In the autumn we will be studying the final and most mysterious book of the Bible – Revelation. Many of us will be familiar only with the seven letters to the churches at the beginning of the book and with the vision of heaven at the end.

The middle section, with its seven bowls, seven trumpets, seven seals, four horsemen, two beasts, one dragon, multitudes of locusts and the mysterious number 666 is, for most of us, a closed book.

“Revelation” and its alternative title, “The Apocalypse” comes from the Greek word for “unveiling”. To us it feels like a very unusual book. However, people living between 100 and 200 AD would have been aware of lots of similar books all falling into the category of “apocalyptic” literature.

Only Revelation made it into the New Testament.

Pressure on churches from the Roman Empire was growing increasingly intense during the first and second century. It was becoming increasingly difficult to say both “Jesus is Lord” and “Caesar is Lord”. You had to choose between them. And Rome was determined to ensure people did not make the wrong choice.

hose writing apocalyptic literature, were conveying messages in code to churches facing persecution. This code could only be understood by those in the know. By writing in this way, churches could communicate in greater safety. The most important question for us is, “What does it all mean today?”. That is what we aim to find out this autumn.

Is this a book about the end of the world? Most of Revelation focuses on life throughout the centuries since Christ. But the end of this age is most certainly a very significant issue within its pages.