil war after the death of Nero in 69, a vast destruction resulting from the eruption of Vesuvius in 80.
Another Resource for your Bible study
- The description (above) of The Book of Revelation is from a series of “briefs” jointly produced by Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) and Forward Movement Publications (FM). The entire series, offering introductions to the books of the Bible, is online for your study, and even download: Bible Briefs`.
If the pastoral intent long ago was “to strengthen and encourage … fellow Christians in a time of peril” let us assume the intent is the same today. What ‘perils’ do you hear about? What perils do you see? What does the ‘Seer‘ speak to you as you process what you hear and see? The conversation on Sunday was lively. There is much around us to cause fear, dismay, despair. More importantly, as we looked more closely at the text of Revelation (a text we’ve been reading for a while now) we did indeed find encouragement.
Share your thoughts in the Comment section. We want to continue the conversation.