“The content of what ‘God gave him to show his servants’ has to do with ‘what must soon take place’ [Rev 1:1], a clause that anticipates the content of the rest of the book. Unfortunately, this brief clause has also served as the source of a considerable number of speculations about the end times. But as the narrative that will soon unfold makes relatively clear, this phrase has less to do with the End as such, and mostly to do with the somber events awaiting the churches of John’s day. Himself an exile on Patmos, what John had come to see clearly as awaiting a new generation of believers was the church’s coming collision with the Empire over who should rightly be proclaimed as ‘Lord and Savior’–the Roman emperors or the humble Galilean whom they had crucified, but who their followers asserted had been raised from the dead,” G. Fee, Revelation (NCCS 2011), 2-3.
“In the final sentence John further describes this word/testimony as ‘the words of this prophecy,’ language which, because of its primary meaning in English as ‘the foretelling or prediction of what is to come,’ can be misleading when used in the New Testament. To be sure, there is a future aspect to this ‘prophecy,’ but it is primarily a word spoken into the present situation of the seven churches; and its primary urgency is not about the final future event (recorded in chs. 20-22), but the near future for John and his readers. What makes John a truly Christian prophet is that from his position at the end of the first Christian century he clearly recognizes that the church and state are on a deadly collision course, wherein the church will suffer in the near future, but will know Christ’s triumph at the end (the ‘real’ future). Thus at the outset John uses apocalyptic language that is intended to merge what is seen with what is said. That is, for him this was a ‘seen’ word; but to communicate it to the church it had to become a written word, ‘the testimony’ that Jesus Christ gave by way of one vision following another,” ibid. 3-4.
“This reading/hearing phenomenon is made urgent by the final clause, ‘because the time is near’ [1:3], which has created a different kind of urgency for later readers. But what John almost certainly intended is that pending difficulties that the recipients of this Revelation were about to experience already stood at the door for them–as the unfolding of subsequent second-and third-century history actually bore out,” ibid. 4.
“Although the word ‘soon’ [22:6] can be ambiguous in some settings, John seems to be referring not the final events, about which he has just written, but to those that will soon overtake the believers in Asia Minor to whom John is writing…Here is a word (‘near’) [22:10] that has tended to fall on bad days among later interpreters, who tend to read it in light of what has most recently preceded (19:11-20:15 plus the eschatological pictures of 21:1-22:5). But in light of the whole book, that seems to be a misreading. What is near are the events prophesied throughout the book, that in light of what followers of the Slain Lamb are currently experiencing at the hands of the Empire, matters for them are going to continue to get worse, far worse, before God makes them better,” ibid. 308-10.