Episode: Revelation Series No. 01
Narrator: John the Apostle
Primary Scriptures: Revelation 1
Story Summary: Background of Revelation, Revelation 1 Location: Roman Empire, Island of Patmos
AD 30 Jesus crucified and resurrected; Pentecost; Holy Spirit arrives
AD 48 Paul’s “famine visit” to Jerusalem; First Missionary
AD 50 Journey starts Council at Jerusalem; Start of Second Missionary Journey.
AD 53 Start of Third Missionary Journey
AD 67/68 Paul probably killed in Rome
AD 85-95 John writes Revelation
Suggested Memory Scriptures: Revelation 1:3, 1:8, 1:18-19
Due to lack of trustworthy records, it is often difficult to verify statements about history, especially when those statements are written by writers who may be biased. This is an ongoing challenge for those who study the history of the early churches.
One fact remains indisputable: the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem and virtually wiped out that city in 70 AD. For a long time afterward, Jews were out of favor with the Roman government. It seems likely that, from 70 AD on, Christians sought to separate themselves from being associated with their Jewish counterparts and any favor or special privileges Jews once had from the Romans were no longer valuable.
It was about this time when the churches started growing because of dedicated evangelistic efforts, as well as the advent of the gospels and letters which would become the bulk of the New Testament. Even though the church was growing, it was still too small to receive much recognition or persecution from the Roman Government. However, there were localized pockets of persecution.
John wrote Revelation as the first century was coming to a close. Jesus had been dead for more than five decades, and the Christians were unsure about when He would return. False teachers tormented churches throughout the empire. Some churches were not doing so well. Jewish leaders were no longer persecuting Christians, but persecution by local officials and citizen groups was growing. Overall, Revelation was written in a time of great uncertainty and turmoil.
To modern readers, Revelation appears to be a confusing mix of prophecies and symbols that address mostly events future to modern times. It is often unclear what these events are or when they will occur. Although it is a difficult read, it is still a valuable part of the New Testament. As John wrote in the opening: “Blessed are those who read and hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things written in it; for the time is at hand.” You don’t have to understand Revelation to be blessed by reading it.