Revelation As Metaphor


In a forum I frequent, someone posted the following about the book of Revelation and I don’t know how to counter it.

‘Revelations is metaphor. It’s the Christian Maccabees. John wasn’t writing about the end of the world: he was telling his fellow Christians that no matter their hardships now, they would triumph in the end. The imagery he used throughout the book would have been fairly commonly understood by his contemporaries. All of the mystic mumbo-jumbo and Apocalypse ballyhooing you hear about today relating to Revelations is nothing more than willful ignorance from people who find history and literature inconvenient to their chosen beliefs.’


The opinion that the Book of Revelation is all metaphor is sometimes called the Idealist View and is held by many liberal scholars. It’s made possible by abandoning the literal grammatical historical interpretation of the Bible. Once a person does that, the rules of interpretation go out the window and anything is possible.

Trying to discuss the Bible with an Idealist is very difficult, because while the words and names remain the same, they acquire completely different meanings. Many Idealists also reject the notion of being born again, a bodily resurrection, a literal 2nd Coming, and a Millennial Kingdom.

They often project a condescending attitude, as if anyone who takes the Bible literally either isn’t educated or intelligent enough to know better. For those reasons, debating them can be an exercise in frustration and I don’t recommend it.