The Macksey Journal


In the psyche of the modern Christian, the Book of Revelation has become synonymous with hell and the end of the world. The believed imminent apocalypse becomes a tactic to scare people into faith, citing some of the most gruesome images of Revelation. Christians either sit on the edge of their seat, awaiting the trumpets and hellfire, or choose to ignore the book altogether. This interpretation has neglected the importance of the first century context, particularly its symbols and the purpose of Revelation. To appreciate the meaning of the Book of Revelation and its relevance today, it is crucial to view it as a highly symbolic work of literature, based in the Jewish Apocalyptic genre, that would have made sense to those who heard it because of the symbols John specifically chooses to use from the Hebrew Bible as well as the First Century Roman world. Using archeological findings, biblical scholarship, and knowledge of other Jewish texts, it becomes clear that the purpose of the Book of Revelation is to confront the seven churches of Asia Minor for participating in Emperor Worship, reflecting a very specific time and set of circumstances. In the spirit of the Apocalypse (which just means revelation) of John, it is time to take a step back in order to see how the text can really serve us in the modern church, while still keeping it fully in its first century context.