When most people think of the book of Revelation, they think of the end of the world. As a result, the word “apocalypse” has become synonymous not only with the end of the world, but also with any cataclysmic event that has the potential to wreak tremendous havoc.
Indeed, Revelation does give us a picture of the second coming of Christ and the final judgment. But it is far more complicated than the simplified picture that dominates popular conceptions of the “apocalypse.” Rather than simply recounting the destruction of the world, Revelation presents us with a complex, layered vision of God’s judgments and the eventual redemption of creation in the New Jerusalem. We find countless allusions to Old Testament texts, worship scenes in the heavenly throne room, beasts with horns and crowns upon those horns, martyrs crying out for justice, and at the center of it all, the slain lamb who is alone worthy to unseal the scroll of God’s judgments. The sheer variety of images is enough to baffle even the most accomplished Biblical scholar, so it is no
wonder that many people approach this text with caution and a healthy
dose of humility.
Last year at the Joseph and Alice McKeen Christian Study Center, we devoted our weekly Bible study to pondering the mysteries of this enigmatic text. Rather than focusing on the controversies regarding the precise interpretation of each sign, we read with an eye towards the ways that Revelation expands upon our understanding of the Gospel through its representation of God’s work in history. The whole book rests upon the slain lamb, Jesus Christ, who has made atonement for the sins of many through his death on the cross. This event is cataclysmic and “apocalyptic” in the truest sense, in that it has revealed to the world the great love and glory of God and affirmed His steadfast love and faithfulness towards His fallen creation.
The articles, essays, and stories in the third edition of the Agathos are the result of this yearlong study in the Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John. What we have to say here is certainly not the last word on the Revelation, and probably not even the best word, but it is what God has presented to us to ponder in our hearts and testify to through our writings. We hope that in reading this volume, you will come away with the same sense of profound wonder that we encountered through our study of this complex and rewarding book of God’s Word.
Ryan Ward ’17 and Samuel Swain ’18, Editors-in-Chief