Text: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: (Revelation 1:1)

Tweet: In the very first verse of the very first chapter of the book of Revelation, we are told that the Bible’s most famous prophetic book was “signified” by an angel to Christ’s servant John. To signify something means to communicate it in signs and symbols. The book of Revelation is therefore a book of signs and symbols.

As a self-proclaimed book of sign and symbols, the book of Revelation necessitates a figurative rather than literal interpretation. Now, this is not to say that nothing in the book is to be taken literally, but that the book itself can only be properly interpreted figuratively. In this book, candles are not necessarily candles, stars are not necessarily stars, beasts are not necessarily beasts, and cities are not necessarily cities. Instead, these things are symbols of other things. Thus, to properly understand the book of Revelation one must first understand what its signs and symbols symbolize.