Should Revelation be used for Doctrine?

I am torn on this, actually, finding that while the book of Revelation presents us with ‘new things’ and is very much a Gospel itself, I am unsure as to whether to use it as a source of Doctrine, especially the more so since there is generally not a consensus on the method of interpretation…

Kevin wants to, especially in light that his chosen text flies in the face of Calvinism which T.C. takes as an affront.

Personally, I think that the text quoted is directed to Christians we are in danger of becoming lukewarm, a timeless application, but limited to Christians only.

But, I guess the bigger question is whether or not John’s Apocalypse should be used for doctrinal purposes. I am of the opinion that any approach to Revelation which attempts to extract doctrine should be minimal at best.

What is yours?

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20 Replies to “Should Revelation be used for Doctrine?”

  1. I guess I’m close to your stance here. Taking Paul’s words in 2 Tim 3:16-17 into account certainly implies that Revelation could be a source of doctrine, though the Apocalypse isn’t as doctrinally fruitful as other books (Romans, Ephesians).

  2. That was in the back of my mind when I was writing this, but I have to worry about those who pick and choose the passage (granted, it happens in the others books) when no interpretative method has held consensus.

    Nice Avatar!

  3. ‘ I am of the opinion that any approach to Revelation which attempts to extract doctrine should be minimal at best.’

    I agree.

    The second Physical and Bodily coming of Christ is a MAJOR doctrine of the church. Christians believe that this doctrine of the church – is taught in the book Revelation.

    Christians believe that the coming of Christ – taught in the book of Revelation was neither physical or bodily.Yet ALL believe the over all doctrine of scripture – that He came in the flesh some 2000 years ago.


  4. Thanks for the link.

    Regarding building doctrine from the Apocalypse, given the nature of the book, I’ll tread cautiously. But of course, this is a case by case matter.

    Jason is correct about 2 Tim 3:16-17 being applied to the Apocalypse as well. But I’m all for establishing those clear theological principles and truths, whether in the Psalter or the Apocalypse.

  5. But what would Tim Lahaye say? 🙂

    I don’t necessarily disagree with you. This post was actually the result of a larger discussion on the topic of prevenient grace. I think Rev 3:20 is one in a chorus of verses that helps to establish the doctrine, but I would be uncomfortable running with this verse alone (or Revelation).

    Thanks for the ping back.

  6. Hi Joel. Apart from 2 Tim 3:16-17, which Jason cites, and which ought to pretty much answer the question, Chapters 2 and 3 contain direct communication–actually dictated in this case from the glorified Christ. I dunno, but that might be a sufficient pedigree for doctrinal material.

  7. Marv, I thought that I made myself clear the last time. Due to your behavior, you are banned from this blog.

    While we may sit today and believe that they are direct dictation, that is besides the point. We must endeavor to understand how it was first received. I do not believe that the purpose of the mini-epistles (oh wait, that’s write, they cannot be epistles because epistles is a genre and anything inspired doesn’t fall into a genre) is direct dictation for only that particular congregation, although I believe that in a very real way, they were.

    Further, I believe that a proper analysis of what was said to those cities would prove my previous point about the book itself.

    Direct dictation doesn’t equal doctrinal material. Instead, what equals doctrinal material is 2nd Tim 3.16-17, but again, I believe that this book should be taken in context. Until then, the doctrinal usurpation of the text should be kept at a minimal. If not, all manner of crazy doctrines can be contrived, which is an equal statement from the rest of the bible, but the more so when prophecy is not properly understood within context.

  8. Amen to that, T.C. I think the hesitation, for my anyway, in using Revelation to establish Doctrine is the manner in which it was been approached for the past two thousand years. While it testifies of Christ and the ultimate vindication by God, people have taken the entire book in various and many ways. Further, I think we can teach (διδασκαλίαν) from Revelation without drawing Doctrine (διδασκαλίας).

  9. Kevin, you and T.C. must have been of the same mind in posting comments as it seems you did so almost simultaneously, unless, of course, it was simply meant to be. 🙂

    Lehaye? No!!!!!!!!!!!!!! By far the worse of the dispensationalists and that’s say a lot 🙂

    I’m all for prevenient Grace, which I believe is a common doctrine to the Christian.

    Glad to ping away.

  10. Seroled… I am of the opinion, while many do not share this, that the eschatology we find in Acts 1 and Paul is the eschatology of the Church and that Revelation is mostly removed from that. Of course, I could be wrong.

  11. Revelation is not meant to be “doctrinal” in anything more than the broadest sense.

    I am currently reading a number of commentaries trying to get my head around it, but really, anyone who takes a passage or verse and says “it means this” has not understood the book.

  12. Afternoon Joel

    Your are most likely correct 🙂

    What do you think that Pastor Timothy and the 1st century church or the ‘ first readers’ of this Epistle would have thought of 2 Timothy 3:16,17 – since no NT scripture was written at the time?

    Today the church reads ‘ All scripture ‘ and know that the full canon – Genesis to Revelation is God breathed and is useful for teaching (doctrine) and refuting error…


  13. I think that they would have thought of the OT (whatever they recognized as Scripture), although we know that 2nd Peter gives the status to Paul’s writings….

  14. well, as you probably realise, the story is not meant to refer to events in any other sense than that they help us identify with the “broad strokes”. Its an overall picture, not “detailed events”.

    Yes, teaching and “the doctrine” are different, but they go together 😛

    I think revelation is a first century version of a movie 😛

  15. Yep.. interestingly the most recent book I have been reading is the “the message of” commentary on Revelation (BST series) by Michael Wilcock (I think). They are usually just ok, but this one has been really interesting.. I recommend it.

  16. I’m waiting to get Bauckham’s book, myself, but I’ll have to check this one out as well. I find that the seven churches are a way to compare Christ to the ‘gods’ of those cities, etc… which I believe fits into the overall theme (again, in my opinion).

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