Anti-Supernatural Motive for Writing

Here we must discuss a common thread which runs throughout many works on the book of Revelation and which is particularly troubling. It is the hallmark of much which passes for academic learning in our times. Anti-supernaturalism: a prevalent bias against the supernatural and an overt reliance upon the natural. A substitution of the rational and analytical capabilities of man for the revealed truth and intervention of God. An elevation of learned opinion over the simple statements of Holy Writ.

There is no shortage of interpreters who are quick to attribute the writing of the book of Revelation to causes other than the direct intervention and command of God upon John: “It was natural that the Church of the first century should produce such a writing, for Christian hope centered in the coming of the kingdom of God and his Christ.” [emphasis added]1 “The major thrust of Revelation is not sociopolitical but theological. John is more concerned with countering the heresy that was creeping into the churches toward the close of the first century than in addressing the political situation.”2

These opinions, although from learned sources, are directly opposed to the simple statements of the book itself, which Mills correctly recognizes:

[His motive] is simply to fulfill his charge to faithfully record the vision he had been privileged to see . However, this same verse provides us with a clue to the divine purpose in the book, for it was, firstly, to provide a divine assessment of the condition of the churches which it addresses (the things which are), and then, secondly, to record ‘the things which shall take place after these things.’ This last purpose is prophetic, as is clearly stated in Rev. Rev. 1:3+; and this provides a clue as to the major purpose of the book. [emphasis added]3

Where these anti-supernatural interpreters would have us envision John pondering for some number of months over the potential letter which he planned to write, carefully considering various purposes and ideas which he hoped to frame in his message, the biblical reality is miles apart. “John was writing as fast as he could to record the visions he was seeing.”4

Peter had this to say concerning “John’s motive:”

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2Pe. 2Pe. 1:19-21) [emphasis added]


1 Isbon T. Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001), 156.

2 Alan F. Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 4.

3 Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), s.v. “Introduction.”

4 Edward Hindson, Revelation: Unlocking the Future (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), 4.