What My Research Taught Me about Discipleship in Revelation

In a previous post I briefly mentioned why I wrote a book on the theme of discipleship in the book of Revelation. Today, I want to follow that up with an overview of some of the things I learned about the topic through my research. I’m presenting this in a question and answer format to make it easier for the reader to follow.

Where was the greatest concentration of the theme of discipleship in Revelation? Where was the least?

With regard to the occurrences of the theme of discipleship in Revelation, certain sections of the book are better represented than others. The greatest concentration of the theme of discipleship happens to be in the first three chapters of Revelation, in particular Rev 2–3. The reason for this is almost certainly due to the fact that in these chapters the seven churches of Asia Minor are addressed. The second highly concentrated area of the book is the final two chapters of Revelation. This is probably because Rev 21–22 has several parallels with the letters to the seven churches, which frequently touch on discipleship. The fewest occurrences of the theme of discipleship take place in Rev 4–5, 8–10, 12, and 15–16. This is not to say that these chapters are devoid of the topic, but they simply happen to have the fewest occurrences. This may be due to the content of these chapters, most of which cover the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments, which place a greater emphasis on God’s wrath poured out on unbelievers.

How is the book of Revelation relevant for believers today?

I think the book of Revelation is relevant for believers today because it is Holy Scripture. Paul writes that all Scripture (including Revelation) is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). Aside from this I think what makes Revelation relevant today is that it is the story of the Christian church between Jesus’ ascension and second advent. It is not just about what is going to take place in the distant future before Christ returns. It does include this, but the majority of the book is taken up with how the church is to wait for Jesus’ second coming and the consummation of the age. How they are to wait is by faithfully serving him through sharing the gospel, suffering well, living in a manner that shows they are in fellowship with Christ, declaring the truth in the midst of an hostile culture, and continually fixing their eyes on Jesus as not only an example to follow, but also as the source of hope to persevere to the end.

How has this study assisted you in your personal discipleship with Jesus?

One way in particular this study has helped me in my walk with Christ is by the constant reminder that I am his servant. This is something you see right from the beginning of Revelation. John, the recorder of the revelation, whom I take to also be the beloved disciple of Jesus, calls himself a “servant” of God (Rev 1:1). The same John, who walked with Jesus, was part of his inner circle of disciples, who recorded Scripture, and suffered for the faith calls himself a servant. Despite all of his notoriety, position in the Church, and authority as an apostle he doesn’t elevate himself above the title of servant. Not only this, but he writes that what is recorded in the book is for all of God’s servants (1:1). John and I are on the same level at the foot of the cross. We are both servants of God and as such pride ought to have no place in our lives. So when it comes to serving at my local church I don’t think it is beneath me to clean toilets or vacuum the carpet. When it comes to serving my family I don’t think I’m too important to wash dishes or bathe my little girls. Regardless of our position or title, if we are Christians, we are servants of God, which includes being servants of others.

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