Space does not permit me to dive deep into all the rich spiritual meat which is found in the final book of the Bible, so I must limit my discussion of what Revelation has taught me to one crucial lesson: the importance of Ephesians 4:15, John 17:17, 2 Timothy 4:2, and Psalm 119:160. I say this in reference to the numerous contradictory interpretations of what Revelation teaches, most of which are greatly removed from even the most basic biblical foundation.
Take, for example, the common usage of gematria (look it up) to interpret the meaning of 666. Using gematria to determine the meaning of this symbolic number will only bring about many possible answers, thus making it nothing but a matter of opinion as to which one accepts as the correct interpretation. When that happens, one’s own predilections end up influencing the interpretation. This is why 666 has been said to refer to anyone from Julius Caesar or Nero to Napoleon, Hitler, bin Laden, the Clintons, Reagan, Obama, Trump, Biden, or any other political figure one doesn’t like. As F.F. Bruce once quipped, “The three rules for making any name yield the desired 666 are: (1) if the proper name itself will not yield it, add a title; (2) if the sum cannot be found in Greek, try Latin, or Hebrew; (3) if that does not work, misspell it!” (Time does not permit me to point out the folly of other common ideas behind 666, such as how it refers to the Internet, barcodes, computers in general, or Visa credit cards.)
Christians, God has commanded us to always “speak the truth” (Eph. 4:15). God defines the truth as his Word (John 17:17), which is why we are also told to “preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:2). So why do we go to barcodes, gematria, and historical figures to figure out 666 (or the other symbolism in Revelation) when we should go to “the entirety of (God’s) Word (which) is truth” (Ps. 119:160a)?
Revelation was originally written to a people who would have had no idea who Adolf Hitler or the world wide web are. Would the seven churches of Asia have had a clue about what a barcode was if John had told them that’s what 666 meant? Would knowing about the future invention of the Internet have helped them to become better Christians? My point is that when we study Revelation, let’s ask ourselves if our interpretation would in any way be relevant to the original readers of Revelation, the first century church.
In like manner, let’s remember 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Revelation is part of “all Scripture.” The “man of God” about whom Paul wrote was not only the first century Christian but also you and me today. Thus, the true, scriptural interpretation of anything found in Revelation would have not only helped those Christians in John’s day to be better servants of God. It likewise would help us today, and all Christians throughout the past two thousand years and continuing on to the end of time, to be better servants of God. The true interpretation would apply to both them and us in either a primary/secondary application or in a dual application.
Go to the Bible primarily to interpret Revelation, brethren. That’s one of the biggest lessons Revelation has taught me.