Notes: "The Gospel From Patmos" (2019, QTR 1, Lesson 1)

by Tim Rumsey December 20, 2018


Sabbath: The Gospel From Patmos

“In the Revelation all the boks of the Bible meet and end,” and in a special sense, it “is the complement of the book of Daniel” (AA 585). The title Revelation literally means “unveiling” (apokalupsis in Greek), and therefore its interpretation may be understood as the “opening” of Daniel’s sealed “book” in Daniel 12:4. The entire purpose of Revelation is to make more clear God’s work of salvation for man and the eventual destruction of sin.

The Sanctuary in Revelation

While the gospels reveal Christ’s earthly ministry “in the flesh” (John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16), Revelation reveals Christ’s continued heavenly ministry. In this sense, Revelation is a continuation of the gospels. More specifically, it is a continuation of John’s gospel, in which Jesus and the “temple of his body” (John 2:21) is presented as the fulfillment of the sanctuary, its furniture, and its services. For instance, in John’s gospel, Jesus is presented as the gate (John 10:7-10), the Sacrifice (John 1:29), the Water (John 4:13,14), the Bread (John 6:35), the Light (John 8:12), and the One Who offers the High Priestly prayer of intercession (John 17). Revelation likewise contains numerous references and links to the sanctuary that reveal the nature of Christ’s work in heaven and its impact on the church on earth.

Revelation and the Old Testament

Revelation contains allusions to 28 of the 39 Old Testament books, and some scholars have counted over 500 such citations and allusions. These numerous links to the Old Testament should, in themselves, serve as a warning against the trend in much of Christianity today to marginalize or even ignore the Old Testament. God promises a blessing for those who read and “keep” the words of Revelation (Revelation 1:3), and a curse is also reserved for those who “add unto” or “take away” from the words of Revelation (Revelation 22:18,19). While the blessing and curses must primarily be understood in reference to the book of Revelation itself, the book’s numerous links with Old Testament passages and its sanctuary symbolism infer that the entire Bible must be treated with the same respect and deference as its final book.

Sunday: The Title of the Book

God can only be known and understood through His self-revelation to man, and the book of Revelation begins by reminding us of this fact. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him…” (Revelation 1:1, emphasis added). In the Garden of Eden, Eve desired to know the things of God apart from what He had revealed, and she fell to the temptation that “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Ever since the Fall, humanity has sought to achieve what Eve did not—a knowledge of, and participation in, divinity on our own terms. Revelation with its explanation of Christ’s heavenly ministry provides the antidote for this self-delusion by focusing our attention on what God has revealed of Himself.

Monday: The Purpose of the Book

The book of Revelation identifies itself as a “Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:1). Yet this is not a passive view given of Christ, but rather an aggressively active presentation of God’s completion of the plan of salvation. “The book [of Revelation] is a revelation of Jesus Christ at work perfecting a people on earth so that they may reflect His flawless character, and guiding His church through the vicissitudes of history toward the accomplishment of His eternal purpose” (SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 724, rev. ed.). Indeed, Revelation contains incredible passages revealing Christ’s redeemed saints in whom He has accomplished the re-creation of His image (see, for instance, Revelation 7:9-17; 12:17; 14:1-5; 14:12; 15:1-4; 22:14).

Revelation 1:5 presents Jesus Christ as the One Who “loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” The full significance of what this verse promises is brought out in the SDA Bible Commentary. “Textual evidence favors the reading ‘loosed.’ This difference doubtless arose from the similarity between the Greek words louō, ‘to wash,’ and luō, ’to loose.’ To be ‘loosed’ from sins is to be set free from the penalty and power of sin (see on John 3:16; Rom. 6:16-18,21,22)” (SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 733). God’s promise to humanity through Christ includes forgiveness and cleansing from the power of sin.

Wednesday: The Godhead

Spirit of Prophecy statements regarding the Godhead:

In describing to His disciples the office work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus sought to inspire them with the joy and hope that inspired His own heart. He rejoiced because of the abundant help He had provided for His church. The Holy Spirit was the highest of all gifts that He could solicit from His Father for the exaltation of His people. The Spirit was to be given as a regenerating agent, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail. The power of evil had been strengthening for centuries, and the submission of men to this satanic captivity was amazing. Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the Third Person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power. It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world’s Redeemer. It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given His Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress His own character upon His church. {DA 671.2}

Thursday: The Keynote of Revelation

The second coming of Jesus Christ is the keynote of Revelation, with at least ten references to this event occurring in the book (see Rev. 1:7; 2:25; 3:3; 3:1; 3:20; 6:12-17; 11:15-18; 14:14-20; 16:17-21; 19:11-16). The very first of these references describes Jesus coming “with clouds” (Revelation 1:7), and alludes to the angels’ promise to the disciples of how Christ will return (Acts 1:9-11). Therefore, Revelation opens with a repetition of the promise of Christ’s return, and a warning about not being deceived as Christ’s return approaches.

Jesus Himself warned three times in Matthew 24 that spiritual deception would be a huge problem at the end of time (Matthew 24:4,11,24), and Revelation reveals in detail what those deceptions will be, especially in regards to the final conflict and the mark of the beast. The Revelation, therefore, focuses not only on Christ, but also reveals the deceptions that God’s people must faithfully and Biblically resist at the end of time.

Friday: The Structure of Revelation

Although Revelation may at first appear to be a disorganized collection of visions, its content is actually highly organized and this organization may be understood in several different ways.

Repetition and Enlargement

The book of Revelation opens with a promise of the second coming (Revelation 1:7), and this promise is continually repeated and expanded throughout the book. For instance, Revelation 14 concludes in verses 14 through 20 with an expanded view of the second coming. Repetition and enlargement can also be seen in Revelation’s parallel lines of prophecy.

Parallel Prophecies

Four parallel lines of prophecy create the entire book of Revelation. These are the seven churches (chs. 1-3), the seven seals (chs. 4 to 8:1), the seven trumpets (chs. 8:2 to 11), and the closing events of the great controversy (chs. 12-22). Historicism understands the first three of these lines of prophecy to cover the same period of time, from John’s day to the second coming. The second half of the book forms the fourth line of prophecy dealing with end time events, yet even this line of prophecy develops out of the seven churches, seven seals, and seven trumpets.

Chiastic Structure

Many commentators have recognized the chiastic, or mirror-like, structure of Revelation. A chiasm is a literary structure in which the first idea is repeated, often with modification, at the end of the work. The second idea, in turn, is repeated just before the final idea. This process of “mirroring” ideas continues until one reaches a unique middle section that frequently holds the most important thought. A simplified view of this structure would look like this ABCDC’B’A’ with idea D forming the crucial central idea. While interpretations of the exact breakdown of Revelation’s chiastic structure vary, nearly all of them identify Revelation 12-14 as forming the unique, crucial central idea. This is, of course, significant for Seventh-day Adventists, who have for over 150 years understood that Revelation 12-14 provides the prophetic identity, message, and mission of this church. A sample chiastic view of Revelation would look like this:

A          Prologue (Revelation 1:1-11)

B          Church Militant (Revelation 1:12-3:22)
C          God’s Salvatory Work in Progress (Revelation 4:1-8:1)
Da       Trumpet Warnings (8:2-11:18)
Db       Aggression by Evil Forces (11:19-14:20)
Dc        Plague Punishments (15:1-16:21)
Dd       Judgment on Evil Forces (17:1-18:24)
C’         God’s Salvatory Work Completed (19:1-21:4)
B’         Church Triumphant (21:5-22:5)

A’         Epilogue (22:6-21)

This chiastic structure was taken from Kenneth Strand, “Chiastic Structure and Some Motifs In the Book of Revelation,” Ministry (February 5, 1978), and can be accessed here

Sanctuary Structure

The sanctuary, its services, and its ultimate purpose of cleansing from sin (Leviticus 16:30) forms an important structural skeleton for the entire book of Revelation. The book’s general progression through the holy place and into the most holy place highlights important aspects of Christ’s High Priestly ministry in heaven, and also emphasizes the spiritual experience of “living in the most holy place” that results in cleansing from sin (compare Leviticus 16:29,30 with Revelation 14:1-5). Most of Revelation’s major visions begin with a view of the sanctuary, or an object associated with the sanctuary.

  • Candlesticks (Revelation 1:13; 4:5)
  • Altar of incense (Revelation 8:4; 9:13)
  • Outer Court (Revelation 11:1,2)
  • Most Holy Place (Revelation 11:19)
  • Law of God (Revelation 12:17; 14:12; 22:14 KJV)
  • Tabernacle of God (Revelation 21:3)

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Tim Rumsey
Tim Rumsey


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