There are two views on this subject. One is that Revelation is a cosmic picture of reality and the other is that it is an inner experience. One sees Revelation as a prophecy and the other as a message. Each perspective has its own merits and demerits.
Revelation as an inner experience
The author of Revelation as an inner experience of comparison argues that revelation is an inward process that is related to the human experience of comparison. He distinguishes two distinct moments of the revelatory experience: the first moment is a direct action of the divine on the human spirit. The second moment is a spontaneous reaction of the recipient to the divine action. The second moment is a human expression that is inspired by the divine’showing,’ and at best is suggestive.
The Book of Revelation employs symbolic language to create a new sense of cosmic reality. The woman and dragon scene, for example, is central. The dragon is hurled to earth, where it persecutes the other children of the woman, which refers to the church. The two beasts of chapter thirteen, meanwhile, are representative of the emperor and provincial authorities. Later visions depict cosmic drama.
Revelation as a prophecy
Revelation is often viewed as a social allegory, a criticism of systemic injustice and the concentration of power in the hands of a few. The Beast from the Sea in Revelation represents the Roman Empire, and the woman represents the perspective of the Jewish people. The apocalypse is believed to have emerged from Jewish intellectual circles that experienced oppression and alienation from the foreign imperial power.
Revelation also features angels, who serve as envoys between God and the cosmos, and who carry messages from God to humankind. While angels are commonly associated with human messengers, the word also encompasses superhuman angelic figures.
Revelation as a message
This approach highlights Revelation as a message of comparison, and considers its response to the Roman world. It suggests that the Christian view of the world, while recognizing the influence of Rome, was somehow hidden by Revelation. The Roman worldview is present in the Christian message, despite the lack of persecution.
The Historicist view considers Revelation as a panorama of all church history and that it relates to the future of the “church age.” Because Revelation includes many symbols describing the present time, the text can be read as a message of comparison. Reformers, for example, often referred to the Pope as the beast of Revelation chapter 13, believing that Revelation was a message about their age.
Another mode of interpretation is the premillennial view, which emphasizes the relationship between Revelation and events surrounding Christ’s return. This view has dominated the Christian tradition for centuries.
Revelation as a symbol
Symbols in Revelation are often “tensive,” which means that they can have several meanings. For example, the first beast in Revelation 13 is often identified with the city of Rome in John’s day, but it could also represent the Roman Empire. Another interpretation of the first beast is that it represents all human empires that oppress Christians.
The preterist interpretation, on the other hand, assumes that the events in Revelation are in the past. This view means that readers must read Revelation in its ancient historical context. This interpretation has gained wide acceptance among scholars of the New Testament.