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THEOLOGY > Bible > Revelation > Revelation was Progressive 


The Revelation was not given at a single point in time but was given progressively over an extended period of time, a period which consumed approximately sixteen hundred years, from Moses to John the Apostle.

Not only was there progression from the standpoint of time but also each additional revelation complemented, enhanced, amplified, and enlarged the previous revelations. Later revelations built upon earlier revelations. Consider a few obvious examples.

From the Old Testament we see the continual and expanding information that God was revealing. Progressively, the predicted Messiah was shown to be from the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15), from the nation of Abraham (Gen. 12:7), from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10), and from the family of David (II Sam. 7:13, 16; Ps. 89:20-29; Isa. 9:6-7). The Old Testament pointed toward the New, and the New was the fulfillment of the Old.

Repeatedly the New Testament confirms this relationship. Initially God spoke through the prophets but later through His Son (Heb. 1:1-2); anticipation of redemption was the message of the prophets, whereas it was the Son that accomplished the expected redemption. Paul confirms this in Acts: “And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus” (13:32-33). Even the ceremonial rituals (“shadow”) of the Old Testament were only fully understood when view later from the perspective of the work of Christ (“substance”) found in the New Testament (Col. 2:16-17). The writer of Hebrews speaks of “the copy and shadow of the heavenly things” that anticipated the “more excellent ministry” and the “better covenant” (8:5-6).

The teachings of Jesus illustrate the concept of progression; He said that the people had been told it was wrong to commit murder but He said it was also wrong to harbor anger (Matt. 5:21-22); they had been told it was wrong to commit adultery but He said it was also wrong to look with lust (Matt. 5:27-28; also see: vs. 31, 33, 38, 43)). Concepts were given and then enlarged; information was given and then additions were made to clarify and expand the information; moral guidelines were stated and expounded to inform of the full implications of the particular ethical principle through additional revelations. Bit by bit, Truth was added to Truth.

Ultimately the Revelation was completed (later revelations were always complimentary and never contradictory of earlier revelations), and the final product was characterized by unity, an obvious unity, even though it was received by a number of individuals over an extended period of time and even though later revelations were added to earlier revelations. This unity was possible because it was given by the one Spirit; men received it but God gave it. Because it was God who was in control of the progress the integrity of the Revelation was maintained.

Then He said to them,
"These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that all things must be fulfilled
which were written in the Law of Moses
and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."
And He opened their understanding,
that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
Lu. 24:44-45

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