By way of introduction, the author of the book of Revelation is none other than the Beloved Apostle, John. At this time, he was the last living apostle as that all of them had already been martyred for the gospel of Jesus Christ. According to church history all of the other apostles were martyred in the following ways. Andrew was crucified. Bartholomew was beaten and then crucified. James, the son of Alphaeus was stoned to death. James, the son of Zebedee was beheaded. Judas (not Iscariot) was stoned to death. Matthew was speared to death. Peter was crucified upside down. Philip was crucified. Simon was crucified. Thomas was speared to death. Matthias was stoned to death. Only John died a natural death.
However, tradition does tell us that one of the Roman Emperors tried to kill John by boiling him in oil before exiling him to the Isle of Patmos. This may sound a little rough, but I find a great deal of comfort in that thought, because God had a reason for preserving John’s life for a future work that He had for him in writing this book that we are about to study.
The Lord also has a plan for you. So, the next time you feel that someone is trying to boil you in oil: just remember that until God is finished with you in this life, the next will have to wait! Trust me; I have been in the pot a couple of times myself!
Let’s get started in our study. As we begin to look at the book of the Revelation, we must know that there are basically two views on how to interpret it. The first view of this book is called Spiritual. This view teaches that the entire book of the Revelation is nothing more than a big spiritual allegory. Those who hold this view believe that the book should not be taken literally and therefore does not have any prophetical or futuristic significance. Quite frankly this view is simply wrong. It’s not even close. By the way, you will find that I tend to be pretty “frank” when teaching the Bible. As a matter of fact, if you stay faithful in this study with me, you will probably hear things that challenge you as well. My admonition to you is that you not get offended. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says that we should not be easily offended or provoked. To be so proves our own immaturity. Just go to the Bible and compare scripture with scripture. If you have questions, pray about it and if you desire to contact me, please feel free to do so.
You see, I believe that the entire Bible is to be taken literally, except in the areas where the text reveals that it should not. For example, in Revelation 6:12 it says, “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.” It is very obvious that John isn’t quite sure what he saw and was trying to describe it the best he can, so it’s not to be taken literally. Notice the words “…black as sackcloth of hair…” and “…became as blood.” That doesn’t mean that the sun became sackcloth and the moon became blood. It just means that John didn’t quite know how to describe it so he compared it to something he knew. Also, look at Revelation 8:8 where it says, “And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood.” Again, notice the words “…as it were…” that John used to describe the great mountain.
The second view of the Revelation is what I call the Historical or Literal view. This view states that everything in the book is to be taken literally as historic or prophetic in nature. In other words, when chapters 2 and 3 speak of the seven churches, it is to be taken literally in that there were seven churches that John wrote to in the area of Asia Minor. As a matter of fact, archaeological discoveries have confirmed this over the last 30 years. This is the correct view. Everything that it says either has happened or will happen someday. It is a book of prophecy.