Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "REVELATION"


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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible

Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.


1. The book of Revelation is the climax of the Bible. It is one of the most misunderstood of the Bible books. In this book God brings us to the terminus of His revelation to man. Ail things reach their climax here.

2. The Bible teaches trends and states ultimate results. We should not hang the truth of prophecy on current events. These things change; the Word remains. Things move in cycles. Even if events seem to be moving in the opposite direction to an announced end, have patience. The turn of the cycle will come. The Bible deals with ultimates. We cannot pinpoint where we are on the way to the ultimate fulfillment. We do not interpret the Bible by the newspaper, but the newspaper by the Bible. Even then, we watch the trend. We have no way of knowing whether we have come to the final cycle or are in one of the cycles on the way. So the coming of the Lord is presented in Scripture as ever imminent (i.e., He may come at any time), not impending (i.e., He must come soon).


  1. It is an unveiling, not a mystical obscuring (v. 1).
    1. Anybody CAN and SHOULD understand the book.
    2. The very title, Revelation (unveiling), implies that it is to be understood.
    3. It is the "Revelation of Jesus Christ, " not of "St. John."
    4. Rev. 1:3 gives a special blessing to those who heed the book.
    5. In Revelation we see Christ IN COMPLETE CONTROL, as Victor.
    6. In Revelation, when He is finished, everyone opposed .to Him is judged and set aside.
  2. It is a panorama of the future.
    1. "Must shortly come to pass" (v. 1), - obviously future.
      1. The viewpoint is imminence.
      2. "Must" indicates certainty.
    2. With God there is no past nor future; all is present. (Actually there is no present with us, only past and future. "Now" is "past" a second after we say it.) but with God, time is like a circle; there is no beginning nor ending. He is the eternal "I am."
    3. A day is "as a thousand years" with God and vice versa (i.e., He doesn't count time as we do).
    4. "Why get excited about the headlines? God doesn't! He's not biting His fingernails!" He has things under control. He's still on the throne. God is able finally to turn everything to His glory or keep it within the confines of His permissive will.
    5. "Where was God when my boy was killed?" cried a distraught father, To which the pastor was given wisdom to reply, "The same place He was when His own Son was killed!"
  3. It is a book of visions.
    John is commanded to write all the things that he SAW (vv.2,11). We can't "see" justification, etc. Truths in this book are generally represented in vision form. Naturally, therefore -
  4. It is a book of symbols.
    1. This view avoids the crude extremes of the unbridled imagination of some misguided literalists who fail to allow for legitimate use of figurative language.
    2. Verse 1 - "signified" = sign-ified; it is a book of signs.
    3. 12:1 - "wonder" = sign of woman clothed with sun.
      Let extreme literalists try to translate or explain this verse without producing absurdity. How could a woman literally clothe herself with the sun? If that is not a figure, nothing is.
    4. 12:3 - "wonder" = sign of Satan as Red Dragon.
      Is Satan actually a red dragon? Does this not show the book to be one of signs? (To explain symbolically is not to spiritualize or allegorize a passage. This approach does no harm to legitimate literalism.)
    5. 9:19 - Much damage has been done to the dignity of the prophetic Scripture by unwise guesses of distorted literalism. For instance, I have a book written in World War II which said that 9:19 was prophetic of the tail gunner on the B-29's. There is no need thus to make the Word ridiculous. (Some people are educated beyond their intelligence.)
  5. Every symbol is explained in the book itself, or somewhere else in Scripture.
    1. 5:8 - "odours" = prayers of saints, not Heavenly Scent nor Yardleys.
      Observe that "odours" is explained in the very verse in which it is used.
    2. Hence, the principle of interpretation is that every symbol is explained either in this book itself or in some other(s) of the remaining 65 books of the Bible. Indeed, the implication of the book is that the reader understands the 65 books which precede Revelation. This may give a cue to the common difficulty people have in interpreting the book.
    3. For instance, 17:1 - "many waters. " See v. 15 for proof and explanation. (Cp. Isa. 60:5, "sea, " i.e., they had to take a boat to get to most of the nations and thus "sea" became the symbol of "nations." Had this symbol not been explained in Revelation, we should have known its meaning already from our previous study of the Bible.

    4. 17:9 - "mountains" = kingdoms or great nations. See Dan. 2; Isa. 2:2. "Hills" are lesser nations or authorities; Dan. 2:35,44,45 - Christ's kingdom will fill the whole earth.
  6. The key to the book of Revelation is at the door.
    1. As to the major divisions of the book itself (1:19).
      1. "Thou hast seen" (the vision of chapter 1).
      2. "Are" (i.e., are in process of being fulfilled in the Church era).
      3. "Shall be hereafter. " God hangs the key at the door, like the American custom of leaving the key under the doormat. Why break into the cellar when the key is available?
    2. As to the proper viewpoint from which chapters 2 and 3 are to be viewed (1:20). "MYSTERY" = something that was secret until revealed; i.e., something associated with this age, -- hidden in the OT but now revealed. Hence, the Church Age is in view in chapters 2 and 3.
    3. As to the beginning point of the third division = "things hereafter. "
      The words are "meta tauta" = "after these things" (cp. 1:19 and 4:1).
      Also note "come up hither" (4:1); compare rapture of Church, 1 Thes. 4:16ff.
    4. As to the pivot point of the third division: 10:7; cp,. 11:15-18.
      Chapters 4 and 5, "The Terrible Meek." The Lion of Judah is a Lamb. "Who is worthy to open the scroll?" (Who has the right to reign?) None other in heaven, earth, or under the earth has. Only the Lamb is worthy—and has the authority. He is introduced AFTER A STRATEGIC PAUSE (5:3-7).
      1. God's purpose finished-- "time" or delay no longer—when the 7th trumpet sounds; cp. 10:7 with 11:15-18.
      2. "Thou must prophesy again" (10:11) = the scroll was written on both sides (5:1), front and back.
      3. So chronologically there is no more time in which to put the bowls of wrath (15-16) after we get through 11 ;18. We have finished one side of the scroll by 11:18. John was told to "prophesy again, "i.e., to turn the scroll over to the other side (which is from 11:19 on).
    5. As to Israel's prominence in the events rehearsed in the second part of the third major division of the book (11:19-21:8).
      Particularly observe the phrases "ark of covenant" (11:19) and "woman in sun" (12:1). What follows 11:19 must be a review of the seven trumpets chronologically, emphasizing the effect of all this on the Jews (the people distinguished by "the ark of the covenant"), The Beast rules over the revived fourth world (Roman) empire (not the whole world; only over the 10 kings of the "Roman Earth. " Cp. Lk. 2:1, which read with footnote in New Scofield Reference Bible).
  7. The message of the book.
    Three great words summarize the book's message: VICTORY COMFORT WORSHIP
  8. It is a terminus of all the various tracks of truth from Genesis to Jude.


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