Still in the 20th century:
“The literary title of the book is ‘the Revelation of John, the theologian.’ He was used to transcribe the book, ‘borne along by the Holy Ghost,’ but the true moral title is that given in verse 1, ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ.’ This is a further encouragement to readers; for clearly the book is not meant to conceal, but to reveal.[from THE VISIONS OF JOHN THE DIVINE, by William Hoste, 1932]
Nice quote: reveal, not conceal. Let’s keep going:
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, — This expression evidently is a title for the entire book, being comprehensive enough to include all its contents. The Greek work Apocalypse — here rendered ‘Revelation’ — properly means the uncovering of anything; an unveiling, so that what is hid may be known. Spiritually it denotes the making known of divine truth that had not before been understood, as the following passages indicate: Rom. 16: 25; Gal. 1:12; Eph. 3:3.
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began (Romans 16:25; NKJV)
For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:12; NKJV)
how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, (Ephesians 3:3; NKJV)
“If it had not been intended that the contents of this book should in some measure be understood, it would not have been called a Revelation. It does not mean a revealing of things concerning Christ, but a revelation which Christ himself made of things involving his church. The book is often referred to by its Greek name — Apocalypse. As its contents clearly show, the revealing is done through words, signs, and symbols, and includes things both present and future at the time John wrote.” [from A COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION, by John T. Hinds, 1937]
This one seems to be heading down a path I don’t really like. First of all, he says that Revelation is not about Christ, but about the church…I can’t agree with that, unless he proves it later it on. He makes me nervous with the “words, signs, and symbols” too. I agree that there are all 3 in Revelation, but usually when this is mentioned the writer is leaning heavily towards the “symbols.” And lastly, to say “present and future at the time John wrote” implies a possible interpretation of: ‘it was future for John, but past for us.’
“The text is truly the correct subject of this wonderful book. In fact the entire Bible, including both Old and New Testaments, was written for the one purpose of revealing to mankind Jesus Christ, by whom all things were created, and His dealings with all His creatures. In 1 Cor. 2:2, Paul says, ‘I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.’ There is really nothing else known to man for any one to write about or talk about. ‘The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein.’ Psa. 24:1. ‘For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord: whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord’s’ Rom. 14:7,8. So when we speak of anything in creation we are talking about Christ’s property; and when we say or do anything good or bad to any human being, at the judgment, He will say to us, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’ Hence no one can ever escape, even for a moment, dealing with Christ, at any time. ‘And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.’” [from THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, by Benjamin F. Atkinson, 1939]
I really like this one. He’s saying: ‘None of that other stuff matters…only Christ.’ Perfect.
And now the next one:
“THE first chapter of the Apocalypse consists of seven easily recognized parts. The introduction covers the first three verses. It contains the title of the book, a statement of its origin, and the first beatitude. The title of the book is ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ’. It is a revelation or unveiling of the plan of God for the history of the world, especially of the Church. It is, therefore, a direct communication from God and is not derived from any human source. It is called the Revelation of Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ showed it to John and through him to the Church.” [from MORE THAN CONQUERORS: AN INTERPRETATION OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION, by William Hendriksen, 1940]
This one is fine; it’s a restatement of Revelation 1:1 pretty much. I am somewhat uncomfortable with the line “It is a revelation or unveiling of the plan of God for the history of the world, especially of the Church.” Some Church ‘history’ is revealed in Chapters 2 & 3, but I believe we will find that it is not to be found in the rest of Revelation. And, it is God’s plan “for the history of the world”, but I believe we will also find it more specific than that.
The next quote;
“The Title is ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ.’ The book is nothing short of this. The Greek apokalupsis means unveiling, uncovering. Should there be any obscuring of Him it must be in us, not in a record thus divinely entitled. It is the revelation of Him and by Him: of Him as the Central Figure, and by Him as its Author and Agent. What a book!” [from THE END: RE-THINKING THE REVELATION, by Norman B. Harrison, 1941]
What a book indeed! And “revelation of Him and by Him” is to the point.
And moving on:
“This book purports to be ‘the Revelation of Jesus Christ’ (1:1). With due respect for the scholarship that differs with us, we take this to be an objective genitive, ‘the Revelation of the Person and Work of Christ.’ It would seem that of the twelve times that the word ‘revelation’ (apokalupsis) occurs with a genitive, outside the present reference, only two could be subjective genitives (2 Cor. 12:1; Gal 1:12), ‘the Revelation from Jesus Christ’; “
It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: (2 Corinthians 12:1; NKJV)
For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:12; NKJV)
“all the others are objective genitives (Luke 2:32; Rom. 2:5; 8:19; 16:25; 1Cor. 1:7; 2 These. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:7,13; 4:13).”
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel. (Luke 2:32; NKJV)
But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the the righteous judgement of God, (Romans 2:5; NKJV)
For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19; NET)
Now to him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began, (Romans 16:25; NKJV)
so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Corinthians 1:7; NKJV)
and to give you who are troubled with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, (2 Thessalonians 1:7; NKJV)
7that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…13Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (1 Peter 1:7,134
but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4:13; NKJV)
“When we add to this the fact that 2 Cor. 12:1 and Gal. 1:12 may also be intended to be objective genitives, the position we have taken for Rev. 1:1 becomes very strong. It would seem that in the earliest times the book received the title, ‘Apocalypse of John,’ to distinguish it from the many other ‘apocalypses’ in circulation. In the fourth century this title was expanded to include the words ‘the Divine.’” [from THE INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW TESTAMENT, by Henry C. Thiessen, 1943]
Another interesting take on the Greek. In English, the genitive case is used only for nouns, pronouns, or adjectives that are used to modify another noun, and is similar to the possessive case. In my limited understanding, in the Greek, the genitive can be nouns, verbs, pronouns, adverbs and adjectives modifying a noun or verb. And there are a ton of different types of genitives. Someday, maybe, I’ll understand this better.
Anyway, next quote:
“The title calls it (1:1) the ‘unveiling’ of Jesus Christ, which must be understood to mean, not something that unveils Him, but an unveiling wrought by Him and belonging to Him; an unveiling peculiarly His own, to which He, and He alone, has a right. It comes to us from Him and through Him.” [from STUDIES IN THE REVELATION OF ST. JOHN, by Albertus Pieters, 1943
Well, this author obviously sees the genitive case a bit differently from the last author. And, considering that the next line in the phrase is: ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him…’, this quote has the problem of denying the stated origin of the book, though the author may declare Christ as God and thus it is, indeed, His revelation alone. Kind of messy.
On to the next quote, and this one’s really unique:
“Mr. C: Yes, we have the text written in the Revelation, as recorded in the King James version of same. In making this worthwhile in the experience of individuals who are seeking for the light, for the revelation that may be theirs as promised in the promises of same, it would be well that there be considered first the conditions which surrounded the writer, the apostle, the beloved, the last of those chosen; writing to a persecuted people, many despairing, many fallen away, yet, many seeking to hold to that which had been delivered to them through the efforts and activities of those upon whom the spirit had fallen by the very indwelling and the manifestations that had become the common knowledge of all.
“Remember, then, that Peter — chosen as the rock, chosen to open the doors of that known as the church — had said to this companion, ‘I will endeavor to keep thee in remembrance; even after my demise I will return to you.’” [from A COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION: BASED ON A STUDY OF TWENTY-FOUR PSYCHIC DISCOURSES, by Edgar Cayce, 1945]
Before I comment further, let’s look at the actual quote that Mr. Cayce alluded to:
14Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. 15Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. 16For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:14-16; KJV)
It’s immediately obvious that Mr. Cayce has twisted it around to sound like Peter is doing the remembrance, after his death, and that he was planning to be resurrected. Clearly, Peter is trying to have his followers remember what he said before his death…and he is not planning a resurrection.
Beyond that, the rest of the quote is pure gobbledygook. At one point it sounds like he might be saying something meaningful: “it would be well that there be considered first the conditions which surrounded the writer…”, which sounds reasonable. But when you read further, you realize that the person intoning this has only a passing knowledge of Revelation, the New Testament, and first century culture…but he was certainly trying to make the most of his limited knowledge. As we go forward I will see what other gems this author has to share with us, because I think it’s important to see how the Word has been deliberately twisted.
Back to the usual quotes:
“To the tiny communities of Christians in the cities of Asia Minor, no less than to every generation of Jews since the Exile, an Apocalypse or Revelation was a trumpet call, a martial summons to new resolution. Like us, they had every reason to cry:
“‘Woe is me!
‘Whence are we? and why are we? of what stage
‘The actors or spectators? ‘
“An apocalypse was a prophet’s urgent reply to all such perplexities. It was a glimpse into the meaning of the dark and multitudinous affairs of a world which otherwise seemed to assert a tragic denial of one or another of God’s attributes…” [THE REVELATION OF ST. JOHN (The Moffatt New Testament Commentary) Kindle Edition, by Martin Kiddle, 1946]
I find this to be an odd quote. “A martial summons”? Is the world really denying random attributes of God? And why is an apocalypse a “reply” to such things? I find this quote to be an attempt to sound poetic rather than an actual commentary.
The next quote:
“The Book we now begin to explore in detail is called by its author ‘a revelation of Jesus Christ.’ By this the author means that it is a revelation that came from Jesus Christ. The word for ‘revelation’ is apokalupsis, which means an unveiling. The implication of the term is that the message given was designed to be understood. To many the book of Revelation is a closed book, impossible of understanding. It is comforting to discover at the very beginning that is was not written as a mystery to be hidden forever from the eyes of believers but as a book of help and comfort to be read and understood, not only by a few who were initiated into the meaning of its strange symbolism, but by all believers.” [from THE MEANING AND MESSAGE OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION, by Edward A. McDowell, 1951]
I agree that the book was meant to be understood by the many and not just by the few; but, I have to say, that if someone sees Revelation as a “closed book” then that person is not really trying. One doesn’t need to understand every line in order to get something from it…or to at least not see it as “closed.” And, I’m not sure that it would be “comforting” to be told it was meant to be understood, if I saw it as impossible to understand.
The next to the last quote of the day:
“The opening words of the book state that this is ‘the revelation of Jesus Christ.’ The thought of the writer is that this is a revelation which belongs to Christ and which is revealed by him to the readers. He is the Revealer as well as the One who is revealed in the book. In the book he is unveiled and disclosed to human view. John, then, did not look upon this as the ‘Revelation of John’ as our common versions indicate. In other Jewish apocalypses the revelation is ascribed to some great man of Israel: Abraham, Ezra, Moses, Enoch, Baruch, etc. John ascribes this revelation directly to the Christ who reveals it; John is only the scribe. The message is that of the risen Lord, and John wants that clearly understood by the churches. Only this understanding can help them to receive the message of hope and comfort here afforded them.” [from WORTHY IS THE LAMB, by Ray Summers, 1951]
This quote is more to the point. I like it.
The last quote, and a very fitting one:
“In the first chapter, our Lord appears as the Priest of the Patmos Isle. May we suggest at the start of our studies a careful notice of the person of Jesus Christ in this great and only entirely prophetic Book of the New Testament. He comes first as He always must come. Before you start to study any subject about the future with its Antichrists, empires, Armageddons, and other numerous fascinating subjects — see Christ first, hear Him first, read about Him first, and thus give Him the proper place, the place of pre-eminence. This is where you find Christ as you study Revelation, the crowning topstone to the temple of eternal truth. If you fail to see Him first, you will never make any progress in the right understanding of the great actors in the final drama of the Scarlet Age. Oh, that the people of God would, above all things today, in private or in public, yield to our Lord Jesus Christ His place! Christ first must become the order of our lives, thus giving Him the place that God always gives to His Son.
“The key to the Book is hanging on the door, ready for you to enter: it is found in the opening verse. It is the Revelation, the unveiling or the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ.
“Be sure that you study the title of our Lord in this opening verse, as it gives a clue to the proper understanding of this Book. The wording of the titles of our Lord is most significant. Whichever of these two precious names comes first gives the key to its setting. Jesus is His human name, the humbled One of Calvary, obedient unto death. The purpose of this Book of Revelation is to reveal how this outcast One is to be the most highly honored on earth and the most worshipped in Heaven. Christ is His exalted name; it comes first so many times in the Epistles. It is Jesus first here. In the Gospels you have His ascent to His cross. In Revelation you have His ascent to His throne. This path to His glorious throne is the grand subject of this Book. Millennial blessings or eternal days cannot begin till He has been enthroned upon His own glorious throne. In the Gospel of John emphasis is placed on the deity of Jesus Christ; in the Revelation, John emphasizes the humanity of Jesus. In the first He is the Son of God; in the last He is the Son of man. The grand climax is reached when this rejected and despised Son of man, fulfilling the destinies of the eternal purposes of God, has at last been seated on the throne amid the acclamations of Heaven and earth.” [from THE DAWN OF THE SCARLET AGE, by Edgar Ainsley, 1954]
I absolutely adore this last quote. The first paragraph about putting Jesus first is the perfect grounding for reading Revelation. In the past, many would come to Revelation seeking some quiet encouragement or bit of knowledge, and instead run headlong into disasters and death counts. Jesus was often the last person on their minds. Just look at how Martin Luther received Revelation at first: he hated it! He declared that Jesus was not to be found in the book at all! Upon further reflection he came around, but few remember that and only recall his first reaction.
Too many people today read the book just looking for clues about themselves and their times. They, also, have no thought of Jesus when inquiring within its pages. The first verses of the book are often glossed over: they are the ‘introduction’ or the ‘preface’ or the ‘salutation.’ You may think that I’ve lingered long over the first phrase of the book, but less than half of the books I’ve looked at were able to include something separate about this first phrase. And yet, look at what we’ve seen so far! And they don’t all agree about it!
What’s been so important about this first phrase is: it tells us that the book is about Jesus. From the first phrase we are reminded why we are there, opening this book. As Mr. Ainsley says in his second paragraph…the key is “is hanging on the door, ready for you to enter”.
His last paragraph is priceless and absolutely unique so far. Several have come close to saying this when they compare the suffering servant of the Gospels to the King of Revelation, but they don’t quite finish the thought. As Mr. Ainsley points out: a whole comparison is found in the title ‘Jesus Christ.’ He was called ’Jesus’ in the Gospels, and as Mr. Ainsley also points out: in the Epistles He was often called ‘Christ Jesus’. In both they were looking at the Man and striving to see God. In Revelation, and ever after, He is ‘Jesus Christ’. He is seen as truly God, in Heaven, in the Book of Revelation; but we are reminded of His humanity. This is so important. We relate to Him because He is one of us. We trust Him because He is one of us. The ancient Jews were constantly looking for something closer to themselves to worship than the Almighty God in Heaven. Later, they formulated rules and regulations to represent that Almighty God and worshipped them instead; that’s where Jesus found them. And in bringing Himself to all of us He gave us all someone to worship who can be near and dear to us, and yet bring us closer to that amazing and scary Almighty God in Heaven.
The earlier quotes today were pretty good and I agreed with most of them, but they were leaving me kind of cold. I just couldn’t find much to say about them. This last quote brought the Spirit upon me and opened me up to a greater understanding. The tea I poured before I started on this quote has gotten cold; the world went away for half an hour. This is one of the nuggets that we are digging for in all these musty old books. Perhaps, on another day, I would have missed this nugget, but God arranged a quiet hour for me and provided the right state of mind. I am profoundly grateful. I hope that it gave you some new insights, though I will not be disappointed if you think to yourself ‘boy, where has she been all this time?’ I recognize that nothing is new in this world.
We’re close to the end of the 1950’s and should be starting into the 60’s next time. Some of the names may be more familiar as we delve into the second half of the 20th century.