Why did John write the Book of Revelation, or did he? What is the purpose behind this book?
The Book of Revelation isn’t really the Apostle John’s revelation but Jesus Christ’s, the Author of Life itself (Acts 3:15) and although John wrote it, the very first two sentences tell us Who the actual author is as it says, “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw” (Rev 1:1-2). Some Bible scholars believe that the Book of Revelation was written around AD 85-90 but more recently, Bible scholars and theologians such as Dr. R. C. Sproul believe it was written just prior to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Since Jesus Christ is the actual author of the Book of revelation, we can ask what the Apostle John’s purpose was but should we not rather ask what Jesus Christ’s purpose for having John write this book? Apparently Jesus wanted John to write letters to the seven churches in the Roman province of Asia (Rev 1:4) that were literal churches at the time John wrote this. In these letters (Rev 2, 3) John gives Jesus’ correction to the churches and but he also encourages them to endure till the end. Of all the churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation, only the church at Laodicea never received any encouraging word from Jesus Christ because they were steeped in the world and had grown lukewarm (Rev 3:14-22). Very much like the churches of today, they had compromised the Gospel of Jesus Christ and so as a warning, John wrote about those things that “must soon take place” (Rev 1:1) in the hopes that they would repent and do the former works that they had been doing. The events John wrote about pointed to a coming time of tribulation that the world had never seen before. It would appear to fit the first century and some of the calamities that happened during the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. To believe that most of these events wouldn’t take place for over 2,000 years and yet having John write that these “things that must soon take place” doesn’t seem to make much sense since John wrote “for the time is near” (Rev 1:3).
The Focal Point
The central point John may have been making was to prepare for a time of tribulation that the world hadn’t seen yet just as Jesus said in Matthew 24:21 that “there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.” This book also shows the final consummation of the kingdom of heaven which is preceded by the fall and punishment of Satan and his demons as John writes; “the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev 20:11). Not only that, the great white throne judgment comes when “the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done” (Rev 20:12) and “they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done” (Rev 20:13b). When the books are examined (Rev 20:12-13) “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15). No wonder that Jesus makes His appeal saying “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 2:7).
The Kingdom of Heaven
At the end of the age, the time when the kingdoms of man come crashing down and the New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven is the climactic end of the history of humanity ruling themselves. This is when John “saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:2) where God takes over a physical rule and God “will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Rev 21:3). This is the time when God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:4).
The Book of Revelation is one of the most mysterious books in the Bible but that’s no reason not to read it because John writes, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near” (Rev 1:3). John doesn’t write that if you fully understand this book and read it you’ll be blessed but only if you read it and if you keep what’s written in it. The day is coming (soon?) when God will make a final and full revelation of His coming kingdom and we will have to wonder no more about when that is to take place. If you have repented and trusted in Christ then you will hear Jesus say to you “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” (Matt 25:21) but to those who reject Jesus Christ, He will say “cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matt 25:30).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.