Notes on The Book of Revelation

Rev 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass;

“To properly understand John’s vision, we must first understand the name he gave it. First and foremost, Revelation was written to reveal or unveil Jesus Christ. Many books on Revelation begin by saying the vision is about Jesus, but they devote hundreds of pages to discussing the antichrist, the Tribulation, and the end of the world, with little explanation of how these events reveal Jesus. This approach is inconsistent. If Jesus truly is the main focus of the book, these other subjects must be understood in light of Him. The problem, of course, is that many people do not understand how the vision in Revelation actually reveals Jesus. That is because they do not realize that Revelation and the events of AD 70 are about the removal of the old covenant and the full revelation or unveiling of the new covenant Kingdom of Jesus (not the end of the world).”Welton, Jonathan. Understanding the Seven Churches of Revelation (Kindle Locations 422-428). BookBaby. Kindle Edition.My Note: What Whelton has just stated is essential to a proper understanding of the book.

“In other words, the old covenant, the Mosaic covenant, was a veil that kept Jesus hidden. Even in Paul’s day, the old covenant remained as a veil that kept the Israelites from accurately seeing Jesus. Here (2Corinthians 3:12–18),Paul clearly states that the old covenant had not yet been removed, and only in Christ would the veil be taken away. The implication is that for Christ to be revealed, the old covenant must be removed.”Welton, Jonathan. Understanding the Seven Churches of Revelation (Kindle Locations 473-476). BookBaby. Kindle Edition.

“On the cross, when Jesus inaugurated the new covenant, He made the old covenant obsolete and outdated, but He did not remove it. This is what Hebrews 8:13 means: “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.” It still existed even though the new covenant had come, but it would not be long until it was removed altogether. This is the revelation the early Church looked forward to. It is the expectation John addressed when he announced the revelation of Jesus. In effect, he was saying, “I am going to outline the complete collapse and destruction of the old covenant world.”Welton, Jonathan. Understanding the Seven Churches of Revelation (Kindle Locations 478-484). BookBaby. Kindle Edition.My Note:You make think this to be in error or even heresy that all things were not finished and done away with at the cross, but that is not so ,as the Jewish persecution of the church continued throughout the first century under the precepts of the Old Covenant until AD70. A good bit of the book of Hebrews is about the  temporary nature of the Old Covenant and its replacement of the eternal New Covenant. Many passages in the epistles spoke about these things also.

“This is the key to understanding Revelation—though the old covenant was made obsolete by Christ when He introduced the new covenant in AD 30, the old covenant lingered (along with the Jewish Temple system) until it was destroyed in AD 70. The Jewish Temple and priesthood were the vehicle through which the old covenant was manifested in people’s lives. Thus, the destruction of the physical Temple and the Jewish priesthood (including all the genealogical records) permanently ended the old covenant. No longer did the Jews have a Temple where they could practice the sacrificial system. No longer could they identify which Jews were descendants of Aaron and, therefore, rightful priests according to the old covenant. In AD 70, any possibility of continuing on in the Jewish religious system laid out by Moses was completely destroyed. Therefore, after AD 70, though Judaism continued on, it took a completely different form, which is the form it follows to this day. Through this cataclysmic event in Jewish history, Jesus completely removed the old covenant and fully revealed Himself and His new covenant. As long as the Temple stood in Jerusalem, until AD 70, the old covenant continued to operate in opposition to the new covenant. Thus, from the cross until the destruction of Jerusalem, AD 30–70, the earthly Jerusalem became a “New Egypt,” and the Christians experienced a new exodus from the earthly Jerusalem into the new covenant heavenly Jerusalem (see Gal. 4:24–27). John’s vision is called the apocalypse (unveiling) of Jesus because it is about the destruction of the old covenant system (see Rev. 4–19) and the finalization of the new covenant as the only covenant in existence (see Rev. 20–22). It is the unveiling of Jesus Christ and His new covenant by the removal of the veil, which was the old covenant system (see 2 Cor. 3). With this proper foundation, Revelation 1:1 makes sense. The unveiled new covenant of Jesus is the revelation of Revelation. When we understand the first verse of the book properly, the rest of the book will come into focus.”Welton, Jonathan. Understanding the Seven Churches of Revelation (Kindle Locations 500-511). BookBaby. Kindle My Note: I fully believe what Welton says here. Step outside of this framework and you step into a maze of futuristic understandings which makes the book not a revelation at all, but a web of confusion about its right interpretation.

“This message is given to Churches of the first century Roman province of Asia. He told them these things would happen soon, not thousands of years later.”Tremblay, Peter. The Revelation – The Real Story: A Small Group Study From The Orthodox Preterist View (p. 13). Kindle Edition. My note: First century relevance is not just important but essential in interpretation of this book.

Rev 1:11 What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

“The third why of John’s seven letters to the churches in Revelation is the connection between those cities and the coming destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. What many modern readers do not realize is that these seven cities were the major cities along the Roman route to Jerusalem. Ephesus was a major Roman port city, so if Rome were to send an army to Asia Minor (Turkey), Israel, or anywhere in the vicinity, Rome would first send the army to Ephesus. This was the logical port where the Roman army would land. From there, the Roman army would follow the Roman road. The Roman army had built large stone roads, as wide as seventy feet, to facilitate transportation throughout the Empire. These roads were not everywhere, like in our modern world. They followed a specific route according to the usual trade patterns. Each of the seven cities in Revelation 2–3 was along the Roman road. Because of their location, they would be impacted by the army as it came through. Jewish settlements from the Diaspora existed in each of the cities in Asia Minor. The Jewish people had been scattered throughout the region. As a result, their presence was significant. The Jewish synagogues in these cities had between two thousand and twenty thousand Jewish members. Among them were Christians who had turned to Jesus as the Messiah. So, in these cities, a small Christian church of a few dozen believers would exist within a much larger Jewish population. The Roman mission was to annihilate the Jews for their revolt against Rome, and the army would be actively killing as many Jews as possible in the cities along their route to Jerusalem. In this, the Romans would not differentiate between Jews and Jewish Christians. So, the coming of the Roman army presented a real danger to the Christians as well. It was not just the Christians in Israel and Jerusalem who needed to watch for the signs in order to escape the slaughter. In Matthew 24, Jesus had already warned the Jews of the coming destruction to Jerusalem, and history tells us that the Christians of that region heeded His warnings and escaped the destruction.20 Now, at Jesus’ direction, John gave a similar warning to those in Asia Minor and specifically those along the Roman road.”Welton, Jonathan. Understanding the Seven Churches of Revelation (Kindle Locations 378-386). BookBaby. Kindle Edition. My Note: I often wondered why these churches were mentioned and not other churches such as Rome, Corinth, Galatia. Philippi, and Colossae, who all received epistles from Paul and hold a very prominent position in the New Testament body of Christ. This is certainly a plausible explanation for these particular churches being addressed as they were congregations in the marching path of the invading Roman army.

“Here are the seven promises He makes: 1. Ephesus—“To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7). 2. Smyrna—“The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death” (Rev. 2:11). 3. Pergamum—“To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it” (Rev. 2:17). 4. Thyatira—“To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations —that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give that one the morning star” (Rev. 2:26–28). 5. Sardis—“The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels” (Rev. 3:5). 6. Philadelphia—“The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name” (Rev. 3:12). 7. Laodicea—“To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Rev. 3:21). In these promises, the groom (Jesus) speaks to His Bride (the Church), offering Himself to her. Each of these promises is a picture of who Jesus is. So, when He says, “I will give some of the hidden manna” (Rev. 2:17) or, “I will give that one the morning star” (Rev. 2:28), He is promising Himself. He is promising new covenant union and communion with Him. In this way, He ends each letter with a promise of Himself: “This beautiful part of Me will be available to you when I come in judgment on the old covenant and fully establish the new.” This does not mean that the specific promises were available only to the people in the church that received that letter. It is not, for example, only the victorious ones in Ephesus who get to eat from the tree of life. Instead, all of these promises are applicable to all the believers. They are offered to “the churches,” to all believers or the Church as a whole. As the letters were passed from church to church along the Roman road, each church would read all of the letters, and they would see all of what Christ was offering them as their groom. In this way, by spreading the Messianic promises between the letters, Jesus created a recurring theme in which He promises to give Himself to those who faithfully followed Him in the years of persecution and trial leading up to AD 70. These promises, of course, are also relevant and available to us since we now live fully in the new covenant.26 Many believers have thought these promises refer to Heaven or the Millennium. However, when we see that Revelation is about the transition from the old covenant to the new and the full unveiling of Christ, it becomes clear that these promises refer to new covenant realities that were made available in AD 70, at the unveiling of Christ, and are now available during our lives on earth. He will not someday give us spiritual authority over the nations. Because of the events of AD 70, He has already given it to us. The same is true of each of these promises. They are current new covenant realities that we can walk in today. They are part of the unveiling of Christ in our lives.”Welton, Jonathan. Understanding the Seven Churches of Revelation (Kindle Locations 602-610). BookBaby. Kindle Edition.  My Note his statement about these being new covenant realities is absolutely correct and answers the age old question the critics of fulfilled prophecy ask -What does that mean for me or us in the 21st century? While I can not give all of my highlights from Understanding the Seven Churches of Revelation by Jonathan Welton, I hardly recommend that you get the book on Kindle and read it in its entirety.