John Alan Turner

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach, Facilitator

Reading Revelation

I am convinced that one of the reasons we avoid Revelation is the same reason we are so prone to misinformation regarding it. The plain truth is this: The Book of Revelation is not about us. Don't get me wrong; we're in there. We're just not front and center like we are with so many of the passages we love to study -- the passages that come out of the second half of Paul's epistles, for example. We like those passages. They're pretty straightforward. It's pretty easy to grasp the message of, say, Ephesians 5:15-16 or Philippians 4:6 or Colossians 3:13. Those verses are all about us and how we ought to behave.

The subject of Revelation is not us, and this confuses us. We don't know how to read things that aren't about us.

The subject of Revelation is Jesus, and you can look for a very long time in Revelation before you find a command addressed to us.

For that matter, you can read a lot of Jesus' words and not find a command addressed to us. More often than not, Jesus was content to tell us what God is like, what humans are like, what the world is like, what the kingdom of heaven is like. Then he trusted that, if we trusted his words, we would adjust our lives accordingly.

I've talked on this blog before about the danger of anthropocentric hermeneutics -- reading the Bible as if we're the main subject -- as opposed to theocentric hermeneutics -- reading the Bible with the understanding that God is the main subject. But it bears repeating as it will determine to a large extent how much we get out of our time in Revelation.

Before we get to asking ourselves how to apply specific passages in specific ways, we must go through the exercise I spoke of yesterday. We must dig beneath the obvious to find a principle that can apply universally without being bound by time or language or culture. But before we even do that, it will be helpful for us to ask ourselves the question that all good Bible reading begins with:

What does this passage teach me about the character and nature of God?

After we've answered that question, we should probably follow up with this one:

How should I adjust my life to fit with that brand new understanding of reality?

Asking ourselves those two questions before we do anything else will greatly enhance our experience reading any text -- especially Revelation.