How To Understand The Book Of Revelation (Without Feeling Dumb)

Do you struggle to understand the Book of Revelation?

All the symbols and horses and angels and demons?

I thought it might be useful to give seven principles for helping understand the book of Revelation taken from the book, The Triumph of the Lamb by Dennis Johnson. These are found in chapter one, entitled “A Strategy for Seeing”.

Revelation is given to reveal

Our starting point should be confidence that God has given this book not to confuse, terrify, or divide his people but to give us light, to reveal to us the invisible forces and the secrets of his invincible plan that makes sense of visible events and movements experienced by his church in the world.

Revelation is a book to be seen

Revelation is a book of symbols in motion. What John has seen in prophetic vision is the true character of events, individuals, forces, and trends, the appearance of which is quite different on the physical observable plane.

Revelation makes sense only in light of the Old Testament

Paraphrasing Dr. Johnson, Revelation draws together numerous themes from the Old Testament prophets, especially Daniel, Ezekiel, and Zechariah. This is one of the things I love about Revelation: it shows us that God’s plan from creation until the end of time is secure and unshakeable. God will complete all He promised!

You can’t understand the book of Revelation without starting in the Old Testament.

Revelation is for a church under attack

Its purpose, to reveal things which must soon take place, is not to satisfy idle eschatological curiosity but to fortify Jesus followers in steadfast hope and holy living. In another place, Dr. Johnson paraphrases the message of Revelation to us, Jesus bride as endure and stay pure.

Revelation concerns “what must soon take place.

(See Revelation 1:1, 19; 4:1, and 22:6.) Again paraphrasing Dr. Johnson, this point is helpful because it reminds us that Revelation gave first-century Christians insight into the purposes of God in their time. We can at least conclude, therefore, that interpretations of the visions that lie completely beyond the original readers frame of reference are suspect.

The victory belongs to God and to His Christ

Though the enemies might is portrayed in all its hideousness, Revelation’s last word is not about the destructive power of the prince of darkness grim, but rather about the joyful celebration of those redeemed by Jesus, the Lord’s Messiah. This hope motivates the suffering church to endure tribulation and the tempted church to remain a pure bride for her Groom.

See. It’s not too difficult to understand the book of Revelation.

May God use this part of His Word to make us a more faithful church for Jesus, our great Champion!

My wife Anna, son Elliot, and I live in the little town of Franklin, WV. I'm a pastor. I have a degree in wildlife biology, which is useful for pastoring (actually, no). I like books, nature photography, working out, and being with my family. In a previous life I was William Wallace.