What "John's Revelation" is about
The Christian Bible consists of 66 books in total. "John's Revelation" is the last one among them. The Bible is divided into the Old Testament of 39 texts and the New Testament of 27. There is consistency throughout the Bible and it is considered to be one long odyssey which starts with Genesis and ends with "John's Revelation". "John's Revelation" takes an essential role of a conclusion.
The author of "John's Revelation" is one of Jesus's Apostles, John. He and his brother Jacob were fishermen on Lake Galilee. He met Jesus and became one of his first Apostles. He is said to be the disciple most loved by his master. When Jesus was crucified, he was the only disciple who stood by the cross. Also it was said that John escaped the Roman persecution of Christianity and lived until the age over 90.
After the death of Jesus, the young John moved to Ephesus accompanying Mary, the mother of Jesus. He engaged in missionary work in Asia Minor which is now Turkey. He was captured and transferred to Rome by Emperor Domitianus, but he escaped a death sentence and instead was exiled to Patmos Island in Aegean Sea. He wrote "John's Revelation" there while under confinement. After his release, he returned to Ephesus and wrote "The Gospel according to John".
The name 'John' might be confusing especially to non-Christians as there are many Johns in the history of Christianity. Even in the time Jesus Christ actually lived, two important Johns appeared. One was a Jewish prophet and the other one of the Twelve Apostles. They were two different people. The former was called John the Baptist because he baptized the young Christ, and the latter was called John the Apostle.
Revelation as in the title of the writing means 'to implicate'. In this book, we follow the convention and call it "John's Revelation". The another name of the writing is "the Apocalypse", or "'Aπōκάλυψις" in ancient Greek which means "to uncover". Apocalypse is to reveal what was hidden.
It is obvious that "John's Revelation" is a 'prophecy' that made God's will which had been kept secret available to all. Its prophetic quality gave rise to controversy among Christians over the position and the interpretation of it. Besides, 'prophecy' means to deliver God's message as an intermediary and is different from simply a 'prediction'. However, at the beginning of the writing there is a phrase "... to show His bond servants what must shortly take place." So it contains a prediction of the future, and in that particular perspective, various interpretations have arisen.
"John's Revelation" consists of 22 chapters. Although it is written in poetic prose and is relatively concise, it is considered difficult because of the usage of symbolic terms. Many interpretations are possible depending upon how you define those terms. So instead of studying them in-depth, what we chose to do was to ask 'akashic reading' for information. This will be discussed in the next page.
In order to fully understand the writing, you need to know about the period of time and the historical context in which it was written. There are two important points to note. One is the size of "the world" in the Bible. As it was written long before the Age of Discovery, the world as known to Palestinians was only southwest Asia, Europe, and North Africa on the opposite side of the Mediterranean Sea. The stories in the Bible concern even smaller regions, including Southeast Asia, the northeast of Egypt, and an area stretching from part of present Greece to the south of Italy.
"John's Revelation" starts in the style of letters written "to show what must shortly take place." and was sent to seven churches in Asia Minor. Those churches actually existed at the time of around 1A.D. This area was an essential tranfer point for missionary work starting from Palestine and heading for Europe. It is commonly believed now that Christianity spread from Rome to Asia, but in fact, at first it left Palestine via Asia Minor to Greece and then to Rome.
Another vital point to bear in mind is the persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire. The Romans had occupied Palestine since 63 B.C. After Caesar Augustus won the battle against Antonius and Cleopatra and became the Emperor, the Romans set up Herod at the head of a puppet regime and took this Biblical area under their political control. The Jews resisted the occupation, and rebelled against the Romans again and again in vain. The frustration among Jews had accumulated to such a level that they came up with the idea of 'Messianism'. It was during this period that Jesus of Nazareth was born.
Jesus was apprenticed to his step father Joseph who was a carpenter living near Lake Galilee. In his childhood, he would go to the synagogue and learn how to sing and to pray, read and write. Once a year, he along with his brothers and sisters would visit Jerusalem to celebrate Pesach or the Passover. He grew more and more familiar with God in this way. Around the age of 32, he went to be baptized by the famous prophet John who was himself rumored to be the Messiah. John the Baptist met Jesus and declined immediately saying: "I need to be baptized by You." in the "Gospel according to Matthew".
After baptism, Jesus became the Christ, or 'Khristos' meaning the Messiah in ancient Greek, and set out for missionary work on his own. He voluntarily visited towns and villages and preached the forgiveness and the gospel of God to people. He also healed a number of the sick. Meanwhile followers joined him one by one, including Peter and Andrew, both fishermen, and the brothers of Jacob and John. He acquired 12 Apostles. However, having seen that Jesus did not follow Jewish laws and equally healed Roman servants, Jewish leaders began to watch him suspiciously.
After a series of events, Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot and crucified. There were only three years from the time his missionary started to his death, though it may seem longer. The Apostles established an early style of church and carried on his mission after his death. Christians had been under the persecution by both Jews and Romans throughout this time. It is necessary to appreciate that "John's Revelation" was written in such circumstance in order to fully understand it.
This historical background might be helpful in reading the next chapter of 'reading' and then in reaching your own interpretation of "John's Revelation".