Session 9: The Revelation to St John
By the end of this session you should be able to:
give an overview of the themes and structure of the book of Revelation
be able to state approximately when the book was written and who the author may have been
give an account of how the main themes of the gospel relate to your faith journey and ministry as well as that of the church as a whole.
Good and Gracious God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, invites all people to follow him and become his disciples. Touch our hearts, enlighten our minds, and stir our spirit. Help us daily to take up our cross and follow him; by living his Word and proclaiming his Good News to those around us. May our faith in you increase, may our hunger for the Gospel intensify, and may our parish be strengthened as we learn to love one another as he has loved us. For this we pray, Amen
This session introduces us to what is arguably the most difficult book in the New Testament, the book of Revelation. We will explore its authorship, structure and main themes as well as thinking about how we personally relate to the book and how we use it in our own faith journey. Again, choose a couple of questions that particularly interest you and answer those rather than trying to tackle all of them.
Part 1 Questions for Reflection
Do you think Revelation is a dangerous book? If you had been one of the early church fathers would you have argued for its inclusion or exclusion from the canon of Scripture and why?
What do you think about the idea of social justice issues coming out of the book?
Did you know that 6 is the number of imperfection in the bible? Does that help you with some of the passages in the book?
Post your thoughts on one question only on the Forum
Part 2 and Questions for Reflection
a) Many Christians find the book of Revelation frightening. Why do you think that is? Do you find it frightening or hopeful and why?
b) What do you think about the narrator's comment on the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse being 'a tragically average day in human history'?
c) Had you ever noticed that the central message the book is not judgement but God's loving mercy being shown through God's people? What do you think about this?
a) Had you ever realised how many references to the Old Testament there are in Revelation? Has it helped with your understanding to see how John has drawn on the scriptures he was so familiar with?
b) John used Rome as the 'archetype of rebellion against God' for his time and place. What things to you think he might point today? (NB think not so much places but rather ideologies.)
c) In what ways might we lovingly resist the things that are against the values of God's kingdom, and demonstrate God's infinite love and mercy towards the world and everything in it?
Spotlight on Doctrine
The ending of most of the Creeds are very much like the ending of Revelation. They point to the fulfilment of God's Kingdom and a time when we will be reunited in heaven with all those who have gone before us. Even in the contemporary Marriage Service from Common Worship there is a prayer of blessing for the newly married coupled that ends with an image from Revelation: 'Finally, in your mercy, bring them to that banquet where your saints feast for ever in your heavenly home.' (Common Worship Marriage Service, 2000). When you say the words at the end of the Creed, what images do you have and what hope does it give you? Does it do what John hoped and give you strength as live your life of faith?
Spotlight on Spirituality
In Latin America from the 1960s a new form of theology and spirituality arose which has been called 'Liberation Theology'. This theology comes from the idea that Jesus overcame oppressive structures of power by non-violent, pacifist means, in other words, by love. 'They identify the demons, principalities and powers with which Jesus and his followers are described as doing battle (Ephesians 6.12) with a 'domination system' which is primarily political, though it also has its 'bridgehead' in the human ego. The resulting spirituality involves identifying and naming the powers that imprison us, both psychologically and socially, and then doing non-violent battle with them.' (Thomson, 2008, SCM Studyguide: Christian Spirituality). This spirituality is rooted in ideas from Exodus but also, as we can see, from the book of Revelation.
I do not like the book of Revelation."
Barbara Brown Taylor
Sermon on Revelation Washington Cathedral 2012
Reflection & Prayer
What do you struggle with in the book of Revelation and has this session helped with it?
What has particularly struck you and what have you found most helpful?
What has particularly challenged you for your own faith journey, and what has comforted you?
Pray about what you have learned, thanking God for any new insights into this complicated book and lifting to God anyone who has come into your thoughts as you have studied.
A Practical Exercise for this Week
Pay particular attention to the words at the end of the apostle's or Nicene creed this week (if don't use them, look one or both up on the CofE website and recite it/them). How does it makes you feel as you say the words? What else in your church, its services and minstry speaks of images from the book of Revelation?
What would you say to someone who said they couldn't believe the bible because the book of Revelation is so strange and not credible?
Share some of what you have found on the discussion board in the discussion Forum (this post is required).
Full Text of
Barbara Brown Taylor's
Structure of Revelation