Wednesday, 23 February 2011


A Cause Worthy of Your Life...In this latest article we explore the importance of the local church to the Cause of Christ. All too often we undermine the place of the local church. The temptation to take the gifts and talents which God has given us and to consider that the local church is too small of a stage for them may well be a devilish plot which entices us down a deadly pathway to fame, popularity, wealth, power, spirituality, and influence. This article will explore the place of the local church in the Cause of Christ and look at how serving God leads to better honour... 
By Dr Andrew Corbett
22nd February 2011
When you’re feeling particularly weak and vulnerable, it doesn’t ordinarily help to have someone tell you to just get over it or snap out of it! But on the surface of it, this most unhelpful counsel is precisely what the Bible seems to offer when it instructs us to be strong in the Lord.
¶ Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Ephesians 6:10
I think Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is perhaps one of the most profound pieces of New Testament literature. No other church in New Testament times draws as much attention as the Ephesian church. While it is often a dangerous thing for a reader to confuse “to” and “for” regarding the intended audiences for a Biblical book (modern readers often naively claim that a particular Biblical book was written to them), there can no doubt that the great apostle intended for this Epistle to be read by an audience much broader than the addressed recipients. We know this because we have found ancient manuscript evidence for this Epistle actually being a type of ‘circular’ epistle (it’s contents would have also been addressed to the other churches in the region as well). Thus, we can be confident that while this epistle was not written to us it was most certainly written for us.
“Be strong in the Lord” sounds like something we are called to do. It sounds like a choice. It sounds like the apostle thought that we could do something within us to draw strength from God. As I study the art of leadership I find that all of the great leaders and teachers on leadership were united about the one common ingredient absolutely necessary for someone to be a leader worth following: character strength. That ability to always bounce back when the cause is right and just. The disposition which causes correction from others to be seen as a gift not as an attack. The sense of responsibility borne that needs no overseer to work. Character, inner strength. Be strong in the Lord speaks directly into the recesses of our soul’s identity - our character.
I wonder when the apostle penned these words that he was also speaking to himself. After all, the human spirit can sink quite low when chained and manacled in a prison cell! I wonder too if he pondered the life of King David who is described as having strengthened himself in God?
And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.1Samuel 30:6
What we know, and what David didn’t know at the time of this verse, was that although all the people were bitter toward him, and he was almost overcome with distress, he was on the verge of being crowned king! Often our darkest hour comes just before our finest hour. Speaking to this text, Matthew Henry wrote-
"Great faith must expect such severe trials. But observe that David was brought thus low, only just before he was raised to the throne.”
Matthew Henry
God has made available grace-strength to His children. We sometimes think that grace is only about salvation. But it is actually God’s underserved provision for our needs. This not only includes in our salvation, it includes our sustenance. And there are times when we particularly need God’s sustaining strength. But the way that He has ordained for His sustaining strength to be mediated to His children is very often counter-intuitive. That is, it seems that we have to do the opposite of the very thing we are wanting to do. To move forward sometimes God calls us to wait. To grow rich sometimes God call us to give everything away. To be refreshed sometimes God calls us to keep working.
When we are particularly weak and vulnerable, we tend to withdraw from others. But one of the most counter-intuitive things that God calls us to do in such times is to immerse ourselves in others. In fact, Peter when writing to a buffeted and persecuted church, reminds them that the grace of God actually comes in many and varied forms, through our brothers and sisters in Christ who are called to steward God’s grace to one another.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace
1Peter 4:10
Similarly, the apostle Paul told the Romans that God’s strengthening grace came through the Gospel, but particularly through the Gospel being preached. This is why attending a good Bible-based, God and Gospel honouring church is good and strengthening for your soul.
¶ Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
Romans 16:25
This can be very counter-intuitive when on a Sunday morning you are tired and weighed down. It’s easier to stay in bed than to get out of bed and get to church for worship and instruction in the Word. But it is the latter that God has ordained for our continual strengthening. Conversely, bad, irrational, exegetically irresponsible preaching can actually drain our souls of strength.
Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
Hebrews 13:9
Based on the above verse, we can see God instructing His children not to seek strength or comfort from food or drink (and therefore by principle, or drugs), but to look for strength from the sound teaching of God’s Word. God mediates His grace to His children through His children but especially through the sacred gathering of God’s children.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16
This is why God imparts strength to His people through the sacred assembly where the Word of God is taught “richly” in “wisdom” accompanied by thoughtful “hymns” and “spiritual songs” (Col. 3:16). If you want your spiritual strength continually topped up, be committed to your local church and “do not neglect to gather together” (Hebrews 10:25).
If you want to deplete your strength, do the following (or if you want to be spiritually strong, don’t do the following) -
    1. Stop asking God for help.
    2. Turn to food or drink for comfort or strength.
    3. Use human wisdom to solve your problems, rather than what may appear to be “counter-intuitive” Biblical wisdom. Human wisdom may reason that sleeping-in on Sunday mornings would be more beneficial than ‘sacrificing’ your sleep to go to church.
    4. Cease living in a lifestyle of surrender to God (if you want to be spiritually weak do not pray Lord I surrender to You. Have Your way in my life even when I resist. Break those things out of my life that do not please You. Help me to only live for You.)
    5. Live independently by refusing to fellowship with or receive help from others.
    6. Refuse to take direction from those that God has placed in authority over you.
    7. Neglect your spouse and don’t make time for your children.
This is not merely a list of opinions. Each of these sources of strength are addressed by the apostle in his epistle to the Ephesians. Before he concludes with his, “Finally”, where he then tells his readers to “be strong in the Lord” (Eph. 6:10), he has already discussed the importance of their relationship with God (Ephesians 1); their relationship with people different to themselves (Ephesians 2); their relationship with those within the church (Ephesians 3); their relationship with those in authority over them (Ephesians 4); their relationship with their spouse (Ephesians 5); and their relationship with their children/parents (Ephesians 6). God has designed for His children to receive the grace of His strength mediated through these key relationships. If you consider that the armour and weapons which Paul lists following his injunction to be strong in the Lord, they are really a summary of how these relationships strengthen us. So, be strong in the Lord results when we develop our character to know where we can always find God’s grace which we will discover comes gift wrapped in the form of people.
© Dr. Andrew Corbett,
22nd February 2011, Legana Tasmania
This article may be copied and distributed if due credit is given to the author, the article is not altered, and the website- - is hyperlinked or referenced.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Finding Your Purpose As A Christian

You are not an accident! God has designs on your life! He has given you gifts, abilities, talents, and resources to contribute in a unique way to His Mission for planet earth! He will go to extrordinary lengths to prepare you because He has called you according to His ultimate purpose.
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
And no matter what individual purpose He assigns to you, you can be assured based on His Word, that your purpose will mesh with His purpose- the local church, God's gift of hope to the world.
making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in ChristEphesians 1:9
None of us are saved just to go to heaven! No, God has a purpose for each of us that in some way results in Christ's Church being blessed.
who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
2Tim. 1:9
By serving in our local church we offer God our lives to be directed into His purpose for us (Eph. 1:11). Paul teaches on this in his epistle to the Ephesians where he repeatedly refers to the Church as the purpose of God which Christ came to establish for those He redeemed.
This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Ephesians 3:11
For some of us this purpose will be realised working not just in the church, but for the church. But for most us this purpose will be realised outside of the church in the market-place, in the academy, on the sporting field, in the factory, in the supermarket, in the family home. Yet, it is our connection to the purpose of God, the Church, that helps us to prioritize our lives according to God's purpose. We surrender our lives to God and His Church and prayerfully seek for Him to use us however He sees fit. We then give ourselves with our whole heart to whatever task God puts before us. For many, if not all of us, the things we learn and develop while serving in our local church actually add to our lives those things that God has decreed are needed in order for us to achieve our unique purpose. If you want real purpose for your life, give your life afresh to God and ask Him to direct you into service in the local church which best suits the gifts, talents, abiities, and resources He has given you. You'll find this kind of service is actually real leadership and the type of leadership that the world desperately needs right now.
Father, help us to find our unique purpose as we first give ourselves to Your Great Purpose: The Church. Cause us to grow in what we offer You. May we multiply the value of Your Kingdom and see many souls saved, many souls refreshed, and many souls strengthened because of how You use us. For Your glory, we pray, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Every Eye Shall See Him

Explaining "Every Eye Shall See" From A Preterist Perspective 
Written by Dr Andrew Corbett, President of ICI Theological College Australia, and author of the popular commentary on the Book of Revelation- The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible, February 16th 2011
After years of studying the Book of Revelation, I have become persuaded of the Classical Preterist Position. One of the first objections raised against Preterism (often confused with Hyper-Preterism, or, 'Pantellism') is based on Revelation 1:7. Which says that when Christ 'comes', 'every eye will see Him.' Opponents of Preterism offer what they think is a death-blow to Preterism with this apparent 'knock-out' verse. As a Preterist, I have to admit, if their interpretation of this verse is correct, Preterism can not be true. Therefore, how we understand this verse will either destroy the validity of Preterism or, could it possibly validate it?
Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
Revelation 1:7
Another way to render this verse might be: "Behold He is coming with the clouds [in judgment] and every eye will see Him - that is, the eyes of those who pierced Him, and all of the Tribes of the Land [Israel] will wail at this time because of His judgment. Even though this will be devastating, it must happen."

Rendering the verse this does three things. Firstly, it becomes immediately consistent with the time-frame references in the opening chapters of the Book of Revelation. That is, Christ's judgment on Jerusalem was seen by those who orchestrated HIs crucifixion- the High Priest and the Sanhedrin along with all Israel who joined together to kill the Christ .
and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.
Matthew 26:4
It is consistent with the time-frame references in the opening chapters of the Book of Revelation because it plainly states that the events described were to take place soon - "for the time is near" (Revelation 1:3). To argue that verse 7 should be interpreted as referring to the end of time or the end of the world is not consistent with the context and therefore not a literal interpretation. Regarding this verse as forecasting something that was indeed near, at hand, soon, now, about to take place, as it plainly says in Revelation 1:3, is consistent with Revelation's overall time-frame.

Secondly, rendering verse 7 this way is consistent with the other Biblical uses of the expression coming with the clouds which refer to God's judgment on a people from Heaven. When the God of Heaven interacted with Moses, He is described as being surrounded by clouds (Exodus 19:9) and He chose to give the Hebrews a picture of His majesty and great glory with "clouds"-
The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
Exodus 24:16
God gave His people the picture of His glory being represented by clouds. Therefore, when it says that God is coming in, or with, clouds we must be careful not to think of this just in a wooden literal sense. It more often than not is a word picture of God's glory. On numerous occasions throughout the Old Testament, God's glory did literally appear as a cloud to people (eg. Numbers 9:19). But as the Old Testament unfolds God takes this concept and creates the metaphor of clouds to speak His glory. Thus, whenever He judged on Israel's behalf, He is often described as doing so by 'visiting' the nation to be judged 'riding clouds'.
 An oracle concerning Egypt.
Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud
and comes to Egypt;
and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence,
and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. 

Isaiah 19:1
Thirdly, rendering the verse this way is consistent with the complementary Biblical passages (the broader context) which make clear time-frame references to the generation of Revelation's original audience. In particular, the Olivet discourse of Matthew 24, which most scholars recognise as a parallel to the Book of Revelation, plainly says this in verse 34 ("this generation...shall see all these things"). Understanding Revelation 1:7 as speaking to and about the first century audience makes any other rendering of this verse as yet future implausible. In what other generation, apart from the original generation to which Revelation was addressed around 65AD, could the qualifying statement about every eye shall see - even those who pierced Him - apply? If we force the interpretation of the text to be prophetic of our future, the fulfilment becomes impossible. That is, far from the Preterist interpretation of Revelation being disqualified by this verse, it is actually only the Preterist interpretation that offers any hope for this verse to be fulfilled!

It is absurd for Futurists to claim that "even those who pierced Him" refers to modern Israel. Futurists pride themselves for being "literalists" when it comes to interpretting the Book of Revelation. But which interpretation of Revelation 1:7 is more literal? I am proposing the most literal interpretation of this verse by saying that when the text says "even those who pierced Him" that is precisely what it means. "Every eye shall see" refers to the qualifying statement identifying this audience as the people responsible for Christ's death. Again, when Futurists claim that this text prophesies the invention of satellite TV which will televise the return of Christ live around the world, they can barely warrant their appeal as literalists!


The expression "all the tribes of the earth" sounds global. But it is almost certainly not. The Greek word for "earth" is 'ge' (geology, geography), which is translated as "earth" or "land". This word is used to designate the Land of Promise, Israel. It is perfectly natural to understand Revelation 1:7 as referring to all the tribes of Israel. This understanding is consistent in the three ways discussed earlier (1. The Textual Time-Frame Indicators, 2. It Is Biblically Consistent, and, 3. The Broad Biblical Context). In this light, we are logically, reasonably, and rationally left to conclude that the author intended to convey to his original audience that this verse was indeed to be fulfilled in their life-time. Indeed, I have already shown, this is the only way toliterally take this verse. But, the Futurist might ask- In what way then was this verse possibly fulfilled?

I have already shown that the expression the Lord is coming is a Biblical expression of God's looming judgment. It is the classic understanding of the Church that Christ will return. This is where Classical Preterists and Hyper-Preterists part company. Pantelogists (Hyper-Preterists) regard all Bible prophecies as being fulfilled, whereas, Classical Preterists (Partial Preterists) distinguish between Christ's coming in judgment on Jerusalem and His eventual return. There is historical support for this view dating back to the second and third centuries. Nearly all Biblical Commentators prior to the 1800s took for granted that the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) was fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. This can be readily verified by sourcing a very commonly available old commentary such as Matthew Henry's. Both the Hyper-Preterist and the Futurist Dispensational interpretation were unknown prior to the early 1800s. Naturally both schools of interpretation disagree with this assertion, but the challenge for Dispensational Futurists is to find any Biblical Commentator or Scholar who wrote anything about an invisible return of Christ to rapture the Church to then be followed by a physical return of Christ with the Church 3 to 7 years later! The same challenge applies to Hyper-Preterists to show any Biblical Commentator of scholar accepted by the Christian community as orthodox who claimed that Christ had already returned and that the General Resurrection referred to First Corinthians 15 had already taken place. On the contrary, both Paul (2Tim. 2:18) and the corpus of Biblical Commentators and scholars down through the ages have both denounced the heretical view that the Resurrection of all the dead had already taken place!

How then can we claim that Revelation 1:7 has been fulfilled? Having shown that it could only have been fulfilled in the first century AD, we can then integrate it into the whole message of The Book of Revelation and the Olivet Discourse and show two things clearly: (i) Both the Book of Revelation and the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24 intended to convey prophecies regarding the times leading up to 70AD (note the time-frame language~ "now", "at hand", "this hour", "near", "shortly", "this generation"); (ii) It can be shown historically that the events forecast in Revelation 1:1 - 20:5-6 (at this point in the Book of Revelation the time-frame changes) have been fulfilled. That is, the inhabitants of Jerusalem in 70AD literally saw thecoming of God's judgment upon them for their apostasy. "Every eye" saw it. "All the tribes" of Israel saw it.

The Partial-Preterist (Classical Preterist) view of Bible prophecy is completely orthodox. It is Christo-centric. It is Biblical. It conforms to the ancient 4 Creeds of the Church. It is verified by history. It is commended to you in my ebook THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE, which you can download immediately.
- - -
THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE by Dr Andrew CorbettI have written a fuller explanation of the book of Revelation in my eBook- THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE (click here to read a preview). The application from the Book of Revelation is that despite what appears to be an impotent Church struggling to serve an apparently impotent Christ, the Church is in reality made up of overcomers who lay down their lives gladly to promote Christ and His Gospel. In so doing, the Kingdom of Christ is extended, prayers are offered and heard, miracles are graced, and the believer can die with infinite hope that their Lord will keep them for eternity and clothe them with a new body which can not be subject to pain, injury, sorrow, or sin. With this knowledge we can endure momentary hardship during the brevity of this life on earth. We can be assured that our greatest delights and deepest moments of fulfilment are yet to come in the life to come.
John 5:25 ¶ “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.


 Dr. Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania, Australia February 16th, 2011
Regarded as one of the leading exponents of the Book of Revelation, Dr Andrew Corbett in this 4 Part series on the Book of Revelation (presented as a seminar) is now available as a 4 Audio CD set.
Order this 4 Disc Audio CD for just $20 plus $9.95 shipping anywhere in the world).
Listen to Disc 1 online now []

Friday, 11 February 2011


If you were around at the time Christ walked the shores of Galilee and heard Him, would you have believed Him? What about if you grew up with Him, would you have believed Him? Statistically, if had grown in the family home of Jesus, where you would have witnessed first-hand the most perfect life ever lived, you probably would not have believed what Christ was claiming!
John 7:5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
Amazingly, the very half-brothers of Jesus did not believe Him! Imagine that! They grew up with Jesus. They saw Him up close. They would have known He was different. In fact, they even believed that He could do miracles!
Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do." John 7:3
Fancy that! They grew up with Jesus and had the unique privilege of seeing the only sinless life the world has ever hosted. They witnessed His miracles. They saw Him pray. They were reminded of His supernatural birth every time they walked past the chests of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Yet they didn't believe Him!
Belief is eternally critical. The Apostle John sums up his gospel by telling why he wrote it-.
but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:31
Even though the half-brothers of Jesus believed their brother was different and that He could do miracles, they didn't believe in Jesus Himself. To believe in Jesus is to place your trust in Him as your worship-worthy Saviour. It is not merely to pay mental assent to something.
The Apostle Paul wrote that right belief was absolutely essential for salvation. Unless you believe correctly, you will not be saved-
and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
1Corinthians 15:2
We notice the wonderful insight that the Apostle gifts to us: right belief is steadfast belief. It is a belief that we must "hold fast to." To put it another way, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians-
But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News...
Colossians 1:23 (NLT)
The only kind of belief that is genuinely able to save, is not a belief that Jesus was different, or even that He was a miracle worker - it is the belief that results in trusting surrender to Christ as Saviour and Lord. Remember John 3:16? Remember what Jesus said was the only way to have everlasting life in that verse? Whoever believes... Do you believe? It'll be obvious if you do because it will be the kind of belief that is steadfast. It'll endure. It'll grind it out as well as triumph. Notice what the Bible says about this belief in First Corinthians 15:2- it is continually fueled and fed by the preaching of the Word - hold fast to the Word I preached to you. This is why the message of belief is not our appeal to those outside of the Church. Because steadfast, enduring, immovable belief is the only genuine belief it is absolutely imperative we give ourselves regularly to hearing and heeding the preaching of the Word of God. Little wonder the New Testament commands to believers not to forsake gathering together each week for the assembling of the church.
As a postscript, at least two of the half-brothers of Christ, who John goes out of his way to tell us "did not believe", were graced by the resurrected Christ with the gift of belief. One of them was James and he wrote that only steadfast was 'perfect' faith-
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:3-4
The other was Jude who wrote that the only kind of saving faith was the kind of belief that kept itself in the love of God-
But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit;
keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life
Jude 20-21
For heaven's sake, keep believing!
Father, help us to believe. Guard us against those things that seek to attack our faith. Help us to fuel and feed our faith in You. Give us increasing reasons to believe. May we walk as worthy believers and be used by You to help others to come to saving belief. As we meet Sunday by Sunday and Wednesday by Wednesday in our home groups, strengthen our belief in You and Your Word. Give us a burden for those who do not believe. Help us to pray for the lost more effectively. For Your glory, we pray, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

How Do We Understand The Book Of Revelation?

Written by Dr Andrew Corbett, President of ICI Theological College Australia, and author of the popular commentary on the Book of Revelation- The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible, February 8th 2011
We all approach the Bible with certain ideas that color the way we read it. This is especially the case with the Book of Revelation. While certain parts of the Bible are difficult to understand (largely because we are separated by time, distance, language, personal disconnection and cultural practices), the Book of Revelation is particularly difficult to understand. This is borne out by the plethora of interpretations that have been offered about it...
Generally there are four schools of interpretation regarding the Book of Revelation. Most people studying the diverse views on the Book of Revelation will at least overview these four views. These are dealt with by Steve Gregg in his book, Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary. Each of these views generally claim to interpret the Book of Revelation "literally". Yet each view goes about this 'literal interpretation' quite differently. This is why it is more helpful to settle how we should interpret the Bible accurately rather than try to read the Bible through a particular interpretation grid. This especially applies when seeking to understand the Book of Revelation.
Having a system or grid through which we read and understand the Bible is not always a negative thing, but it should not be the starting point. Rather, we should discover the sound principles for interpreting Scripture which apply to every book of the Bible - including the Book of Revelation. This becomes problematic for those who start with a system and then adapt their method of Biblical interpretation (which Theologians call: Hermeneutics) to fit their system because it is impossible to be Biblically consistent with this approach which leads to different systems for different books of the Bible. This is why most Biblical Scholars, who have a high regard for the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, recognise that Scripture interprets Scripture. That is, they regard two immediate things about the Bible:
1. The Bible is clear in its message and can be understood
(This is called the Doctrine of Perspicuity).
2. The message of Scripture is consistently integrated
(it is coherent and without contradiction).
In their highly acclaimed book, How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth, Drs Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart give some wise advice for interpreting the Bible. They show the reader why it's important to distinguish the literary styles of Scripture and learning how to best understand these different styles. Narrative needs to be understood differently from Poetry. Old Testament Law needs to be understood differently from New Testament Didactic passages. They also discuss why it's important to understand the various literary devices used, such as hyperboles, metaphors, allegories, symbollism, parables, and numbers. They stress several principles for interpreting Scripture which reflect the two statements above-
(i) Scripture interprets Scripture
(ii) Context (Textual, Cultural, Literary Form, Historical) frames intention (the Biblical author uses his language in an intentional way, to convey a particular something)
(iii) No Scripture should be interpreted in a way which contradicts the overall message of Scripture.
Some Biblical Scholars place a great deal of emphasis upon the individual words in Scripture. One method of doing this is called "Word Studies". While these word studies are of some value, they are really of very limited value and should not be our starting point for interpreting a passage of Scripture. For example, if I wrote: She was bearing, what would I mean? To bear can mean- to carry, to deliver, to turn, to put up with, or even to change into an animal! Unless you know the context in which I am using these words, you can not know precisely what I am intending to convey. Therefore, employing the three principles of sound Biblical interpretation above, we make it our aim to discover the Biblical author's intended meaning of their text. Some might argue that this is not possible today since we are so far removed geographically, linguistically, culturally, and situationally from the time of the writing of a Biblical text. There is some merit to this exasperation, to be sure, it is at times a very difficult exercise, but it is not an impossible one.
It is made somewhat possible by -
  • Gathering Contextual Data - we can examine the historical context, the Biblical context, the cultural context, the other forms of contemporary literature, which all help us to appreciate the Biblical text
  • Original Audience Response - how the original audience, while not always entirely helpful, understood the passage addressed to them, serves to enlighten the modern reader
  • Church Fathers - again, this source is not always helpful, but it can not be lightly or too quickly dismissed since these early writers were sometimes connected with the Biblical authors and may have received and recorded helpful insights.
Based on these foundations for sound Biblical Interpretation we come armed to understand the Book of Revelation. The tools and rules we use to understand the Book of Revelation are therefore the same ones that we would use to understand Second Corinthians, or Colossians. We should be on our guard when someone boldly declares that the Book of Revelation requires radically different Hermeneutical rules than those used to understand any other Biblical Book.
The first principle, Scripture Interprets Scripture, is surely especially true for the Book of Revelation since at least half of its content is drawn from Old Testament concepts or text. When understanding what a "beast" is for example, we not only recall that Daniel established this symbolism for a National Ruler, but that Revelation 13 actually cites Daniel 7. To understand what Revelation means by "a Harlot" we recall that the Old Testament prophets repeatedly described Israel and Judah's breach of their covenant with God as "harlotry". The same goes for the use of numbers as symbols. Revelation cannot be understood without being familiar with the language of the Old Testament.
The second principle of Biblical Interpretation is Context. Without understanding the backdrop to the Book of Revelation we cannot possibly begin to understand its message. Too few of us understand the geo-political landscape of the first century. The Roman Empire was founded by a King (Julius Casar) who was never crowned Emperor - but his adopted son, Octavian, was (who modestly changed his name to 'Augustus' and took the family name of Julius as a title: Caesar). The Book of Revelation draws on this distinction by alluding to the first "emperor" (Augustus) riding a white horse (Revelation 6), and then to a different character- the first "king" in Revelation 17. Understanding this simple distinction and who these Emperors were will help us to understand the backdrop to the Book of Revelation.
The third principle of Hermeneutics, No Scripture Should Be Interpreted To Contradict The Overall Message of Scripture. This is not to force a Scripture to mean something that it was not intended to mean, rather it assumes that since the Bible has One Author (though many Pen-men) its message will be integrated, coherent, and without contradiction. Any apparent contradiction is probably an issue of poor interpretation (and therefore even poor translations) than it is an actual contradiction.


While we can and should make certain healthy assumptions about the Bible (such as the two mentioned near the opening of this article) there are other assumptions that are less than helpful such as when the Scripture does not specifically identify who it is referring to, it is a potentially problematic exercise to assume the identity of such a character. For example, when we approach the Book of Revelation it could be assumed that the Beast of Revelation of Chapter 13 is the same character referred to elsewhere in the New Testament as "the Anti-Christ". But take a closer look at Revelation 13. There are actually two beasts mentioned. Interestingly, the beast with the number 666 is not the one marking his followers, it is the other beast on behalf of the first beast. Who is this second beast? I hope you can see why it might be beneficial not to import any assumptions into the details of a text.
Assuming something directly contrary to the plain Biblical statements within the text is also a faulty way to read Scripture. For example, should we assume that the Book of Revelation is primarily about the "end of the world" and therefore prophesying events thousands of years removed from its date of writing when it plainly says that its events were: "near", "at hand", "soon", and "this hour"?
We import assumptions into Biblical words and texts that potentially deprive us of understanding what the author intended. For example, when reading of the "coming" of "the Son of Man" (Greek- parousia) should we assume that Jesus and the New Testament writers meant either- the Second Coming of Christ or even the Return of Christ? It might be a challenge to some to realise that neither expression actually occurs in the New Testament. It might also be interesting to note that the Greek word for "return" is anakampto (not parousia). How many realise that the Biblical expression the Lord is coming is used throughout the Old Testament and is usually described as occuring with "clouds", and speaks of God judging in time (rather than at the end of time)? Notice an example of this in Isaiah 19:1 where the prophet foretells of Egypt's impending judgment by God-
¶ An oracle concerning Egypt.
Behold, the LORDis riding on a swift cloud
and comes to Egypt;
and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence,
and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them
Isaiah 19:1 ESV
We know historically that Egypt was indeed judged and ceased to be a world-power. But did God physically leave Heaven and physically appear in Cairo to carry out this judgment? Not at all. And this is not an isolated usage of the term 'coming in judgment' or 'coming with clouds' to describe God's judgment. It occurs, for example, in - 1Chronicles 16:33, Psalm 96:13, Psalm 98:9, Jeremiah 4:13, Jeremiah 43:11, and Ezekiel 21:27. It is also pictured in Daniel 7:13. In fact, it is Daniel 7:13 that Christ is citing in Matthew 24:30. (Note the direction of "the Son of Man" in the Daniel passage to which Christ is referring.)
We should read the Book of Revelation assuming that the original first century audience could have understood its contents. This assumption is partly buttressed by its plain statements indicating such. For example, in Revelation 13, John describes two beasts and then tells his audience that with wisdom they can know who he was talking about. This demands that the identity of the two beasts in Revelation 13 was known and therefore alive at the time of John writing. This is why Historicism's claims that the Beast of Revelation 13 is the "Pope" is poor hermeneutics.
“The Papacy...this is a powerful demonstration that the pope is the real Antichrist who has raised himself over and set himself against Christ, for the pope will not permit Christians to be saved except by his own power, which amounts to nothing since it is neither established or commanded by God.”
Martin Luther, Smalcald Articles (1537), Part 2, Article 4
“There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God.”
The Westminster Confession of Faith (1647), chapter 25, section 6
Italian statue of Caesar Augustus with his white horseThe Book of Revelation should be read in a way that attempts to look over the shoulder of the original audience. When they read of a rider of a white horse described in Revelation 6 it would have been difficult for them not to have identified this as the first Emperor of Rome, Caesar Augustus, who rode a white horse. When the list of 'horsemen' expires after the fourth horseman, the original readers would have understood that the fifth Emperor of Rome was not a military leader. They would have also understood that it was the fifth Emperor, Caesar Nero, who began martyring the Church which is why we read that when the fifth seal was broken, the martyrs cried out.
When the original audience, receiving this Epistle around65AD, read that their trouble would last 1260 days (Revelation 11:3), they could have taken heart that since Rome's persecution against them commenced in 64AD they didn't have too long to endure it epecially when in Revelation 12:6 it revealed God's promise - that even allowing for martyrs - He would preserve them. They could have taken further heart from the encouragement in Revelation 17 which lists the kings of Rome and comes to the sixth king (who was the fifth Emperor), Nero (the most butcherous martyrer of Christians ever), and declares that he shall die soon.
they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while.
Revelation 17:10
This prophecy was all the more remarkable because Nero was only 27 years old at the time, and we know now that from the launch of his persecution against the Church, he only survived another 1260 days! (He died aged 30 and a half.) The original audience would have also known about Gemetria where a person's name could be represented with a numerical value. They would have known that "Caesar Nero" was the Gemetria value of 666. They also would have been familiar with the Old Testament usage of the term "beast" to mean 'ruler' and that the expression "of the Land" identified a Jew and the converse expression, "from across the sea" identified a Gentile. Thus in Revelation 13 one beast is described as being from across the sea (Caesar Nero) and the other beast is described as being from the Land (or "earth") and represented the ruler of the Jews (the High Priest). They would have known that the High Priest insisted that Temple worshipers wear their phylacteries (bound either to their foreheads or writsts) in order to participate in Temple worship. Knowing this historical backdrop to the Book of Revelation helps to avoid needless speculation about a supposed future Antichrist to come.
Understanding the Book of Revelation does not begin by choosing a school of interpretation - rather, it should begin by settling how we understand any book of the Bible. Therefore, interpreting the Book of Revelation is not so much about Eschatology (the study of 'last things') as it is about Hermeneutics (correctly interpreting the Bible). There is good reason for regarding that Revelation 1:1 to 20:6 has been fulfilled already and that Revelation 20:7 to 22:21 is in our future. In this light, we can look back at the Book of Revelation's accurate predictions of its near future and draw great confidence from this that what it says about our future is just as sure.
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THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE by Dr Andrew CorbettI have written a fuller explanation of the book of Revelation in my eBook- THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE (click here to read a preview). The application from the Book of Revelation is that despite what appears to be an impotent Church struggling to serve an apparently impotent Christ, the Church is in reality made up of overcomers who lay down their lives gladly to promote Christ and His Gospel. In so doing, the Kingdom of Christ is extended, prayers are offered and heard, miracles are graced, and the believer can die with infinite hope that their Lord will keep them for eternity and clothe them with a new body which can not be subject to pain, injury, sorrow, or sin. With this knowledge we can endure momentary hardship during the brevity of this life on earth. We can be assured that our greatest delights and deepest moments of fulfilment are yet to come in the life to come.
John 5:25 ¶ “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.


 Dr. Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania, Australia February 8th, 2011
Regarded as one of the leading exponents of the Book of Revelation, Dr Andrew Corbett in this 4 Part series on the Book of Revelation (presented as a seminar) is now available as a 4 Audio CD set.
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