- Parent Category: FAQs
- Category: Questions about Bible Prophecy and the End Times
- Published on Thursday, 19 November 2009 12:57
The conditions described in the seven letters John distributed were actual literal conditions existing in seven specific churches. This is primary in interpreting these letters. On that basis, the letters teach assembly truths either by statement or principles. Unless we have divine authority for doing differently, we look for only one interpretation of a passage. When a New Testament writer cites an Old Testament passage, he invariably treats that passage consistent with its accepted interpretation.
These letters to the seven churches, however, come with divine authority for a second interpretation. First, the command to write the book came from the First and the Last (1:17). That title comes from the Lord’s statements in Isaiah (41:4; 44:6; 48:12) in which He asserts He is the First, who determined His counsels before any creation existed. Only He can communicate His counsels (44:6, 7). He is the Last, who will have the "last word," completing the counsels He has communicated. When He commands John (Revelation 1:19) to record what he has seen (chapter 1), what is (chapters 2 and 3), and what "shall be hereafter" (chapters 4-22), all three sections communicate His counsels which He will complete. "What is," therefore, communicates truth about the future.
Second, "these things" in the expression "the things that are about to come after these things" (1:19, YLT) refers back to its nearest antecedent, "the things that are." When John records "after these things" (4:1 YLT), he indicates that "the things that are" continue right up until the events of chapter 4 which correspond to the Rapture.
Third, the Lord refers to "the mystery of the seven stars" (1:20). A mystery is truth that can only be known by divine revelation (Ephesians 3:3, 5). Grammatically, the mystery is related to what went before it (v. 20). What follows, namely the identification of the stars as angels and the lampstands as churches, is hardly the full unfolding of the mystery.
This leads to the conclusion that a second and equally valid interpretation of the seven letters is the "prophetic view."