In Revelation, the “last days,” the “season of the end” began with the Death and Resurrection of Jesus – Revelation 1:1-4.
The book of Revelation is the “revelation of Jesus Christ” for his “servants,” the “seven churches of Asia.” It concerns “what things must come to pass soon,” information that is vital because the “season is at hand,” and therefore, “blessed is he who reads, and they who heed the words of the prophecy.” With the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, the end-times have commenced.
The book is not intended to veil information, but to unveil it, and it concerns events that are about to occur, at least from the perspective of the “churches of Asia.”
- (Revelation 1:1-3) – “Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him to show his servants what things must come to pass soon, and he showed them by signs, sending through his angel to his servant John, who bore witness as to the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, whatsoever things he saw. Blessed is he that reads, and they who hear, the words of the prophecy, and keep the things therein written; for the season is near.”
Revelation makes prolific use of the Old Testament, and especially passages from Daniel. But it does so with verbal allusions, and never quotes a verse directly. Instead, John folds phrases from key texts into his narrative, often modifying specific words to make theological points. When he does so, consistently, he uses the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible.
The opening paragraph provides two examples from the book of Daniel, both of which are employed more than once in Revelation:
- (Daniel 2:28 [Septuagint]) – “There is a God in heaven that reveals mysteries, and he has made known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in later days.”
- (Daniel 12:4 [Septuagint]) – “Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end.”
The book’s visions concern “what things must come to pass soon.” In the Greek text, the phrase reads ha dei genesthai en takei, and the clause en tachei denotes “with speed, quickly, soon.” The source of the clause is Daniel (Septuagint), which reads, “there is a God in heaven that reveals mysteries (apokaluptōn),…what things must come to pass in the latter days (ha dei genesthai ep’ eschatōn tōn hémerōn).” However, Revelation changes the original “latter days” to “soon.” Previously, what was expected in a remote future is now at hand for the “churches of Asia.”
Revelation also declares that the “season is at hand.” “At hand” represents the Greek term engus, meaning “near, at hand, imminent, at the door.” It stresses proximity and imminence. The source of the phrase is the twelfth chapter of Daniel:
- (Daniel 12:4) – “Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the season of the end.”
Thus, Daniel was commanded to “seal” the book until the “season of the end.” In contrast, John is informed that the “season is at hand,” imminent, if not already underway. This understanding becomes clear in the closing passage of Revelation. Unlike Daniel, John was told NOT to “seal up the words of the prophecy of the book,” for the “season is at hand.” This last passage repeats the one employed in the opening paragraph of the book – (Revelation 22:10).
Theologically, John was not breaking new ground. The early church taught that the “last days” began with the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, along with his reign from the messianic throne. And this radical change in eras was evidenced by the resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all believers – (Acts 2:16-21, Ephesians 1:10, Hebrews 1:1-3).
The events portrayed in Revelation were set in motion in the first century. What once was expected in a remote future had commenced. Already, the warnings and promises of the book were applicable to the “seven churches of Asia.” That does not mean its visions were fulfilled completely by the end of the first century, but it does mean that whatever future events are portrayed began almost two thousand years ago.
The vision that John received concerned far more than the final few years of history prior to the return of Jesus Christ. The “last days,” the “season of the end” started with his death and resurrection, and the season of fulfillment has been in process ever since.