Introduction to the Book of Revelation in the 2019 KJV: an Objective New Look
Mary Baker Eddy urged spiritual interpretation of the Bible. Spiritual interpretation in its highest form involves discerning whether a statement is an inspiring, uplifting one, or a materialistic statement which would tend to depress one’s thinking. Spiritual interpretation of the Bible requires one to humanly understand the Bible as much as possible before attempting to spiritually interpret it.
Spiritually interpreting the book of Revelation before humanly understanding it as much as possible leads to faulty, idiosyncratic interpretation. This essay is an attempt to present an objective, good human understanding of the book of Revelation, to achieve a strong foundation for the spiritual interpretation of the book.
If the book of Revelation had not mentioned Jesus Christ and the Lamb, the book would have more naturally ended the Old Testament (O.T.) rather than the New Testament (N.T.).
The writer of the book is very Jewish in his outlook. The book is full of imagery from the O.T. There is the Euphrates River1, the temple of Yahweh2, the golden altar3 with the four horns4 used for animal sacrifice, incense5, Babylon6, (which stands for Rome, which was persecuting the Christians at the time Revelation was written), a reference to King David,7 Mount Zion,8 Moses,9 and the twelve tribes of Israel, each tribe named.10
The theology of Revelation often has more of an O.T. quality than a N.T. quality. The traditional Deity of the O.T., Yahweh, is impatient with human failings and believes that fear of punishment is a major motivator of righteous behavior. Yahweh, which is quick to punish sinners rather than motivating them to repent and helping them to reform, is one of the main characters of Revelation. Another main person is Jesus Christ, who is given a character which at times is more in accord with Yahweh than with the God of the N.T., who is presented by the N.T. as being primarily concerned with blessing all His creation. The Revelator portrays Jesus Christ as afflicting people and killing sinners.11
According to the Gospels, sin causes suffering, not God. The God of the Gospels is almost always loving and impartial in His blessings, causing the rain to fall upon the unjust as well as the just.12 However, the Deity of Revelation is often portrayed as a punishing and afflicting Deity,13 which sometimes punishes just the unrighteous, but often punishes all of humanity, which is considered to be sinful by the Deity of Revelation.
The Deity of Revelation is humanlike, with body parts,14 who sits on a throne in heaven and does not normally bless all His creation. The Deity is portrayed as wrathful six times,15 and the Lamb is portrayed as wrathful once.16 These characteristics do not agree with the portrayals of God and Christ Jesus found in the Gospels.
In many chapters in Revelation, beings or forces in heaven inflict evil and suffering on persons on the earth. The view of heaven is materialistic. Even New Jerusalem in heaven is given many material characteristics.17
The symbolism in Revelation is often highly dramatic and fantastic, (meaning drawn from fantasy.) A typical example is, “a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.” In a lecture on Revelation given by a major Bible scholar, he said in effect, “Don’t get sidetracked trying to figure out the meaning of the various apocalyptic stage props in Revelation; they are not important to the message of Revelation.” I firmly believe what he said.
Only in the last two chapters of the book is the thought of the Revelator sufficiently exalted to picture at times a heaven which is not materialistic: in Chapter 21:22 of the 2019 KJV, the Revelator writes, “And I saw no temple in it; for God Almighty and the Lamb take the place of the temple.” Up until that time, the Revelator had envisioned a temple in heaven which was a heavenly, but still materialistic, version of Solomon’s temple.
The Revelator contradicts himself; one moment, he portrays the Supreme Ruler of the world as a loving God; the next moment, he portrays the Supreme Ruler as the punishing Yahweh, in adjoining verses
The final battle between good and evil at Armageddon is not envisioned as a mental battle between good and evil, where Spirit eventually triumphs, but rather as a violent physical battle between opposing, material armies.18
The book of Revelation shows how difficult it is to picture the heaven of Spirit in a nonmaterial way.
Occasionally in the book of Revelation, the author says something regarding Deity which to me is inspired. In these instances, the Deity is called “God” in the 2019 KJV. However, when the Deity is portrayed as having the imperfect characteristics of the customary punishing Deity of the O.T., the Deity is called “Yahweh” in the 2019 KJV.
If there had been only Old Testament events in human history; if there had never been the events of the New Testament in human history, the book of Revelation might have been a somewhat inspired imagining of the end of time with Yahweh being the Deity of the world.
Because Revelation does not have a coherent message, it is impossible to understand it as a whole. At times the Revelator writes as if Yahweh is the Supreme Ruler of the world. At other times the Revelator writes as if God is the Supreme Ruler. The book of Revelation is a very confusing book written by a well-meaning, confused author, who cannot decide whether he is a Christian or a Jew. However, he manages to end the book on an inspired, spiritual note.
Anyone who thinks that the 2019 KJV strays too far from the 1769 KJV is welcome to read the 1769 KJV version of Revelation in the left column of the 2019 KJV.
(11:1; 11:19) Revelation
(8:3; 9:13) Revelation
(8:3, 4, 5) Revelation
(3:7; 5:5; 22:16) Revelation
(7:5-8; 21:12) Revelation
(2:22, 23) Revelation
(See Chapters 6-9; 11-17; 19, 20) Revelation
(14:10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1; 19:15) Revelation
(19:19; 20:9) Revelation