Dr. Ben Dunson will be teaching Hebrews-Revelation (11NT522/01) this spring semester. Consider registering for the course either as a degree-seeking student or as an auditor. If you are interested in auditing the course, register with our Audit Registration form.
In anticipation for the course, we thought we’d ask Dr. Dunson a few questions about Revelation.
Oftentimes Christians view Revelation as a book about the future. How does it speak to the Church in the 21st century?
One of the biggest misconceptions about Revelation is that it is like a secret code primarily given to God's people to reveal the future. In fact, Revelation is a book given to God's people in the first century in order to strengthen them for the suffering that all believers will (in one way or another) take part in. To see this you can look at all of the language of "nearness" in chapter 1, along with John's statement that he is a partner in "tribulation" with the believers he wrote to (Rev 1:9). But the significance of Revelation does not stop with the original readers/hearers: the ultimate purpose of the visions is to reveal to all believers the plan of God for their spiritual nourishment in this evil age when they too will share in tribulation for their faithfulness.
How does seeing Revelation as a book of comfort inform our Christian lives?
It does so by showing us that just as Christ was victorious in his mission only through suffering unto death (Rev 1:5; 5:5), so is His church victorious only as it follows His example (Rev 3:21). Certainly, Christ's blood is the only grounds for our forgiveness of sins (Rev 5:9), but Revelation also speaks of how believers wash their robes in the blood of Christ by being willing to follow him even to the point of death, should God will that (Rev 7:14). We conquer by continuing to trust in Christ to the very end, which is the very means through which we participate in the victory Christ has already secured for us (Rev 12:11).
What is your favorite passage from Revelation? Why?
Revelation 21:3-4 (ESV): "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.'"
We see here the destiny and chief desire of every believer: to live in the perfect joy of God's loving presence forever and ever, where all sin, sadness, sickness, and death are eternally banished. The new creation of God will be great precisely for this reason: God will be there.