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Please bear in mind that any understanding of this awesome revelation which does not enhance one's personal confidence in God is futile and therefore questionable.
Index of Sections*
Description of its Ten Parts
Chapter 1:1 to 3:22  •  General introduction and individual messages to the seven congregations of John's parish/locality in geographic order.
Chapter 4:1 to 6:8
Chapter 6:9 to 8:13
Chapter 9:1 to 11:1
Chapter 11:2 to 13:2
Chapter 13:3 to 14:20
Chapter 15:1 to 16:21
Chapter 17:1 to 19:4
Chapter 19:5 to 20:10
Chapter 20:11 to 22:21

The book of
Revelation as we know it is the record of John, the beloved disciple and a foundation-apostle of Jesus, which he compiled from notes written during his earlier experience of visions while incarcerated in the Roman prison on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea. This is the man Jesus entrusted with the care of His mother; a man who deserved trust. In John's old age, similar to the prophet Daniel isolated in a pagan culture, John's love for God and concern for God's people is crowned with an unparalleled revelation of both, this was then lifted by the Spirit of God to become the closing climax of God's written word for all generations.
John in History/Chronology
himself describes the content of his much misunderstood writing as –
'the word of God', the 'witness of Jesus Christ', and 'as many things as he [John] saw'.
Revelation 1:2.
John's personal
situation cannot be separated from our understanding of what he has written. For this reason a glossary is useful to help our understanding today, for the mix of his Jewish background and his world of Roman law and politics is the very fabric upon which his climactic revelation of Jesus Christ is written.
instance, John from living in Ephesus and with a close pastoral relationship to the other six congregations of that Roman highway through South West Anatolia (modern Turkey) is visited in prison by a caring group composed of a representative from each of the seven congregations. Hence Christ's reassurance in its opening chapter that these seven messengers are as 'stars' held protectively in His right hand.
Only the International Standard Version, Weymouth, and Young's Literal translations get this right.
a lack of understanding of his context has led many translators to misleadingly translate the common Greek word for messenger ἄγγελος/angelos as 'angels' which has seriously hindered Christian understanding of this book.
Important Principles of Interpretation Glossary of words and phrases
Continuing Under Construction
Note: in John's world,
arising originally from
the Twelve Tables of
Rome's Constitution,
a valid will required
Seven Seals, from –
• the Testator,
• Five Witnesses: and
Familae Emptor (Executor),
so giving
seven-seals on one thread,
all needing to be broken
to begin opening the
Testamentary Scroll.
(Roman Private Law, Kaser
1968:292, Butterworths)
out-of-body climate of this revelation has helped mislead many to also ignore the cultural context of the congregations into which it was given. The Bible was written for us but not to us; therefore it is essential to understand it as its first readers did.
instance, the fact that pagan Rome symbolically represented the four seasons grouped around their image of supreme deity is not incidental to John's description of Heaven's court. The 24 seniors/elders of that court are not simply coincident to the twenty-four hours of our day (twelve to a day and twelve to a night) for this representation of God's rule over humanity is far older in human history than Israel's twelve tribes (or its twelve apostles of Jesus) finding its origin in the earliest records of ancient Egypt. So, the human environment into which John wrote his revelation is directly relevant to the symbolic language God used and John certainly expected it to be understood by the ordinary Christian believer in the world of his time.
It also
needs to be remembered that, though appearances may be richly symbolic within their historical/cultural context, the reality behind the symbolic appearance is very real. For instance, Jesus' form of appearance in Chapter One is completely symbolic but His person is real.
Revelation, given while John is in prison, starts with the messengers (ἄγγελοι) from the seven congregations, pictured as stars in Christ's right hand in order to assure them of their personal protection in their putting themselves at such risk to the Roman authorities in coming visit to him in the Roman prison on the island of Patmos.
So it
is relevant to therefore know something of the cities in which these congregations lived. They are seven in number because the number represents completeness (as the 7-days of creation) as they corporately represent the whole Church of Jesus, and so the one holy Spirit of God is therefore represented symbolically before the Throne as 'seven spirits' (1:4, for each of the seven local congregations was as a local instance of the whole Christian church universal to which the Holy Spirit was fully given at Pentecost, as each of all Christ's congregations also are today).
Seven congregations in the Province of Asia
Why Seven? Because from Genesis One it represents completeness: not as a speculated seven-fold division of Church History, but in the nature of the Christian Church, which is always and only fully represented in the spiritual nature of the local congregation (not the organisation thereof but the people who worship together)

1.   Ephesus   2:1-7 The church that had forsaken its first love.   Population c.200,000-500,000.
Leading port of Asia Minor, on a major trade route, made a free city in 98 BC, so its citizens were Roman citizens. Destroyed by an earthquake in 17 AD. Its theatre could hold 25,000 people (see Ac.19:29).

2.   Smyrna   2:8-11 The church that would suffer persecution.   Population c.200,000
A harbour town with a wealthy academic community; it had a 'street of gold' with a temple at each end. (modern name Izmir).

3.   Pergamum   2:12-17 The church that needed to repent.   Its was the capital of the Attalid kingdom 3rd-2nd century BC; has the second largest library in the Roman Empire; famous for parchment; home of the Asclepion health resort; the great altar to Zeus; and of three temples to the emperor.

4.   Thyatira   2:18-29 The church that had a false prophetess.   City of many trade guilds; located on the imperial post road. (modern Akhisar).

5.   Sardis   3:1-6 The church that had fallen asleep.   Wealthy fortress-city on a hill, accessible to Asia Minor's most fertile river basin.
Destroyed by an earthquake in 17 AD and rebuilt by Emperor Tiberius.

6.   Philadelphia   3:7-13 The church that had endured patiently.   Fortress-city, also on the imperial post road; educational centre of Hellenism.
Destroyed by an earthquake in 17 AD, rebuilt by Emperor Tiberius. (modern Alasehir).

7.   Laodicea   3:14-22 The church with the lukewarm faith.   Producer of world-famous black wool; it was a banking centre; and had a school of medicine;
damaged by two earthquakes, rebuilt once and without imperial aid. (modern Eski Hisar).

These seven
congregations in the Roman province of Asia would have known John personally from his base of ministry in its principal town Ephesus. Each message to a congregation begins with a particular aspect of Christ in His relationship to them and ends with an instruction to hear His Spirit and a promise to those who endure.
There is no basis whatsoever for reading these seven messages as if addressed to seven 'Eras of Christianity'. They were each real congregations, each in a different circumstance, and each responsive to the personal ministry of John.
*This Study Text has been carefully refined from a comparison of the Greek text original with most English translations in use today.
The Greek text used as a comparison standard is the 21st edition of Eberhard Nestle's Novum Testamentum Graece.
Lastly, the
worst abuse of this Book that I have come across is the shame of a senior academic at a leading South African university in Johannesburg, who used John's words – "And I saw no shrine in it" (concerning the cubic New Jerusalem as Christ's Bride) to teach a future elimination of all religion in a perfect socialist world. Very strangely, his university colleagues seemed to respect it as a possible exegesis.
This Book is certainly not for those who do not know God!
Revelation 21:22.
What John's statement actually says is simply a reinforcement of the reality shown in the unique cubic shape of this symbolic city.
It is the final fulfillment of Israel's Holy of Holies (as its dimension-ratio shows). It is the direct presence/dwelling of God Himself, and so, of course it needs no temple.
Book is the rich inheritance of every believer who submits to the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, who was given fully at Pentecost to all His congregations in every time and place.

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