The book of Revelation has always been one of my favorite books in the entire Bible. I have often been asked why and perhaps the reason lies in its focus. Revelation was written near the end of the first century in a time when Christians were being persecuted and dying for their faith in Jesus. To encourage and challenge them to greater faithfulness, Jesus gives John this series of visions to explain our suffering and more importantly remind us of our ultimate victory. Throughout the book the message is always the same: No matter what happens in this life, in the end faithful Christians will stand victorious with Jesus. True to that purpose, this book has always given me hope and courage to keep serving Jesus and His people.
By the time the letter was written to the Seven Churches, Christians in most parts of the Roman Empire are being persecuted and dying for their faith. John is given a series of visions and told to write it down and send it to the church (Rev. 1:4, 9). Almost without exception, early Christian writers affirmed the Apostle John as its writer.
The setting of the visions is the island of Patmos (Rev. 1:9) that served as a penal colony for the Roman Empire in the Aegean Sea. Tradition says that John survived his time here and was released. He moves to Ephesus and remains there until his death. I do believe, for practical reasons, that John would have waited until he was in Ephesus to write the letters since he would have more access to writing materials.
The book of Revelation, probably more than any other book in the Scripture, has produced a wider variety of theories, interpretations, and sadly more arguments. As such, I believe something needs to be said here. We need to show grace and understanding with other believer’s when they differ with us on how to understand this book. We must always show Christ-likeness in our treatment of all people but especially other believers who are sincerely trying to understand this difficult book.
Above all else, Revelation teaches us that faithfulness to Jesus will one day result in our triumph over all the trouble and trials of this life. When Jesus returns to take us home and judge the lost, He will set all things right and we will reside with Him forever.