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3.2.1. Misunderstood Motive

Another stumbling block to an accurate interpretation of the book of Revelation is attributing the wrong motives to its authorship. To listen to some commentators, one gets the idea that the Book was written only after long and careful thought by John upon the geopolitical climate of his day and the impact the culture was having upon the affairs of the church:

One thing that can probably be agreed upon by the majority of commentators is that a contributing reason for John’s motive in writing is the perceived discrepancy in the Christian audience between, on the one hand, belief that the kingdom had been inaugurated, that God was sovereign over history, and that Christ would soon return to conclude history and, on the other hand, the reality that forces of evil continued to exist, to dominate culture and even flourish, while oppressing believers to varying degrees. How did the truth of the gospel relate practically and specifically to the difficult cultural, social, political, and economic realities.1

The reader should not miss the fact that John has just been “reinterpreted” from an obedient servant simply responding to the commands of His Lord (Rev. Rev. 1:19+; Rev. 2:1+, Rev. 2:12+; Rev. 3:1+, Rev. 3:7+, Rev. 3:14+; Rev. 4:1+; etc.) into a savvy geopolitical analyst complete with his own motives!

Another frequently heard, but incorrect, motive is found in devotional and inspirational content. “St. John’s primary concern in writing the book of Revelation was just this very thing: to strengthen the Christian community in the faith of Jesus Christ’s Lordship, to make them aware that the persecutions they suffered were integrally involved in the great war of history.”2

Again, the problem is not in recognizing that the book of Revelation does provide great spiritual encouragement and even immediate instructions for the seven churches of Asia, but it is manifestly unbiblical to assert that this was John’s primary task and to imply that John had his own motivations for writing the book.


Notes

1 Gregory K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 28.

2 David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance (Tyler, TX: Dominion Press, 1987), 39.