Session 6: The Imagery in the Book of Revelation (Symbols)
Symbols have power, but how do we interpret the symbols of Revelation? In this session, you will find practical tips to understanding symbolism using context.
- Play: Session 6
Literal vs. Figurative
The literal interpretation must be defined more than the “surface reading of a text,” but instead it must be defined as “the author’s intended meaning.”
- If the author intended to use a metaphor, then you would be interpreting literally if you interpreted it as a metaphor.
We should read the book of Revelation, then, not literally or figuratively, but naturally.
Does Revelation use symbols? (cf. Rev 1:20; 12:9; 19:8)
If not = CONTRADITION: Rev. 3:12 Vs. Rev. 21:22
Does Revelation have symbols? ABSOLUTELY!
- IN FACT: In the book of Revelation every number, color, animal, and piece of furniture symbolizes something.
THIS SHOULD NOT SHOCK US!!!! God consistently reveals himself and his truths through symbols in the Bible.
- Symbols for God (Deut. 4:24; Psalm 5:2; 23:1; 80:1; Isa. 6:5; 8:21; 30:27; Jer. 10:10; Matt. 25:32; Heb. 12:29)
- Symbols for Christ (Matt. 2:6; 26:31; Mark 14:27; John 1:29, 36; 10:7, 9, 11, 14)
- Symbols for God’s Church (1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 12:27; Eph. 4:12; Rev. 19:7; 21:2, 9; 22:17)
- Because: Symbols have POWER!
How do we interpret the symbols of Revelation?
- context – How is this symbol used in the immediate context or the verses around this current verse? (cf. Acts 7:60)
- Context – How is this symbol used in the larger context of the entire book of Revelation? (Key – Rev 1:18; 3:7; 9:1; 20:1)
- CONTEXT – How is this symbol used in the broader context of the Old Testament?
- Without understanding John’s use of symbols we can and will miss the entire point and message of Revelation.
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