Some thoughts on Revelation’s Message


One of the earliest commentaries on Revelation was that of Methodius. In his day already there was a trend to interpret Revelation allegorical rather than literal and this method was very popular at the Alexandrian School of interpretation in North Africa. As opposed to this was the Antiochian School of interpretation that held that to apply a verse from Revelation as spiritual is fine as long as it is based on a literal reading as well and not on pure imagination absent from the text. This means that even if one is very excited by the thought that Christ is in Revelation, and He is, one cannot extend His presence in the text where it is not text-supported that He is there. The Alexandrian allegorical loving scholar will say it does not matter but the Antiochian literal loving scholars will say it does.

Oecumenius was the first Father to write a Greek commentary on the Book of Revelation in the late sixth century just after 538 kicked in. It is more in the time concurrent with pope Gregory the Great, who also loved eschatology, that Oecumenius wrote.

Oecumenius felt that the Book of Revelation was focussed more on Christ in the past and wished to link many phrases to His work on earth.

Methodius said already in 300 that “Remember that the mystery of the incarnation of the Word was fulfilled long before the Apocalypse, whereas John's prophetie message has to do with the present and the future." Methodios Symp. 8.7. The Symposium: A Treatise on Chastity, trans. Herbert Musurillo, Ancient Christian Writers series, vol. 27 (Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1958), 112; op. cit. Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou, (2008) Andrew of Caesarea and the Apocalypse in the Ancient Church of the East. Doctoral Dissertation at the Faculte de Theologie et des Sciences Religieuses Universite Laval, Qubec, footnote 49. See online.

Oecumenius differed with him by saying that Revelation is past, present and future meanings, but Methodius said it was only present and future since the incarnation is already a past event. Andrew of Caesarea wrote his commentary on Revelation before 612 and he agreed with Methodius against Oecumenius.

The Sabbath School lesson dealing with End-Time in 2018 second quarter does not want to push Christ into roles that He was not described with in the Book of Revelation. It will be a sidetracking if Christ role is diminished or replaced with something else or even left out. At the same time, a hyper-interpretation can limit cardinal points brought within the frame or frames of the text of Revelation that cannot be just brushed off the table within the context of an imaginatory zeal for emphasis on Christ.

A healthy balance is that of the Adventist view of Revelation but some interpreters at Loma Linda are trying to Christologize nearly every symbol of Revelation within the context of the Incarnation and that, according to Methodius and Andrew (cited above) is a no-no.

The Christology of Revelation is Christ within the frame of the corridors of historical prophetic events stretching out from John in 97 CE to the New Earth. Spending most of the time on the Incarnation detail of Christ would distract from the nuances that John received from Christ through angels about the prophetic charts.