Like many books of the Bible, Revelation is named from the first words in the text, "The revelation of Jesus Christ …". The original word (apokalupsis) means uncovering, or revealing something that is hidden: 'apocalypse' in English. Although apocalypse has more recently acquired the meaning of 'a cataclysmic event', and some terrible outcomes are described in the book to the devil and those who defy the Lord, Revelation is also full of awed wonder about the Lord Jesus Christ, expressing unimagined joy for those who love Him (Revelation 19:1-8).
Jesus Christ is the unveiler, and the revelation comes with all the authority of the Godhead. He shows us glimpses of the future, a series of different 'camera angles' to encourage us to rejoice in what Jesus Christ has done on the cross, and in gathering His church, and what He will do in finally defeating and destroying evil (Revelation 20:7-10). The revelation is to 'His servants', implying that the church still has much work to do until He returns. The agenda of the church now is to be set by its future prospects rather than its present trials or triumphs (Revelation 22:12).
John received the revelation. Although it was assumed that John was John the Apostle, and some of the themes of his gospel and letters seem to be echoed in Revelation, the writing style and vocabulary is significantly different. Other authors have been suggested with less evidence. But we do know that this John was chosen to receive and record his description of this series of visions, which came from an angel (which means 'messenger') sent by the living Lord Jesus, and that the words of the prophesy are of vital importance (Revelation 22:18-19). It is the witness statement of what Jesus Christ has already seen about the future.
Although it describes things we have never experienced, using images that are familiar to us, it is exactly the opposite to being occult (meaning 'hidden'). It is not Satan's make-believe view of what will happen: he does not know the future and so whatever he says about the future is invented lies to distract and disturb God's people (John 8:44). This revelation is the Word of God. Some of it is difficult to understand now, but when the time comes it will make sense and we will know that it is of God. Although some like to see a certain timetable of events, the book is not written in that way; such interpretations will conflict with other parts of Revelation, and other books of the Bible. We are not God and we cannot understand what we have not fully experienced, but we do know Jesus. This book of letters and prophecy is designed to give us hope, and encouragement to keep on following Jesus even though our present circumstances may be dark and dangerous (Revelation 1:3).
© Dr Paul Adams