Method of Interpretation part I
The only way to interpret the Scripture is exegetically and the word ‘exegetically’ means let the Bible speak out at you, the other way of doing it is eisegetically which means coming to the Bible having already decided what it is going to say, and you speak into it your own interpretation and say, ‘there, the Bible agrees with me’. That is not the way to hear God speak.
What is the whole book about? I must come to that whole book as if I had never read it before, know nothing about it, and I come as a simple child to sit at the feet of this book in the power of the Spirit and say, ‘What does it mean?’
We must remember that it is a book. This of course can be applied to every book of the Bible, it is not just miraculous words hanging in space. When the men wrote the Bible they did so in terms of the book – a book that began – it began with normal, earthly, human grammar and syntax, it was written in a certain place by a certain man to certain people in a certain historical context, and until I know that I have absolutely no way of finding out what it has to say.
For example: Let’s suppose I wrote a letter to you from Washington D.C. and I mentioned in the letter certain things which had to do with the current Presidential administration. Then in 2000 years (4013) someone found that letter and they started to read it as if it was written to them. I think both you and I would hope that who ever read the letter would do their best to understand the letter in the context of the person who wrote it, who it was originally written to, why it was written, under what circumstances was it written and other significant historical information…like learning more about Washington D.C. and what was a Presidential administration.
So when we come to the Book of Revelation, we can’t just say, ‘Ooh, prophecy, it must be for us’. Why should it be? We can’t say that until first of all we have gone to ask questions of it as a book. Who wrote it? To whom was it written? When was it written? Why was it written? What is the historical context? Nearly all of that is quite easy because it is not very long ago historically speaking.
So when was it written? It was written approximately AD 95.
Who was it written by? It was written by John and traditionally John the Apostle. He was very much alive in AD 95 even though he was a very old man. He was the very youngest of all the Apostles. When he began to follow Jesus he could have been no more than 16 or 17 and he was the very last of the Apostles, and this very old old man who had been banished to the Island of Patmos which is an Island in the Mediterranean, wrote this book after he received the Revelation from God. He wrote it to seven real churches which were on the mainland, over which he had been the Bishop.
Where did he write it from? John wrote it from a real devil’s island called Patmos and he wrote it to seven strategically placed churches who were going to pass it on to others. In chapter one John is told, ‘Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis Philadelphia, Laodecia’.