Study Guide: New Creation

Sunday October 27, 2013 | Greg Boyd

Brief Summary:

In our sixth week of our sermon series, we shed a new vision on the Book of Revelation. Greg empowers the church to interpret the text through the non-violent, self-sacrificial love of Jesus. There should be a joy found in the hearts of the church—the bride of Christ—as we look forward to the final consummation of Jesus and the church.

Extended Summary:

This week we conclude our sermon series The Forest In The Trees, by learning about the final book of the Bible—Revelation. Over the last five weeks, we have walked through Scripture identifying the overarching story of the Bible and God’s message to the world. The themes of covenant, kingdom, and Christ are those reoccurring themes we find from the beginning to the end. Jesus tells us that all of Scripture points to Him, which means we are to interpret the entire Bible by looking to Jesus being crucified on the cross.

There are many misconceptions regarding the interpretation of Revelation. It is important for us not to read this book and take the images literally. Revelation makes no sense if read in this manner. The apostle John used apocalyptic language when he wrote the book. Apocalyptic literature is a very symbolic, surrealistic type of poetry. This type of literature uses images meant to create emotive reaction, in order to motivate behavior.

The Book of Revelation is not an end time prophesy, and should not be used as such. The symbols found in this letter were all common to the recipients who heard it. The purpose of the book was to address believers in different cities that were being persecuted and oppressed. Revelation was written to inspire Christians to set aside any temptation to retaliate in the same manner as the Romans—the sword.

Jesus is depicted through very violent imagery by John; He is described as wearing a bloodied robe and having a sword in place of His tongue. If we take this symbolic imagery of Jesus literally, then we would have to conclude Jesus has a split personality. Jesus comes to declare the good news of the gospel and this good news includes victory for His bride—a victory found through self-sacrificial, non-violent love. Revelation must be interpreted through this image of Christ; otherwise we will end up with a distorted image of Jesus. The apostle John did something brilliant in this text, by using violent images to symbolically motivate the believer as to how not to fight. The message of Revelation is flipped upside down. For example, the sword in the mount of Jesus is a symbol of the truth found in the Word. The blood on Jesus’ robe was there prior to any slaughter found in the text, because it symbolizes the death and blood experienced on the cross.

The church is supposed to face our battle in the same way. We are to look as Jesus in all our life experiences, and respond with self-sacrificial love and peace. The church is to see the cross as Jesus’ marriage proposal. In the end of Revelation, John describes the joy to come in the consummation of the marriage between Christ and the church. The eternal Kingdom will be something like an eternal feast or the ecstasy between a new husband and wife when their marriage is consummated. Believers should set their hope in this joy to come as we continue to live out the example of Jesus and a life of self-sacrificial, non-violent love.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. Discuss the different views you have held of Revelation and any new insights you that may have changed those views in the sermon?
  3. In what ways has Satan used Revelation throughout church history to distort our image of Jesus?
  4. John wrote to inspire Christians to set aside any temptation to fight in the same way as their enemies; how can these symbolic images inspire you to do the same in your life?
  5. The end of Revelation imparts a hope to all believers. Can you put that into words, using the text itself or your own, to grasp the beauty of what it might look like to put all our hope in Christ?