What do you think the book of Revelation refers to?




Just out of curiosity, what are you teaching on the Book of Revelation.  Are you teaching it’s referring to Jerusalem (AD 70) or Rome?  Or ?

First, the book of Revelation is quite clear that it is dealing with things that would take place shortly after its writing.

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John" (Revelation 1:1).

"Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near" (Revelation 1:3).

"Then he said to me, "These words are faithful and true." And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place" (Revelation 22:6).

"And he said to me, "Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand"" (Revelation 22:10).

While I believe some sections do refer to the second coming, especially the later chapters, the bulk of the book was written to first and second century Christians to given them comfort and hope during a severe persecution. I have come to the conclusion that Revelation is referring to the Roman persecution of Christians and the eventual downfall of Rome. Some believe it refers to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but it doesn't match the evidence given.

  • Very early Christian writings state that Revelation was written during the reign of Domitian, putting the book's writing to be between 91 and 96 A.D. While this is not inspired writing (i.e. it can be wrong), still there needs to be an explanation as to why people so close to the time of its writing got the date wrong.
  • The book is address to the seven churches of Asia, that is to communities where the population is basically Gentile (Revelation 1:4).
  • The book speaks of persecutions in Gentiles cities, not just of Jewish Christians, but all members (Revelation 2:10, 13 ). Revelation 3:10 says it would be a trial upon the whole world.
  • The great whore (the city that will fall) sits on seven mountains (Revelation 17:9). Rome is known as the city of seven hills. Jerusalem basically sits on one mountain top.

As I went through the book, I found many events in Roman history that appears to line up with the symbols given in Revelation. I haven't been able to do so with Jewish history. In the overall scheme of things, the fall of Rome was a world event. Jerusalem, while important to the Jews, was still a small city in an obscure province. Its fall did not have world reaching impact.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Revelation
An Introduction to Revelation