Jump to content
listener24

Question for literal interpretation of Revelation

Recommended Posts

Hi all!

I was reasoning about the book of Revelation. I usually interpret other books in the Bible, like the Gospel, literally. Indeed the Gospel is an historical narration of what Jesus said and did, so it seems logical to me to interpret it literally.

However, when it comes to Revelation, it seems to me that the whole style of the author is deliberately symbolic.

But I wanted to hear arguments from those who interpret it literally. Do you believe in literal beasts, woman clothed by literal sun, literal lamb and lion, literally people eating books sweet as honey but bitter in the stomach, literal dragon, literally Babylon, horses etc.?

If yes, can you explain your reasons?

Ps remember that even if you say "it's an adjective for" or something similar, then you are NOT sticking to your literal interpretation anymore, because an adjective can be used for countless people or situation. So either you read it as  100% literal or not.

Edited by listener24
  • Thumbs Up 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, listener24 said:

Hi all!

I was reasoning about the book of Revelation. I usually interpret other books in the Bible, like the Gospel, literally. Indeed the Gospel is an historical narration of what Jesus said and did, so it seems logical to me to interpret it literally.

However, when it comes to Revelation, it seems to me that the whole style of the author is deliberately symbolic.

But I wanted to hear arguments from those who interpret it literally. Do you believe in literal beasts, woman clothed by literal sun, literal lamb and lion, literally people eating books sweet as honey but bitter in the stomach, literal dragon, literally Babylon, horses etc.?

If yes, can you explain your reasons?

Ps remember that even if you say "it's an adjective for" or something similar, then you are NOT sticking to your literal interpretation anymore, because an adjective can be used for countless people or situation. So either you read it as  100% literal or not.

The concepts and events and actors are literal. The symbols are just that, symbols. The imagery represents real events, concepts, individuals, groups, etc. Do I think a literal red dragon will appear on earth for the people to worship? No. Do I think there is a literal 200 million strong army from the east with breastplates of purple, red and yellow all riding chimeras? Yes. 

The obvious imagery of the beasts in Rev 13 hearkens back to the beasts of Daniel 4, letting us know just who the beast is and from whence he cometh.

Literal Babylon? Sure.

  • Thumbs Up 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, listener24 said:

Hi all!

I was reasoning about the book of Revelation. I usually interpret other books in the Bible, like the Gospel, literally. Indeed the Gospel is an historical narration of what Jesus said and did, so it seems logical to me to interpret it literally.

However, when it comes to Revelation, it seems to me that the whole style of the author is deliberately symbolic.

But I wanted to hear arguments from those who interpret it literally. Do you believe in literal beasts, woman clothed by literal sun, literal lamb and lion, literally people eating books sweet as honey but bitter in the stomach, literal dragon, literally Babylon, horses etc.?

If yes, can you explain your reasons?

Ps remember that even if you say "it's an adjective for" or something similar, then you are NOT sticking to your literal interpretation anymore, because an adjective can be used for countless people or situation. So either you read it as  100% literal or not.

You are confusing "literal" with "face-value."   We always interpret literally.  But we should not take  a face-value approach.   To interpret "literally" means to ascertain the literal meaning the author intends to convey.    Symbols are interpreted in the light of what the author is trying to say and the meaning he assigns to those symbols.  That is part of literal interpretations.

"Literal interpretation" means that I treat a parable like a parable, a prophecy like a prophecy, a proverb like a proverb.  It means I treat a symbol like a symbol.    "Literal" means that read the text is literature and the rules that  govern how various types of literature are to be read, always looking for the meaning supplied by the author.

So when I read Revelation, I don't see an actual dragon;  I look for the meaning the dragon represents.   That's the literal interpretative method.

Edited by shiloh357
  • Thumbs Up 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think care needs to be taken to use the term literal in the way that is commonly accepted and used by most people or confusion will result.

A precise use of the word literal means to take written words with their usual meaning with no allegory, symbolism, or metaphor attached.  From Merriam Webster, here is a nice example.  The literal meaning of “know your ropes” is “to know a lot about ropes,” while figuratively it means “to know a lot about how to do something.”   (As an aside, the OED now notes an informal usage of emphasis while not being literally true.  E.g. ‘I was literally blown away by the response I got.’)  As soon as we say that particular words have a symbolic, metaphorical, allegorical, or other such meaning, we are no longer taking them literally.

In the Christian circles I have been part of, most people seem to reserve the usage of the term "literal interpretation" for those passages which are taken as written without introducing another layer of explanation as to what metaphors, allegories, symbols, or other literary devices are being used along with their meaning.  As far as I can tell, the term literal is usually used according to its standard meaning.

For example, take this passage during the crucifixion of Christ.  "It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon,  for the sun stopped shining. " (Luke 23:44-45 NIV).   There are 3 ways (off the top of my head) that this passage might be treated.

1. God turned off the sun for 3 hours and it emitted no light whatsoever.

2.  People saw a physical darkness around them and couldn't see the sun.  There was an eclipse (or some type of unnatural or unseasonal heavy cloud cover or something) that caused the land to be dark.

3. This is symbolic of the people being spiritually darkened and saddened because of the death of the Son of God.  Darkness and the sun not shining would be considered a metaphor for spiritual darkness.  The sun actually kept shining and it was something else that happened that wasn't physically observed.

I would only consider 1 and 2 to be literal interpretations of the passage.  Option 1 is to take the words as a literal description of the objective behavior of the sun itself.  Option 2 is to take the words as a literal description of how people viewed the sun and what they were seeing (within common use of language to describe the world in anthropocentric terms).  Option 3 is to take a nonliteral approach and assume that some sort of symbolism or metaphor is being used.  I'd guess that most Christians would take option 2 as their understanding of this passage.  They would probably describe this as a literal interpretation of this passage.  On the other hand, I think that most Christians would describe option 3 as some sort of metaphorical interpretation of the passage and would NOT describe option 3 as a "literal interpretation of spiritual darkness instead of physical darkness."  They'd probably describe option 3 as really saying "what seems to be a literal description of physical darkness is really just a metaphor being used to represent a metaphorical meaning of spiritual darkness."  I think that very few people would describe option 3 as being literal in any way.

  • Thumbs Up 1
  • Brilliant! 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "reasoning's" of men is folly. Take GOD at HIS Word.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Both descriptions, literal and metaphorical, are used by those who read scripture

One must be guided by the Lord's holy spirit in order to make the correct selection .... this takes time and a great deal of study 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, listener24 said:

Hi all!

I was reasoning about the book of Revelation. I usually interpret other books in the Bible, like the Gospel, literally. Indeed the Gospel is an historical narration of what Jesus said and did, so it seems logical to me to interpret it literally.

However, when it comes to Revelation, it seems to me that the whole style of the author is deliberately symbolic.

But I wanted to hear arguments from those who interpret it literally. Do you believe in literal beasts, woman clothed by literal sun, literal lamb and lion, literally people eating books sweet as honey but bitter in the stomach, literal dragon, literally Babylon, horses etc.?

If yes, can you explain your reasons?

Ps remember that even if you say "it's an adjective for" or something similar, then you are NOT sticking to your literal interpretation anymore, because an adjective can be used for countless people or situation. So either you read it as  100% literal or not.

Revelation is like a big picture book to draw a picture in your mind.    Lots of symbols. 

You don't want to read over this verse here.

Rev 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

John was taken in the spirit to the Lords day and shown things.   

Revelation covers a long period of time ch 12.  

God doesn't deal if factious animals. 

The First Beast
Rev 13:1  And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

The sea is the  peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. (Rev 17:15)

What is this beast?   Its a" political system" having having seven heads(regions) and ten horns(powers, and upon his horns ten crowns(crowns to rule), and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

Rev 17:12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.

The 10 kings rule for 1 hour with the beast system.

Rev 13:2  And the beast(political system) which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

Like a leopard -symbolic of the kenites and their 4 horns of power.    A leopard with its spots can hide.

Mouth of a lion- Christian nations

feet of a bear- Communistic atheistic system of Russia. 

You can read the same powers in Dan 7.

 

woman clothed by literal sun.

This sign was in heaven and the woman is Israel the 12 tribes.

literal lamb and lion

Rev 5:5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

Christ is the only one who can open the book ie the seals to you.

literally people eating books sweet as honey but bitter in the stomach

Rev 10:9  And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.

Ever heard the expression of consuming a book.     Its speaking of the Bible and when you eat it ie consume it and learn what Satan does it makes you bitter.    But Gods TRUTH  is sweet as honey over the buds of your mind.

Rev 10:10  And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
Rev 10:11  And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

literal dragon

Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Just one of Satan's names and also the name of his political system.  (Rev 13)

literally Babylon

Rev 17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

What does babylon mean in the greek.

G897
Βαβυλών
Babulōn
bab-oo-lone'
Of Hebrew origin [H894]; Babylon, the capital of Chaldaea (literally or figuratively as a type of tyranny): - Babylon.

H894
בָּבֶל
bâbel
baw-bel'
From H1101; confusion; Babel (that is, Babylon), including Babylonia and the Babylonian empire: - Babel, Babylon.

Babylon is the fountain-head of all idolatry and systems of false worship. This is the "mystery of iniquity" (2Th_2:7) seen in all the great "religions" of the world.

So this woman that rides the" political system" is in confusion,  doesn't have God's seal of Truth in her forehead but she thinks Anti-christ is Jesus. 

Horses are always symbolic of powers as in the seals Rev 6. 

  • Brilliant! 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"What is this beast?   Its a" political system"

 

The beast of Revelation 9; 13; and 17 is Abaddon/Apollyon

This fallen angel of Satan's contrivance rules the Middle East, 5 past and 2 future during the coming tribulation period

.... the 70th week decreed

Begin with this truth and then do more related study  

Edited by Daniel 11:36
  • Thumbs Up 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whenever possible the book of Revelation should be interpreted literally. There is some spiritual meaning in its words but with a Bible study from an excellent Bible scholar those words can be interpreted correctly.

  • Thumbs Up 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Diaste @shiloh357 @GandalfTheWise  @Daniel 11:36 @missmuffet @7trumpets @Rick_Parker

Thanks all, very insightful answers!

On 12/3/2017 at 9:23 AM, GandalfTheWise said:

I would only consider 1 and 2 to be literal interpretations of the passage.  Option 1 is to take the words as a literal description of the objective behavior of the sun itself.  Option 2 is to take the words as a literal description of how people viewed the sun and what they were seeing (within common use of language to describe the world in anthropocentric terms).  Option 3 is to take a nonliteral approach and assume that some sort of symbolism or metaphor is being used.

How would you see different "literal" options when it comes to the numbers? Like the 144000, the 1000 years etc. 

Could an interpretation that accepts there is a certain number of elects, but not necessarily 144000 (and not 139999, or 144001) still be "literal"?

On 12/3/2017 at 7:13 AM, shiloh357 said:

Symbols are interpreted in the light of what the author is trying to say and the meaning he assigns to those symbols.  That is part of literal interpretations.

You are right shiloh357, some parts often explains themselves. 

 

On 12/3/2017 at 7:13 AM, shiloh357 said:

So when I read Revelation, I don't see an actual dragon;  I look for the meaning the dragon represents.   That's the literal interpretative method.

Again, could this be said also for the very rounded numbers? (like 144000). Looking for the meaning of 144000. Or is it more likely that God makes His decision on who is saved and who has a place of honor, just to obtain cool and rounded numbers? 

Edited by listener24

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×