We’ve mentioned a few times of late that Jesus, Paul, and John the Baptist all preached that the end of the world was near. It was called apocalyptic teaching, and was not unusual for that time period. In addition to the oral warnings of the apocalypse, there were also several written apocalyptic texts. We in the West are most familiar with the one that got included in the New Testament — Revelation (there is no ‘s’).
- Who wrote Revelation? The author calls himself John. But it is never clear whether this was John, one of Jesus’ disciples, or some other guy named John. (Fun fact: The Gospel of John was not written by John.)
- What was the primary focus of Revelation? The author probably started Revelation sometime in the 60s of the Common Era. Nero was in charge in Rome. And he carried out some major persecutions of this newly developing Christian community. Revelation was intended to let the Christian community know that God was going to fix that … and soon. It was written for his 1st century audience, not as a description of the end of times in 2020.
- What’s this 666 thing? What would a story about Revelation be without mentioning 666? Revelation talks about an entity called the Beast arriving to punish the world. This is before God comes to rescue everybody — or at least the good people.The author specifically says that the number of the Beast is 666. In those times, numerical systems used letters of the alphabet, not the Arabic numerals we use today. And when you add up the numerical values of Caesar Nero you get … yep … 666. (Side note: Remember having to translate those stupid Roman numerals back in Junior High? The Arabic numerals we use today did not come about until well after 500 CE).
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