The recipients of the book of Revelation

The book of Revelation has been a blessing to many beyond John’s own time. As inspired literature, it follows the purpose of scripture to the children of God, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Rom 15: 4). We find hope in the assurances of the promises of Christ in the book of Revelation.

However, the book was not initially intended for us. The immediate recipients were believers in Jesus Christ of the seven churches in Western Asia minor. There is no doubt that the majority of these believers were Judeo-Christians simply because of the Judaistic culture in the entire book. Nonetheless, the book itself is sensitive to the theological culture of the Gentiles too. Consider the table below:

The throne of God (4) The glorification of the Lamb (5)
The 144,000 redeemed from all Israel (7: 1-8; 14: 1) Multitude from every nation, tribe, and tongue (7: 9-17: 14: 2-5)
Those who keep the commandments of God (12: 17; 14: 12) And have the testimony or faith of Jesus Christ (12: 17; 14: 12)
The gates of the New Jerusalem has the names of the 12 tribes of Israel (21: 12) The foundations of the New Jerusalem has the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb (21: 14)
The woman (Ch. 12) The remnant of her seed (12: 17)

While we may readily come in contact with Jewish people, for example, the 144, 000, there are also Gentile nations and tribes that are likewise saved by the Lamb. The revelator could not give an exact number of the Gentiles because they are a multitude. It’s not difficult to see the triumph of the gospel among Gentile nations even as at the time of the book.

John’s seven churches were in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. These were prominent cities of the Roman empire in the first century. Their location can be traced in present-day Turkey. We have many things to learn about (and from) these Churches. Christ’s message to them brings to us the question of how sin sickens the church and the realities of divine love and justice. Until we come to the point of knowing that the words of Christ are the source of our spiritual nourishment, we are dead in our spirituality, and the Spirit of God will struggle to abide with us.

It is God’s will for you to study the book of Revelation with the earnest desire to keep them at heart. As Ellen White wrote:

When the books of Daniel and Revelation are better understood, believers will have an entirely different religious experience. They will be given such glimpses of the open gates of heaven that heart and mind will be impressed with the character that all must develop in order to realize the blessedness which is to be the reward of the pure in heart. (Testimonies to Ministers, 114).

 

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