From: Jason Hood
Revelation 1.1-8 tells us that the final book of the Bible represents not one but (at least!) three different genres. It contains the format of a letter, with greetings and information about the recipients and sender; tells in the opening line that it is an apocalypse ("revelation" in Greek); and also establishes that the book contains prophecy (v. 4) of events that were going to happen in the future (v. 3).
We learn much about the book from these three categories, and we also learn about God's care and instruction for his people:
- He uses letters to address his people, indicating that he knows their specific location, their specific sins and successes, and has particular instruction that can apply not only to them but also to other churches in analogous situations. He dwells with his people, knows them, and addresses them—just as he does with us today.
- In a world that focuses exclusively on the limited horizon of the "now," John packs Revelation with expansive apocalyptic (revelatory insights) perspectives on reality that can only be grasped when we consider the struggles and chaos of this world from God’s throne room. Our imagination is stoked so that we can engage a new dimension of reality (see especially Psalm 73 or Job 1-2). History and reality are not merely about our current conflicts, but will find their significance in the fact that God is King who reigns with the slain-yet-enthroned Lamb.
- Finally, John is also engaging in prophecy—not simply to tell us the future, although it at least tells of the future of John’s audience. Rather, biblical prophecy pushes us to respond by persevering in repentance, trust, prayer, and obedience, that we might be “faithful witnesses” in the face of opposition.
May your 2017 be full of revelation (apocalypse) as you study God's letters to his people, and may you find yourself blessed as he promises (1.3) as you wrestle and respond to the prophetic word.
I live in Roslindale with my wife Emily and our four children. I teach New Testament and coordinate a ThM in Practical Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary's urban campus in Roxbury.