Most of us read the four Gospel books to hear the recorded words and deeds of Christ. Yet few of us think about reading Revelation for the same reason. That is a mistake. Revelation is an epistle from Jesus Christ that not only records his words but also his deeds throughout. In this sense, it is like a fifth Gospel book.
What makes Revelation unique is that Jesus no longer keeps his messiahship a secret. The hidden has become manifest. He is the ascendant Lord. And to his churches, he reveals himself in his full splendour. Consider a few points to explain this idea further.
Revelation unveils Christ
In Revelation, Jesus reveals or unveils (revelation means unveiling) himself as the ascendant Christ. The epistle records the speech and acts of Christ our Lord—being a fifth Gospel as it were. But unlike the Gospels where his messiahship remains a guarded secret until the end, Revelation *reveals* Christ in his fullness. It is the capstone of the revelation of Jesus Christ—the end of the Gospel story.
And this is one reason why Jesus’s identity no longer remains a secret, but Revelation has the clearest affirmation of Christ’s deity than other book. Small wonder, for Christ no longer keeps hidden what was made manifest in the resurrection. Christ rules from heaven.
Revelation unveils Christ’s deity
In the very first chapter, John understands his recounting of the revelation as coming from three somethings. Breaking standard grammar patterns, he repeats the word “from” in 1:4–5 to indicate that the epistle originates from the Father, the Spirit, and the Son. This starts a pattern of heavenly revealing—of the clearest affirmation of triune teaching in Scripture.
Then in chapters 4 and 5, Jesus reveals heaven itself to us. In heaven, both the Father and the Son (the Lamb) receive the same glory and honour. They both receive the honour due to God alone.
Revelation unveils Christ’s perspective of earth
Throughout the book of Revelation, the nations rage. The dragon and his lackeys persecute the people of God (Rev 12–13). The city of man (Babylon) and its agents seem to have power. But despite this, Christ sits in heaven and laughs. The victory is already won. What happens on earth should therefore not concern Christians in terms of who will win the ultimate victory, that is guaranteed: Christ will win.
Revelation 19 is a great example of this. When Christ returns for battle, no battle is in fact recorded. He just wins. Bodies appear but no fight occurs. No earthly power can even fight Christ. They simply fall before him dead.
Obviously, Revelation reveals much more than this, but these examples provide key patterns of unveiling in the book. Rather than a book primarily about eschatological chronology, it is a unveiling of heaven of the life of Christ for the churches.
In this sense, it is the fifth and clearest Gospel in Scripture. Christ is the lamb slain from the world’s foundation who shares the life of God and whose victory is guaranteed. In him, we reign and have hope despite the schemes of earthly powers.
Tim Ling says
About to start a Sunday School series on Revelation, and your point about Revelation being the 5th Gospel is a very good one. Very helpful article, and will keep this point in mind throughout this study, especially if it starts getting bogged down in debates on millennial views.
Rob Bardenett says
Early this morning I was asking our Father, “If Revelation reveals Jesus, just what is it revealing?” The thought “occurred” to me to google that thought and that is how I found your article. The 5th Gospel. Both history and how the final act is resolved. Even what I just said is a flawed and incomplete thought but reflects what I have thought God was saying to us all along.
Do you have any more thoughts about this? I am beginning a regular column in our church chat area entitled, “Helping Others To Find And Follow Jesus”. With all that is happening now I hope to inject some realism into the speculation. Thanks Brother!