The Trouble With Revelation

The great Reform er Martin Luther was a big proponent of putting Scripture in the hands and in the minds of laypeople, arguing against the dominant understanding ofluther Scripture as rightly understood only through the traditional avenues of interpretation endorsed by the “Church” and protected by priests. For this reason, Luther translated the Bible into ordinary German–the kind spoken in the streets and not a lecture hall.

Luther’s Bible included the book of Revelation, yet begrudgingly it seems. Luther did not number its pages (same with the Letter of James), nor did he include it in the Bible’s table of contents. We don’t have to wonder why, as Luther made clear his opinion that the book was confusing and contained very little gospel to his ear. He would not reject it, he said, he just did not like it. (As you may already know, Martin Luther had little trouble sharing such feelings.)

What is your take on Revelation? It’s surely one of the most unusual books in the Bible. It’s also one of the most difficult to understand. Many may wonder why any time should be devoted to its study. (Others, it seems, wonder why anyone would study anything else!) I’d like to invite you to a study on this “troublesome” book. Our weekly Faith Formation study has emerged from the questions and curiosity of people like you. We won’t solve every puzzle for sure – after 2,000 years of study, it would be supreme arrogance to suppose we could. But Revelation is nothing to fear, and nothing to foam in fascination over. It is a word of encouragement to faithful living, and a testimony to who Jesus is.

We’ll post a few odds and ends online, but we really hope that you’ll stop by some Wednesday if you’re in the area!