Introduction to The Book of Revelation

The Book of Revelation is often regarded as a book of mystery. While there are indeed many strong delusions about this book, its first word and title refute the idea that it conceals a mystery. This book is the revelation of mysteries - of the oracles spoken by the prophets who are quoted in the verses of the first chapter. The first chapter is written in the style of an epanados. Epanados is the repetition of words used earlier in a phrase or a sentence, in the reverse order. This repetition creates a pattern in the text, the pattern leads to a center, and this creates a subtle emphasis. The words John used (quoted from previous prophets), and the sequence in which he used them, are what form this epanados.

Old Testament prophets

Revelation

Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people (Isaiah 55:4) And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth (1:5)
Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days (Daniel 7:13) Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him… (1:7)
And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn (Zechariah 12:10) …and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him (1:7)
Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he (Isaiah 41:4) I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty (1:8)
Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God (Isaiah 44:6) I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, what thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia (1:11)
I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof (Zechariah 4:2) And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks (1:12)
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire (Daniel 7:9) And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters (1:13-15)
He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away (Isaiah 49:2) And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength (1:16)

This first chapter epanados does three important things that I’d like to point out:

  • It profoundly declares the author of the book: the I AM at its center
  • It reveals the author of the book in vivid detail
  • It identifies three prophets whose mysteries are revealed by this book, and whose oracles serve as the keys to understanding this book

Chapters two and three are seven letters addressed to seven churches. In these verses we can find the book’s message of restoration: the inheritance that was lost in Genesis will be fully restored.

Genesis (lost)

Revelation (restored)

Then the Lord God said, *"Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever,"* therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken (Gen 3:22,23) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God (2:7)
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (Gen 2:17) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death (2:11)
By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return (Gen 3:19) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it (2:17)
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths (Gen 3:7) The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels (3:5)
He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life (Gen 3:24) The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations (2:26)
Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken (Gen 3:23) The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name (3:12)

Symbolic language is used throughout this remarkable book and therein lies the cause of all the delusion connected with it. If you have ever felt lost or overwhelmed by the symbolism of this book, please do not be troubled. All of this book’s symbols are explained in the book itself, or by the three prophets quoted in the first chapter’s epanados. The book’s most prominent symbol is the number seven, and one of these sevens is seven blessings:

  1. Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. (1:3)
  2. Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. (14:13)
  3. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. (16:15)
  4. Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. (19:9)
  5. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (20:6)
  6. Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. (22:7)
  7. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (22:14)

I’ve emphasized three of these blessings to ask the question: how is it possible to hear the words and keep the things written therein; to keep watch; to keep the sayings of the prophecy of this book - if we are unable to comprehend them?