One, Two, Three–One, Two, Three
The Revelation of Jesus Christ (1)
Which God gave him to show his bondservants (2)
The things which must shortly take place (3)
And he sent it and communicated it (and so forth)
By his angel
To his bondservant John
Who bore witness to the word of God
And to the testimony of Jesus Christ
Even to all that he saw
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy
And heed the things which are written in it
For the time is near.
Do you see where I am going here?
The book of Revelation is a special book. It spans millenia, genres, and piques the interest of many a layman and scholar; yet few have cracked the code. It is the most desired book to learn for faithful followers, yet few are willing to teach. It’s complicated, they say. To which I respond, KISS–keep it simple stupid. of course that approach can often lend itself to taking revelation literally, rather than using a literary method. The first problem with reading revelation literally, as I did for thirty years, is that we encounter a problem immediately; shortly and near. In order for one to read Revelation literally, one has to change the literal meaning of shortly to far-off and near to distant.
How then do we read Revelation, if not literally? First, it is a waltz, if you hadn’t picked up on that. Revelation is, in my very humble opinion, a poem. God is good and in his goodness he gave us a an easy way to read and remember his words in Revelation. 1,2,3, and 1,2,3. The text is broken down into segments of three. Now, the number three is sort of significant in the bible, if I’m remembering correctly.
I came up with a way in which I remember to “rightly divide the word,” it’s the acronym, CAGED. I use caged because I believe we have caged the word of God with our presuppositions and prejudice. Let’s look at C.A.G.E.D.
C, Context, Context is king and all the rest of the acronym follow this principle.
A. Author, Audience, Aspiration. Who wrote it, to whom and why?
G. Genre, This is a big one, especially in this case.
E. Expository, Examples, what other parts of the Bible use similar language or themes? Do they fit within the context or are they merely similar? Which brings us to D.
D. Divide, as in “rightly divide the word.” This is the culmination of the aforementioned principles. Put it all together or separate, if need be. These all take practice and probably a better description but as we go we’ll begin to better understand.
By the way, I hate acronyms and realize I have used two, I am sorry, I truly hope it helps. I attended Liberty University, the Acrostic / acronym capital of Christendom; it was years before I could take them seriously, I was acronyned out!
In Future posts we will dig deeply into the CAGED method, for now let’s simply look at the G, genre. Without reading ahead, what is the genre of Revelation? Yes, it is Revelation, not, Revelations. Any message or missive, sermon or study on Revelation usually begins with this statement, It is Revelation, singular, not Revelations, plural. Why? Because many people are in the habit of saying, Revelations, which is incorrect. It is incorrect for one simple reason, but first, answer the question, what genre is the book of Revelation, primarily? I tried to help you out; read my ramblings again…Revelation’s genre is revelation. Apocalypse, an unveiling, a revelation. That is why it is singular and it is also the genre, God is revealing something to us.
However, another very important aspect of the genre, other than I think it’s poetry is that Revelation is an Epistle, or letter. Actually, it is seven letters written to seven churches. Revelation is an unvieling letter, written in a manner which is easy to read, to seven churches, by John, in the Holy Spirit.
Please join me as I waltz through the book of Revelations, Just checking!