The Book of Revelation is often pointed to in support of an interpretation of Jesus Christ which justifies violence and war. Revelation is thought to support this interpretation because the book is widely thought to contain Jesus destroying his enemies in a bloody war. Greg Boyd refutes the violent interpretation of Jesus which attempts to use Revelation as support (hereafter "the violent view") by offering these points:
1) The Violent View Disregards the Genre of Revelation
Revelation is apocalyptic, and therefore should be interpreted with this genre's characteristics in mind. Apocalyptic literature often employs symbolism to communicate truth. These symbols are not meant to be understood as one-to-one representations of visible reality, but are meant to be understood as representing an unseen reality. To disregard the apocalyptic genre of Revelation does injustice to the Text and leads to misunderstanding, error.
2) The Violent View Misunderstands the Meaning of Jesus' Sword
Rather than being a worldly weapon of war wielded in one's hand (II Cor. 10.4), Jesus' sword in Revelation proceeds from his mouth. It is in fact Truth and the Word of God. (Heb. 4.12) Boyd writes,
[Jesus' sword] rather comes out of his mouth (Rev. 1.16 [cf. Heb. 4:12]; 2.16; 19:15, 21), signifying that Jesus defeats enemies simply by speaking the truth. The saints also overcome not with physical weapons but by “the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony” [Rev. 12.11].
3) The Violent View Mistakes the Blood of Jesus for the Blood of His Enemies
Rather than being soaked in the blood of his enemies, Jesus appears in chapter 19 (v.13) already bloody. The blood that Jesus' robes are soaked in is his own—not his enemies'. Jesus is the Conquering Lamb. He is victorious because he was slain (Col. 2.15; Rev. 5.12)
…if we interpret Revelation according to its genre and in its original historical context, and if we pay close attention to the ingenious way John uses traditional symbolism, it becomes clear that John is taking traditional Old Testament and Apocalyptic violent imagery and turning it on its head. Yes there is an aggressive war, and yes there is bloodshed. But its a war in which the Lamb and his followers are victorious because they fight the devil and Babylon (representing all governmental systems) by faithfully laying down their lives for the sake of truth (”the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony”)…