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Revelation

The revelation of Jesus Christ was written by the apostle John while in exile on the island of Patmos, off the coast of present day Turkey. It was addressed to seven actual churches. Revelation begins with letters from Christ himself to these churches, letters that include commendation, criticism, and comfort. Then comes a long series of visions of judgment on the wicked, all in highly symbolic language. The church is depicted under great distress but is assured of the final triumph of Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords bringing to an end the rebellion of humanity and ushering in a new heaven and a new earth where God himself will reign forever and ever. Revelation was written in 95 AD.

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Revelation 1:1-3

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

We expect books, stories, articles and poems to have titles. A title is a kind of invitation to read, and publishers try to help their authors think up catchy titles that will sell their books. Bible readers take it for granted that the books of the Bible have titles too not catchy, but informative. The title is supposed to tell us what the work is and often who wrote it. The last book of the Bible is known simply as the book of Revelation, or the Revelation of John, or sometimes the Apocalypse, or the Apocalypse of John. No one expects it to be called The Late Great Planet Earth or God's Great Tomorrow. Few Bible readers are aware that most biblical books did not originally have titles at all. They simply began, said what they had to say, and ended. The titles were added in very early manuscripts, but the authors themselves did not bother to attach them. There are a few possible exceptions, depending on how the opening words are interpreted. Some have argued, for example, that The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ in Mark 1:1, and The book of the generation of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1:1 are titles. Revelation is probably the clearest New Testament example of a work that does give itself a title. Its title is not The Revelation of John, for these words were supplied by later scribes who copied the manuscript. The real title is very long, like some obscure 18th century religious tract. It is emphatically not a catchy title. In fact, it comprises all of the first three verses of chapter 1. If there is a short title, it has to be the simple phrase with which the longer one begins, the revelation of Jesus Christ. This revelation has the form of a letter, the longest letter in the New Testament. But the title, or heading prefixed to the letter, makes it clear from the start that this is no ordinary letter from a Christian leader to a group of churches. It is a letter from heaven, a prophetic revelation from Almighty God.