What Does the Book of Revelation Mean?


Revelation — in The Works of Thomas Goodwin (Edinburgh: James Nichol, rep. 1961, pp. 27-29) — here then is how Goodwin sees the historicalistic sequence of events successively presented in the Book of Revelation.    

     "Christ, when He ascended up to heaven, found the Roman Monarchy whose room He was to possess, stretched both over east and west — even over all those parts of the World where he was to seat His Church and Kingdom….   Hereupon Christ, the designed King, first sets upon the conquest of Satan's dominion — and…by the preaching of the Gospel overturns that vast empire…and turns both it and its emperors to Christianity within the space of three hundred years.   This is the sum and mind of the 6th chapter…. 

     "But this empire, though wholly turned 'Christian' in outward profession — yet, having persecuted His Church whilst idolatrous, and also after it was 'Christian' — [became weakened] when Arian.   Therefore…He further proceeds to ruin the civil imperial power of the empire itself by the trumpets in the 8th and 9th chapters.   And the empire then becoming divided into two parts, the eastern and western empire as they were commonly called.   First He ruins the imperial western state and power in Europe by the four first trumpets, the wars of the Goths, by four several steps, in the 8th chapter….   Then [He ruins] the imperial eastern state which stood after the other…,


first by the Saracens [and] then by the Turks (and these two are the fifth and sixth trumpets) which two possess all that eastern part unto this day….               “That eastern part of it is left possessed by the [Islamic] Turks, chapter 9….   This western part of it, in Europe — being by the Goths broken into ten kingdoms — they all consented to give their power to the Beast, the [Romish] Pope, chapter 13….   This Beast the 13th chapter describes and gives the vision of his rise, power, and time of his reign which the 17th chapter doth expound and interpret — under whose antichristian tyranny, as great as that of the Turks themselves toward Christians, Christ yet preserveth…. 

     "The Pope and the Turk, both enemies to Christ, thus succeeding in the [Roman] empire and sharing the two parts of it between them — we see….   Mohammedanism, under the Turk, tyranniseth in the one; and idolatry, under the Pope, overspreads the other — even as Heathenism had done over the whole empire….   So Christ hath a new business of it yet….            "Therefore He hath seven vials, which contain the last plagues…to despatch the Pope and the Turk and wholly root them out….   The plagues of these vials are the contents of the 15th and 16th chapters.   The first five vials do dissolve and by degrees ruin the Pope's power in the west.   Then the sixth vial breaks the power of the Turk in the east — so making way for the Jews (whom He


means to bring into the fellowship of His Kingdom in their own land)….   Both the Turkish and Popish party do together join, using their utmost forces (and together with them all opposite kings of the whole World) against the Christians, both of the east and west — who, when the Jews are come in and converted [Romans 11:25f] do make up a mighty party in the World…. 

     "The 18th chapter sings a funeral song of triumph for the [Romish and Islamic] whore’s ruin….   After this, comes in Christ’s Kingdom….   This new Kingdom of His shall be made up…of eastern Christians who endured the bondage of the two woe-trumpets, the Saracens and the Turks, yet continuing to profess His Name….   It is made up of western Christians…who, therefore, after the rejection of the whore (chapter 19:1-9), are brought in singing in like triumphant manner….   It is also to be made up of Jews — dispersed both east and west….With whom come in, as attendants of their joy, other Gentiles too who never had received Christ before.   ‘The glory of the Gentiles’ is said to be brought into it [Revelation 21:26].    

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