The Meaning Of Revelation

THE MEANING OF REVELATION  – The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. (Revelation 1:1a, NIV 1984)

A revelation is typically a secret or fact that is made known (revealed), usually in a surprising way. When it comes to the book of Revelation in the Bible, there is no question that there are many surprises. To those who find the book confusing, and there are many, the biggest surprise might be that secrets or facts are being revealed. Part of the confusion may have to do with some of the terminology that is used within the book itself and by various commentators attempting to explain their views on what is being revealed. Thus, prior to beginning a study of Revelation, it may be helpful to become a bit more acquainted with some of the specialized terminology that is commonly used to describe and categorize those various viewpoints and interpretations. Otherwise, unfamiliarity with the terminology might only add to the confusion and frustration that many feel when studying this book. So that is where we will begin this study of last things and the return of Jesus Christ.

There is no better place to start than with the word revelation. As it is used in the first verse of the book, it is the English translation of the Latin term revelo, which means to uncover or disclose (i.e., reveal) (1). Revelation is also called the Apocalypse from the Greek word (apokalyptō) for revelation (2). While it is only one word, it conveys two fundamental truths.

Previously Concealed – The first, and most obvious, is that what is being revealed was previously concealed or unknown (the secret), a mystery.

True All Along – Second, but not quite so obvious, is that despite being previously concealed, what is now being revealed has been true all along (the fact) (3).

Thus, in Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, God is revealing something that has always been true and known to Him, but was previously hidden from man.

Next Up – The various views on how Revelation should be interpretted.

  1. Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 867). San Francisco: Harper & Row.
  2. Powell, M. A. (2011). Revelation, book of. In M. A. Powell (Ed.), The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated) (Third Edition., p. 879). New York: HarperCollins.
  3. Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 867). San Francisco: Harper & Row.

 

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