Why is there such controversy surrounding Revelation? (By the way, it’s not “Revelations,” there’s no “s” on the end.) There are many reasons. Revelation is one of the most supernatural accounts we have in all the Bible, for Jesus Himself appears to John in His glorified state and takes John through heaven’s portal into a realm where he sees things no one can fully describe. John had to use the words “like,” “something similar to” and so on to describe what he saw.
Then, add to that all the multiple interpretive models you can apply to the book (futurist, historicist, preterist, idealist) with an almost endless supply of variations and nuances that come from hundreds of commentators. No wonder many believers today don’t even bother to read the final book of the entire Bible—the book of Revelation.
We really need to have help from God as we study the book of Revelation. Don’t you agree?
What would revelation on Revelation look like? I think it would look like humility. All too often we get dogmatic about a text—sure that we have understood and teach it correctly—only later to realize we only saw but a faint glimmer of His truth. To read the sacred text is like gazing upon the Grand Canyon—you can’t take it all in with a glance. The light shines upon a section and reflects its beauty. So it is with reading the book of Revelation. We need God’s help to understand it, and we need humility to acquire God’s help.
So how does one navigate the “minefield” of oft-conflicting interpretations related to Revelation? In a word, carefully. Many believers hold their own view of the last days as the only valid one. It seems we all are divided over how God brings everything together in the end. But if we start with the premise that God indeed brings all things together in Christ, we can step back, take a deep breath and leave room for differing viewpoints.
While working on The Passion Translation project, we’ve done our best to keep these multiple interpretations in mind as we finished the monumental task of translating the New Testament, and especially the book of Revelation. We are praying that the Holy Spirit drenches us with revelation from God, insights into His holy Word, and passion to live the truth in every aspect of our lives.
Many have asked what makes Revelation different when read in The Passion Translation. First, we’ve tried to explain the nuances of the Greek text. Scholars will tell you that John’s text of Revelation breaks nearly every Greek grammatical rule. It’s almost like he’s saying, “You have to think out of the box.” So you’ll find ample explanations of many Greek words and phrases.
Also, we were working under the assumption that people don’t want to simply read the book; they want to understand its meaning. With that in mind, we’ve kept the translation clean, crisp and to the point. We think you’ll love it.
But perhaps the one guiding light for understanding this cryptic, apocalyptic book is found in its title. It is not “The Manual for Coming Events” or “How to Know When the Antichrist Comes on the Scene” or “How to Survive Armageddon.” The title of the last book of the Bible is “The Unveiling of Jesus Christ.” We believe that the best way to read and study this book is to look for Christ on every page. It is false advertising for God to give us a book called “The Unveiling” only to have nothing unveiled and everything confusing and unknowable. God wants to lift the veil from our eyes and show us a beautiful Christ full of glory, coming again with love overflowing His heart for His bride. Yes, there are judgments included, and some painful episodes full of loss and death, but it all must be placed on the canvas of an unveiling of Jesus within His people.
To read Revelation is almost like reading a book in a foreign language. You must learn the language first before you can read its contents. And so the book of Revelation is written in the language of God—pictures! Take time to digest them, to “eat the scroll” (Rev. 10:9) and ponder long on what you read. It will yield its treasures to the patient and passionate ones. We know you’ll enjoy seeing Christ unveiled before your eyes.
May the Lord give us all revelation on Revelation!
Download a free e-book from The Passion Translation and sample of The New Testament With Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Songs (releasing Oct. 31, 2017), including a section of Revelation at thepassiontranslation.com.
Dr. Brian Simmons is the lead translator of The Passion Translation, a linguist, minister, Bible teacher and former missionary.