How do Catholics interpret the Book of Revelation?


#1

What is the Catholic position on the Book of Revelation? I know that the Book is highly symbolic, but is the book about the “end times”? Will there be a literal Antichrist that will rule for seven years at the end (The Tribulation) (Rev 13) I want to the know the Catholic View on the End times in light of Scriptures and Tradition.

What does the Catholic Church teach about the Antichrist? Will there be a literal war with Satan and God at the end of time (Rev 20:7-9, )?


#2

One idea that many theologians are considering is that it is an allegory of the Mass. Of course, there are also many issues around death and final judgement.

We do believe in the final coming of Christ at the end of the world, and that there will be a final judgement at that time, after which all of humanity will reside either in Heaven or in Hell. I don’t know how “literally” we take the battle scenes - I think they are intended to depict spiritual battle; not actual guns and knives, etc.


#3

First of all, the Catholic Church does not have an “official” viewpoint on the book of Revelation. The closest you’ll come to that is to go to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, go to the back where it has a list of all the scriptural references to the Book of Revelation, and look them up.

In a forum like this, you’re going to get as many opinions about the Book of Revelation as there are heads, some of them good and some downright kooky. The best thing to do is get some quality study material on the subject.

Here are some resources to help you develop a well-balanced Catholic understanding of the Book of Revelation, biblical prophecy, and eschatology. All of these are HIGHLY recommended:

Articles from Catholic Answers:
catholic.com/thisrock/1995/9510ntg.asp
catholic.com/thisrock/1995/9510ntg.asp

The Navarre Bible Commentary on the Book of Revelation
The Navarre Bible Commentary on the Major Prophets
The Navarre Bible Commentary on the Minor Prophets
amazon.com/gp/search/ref=…=navarre+bible

The End: The Book of Revelation, tape/CD series and Study Guide by Dr. Scott Hahn.
saintjoe.com/more-info.ph…&Title=The-End

The Lamb’s Supper, by Dr. Scott Hahn.
amazon.com/gp/product/038…Fencoding=UTF8

Rapture: The End Times Fiction that Leaves Truth Behind, by David Curie
sophiainstitute.com/Merch…y_Code=Current

Revelation Revealed, tapes/CD series by Michael Barber
saintjoe.com/search-result.php

Coming Soon, a book on this same topic by Michael Barber
amazon.com/Coming-Soon-Un…/dp/193101826X

Introduction To Prophecy, CD set by Steve Wood
familylifecenter.net/cart…ail.cfm?Id=613

In addition, you have to learn to recognize erroneous teachings about the End Times popularized by fundamentalists. In other words, toss out the “Left Behind” and “Late, Great Planet Earth” baloney. Here are some resources to help you develop some discernment in these areas:

catholic.com/library/rapture.asp
catholic.com/thisrock/2000/0011fea2.asp
catholic.com/library/false_profit.asp
catholic.com/thisrock/2002/0211fea3.asp
catholic.com/thisrock/2000/0001fea1.asp
catholic.com/thisrock/1995/9510ntg.asp
catholic.com/thisrock/2002/0209fea5.asp
catholic.com/thisrock/1998/9812chap.asp
catholic.com/thisrock/2003/0304bt.asp
catholic.com/thisrock/1997/9705chap.asp
catholic.com/thisrock/1994/9409fea4.asp
catholic.com/thisrock/1994/9410fea2.asp
catholic.com/thisrock/2000/0009bite.asp
catholic.com/library/false_profit.asp
carl-olson.com/rapture_articles.html

Hope that helps.:slight_smile:


#4

668-682 in the Catechism has the Catholic View . Not as melodramatic and scary as Evangelicals and more hopeful and in tune with scripture.:slight_smile:


#5

Thanks:thumbsup:


#6

I’ve been searching for answers to the End Times and the book of Revelation. Above you say that the Catholic Church does not have an “official” viepoint on the book of Revelation. My question is why not? My Catholic catechism # 85 states, “the Magisterium of the church” has the authority to interpret Scripture. Also you are critical of the “left Behind” and “Late, Great Planet Earth” calling it baloney but you don’t give me any reason why? ED.


#7

There is nothing in any of those books that relates in any way to the actual Book of Revelation. They are purely human speculation, with a few random verses of the Book of Revelation thrown in to make them look “scholarly.” They’re not - which is why we typically find such books in the Fiction section. :wink:


#8

Here is a commentary I did on Revelation litteralchristianlibrary.wetpaint.com/page/Commentary+on+Revelation+by+John+Litteral

and my critique on the end times litteralchristianlibrary.wetpaint.com/page/Eschatology


#9

Thank you imcrea for your reply. Is there in the making of any book or literature on the “official” Roman Catholic viepoint on the book of Revelation? ED


#10

The book Elijah by Michael O’Brien is faithful to the Catholic point of view, while speculating on the events described in the Book of Revelation, but as mentioned before, there is no actual “official interpretation” of the Book of Revelation. It just is what it is. We don’t know who the Anti-Christ is going to be, or when the Last Day is going to be. All of these things will appear in their own good time, and we’ll make sense of them at that time.

PS: Elijah is also found in the Fiction section, because it, too, is speculative.


#11

I know of nothing of the sort. And I’m grateful, especially for books like Revelation. The book of Revelation is an example of the literary genre of apocalyptic literature. One of the characteristics of this type of literature is how imaginative it is and so open to many legitimate interpretations. It seems that many people want to know the – presumably one and official and simple – Catholic interpretation of Scripture passages/verses/books…but for the most part that’s not a fruitful inquiry imho. Scripture is the Word of God and speaks to us here and now. It’s not a scientific text that can be deciphered, analyzed, parsed, etc.

Just my musings. Good thread.


#12

jmcrae thanks for your reply, what concerns me is that some claim that the 17th and 18th chapters of Revelation depicts the Roman Catholic church. Her residence is the city of seven hills Rev 17:9 which would be Vatican/Rome. And in Rev 18:4 it states, people are to come out of her (whoever her is) to avoid being punished. I take this to mean it’s serious business to know who to come out of. So it’s not to be taken so lightly. ED


#13

Actually, since Vatican Hill is not among the seven hills (which are on the other side of the Tiber River from the Vatican) it is more likely that the “seven hills” is a reference to the paganism of ancient Rome, whose gods were worshipped on those hills (but not at Vatican Hill, which originally was the prison where the early Christian martyrs were kept while they were waiting for their martyrdom at the Colosseum).

And in Rev 18:4 it states, people are to come out of her (whoever her is) to avoid being punished.

Perhaps they come out, and cross over the Tiber River, and become Catholics. :slight_smile:

At the time that St. John was writing the Book of Revelation, there was only one form of Christianity, which was Catholic Christianity, so St. John could not have meant that people should leave the Catholic Church, since in those days, that would have been the same thing as leaving Christ and the Christian faith altogether - the various alternative forms of Christianity that we find in Protestantism didn’t begin to exist until the early 1500s AD, which might actually be after the 1000 years of peace (which some people think began in 317 AD when the Emperor Constantine legalized the Catholic Church). There are also some who believe that it was Martin Luther who unleashed the Devil upon the world in 1517 AD, as we see described in the Book of Revelation - but again, of course, that is also speculation.


#14

]Actually, since Vatican Hill is not among the seven hills (which are on the other side of the Tiber River from the Vatican) it is more likely that the “seven hills” is a reference to the paganism of ancient Rome, whose gods were worshipped on those hills (but not at Vatican Hill, which originally was the prison where the early Christian martyrs were kept while they were waiting for their martyrdom at the Colosseum).

Perhaps they come out, and cross over the Tiber River, and become Catholics. :slight_smile:

At the time that St. John was writing the Book of Revelation, there was only one form of Christianity, which was Catholic Christianity, so St. John could not have meant that people should leave the Catholic Church, since in those days, that would have been the same thing as leaving Christ and the Christian faith altogether

I realize what your saying but wasn’t John looking into the future as is the whole book of Rev?- Here’s another question that comes to my mind. When Jesus returns, will he reign from the St Peter’s basilica in Vatican city, the headquarters of the Catholic Church?

QUOTE]


#15

It’s not for me to say - perhaps the Jews will have been restored by then, and the Church (Vatican) will have been finally returned to the Cenacle in Jerusalem, after how many thousand years of exile. (Since the Apostles were originally brought to Rome in chains.) :slight_smile:

But if He chooses to rule from the Vatican as it is today in Rome, then why not? It would fulfill the prophesy that the younger brother (Christianity) will rule over the elder brother (Judaism). We won’t find out until it actually happens. :slight_smile:


#16

Another excellent resource is a book by Carl Olson entitled, “Will Catholics Be Left Behind?” It is a Catholic critique of the dispensationalist theology behind the “Left Behind” series. He not only presents the theology, but also the history of the theology.

I myself, am a Catholic convert, having come from fundamentalist and evangelical backgrounds. I am somewhat familiar w/ dispensationalism as well. I appreciate the fact that the Catholic Church remains largely silent on the issue of eschatology, recognizing that it is a mystery which God will reveal in due time.

Some views that would probably be considered more acceptable by most Catholic theologians would be Amillenialism and Pretorism (I hope I spelled them correctly…(-:). Pretorism (not in purest form) would seem to make the most sense to me. Pretorists believe that many of the things written about in apocalyptic literature have taken place already, mostly in the first few centuries of Church history, the ‘beast’ referring to someone like Herod, Marcus Aurelius, etc. Dispensationalists have a tendency to ignore over 2000 years of Church history when it concerns apocalyptic literature.

On a sidenote, it’s interesting how dispensationalists will make such a fuss over the mark of the beast, but seem to totally ignore the mark of God mentioned in the very same passage. Again, not a literal mark, but a reference to those who will follow after God or after Satan.

Although this is all just MHO, I know it all has a pretty solid foundation and is supported by many Catholic apologists/theologians. Hope that helps some.


#17

Perhaps I might help,

Remember [Mark 4:33] and with many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it. [Mark 4:34] But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.

It is important to remember that The Bible is the Word of God, Christ is the Word of God, and Christ is the bible, Also that Christ always spoke in parables. Always. Every verse in the bible is the Word of Christ, of God, of the Holy Spirit.

A parable as defined in the bible is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning, or a spiritual meaning. We must always remember that there is a spiritual meaning to the bible.

So understanding that, we can begin to understand what He is saying.

Here is a quick summary: The book begins with letters to the seven churches. We can begin to see already as these churches turn apostate and teach their own doctrine. That is the big deal there. They continue to teach their own doctrine and thereby are not the doctrine of the bible. What this means is that Satan rules that church. Any doctrine that is not from the bible is from Satan and meant to pervert the truth. Thus the seven churches were destroyed, and there “candle was extinguished” (metaphoric language) this means God is no longer with them.

The book of revelation begins with the End of the Church age. These seven churches are apostate and are destroyed. And by this time in history, 95 ad, it has been only 62 years sense the death of Christ, and already these churches are beginning to fall away from the truth. The book of Revelations continues with metaphor upon metaphor concerning the rule of Satan on the elect, how he is free to travel between heaven and earth, and how when Christ died on the Cross, Satan suffered a mortal blow and was cast out of heaven forever. Thus, Satan was bound for a 1000 years,(again this is spiritual language, parabolic language, metaphoric language) the 1000 years was the time that Satan was defeated, and finally cast down from heaven forever, as he suffered a death blow.

This is explained in [Rev 13:3] I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.

Once the 1000 years is up (again spiritual and metaphoric language) Satan is loosed from the bottomless pit [Rev 9:1] Then the fifth angel sounded: and I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. And to him was given the key to the bottomless pit. [Rev 9:2] And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. And the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit.

The star is Christ, He has the keys, and He opens the pit and lets Satan out. This connects us with the Rev 13:3 verse, where we read that on one of the heads, the mortal wound is healed. The wound is healed because Satan is again free.

We can connect this proof to the fact that, during the time of Christ, when he walked from place to place, very few people were becoming saved. Christ even feed 5000 men not including women and children, and very few were saved. This is because Satan was free. When Christ died, Satan was dealt a mortal blow, and was locked away. This is why on Pentecost, Peter is able to preach the gospel and over 3000 are saved and received Holy Spirit. Now can Peter preach the Word better than Christ himself, No.

I got off a little bit. If you’re interested, I can continue if you like.


#18

Let me offer some commentary.

The Book of Revelation comes from a tradition known as apocalyptic literature, which generally proclaims what it claims to be the holy word of God. In the case of canonical literature, this is true.

Apocalyptic literature is highly symbolic and metaphorical, and much is not meant to be taken in anything remotely resembling literal interpretation.

Here is one of my favorite passages from apocalyptic literature, the Wheels within Wheels section of Ezekiel:

Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel upon the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of a chrysolite; and the four had the same likeness, their construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went. The four wheels had rims and they had spokes; and their rims were full of eyes round about. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

What was that all about?

The Book of Revelation has many similar passages, which are symbols laid upon symbols laid upon symbols (or wheels within wheels, if you will). At some points, some of these symbols lose contact with the antecedents and become free-floating metaphors, like Christ’s tongue/sword in 1:16, which probably represents the Truth, but becomes an echo of the sword of the horseman of Death by 19:21.

It also gives us an insight into how the early Church was being persecuted and how it saw this persecution. The book was probably written in 95-96, during the reign of Domitian. Some argue for an early date of 68-69, but this seems improbable, given how Revelation seems to refer to all four Gospels.

Here’s a bit of apologetics that I recently came up with, but I’m not sure if it’s a well-baked idea. Please let me know.

Many people seem to think that Revelation is a news report for the end times. If that were true, and the bit about the one-world government that people interpret out of it is a prerequisite for the Second Coming, I know that given the way politics works, I’m pretty well safe for several years to come.

And that would seem to be counter to the concept that the end will come like a thief in the night, so I interpret Revelation as a highly symbolic account of how the end might occur.


#19

I have a ton of questions for you. Beginning with the first thing you say, “Perhaps I may help,” may I ask to whom you are addressing your response? If I remember correctly, the original poster asked what the Catholic Church’s position was on end times. I’m not saying that you don’t have a right to speak your mind, but you should at least mention to whom you are addressing, and then clarify that your position is not the Catholic Church’s position.

Secondly, you make a pretty strong statement when you say, “Any doctrine that is not from the bible is from Satan and meant to pervert the truth…” I don’t know of many Catholic doctrines that are OPPOSSED to the Sacred Scriptures, though some you will not find IN the bible (i.e. the assumption of Mary occurred AFTER the Bible was written), but I would challenge you to give some precedence for that statement.

Thirdly, you seem to infer that as early as 95 A.D. the Church is becoming corrupt. If this is true, and the Church canonized the Scriptures as late as 397 A.D., how can you trust the bible itself?

Fourthly, you claim, “We can connect this proof to the fact that, during the time of Christ, when he walked from place to place, very few people were becoming saved.” True, the Gospels may not make specific mention of people getting saved, but omission alone does not necessarily constitute ‘fact’. How do you know people weren’t becoming saved? Just because the Bible doesn’t mention it? There are many things that Jesus said and did that the Scriptures do not address (see the end of John’s Gospel). The bible doesn’t mention that it was ever compiled, but I’m sure you would agree that it’s an historical fact.

Forgive me if I am misreading you and your inferences, but I was just noticing ‘bible’ under your profile and am assuming you are not Catholic, and all that you have presented seems to have a lot to do with an unsubstantiated private interpretation that casts the Catholic Church in a very bad light. Again, I may be jumping the gun on this one. If so, I humbly apologize in advance.


#20

Right - this is why we are to follow the Apostolic Tradition, and not the words of those who only have the parables to work with.

It is important to remember that The Bible is the Word of God, Christ is the Word of God, and Christ is the bible,

Sorry, what? No, Christ is God the Second Person - the Word that uttered forth from the Father to create all that is seen and unseen. The Bible is ink on paper - the words of men, written to record their experiences of the Living God, and to pass what they learned to a reading audience. Many of these books (indeed, 73 of them) were discerned by the Church to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit, and to be free of doctrinal error. (They discerned this by comparing the books of the Bible to the orally transmitted Apostolic Tradition.)

Here is a quick summary: The book begins with letters to the seven churches. We can begin to see already as these churches turn apostate and teach their own doctrine. That is the big deal there. They continue to teach their own doctrine and thereby are not the doctrine of the bible. What this means is that Satan rules that church. Any doctrine that is not from the bible is from Satan and meant to pervert the truth. Thus the seven churches were destroyed, and there “candle was extinguished” (metaphoric language) this means God is no longer with them.

Actually, the candle isn’t “metaphorical” - it is a reference to the Sanctuary Lamp, which is found in all Catholic Churches to signify that Christ is present in the Tabernacle. When the Sanctuary Lamp is extinguished, it means that Christ is not present in the Tabernacle. :slight_smile:


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