Rules for Reading Revelation – Four from Stott, One from Me

Here are  4 rules for interpretation that I found in John Stott’s book, The Incredible Christ.  I have added one more of my own.

1.   “The symbols are to be understood not visualized.”  By this Stott explains.  If you imagine robes that are washed in the blood of the lamb literally, it is a strange thing.  We do not usually use blood to wash clothes.  It is clearly to be understood that we are washed from our sins from the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross.  When Jesus has a sword in his mouth, that is hard to visualize, but when we understand that to mean that his word has power, then it is clear.

2.  “Revelation addresses the past, the present and the future.”  There are a variety of ways people interpret the book. Some try to fit all that happens into the 1st Century world of the early church.  Others say that everything from chapter 4 to the end is all about the last 7 years of human history before the Kingdom of God.  But we need to read the book as a reflection of the past (for example the victory of Christ in the Cross.)  We need to see it in the present, not only in the letters to the churches, but in other parts of the book.  And we do know that the book marches toward the final end of history, through troubles, wars and plagues until there is the judgment of God leading to a new Heaven and a New earth as well as an eternal Hell.

Prophecy has in view of a future victory of God.

             Prophecy shows how this victory colors our present.


3.  “Revelation celebrates the Victory of God.”  This vision was sent to encourage us in times of trouble.

4.  “Revelation focuses on Jesus Christ.”  The main idea is not When these things will happen, but Who has won the victory.

5.  This is my rule:  “Be patient with other’s opinions and be cautious about your own.”  I have seen Christians go to war over interpretation of Revelation.  We can talk and discuss, but we need to be patient with each other.  This book is for our encouragement, not for our division as a body.


One thought on “Rules for Reading Revelation – Four from Stott, One from Me

  1. Rules for reading revelation? How about for entire Bible. Namely, See
    James 1:5… If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
    Hebrews 11:6.. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
    Frame of Mind is paramount to any approach to God’s word. If you are careful and diligent you will understand as the Holy Ghost will reveal to you that understanding which is of God.
    But See James 1:6 …But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
    Also not to be proud; 1 Peter 5:5 …be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. James 4:6…But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
    Examples of Pride; James 1:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

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