Often, the last book in our Bibles will carry a title like The Revelation of Saint John the Divine. Saint John would not have ap proved. He was not interested in drawing attention to himself. Neither was he interested in revealing clues for calculating dates for the end of time. Instead, John wrote the Revelation to reveal one thing: the gospel, the good news of who Jesus Christ is and what he accomplishes.

I know firsthand that publishers like to change the title a book's author has put on his manuscript. John was clever enough to win that game. He incorporated his chosen title into the opening phrase of the text itself: "Apocalypsis jesu christus, which God gives to him." Apocalypsis is the Greek word translated "the revelation," denoting an unveiling, a disclosure, a making known. The Book of Revelation is presented by John as an apocalypse of Jesus Christ.

The phrase following apocalypsis jesu christus—"which God gives to him"—makes plain that Jesus is to be understood as the Revealer, as the prime possessor and bearer of the revelation. But John also wants to designate Jesus Christ as the content of the revelation. Jesus is both the Revealer and that which is being revealed. The remainder of John's book shows that John understands clearly that he has been given a message from the Lord Jesus that tells us who this Lord Jesus is and was and is to come.

Thus, the title Apocalypsis, or the Revelation, provides us with the primary principle for interpreting the book. Even though he works at it from a perspective somewhat different from that of the rest of the New Testament, John is essentially at one with those other authors in his desire to proclaim and expound the person of this same Jesus Christ. So if the first ...

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