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Our readers asked:

What’s the deal with the book of Revelation? It seems kinda demonic more than something from God to me.

Joe Paprocki Answers:

What’s the deal with the book of Revelation?  It seems kinda demonic
more than something from God to me.

The Book of Revelation is one of the most misunderstood and abused books
of the Bible. It is easily misunderstood because it is filled with
symbolism whose meaning is often lost on today’s audience. It is abused
because some people take advantage of the seemingly nebulous meanings of
the symbols in the book and assign their own meanings to them in order
to frighten others into thinking that the end of the world is near. So,
why is the Book of Revelation written in such a strange and unique
style? It’s actually a form of literature called apocalyptic literature
which deals, not with a catastrophic event (as the word apocalypse is
understood today) but with a revelation intended to provide
encouragement and hope for people who are suffering through trials and
tribulations.

In the Old Testament, the Book of Daniel is an example of
apocalyptic literature. When the Book of Revelation was written (around
the year 100 AD), the early Christian Church was suffering many
persecutions. For many, it seemed as though the “end” was near and, for
some, it indeed was. The Book of Revelation was written to speak to this
struggle and to offer hope in the midst of what seemed like a lost
cause. Some of the symbolism in the Book of Revelations is indeed a
coded language so as to protect Christians who practiced their faith
illegally in the Roman Empire. For example, it is believed that the
numbers 666 are a code or symbol to represent the Emperor Nero who was
seen as the epitome of evil to Christians.

In essence, the Book of Revelation tells the story of the eternal struggle between good and evil – a struggle in which evil often seems to have the upper hand. In
every age, this seems to be true from time to time. Like the early
Christians, we are in need of hope in the face of seemingly desperate
situations when all hope seems lost. Despite the many frightening images
in the Book of Revelation, the story climaxes in the ultimate triumph of
good – the establishment of a “new Jerusalem.” The message is ultimately
one of hope:  ”‘I am coming soon!’  Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”  (Rev.
22:20)

 
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The Author : Joe Paprocki
Joe Paprocki, D.Min., is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press in Chicago. He has over 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Joe is the author of numerous books on pastoral ministry and catechesis, including The Bible Blueprint, Living the Mass, and bestsellers The Catechist's Toolbox and A Well-Built Faith (all from Loyola Press).
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