Skip to comments.Why The Revelation Was Written In Symbolic Language
Posted on 05/19/2014 9:41:02 PM PDT by PhilipFreneau
Why The Revelation Was Written In Symbolic Language
By Israel P Warren
Excerpted from his book: The Book of Revelation: An Exposition
If we have found in the declared scope of [the Revelation] a key to its contents, and the purpose for which it was written, we may find also a clue to its peculiarities of composition, so unlike those of the other books of the New Testament.
The "things" of special importance to the infant churches, which at that time were "shortly to come to pass," were comprehended in that persecution which, having already broken out under Nero, was destined to extend over a period of two and a half centuries, till the time of Constantine the Great. I have stated the reasons for believing that the object of this book was to comfort and strengthen the churches under this persecution, by predicting the destruction of their persecutors, the ultimate triumph of Christianity over all its foes, and the blessed rewards that would be conferred on the martyrs who should remain faithful unto death.
With such a purpose in view, it is obvious, in considering the circumstances of the case, that two things were indispensable in its manner of composition, viz., concealment of its meaning from the enemies of the church, and a disclosure of that meaning to it and its friends.
1. It must be written in such a way that its meaning would be concealed from the persecuting powers . To have written out in clear and express terms a paper of such a purport as we believe this to be, would have been an act of undoubted treason against the imperial government of Rome. To have predicted the overthrow of its emperors, the defeat of their plans, the downfall of the state religion and its splendid array of temples, priests, and rites, and the conquest by the hated sect of Nazarenes of the imperial throne and of the world, would have been taken as an insult to Roman authority and Roman pride, which could be expiated only by death. To have had in possession such a document, much more, to have read it in the public assemblies, and to be known as making it the ground of their common expectations and hopes, would have made the entire Christian body criminal. The highest offense known to Roman law was the crimen ls majestatis the crime of wounded majesty. None was pursued with such relentless fury; none punished with such pitiless severity.
Nor could there have been any successful concealment of such a book. In those degenerate days of the empire, no trade was pursued more industriously than that of informer (delator ). Emissaries and spies of the tyrants thronged every province and every city, ready to report whatever could be construed into an offense against the emperor, and bring a reward for the informer. False brethren and apostates would have been found, who, for gain or personal safety would have betrayed a secret of such magnitude as this. In a word, the bare statement of the case shows that if such a document as we have supposed was to be written at all, it must be in such a way as to be unintelligible to those whose ruin it predicted. Suppose, during our late rebellion, a well-formed plan had been laid to rescue our suffering soldiers from Libby Prison, and a message was to be sent them announcing that purpose, to strengthen their fortitude and secure their co-operation in its execution, how obvious is it that that communication must have been concealed from the enemywritten in cypher, or by some other device made unintelligible, if it should fall into their hands.
Hence, chiefly, as I regard it, the use of symbols and enigmatic utterances in this Book of Revelation. We shall see presently something of the nature and sources of these, and how remote both were from the knowledge of the pagan Romans of that day. In their pride of metropolitan culture and position, the Romans looked down with contempt on what they regarded the unintelligible superstitions of the thousand sects which filled the empire. It would, then, be nothing surprising nor improper if that contempt should be taken advantage of to be made a screen for so dangerous a book as this. Let it be shaped in enigmatic forms; let it make use of cabalistic names and numbers; of sealed scrolls, now to be opened and read, now to be eaten; let it be full of visions of impossible beasts and locusts and serpents, of dark shapes from Tartarus, and of bright celestials coming like Homer's gods from heaven to execute incomprehensible errands; of dirges over dead cities, and peans of victory over phantom foes, and it might well be assured that even treason itself would be safe in such a garb as this. Nay, there might be uses of such a method for the church herself, in withholding from those of her own members, who for want of spiritual perception or discretion were not fit to be trusted, so important secrets as these. There were in all ancient religions mysteries , which were fully known only to the initiatedthe innermost truths or rites of their faith which were prudentially withheld from those not qualified to know them. So Christ, because of their lack of spiritual capacity, taught the people only in parables, and Paul fed his spiritual children with milk and not with meat, because they were not able to bear it.
Such, then, as it appears to me, were, substantially, the reasons why this Book of Revelation was written in the manner it was,one which from its example is frequently denominated the "Apocalyptic style."
The book is available for download at the Princeton Theological Seminary Library, via https://archive.org/details/bookofrevelation00warr
Is it possible that it was written that way because the author was tripping on hallucinogenics?
Which is not meant to discredit his prophecy. Some ancient history refers to the use of drug induced trances to communicate with a higher power.
John had escaped to Patmos to write. The language is purposely written this way because of the active persecutions that were occurring.
It’s written that way because that is how God has revealed it to man. There are reasons for that method, which He Provides.
The books entitled Matthew, Mark and Luke all quoted Jesus as saying that those to whom He was speaking “would not taste death” until they saw His kingdom.
At least they made sense, even if they were flat wrong. Revelations, as you say, was either written by a man in his cups and/or completely off his rocker.
You misinterpret the passage. In Matthew 24:32 (and in Mark and Luke as you mentioned) Jesus spoke the parable of the fig tree, which represents Israel. It is the generation that witnesses the rebirth of the nation of Israel that he is speaking of when he says “this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”
The following Revelation Sermon Series will prompt you to read Revelation for yourself. It is a fascinating adventure into the Word of God as scripture is used to interpret scripture.
A lot of the things described by John in Revelation were most likely attempts to describe the horrors of modern warfare by a man who had never seen the modern implements of war. I think he described things as best he could as far as he comprehended them in the language of his time.
No John was not off his rocker.
he did not make the visions up...Jesus showed them to him. John was a passive participant. all John did was write them down.
The vision does nothing but glorify Christ . The persecuted saints needed it.
Exactly, it is the revelation of Christ, of who he really is and what he’s going to do when he returns to redeem his own and set up his Kingdom - and what he’s going to do to his enemies. Most make weird comments about the book (often calling it “Revelations”) because they don’t know the rest of the Bible or it’s author either.
Hippie fantasy nonsense.
What’s your excuse?
The unveiling (singular) is what God gave to his son who rendered it into signs by his angel for his servant John to record,
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” Revelation 1:1
and I cannot recall over the years the number of times someone uses the word ‘revelations’ plural and then whatever follows from them shows you they’ve never read it, or completely do not understand it, when someone uses that word, i generally stop reading as its always not only wrong, but completely out in left field,
>>>This author would have us believe that Revelation is “symbolic”. Some of it is, but most of it isn’t.<<<
I personally believe, and have for nearly forty years, that after the first 3 chapters, it is all symbolic. So far, no one—no scholar or laymen—has provided any reason for me to believe otherwise.
>>>Which is not meant to discredit his prophecy<<<
>>>If you follow the Bible as a record of Man’s growing understanding of his relationship to God, from ancient origins to the New Testament, you find a trend from angels as messengers and actors to visions interpreted by angels, such as in Daniel, Zechariah and now John at Patmos.<<<
Israel Warren makes similar comparisons in his book. It is a very good read.
How about, it was written that way because John is repeating the visions he saw and was directed by God to write down what he saw...
I’m sure John saw nothing other than what he wrote and had no intentions of writing in ‘code’ for any reason...