The All-Important Introduction to Revelation
Introduction – Initial Observations
How many times have we opened a book, started where print first appears, and read every single word from cover to cover? Rarely, if ever, right? Introductions, prefaces, forwards, acknowledgements, notes from the author, dedications, and copyright pages are regularly neglected. Most readers consider them to be extraneous, pointless, time- and paper-wasting additions to what we want to read. This seems to be especially true of fiction books, and maybe somewhat less true of more technical works.
However, scholars and teachers will scream that ignoring these vital early sections is tantamount to sacrilege! Notice that, they would say, much necessary, interesting, and foundational information is being passed over! Sure, the innards of the book are where all the really fascinating material is located, but the introductory material actually sets the tone for the “good stuff.”
For instance, say a young person was interested in a career working in the area of human genetics, a relatively new and rapidly expanding science, and one afternoon, he found a book on the subject at the local bookstore. He would be well-advised to scan the copyright page for the date of publication, since any work more than just a few years old would likely contain out-of-date information or be completely obsolete. It would also be a good idea for him to check the credentials of the author, as well as those who worked with him in researching, composing, and checking the text. The introduction, perhaps by a different author, might give him a needed perspective on the author and his aims, the scope of the work, and the relevance of the material to the young person’s area of interest. What he finds in these opening sections of the book could spell the difference between a satisfied customer and a career boost or a disappointed and completely misled student!
The introductory material of some of the books of the Bible is just as important—and this is doubly true of the Book of Revelation. As students of God’s Word, especially when we are delving into prophecy, we are often impatient to get to the “good stuff” a few chapters into the book. However, if we skip the material that lays the vital groundwork for what comes later, our understanding, accuracy, and application will probably suffer for it. We would do well to remember that not one of God’s words is irrelevant! (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) It is also very relevant that the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ (NOT the “Revelation of the Apostle John” and certainly NOT “the Book of RevelationS” – it is singular) is sometimes referred to as the “Grand Central Station” of the Bible since so much of both the Old and New Testaments are referenced in its pages. Being familiar with the entirety of Scripture adds so much to the complete understanding of Revelation that the idea that Revelation is hard to understand simply disappears or seems rather ridiculous.
The habit, and it is certainly a habit, of skipping introductory detail or even whole sections or chapters in the Word of God is prevalent in many of us. We might skip the first chapter of Revelation to get to the tantalizing and meaty Letters to the Seven Churches in chapters 2 and 3, but this is a mistake. Revelation 1 contains all the setup information a reader needs to begin to understand those letters and be ready for everything beyond—the description of God’s throne, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the 144,000, etc. A little time sacrificed to mine the riches of chapter one will pay nice dividends. This also applies to knowing the intricacies of the Book of Revelation, the timing, the author, the circumstances of the writing, and the correlation with the rest of unfulfilled prophecy in the entire Word of God.
Opening Considerations on the Book of Revelation
Our God is a God of logic and order, harmony and accord! God is not a God of confusion or chaos (1 Corinthians 14:33). That distinction and title belongs to the enemy, not God. Therefore, Revelation is definitively NOT disorganized and difficult to understand! God uses repetition and confirmation through references to many books in the Old Testament so that what John tells us in this last and very significant book is not only relevant to our lives, but understandable and true.
Jesus warned, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you,” therefore “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 15:20; 16:33). The world hates Jesus and His moral law, and so will the world also hate and persecute His followers (John 16:33; Philippians 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Pet. 4:12-13). But, when talking about tribulation, as Bible prophecy describes, we’re not talking about the inevitable day-to-day sufferings we all share caused by Satan and our fellow man. Rather, prophecy is talking about an event — The Tribulation.
The Tribulation goes by a number of different names and descriptions in the Old Testament:
The Day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:12)
The Terror of the Lord (Isaiah 2:19)
A Day of Reckoning (Isaiah 2:12)
A Day of Wrath (Zephaniah 1:15)
A Day of Trouble and Distress (Zephaniah 1:15)
A Day of Destruction and Desolation (Zephaniah 1:15)
The Time of Jacob’s Distress (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1)
The Great and Terrible Day of the LORD (Joel 2:11,31)
“For then there shall be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Revelation 6-19). Think of modern-day movies which often mislabel the Tribulation as Judgment Day, Armageddon, and the End of the World. They’re close, but woefully nowhere near as intense in scope.
God has a four-fold purpose for the Tribulation:
- To pour out His wrath upon the nations of the world for all their evil, as He did during the Flood.
- To bring multitudes of people to finally accept Jesus as Savior.
- To gather a remnant of Jewish people who finally accept Jesus as Messiah.
- For Jesus to defeat evil and set up His Kingdom.
(Deuteronomy 4:26-31; Isaiah 13:6-13; 17:4-11; Jeremiah 30:4-11; Ezekiel 20:33-38; Daniel 9:27; 12:1; Zechariah 14:1-4; Matthew 24:9-31)
Revelation functions like a roadmap, a timetable of future events that MUST take place in order for God’s plan for mankind to be fulfilled. Think of the Book of Revelation as a traveler’s guide to chronological events that must occur in their proper order because sequence matters! Revelation shows us not only where we are, it shows us where we are going next, and exactly what we should be watching for as we anxiously await Jesus’ return, the return that was promised by two angels on the Mount of Olives some 2,000 years ago in Acts 1:11, “…Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing into heaven? This same Jesus, Who was caught away and lifted up from among you into heaven, will return in just the same way in which you saw Him go into heaven.”
The Book of Revelation is a book of instructions intended to prepare God’s people physically, mentally, and spiritually for what is coming, in our lifetimes, but only IF we heed God’s Word, be watchers, and be ready like the five virgins of Matthew 25 who had oil for their lamps so they could go with the Bridegroom when he came. The Book of Revelation is the capstone of divine revelation, the very climax of human history, the end of what we refer to as normal and expected from life! Plus, and most significantly, God promises a blessing to those who read Revelation, a blessing to those who hear the words of the Book of Revelation, and a blessing to those who heed those words of Revelation (Revelation 1:3). It is a direct slap in the Face of God to deny the value, the reading, and the study of His last Word to us, His gift of the future, and the culmination of His plan for us – all in this book written last, about 90 A.D., by the disciple whom Jesus loved, John when he was in his eighties and exiled to a small island many miles West of the coast of Asia Minor.
No other book in the entire Bible promises that special blessing for reading, hearing, and applying its words to our lives (1:3). No other book in the entire Bible threatens removal of names from the Book of life if those people do not repent and heed the words of Jesus. No other book in the entire Bible matter-of-factly warns that those who add or detract from the words of Revelation will have the plagues described in Revelation applied to them as well as having their share removed from the Tree of Life and the new Jerusalem, the holy city.
A quote from Stewart Custer from his book Patmos to Paradise is very descriptive of how we should look at and perceive the Book of Revelation:
“The Book of Revelation is the capstone of the Word of God. It gathers up the truths of all the rest of Scripture and organizes them into the plan of God for the ages. It shows us the divine purpose in permitting good and evil to wage war against one another. God is the holy and righteous King, who will defeat all His foes and will bring His redeemed people into His eternal kingdom of peace and glory…When He has finished His mighty work, all the universe will know that He has done all things well.”
Controversy in Many Forms
The Book of Revelation is the most controversial book in the Bible. Revelation has caused major divisions between denominations, churches, and families. What makes this book so controversial, especially since a promise of blessing is made in the very first chapter of the book to those who read and hear the words of this prophecy? The book has 404 verses, and according to some scholars, half of those verses have an Old Testament reference. That ties Revelation to the entire Bible, both Old and New Testaments which should make everyone realize the enormous importance of this last book of the Bible.
The Book of Revelation is a letter revealed to a man named John, by this time an old man in his eighties, who was forcefully exiled on the Island of Patmos, off the coast of Asia Minor. He was persecuted because of his testimony of Jesus Christ. The letter was written to seven churches located in the mainland cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea all within a few dozen miles of each other across about 40 miles of water from Patmos in the Aegean Sea just West of modern-day Turkey.
What is the meaning of this letter? Should the words be taken literally or are they symbolic? Did the letter concern events just in the day of John or did it include events in the future? Was John, the Apostle John or another John? Does this letter refer to Israel or to the church? These are just a few of the many questions raised by those who have studied this book, some leading to controversies that have literally caused division. Such division is unnecessary since the true meaning of the entire book can be reasonably explained with the rest of the Word of God.
So how do we know we are not currently living in the Tribulation? Well, just look out your window. Do you see the following conditions Revelation describes, conditions so horrific that Jesus declared, “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened”? (Matthew 24:22):
- A one-world ruler risen to power who rules over a global government.
- The Antichrist making and breaking a peace covenant with Israel.
- A one-world religious system being implemented.
- A new world war being waged so great that a quarter of the world’s population — almost 2 billion people — are slaughtered.
- Death by mass starvation and rampant plagues.
- The worst evils let loose from people’s hearts so that they sin exceedingly.
- Violence, theft, and witchcraft are the norm.
- Demons run reckless, no longer obscured.
- The planet cracked apart by earthquakes, meteors, and fire so that the entire biosphere teeters on the brink of collapse.
- Christians and Jews hunted down like animals to be slaughtered.
- The Antichrist’s name tattooed on his people’s right hand or forehead, or face starvation.
- The world’s leaders crawl into caves and cry out for the mountains to fall upon them to protect them from God’s anger.
- “When the Tribulation begins, the people who are on earth will not have to call anyone to find out for sure whether or not it has begun. The Tribulation will be a living hell with a degree of violence that is unparalleled in all of history.” – Dr. David Reagan, Lamb & Lion Ministries
Why Study the Book of Revelation?
Billy Graham, at a special meeting with local ministers, said this, “Whenever I have some extra time to spend at my home in Carolina I use it in the study of this book. The conviction grows stronger every day. The Book of Revelation is of special importance to Christians now living. Go home and study it and preach it.” There’s no doubt about it, interest in the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is back in vogue and congregations want to know what it means. There is a growing conviction that this book has special meaning for today since so many of the prophecies leading up to the events of Revelation are actually being fulfilled or are falling into place! The book’s message is necessary to help prepare a people for the return of Jesus because no one wants friends or family or even acquaintances to experience the wrath of God!
Many present day ministers even in the Baptist faith will not preach, study, or even discuss this prophetic book mainly because they themselves do not “understand” it, or they say they do not. That could be the fault of the seminary they attended or their lack of specific study of prophecy. But, reading the entire Bible and studying it means that prophecy is absolutely being studied since almost a third of the Word was prophetic when written, and many prophecies that have to be true since they are in the inspired Word of God are yet to be fulfilled. For example, the Second Coming, the Millennial reign of Christ, the Great White throne judgment, and the new Heaven and new Earth just to name a few. Plus, there is this. To the Ephesian elders Paul declared, “I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Ministers as well as all Christians should be equally faithful to their faith in the Word of God and certainly never neglect this portion of the Sacred Scriptures.
Here are seven reasons why we all should study the Book of Revelation:
1) The Book of Revelation is not John’s revelation, it is not a book of “revelationS”, this book is from Jesus Christ Himself. The introductory words, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” may have been the title John gave his letter. What higher recommendation could it have? It is the revelation “which God gave unto Him (Jesus), to shew unto His servants.” To John the prophet, lying prostrate before His radiant form, Jesus declared, “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am (EHYEH), alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:18). It was the same Jesus whom John had known and loved, He who died, rose again, and ascended to the Father. Now He appears to the last survivor of the first-chosen disciples at the ripe old age of about 85. More than half a century had passed since John had seen his Lord. How reassuring the news that Christ was indeed alive and still ministering to His church! How grand the vision of Christ’s atoning ministry beyond the cross to the grand finale of the drama of the ages.
2) It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ since the visions have their source in Jesus and they are also about Him. He is the great Hero of the book, the central figure. He walks among the candlesticks (churches) and holds their stars (faithful ministers) in His right hand (Revelation 1:12, 13, 20). He alone is able to “take the book, and to open the seals thereof” (chap. 5:9). He will ultimately “rule all nations with a rod of iron” (chap. 12:5). Revelation is saturated with Jesus. His titles or allusions to Him appear forty-nine times in chapter 1; thirty-nine times in chapter 2; forty-nine times in chapter 3. He is the Creator, the Eternal, the Almighty, the God of heaven, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, the Lamb—both the sacrificial Lamb and the conquering Lamb, the Bright and Morning Star, the Holy One, the Key of David. Altogether, nineteen descriptive names of Him appear within the book. We come to know more of His character and mission as we study its message.
3) It is especially commended to our study. In this respect Revelation is unique, for no other book of the sacred canon contains such a promise of special blessing upon its readers. It opens with the words “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein” (chap. 1:3). It closes with the promise “Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (chap. 22:7). Then it adds the warning against corrupting it by either taking away from it or adding to it (chap. 22:18, 19). These words imply that the book is to be understood. John designated the message by the word apocalypse, a “revelation,” an unveiling or uncovering, a title which in itself suggests clarity. The book is a revelation from Jesus about Jesus, and Jesus is not the author of confusion.
4) It is the capstone of Divine Revelation. Revelation completes and crowns the sacred canon. In it strands from all the books of the Bible come together in a triumphant finale. Few recognize how thoroughly Revelation is permeated with the Old Testament. There are more than 100 quotations from the OT in Revelation, the vast majority from seven books: Exodus, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah. The rich imagery of Revelation is drawn from the Old Testament. There are place names such as Jerusalem, Babylon, the Euphrates and objects such as the temple and its furniture, as well as characters such as Balaam and Jezebel. Their meaning in the Old Testament is a key to their meaning in Revelation. This points to the necessity of study of the Old Testament, and then the Book of Revelation becomes an extension and fulfillment of it. Without Revelation, the Bible would be incomplete.
5) It provides warnings and promises to the church through ages of conflict to the final victory. Revelation is the only book of the New Testament that is entirely prophetic. The message identifies itself as prophecy. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy” (chap. 1:3). “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book” (chap. 22:18). John clearly intended it as a prophetic message to be given to the churches.
6) It sets forth the true philosophy of history. This book reveals God in control of history. All life is moving toward the consummation of a great goal, according to the purposes of His will. Man may hinder, deflect, or delay God’s plans, but he cannot destroy them. Righteousness ultimately will triumph and evil will forever be overcome. The God of Revelation is the Creator God. The beings about the throne proclaim, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things” (chap. 4:11). And the flying angel of Revelation 14:7 declares, “Worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water.” He made us. He is with His people. He is guiding the course of human events and His cause ultimately will triumph. The Book of Revelation looks to the future, giving special prominence to the crisis to come upon the world just prior to the return of Christ, when the whole world will be brought to a decision for or against God. The climax of the age-long conflict between Christ and Satan is epitomized in those scenes portraying the woman versus the dragon, the Lamb versus the beast, and Jerusalem versus Babylon. In the climax there will be only two classes of people, those who receive the seal of God and those who receive the mark of the beast. Then comes the double harvest, the harvest of grain for God’s kingdom and the harvest of the grapes for destruction.
7) It gives assurance of final victory to the church. As Christians approach the final crisis, “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation” (Daniel 12:1), we are comforted and encouraged and He still walks among the candlesticks just prior to the Rapture. He still holds the stars in His right hand. He is still the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is still the slain and conquering Lamb. The last conflict will be the greatest ever. The spirits of devils will gather the whole world “to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14). But He who is Faithful and True, whose name is the Word of God, on whose vesture is written KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS, will lead forth the armies of heaven (which includes His Church) in victory over all His adversaries (chap. 19:11-21).
Before He went away, Jesus promised John and the other disciples, “I will come again” (John 14:3). At the beginning of John’s Patmos vision the promise is repeated by the angel of prophecy, “Behold he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him” (Revelation 1:7). The coming of Christ will be the great finale. Like the closing burst of glorious music in a grand symphony, the newly righteous who have survived will look up and proclaim, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isaiah. 25:9). Enthralled with wonder and awe at the prospects of the coming King, John closes his writings with the promise and prayer, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation. 22:20).
What are the different views of the Book of Revelation?
There are four main views in attempting to interpret the Book of Revelation, Symbolic, Preterist, Historical, and Futuristic. Each view approaches the book from a different perspective. There are two considerations in these views of Revelation. First, is the Book of Revelation symbolic or literal? Do the words mean what they say in a literal sense or do they imply another meaning. For example, does Israel mean Israel or does Israel mean the church? Second and related to the first is the theological view of the church. These two views, Covenant and Dispensational, view the church as compared to Israel in two different ways.
Covenant theology views the church as the replacement of Israel in God’s covenant relationship. The church therefore becomes the “New Israel” in scripture. Therefore, Old Testament verses referring to Israel in prophecy, apply to the Church, the “New Israel”. The premise of Covenant theology is God has one covenant, the covenant of grace, from Adam’s fall. God promised salvation through the Messiah. This promise, first administered through Israel, now is administered by the Church, which includes believing Israel.
Dispensational theology views the church and Israel as two distinct groups with separate dispensations. The word dispensation means administration. Dispensational theology, understands verses applied to Israel to mean literal Israel as opposed to symbolic Israel, the church. The church in the current age, has the role of dispensing or administering salvation to this age by proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. Prior to the church, we were under the dispensation of the Law, administered or dispensed by Israel.
Symbolic or allegorical approach
Symbolic: The history of this view can be traced to the Alexandrian School of Theology, represented by Origen, which regarded the Book of Revelation as one great allegory going beyond natural symbolism. The symbolic view was motivated by anti-millennium view which taught a literal millennium reign of Christ on earth. The Alexandrian school claimed the true “Spiritual” Interpretation as opposed to the literalism. This method of interpretation finds principles and powers that work themselves out in history rather than actual historical events in symbolic language. The Book of Revelation represents the struggle between the righteous and wicked; the City of God verses the City of Satan.
Preterist (Past) Interpretation
This method of interpretation regards the Book of Revelation as applying specifically to the problems and persecutions of the early church existing at the time of its writing. The symbolic expressions in the book represent devices to encourage the church through its suffering under the Roman Empire, and to prevent the book from being understood by those who are not believers. Nero for example is seen as Antichrist. The Preterist views Revelation date of writing prior to A.D. 70, when the Jewish Temple was destroyed. The abomination of desolation and the destruction of Jerusalem referred to by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24:15 are mostly fulfilled in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. Preterism views the Church as the “New Israel” and thereby fulfilling verses applied to Israel in scripture. Moderate Preterists need to be distinguished from Hyper-Preterist. Hyper-Preterists believe The Second Coming and the Rapture were fulfilled by A.D. 70. This view, considered heretical even by Preterists, denies the physical return of Christ.
This approach views events described in Revelation as symbolic and represent chronological sequences of historical events from the time of its writing until the coming of Christ and the establishment of His eternal kingdom. References to Babylon and the Beast are associated with the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope. Other symbols are viewed as referring to Islamic and Napoleonic wars. The historical approach, like the Preterists, substitutes the church for Israel in verses referring to national Israel.
This approach views Revelation as a prophecy regarding the future. The futurist approach views scripture from a literal perspective. Words mean what they say unless otherwise defined within the context of scripture. The Book of Revelation reveals the details of end time events from chapter 4 until the end of the book. Chapters 2 and 3 deal with the Church age, and chapters 4 to 19 deal with the tribulation period, followed by a literal one thousand-year period, the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-7). Since the futurist view looks to a future Millennium, the view is Pre-millennial. The futurist view holds to a dispensational understanding of scripture, allowing for the distinction of Israel and the church in God’s end time program.
The correct view of Revelation is from a futurist approach because the Futurist approach is the most in keeping with a literal understanding of Bible. God’s promises to the descendents of Jacob, literal Israel, are affirmed in the futurist approach. With the Preterist and Historic views the Church must replace Israel and the promises of God are negated.
The Book of Revelation primarily points to the Second Coming of Christ. His Second Coming will be as judge of the world, unlike the first time when He came to die for mankind’s sin. About five hundred years before the Lord came to earth to die on the cross, He communicated through an angelic messenger to Daniel, the prophet, essential information about the end times. The Lord, Himself, as recorded in the Olivet Discourse in the New Testament, taught His disciples more truth about the sequence of events that would lead to the end times and His Second Coming. Fifty plus years after the teaching of the Olivet Discourse, Christ, through an angelic messenger, revealed yet more end-time truth to John, information vital for the understanding of the last days. Ultimately, the prophetic truths contained in the Book of Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and the Revelation can be traced to our Lord. It is the Revelation about Jesus Christ as ultimate Judge, which gives us a special view that brings both Daniel in the Old Testament and the Olivet Discourse in the New Testament together in a synthesis of things to come.
The Reliability of the Old Testament
When studying the Book of Revelation, there are many references to the Old Testament throughout. One might ask why is there so many references to the Old Testament? The primary reason is because the Bible is one book with one theme – the salvation of mankind or the restoration of man to God. God’s plan for man includes His people Israel and all others who believe in Him and His Word. The prophets like Daniel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Zephaniah, Ezekiel, writers of the Psalms, Joel, and others, all refer to the Day of the Lord or the Day of Wrath or the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, pointing directly to the Book of Revelation and the prophecies of how God is going to restore His people Israel back to Him as well as wake up the entire world to the imminent return of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords! So, what about the reliability of the translations of the ancient books in the Old Testament that we have today? Can we trust all those scribes that carefully and painstakingly copied God’s Words so that we could have them in our time?
The 39 books of the Old Testament were completed around 400 BC. Since none of the original writings still exist, critics of the Old Testament have often claimed that today’s Old Testament is seriously flawed. Is the Old Testament a reliable source of information? After all, it’s been translated, retranslated, copied, and recopied multiple thousands of times by fallible people.
From 100-500 A.D., people called the “Talmudists” produced copies of the Old Testament, a task so sacred that they worked in full Jewish dress and washed their entire body before copying a single word. Every scroll was made of particular materials, and penned in special ink. Not a single word could be written from memory, and, to prevent mistakes, every column had to contain exactly thirty letters. Unfortunately, none of their work remains today.
Following the Talmudists was a time known as the Masoretic Period which stretched from about 100 to 900 A.D. Copyists took great care to enumerate, count, and compare, tallying every time a letter of the alphabet occurred in each book. They copied the Pentateuch, then the entire Old Testament, and if copies didn’t match up perfectly with the source document, the entire manuscript was destroyed. They knew exactly how many letters were on each scroll, the exact letter or letters that were in the middle, and they checked each finished scroll for neatness, accuracy, and number of letters. These scrolls, which never dated earlier than about 900 A.D., were the best copies in existence, but they still left a sizable gap of many years between them and the originals. This situation left a lot of room for questions about their accuracy.
All that changed in 1947 with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran next to the Dead Sea in Israel. These scrolls were written about 150 BC. Suddenly, these manuscripts took us at least 1000 years closer to the originals. Critics speculated that, because of these earlier-dated scrolls and after inspection of the writing, we would have to make serious revisions to correct scores of errors in our Old Testament, but the Dead Sea Scrolls actually revealed nothing less than the miraculous. On average, experts found only one variation per every 1580 words. 98% of them were simple spelling variations, and none of the variances affected the meaning of the text! Bottom line: The text is reliable, almost miraculously so.
Archaeology affirms once again that the Old Testament is reliable. For example, critics claimed for decades that the Hittites of the Old Testament didn’t really exist and that the writers had invented them to establish a literary enemy. All that changed when 1200 years of Hittite history were discovered in the late 1800’s! Again, the Bible is proven to be not only reliable but accurate. While both literary discoveries and archaeology support the reliability of the Old Testament, the most amazing affirmation is its fulfilled prophecy.
For example, around 700 BC, the prophet Isaiah predicted that one day a king named Cyrus would issue a decree to rebuild the temple (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1), which at that time was still intact. His prediction (160 years before Cyrus or his kingdom existed) seemed ludicrous at the time, since Jerusalem was secure and the temple was intact. About a hundred years later (586 BC), a Babylonian king named Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. (2 Kings 25:8-10) Then in 539, a king named Cyrus came to power and issued the decree. (Ezra 1:1-2) Therefore, when you read from the Old Testament, you may do so with the absolute assurance that it is the unchanged, uncorrupted, inspired, and authentic word of God.
Special Suggestions for Studying this Book
Follow the golden rule of interpretation: When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense, otherwise you end up with nonsense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate text, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, clearly indicate otherwise. Also, realize that since John was a First Century man, he would not understand everything he saw that occurs in our time. As a result, his descriptions would be from a first-century perspective and not entirely clear to either him or us. Besides, Daniel 12:4 tells us that the Lord wanted Daniel to “shut up the words and seal the book until the time of the end. Then many shall run to and fro and search anxiously and knowledge shall be increased.” It seems clear that not until the present day could anyone really understand the prophecies of Daniel, or the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, or the entire Book of Revelation.
Sir Isaac Newton, brilliant scientist and mathematician, considered by many to have had the highest IQ of anyone before or since, had what many have referred to as Newton’s Riddle. This quote from Newton is possibly what they are referring to: “About the time of the end, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the prophecies of the Bible, and insist on their literal interpretation in the midst of much clamor and opposition.” (Sir Isaac Newton – 1643-1727 AD)
The Modern Prophecy Movement
In this generation there is an increased interest in end times events, Bible prophecy, the occult, space invaders or extraterrestrials, and the supernatural. This is no coincidence. Just as in the time of Christ’s first Advent, the satanic and demonic activity is ramping up because the enemy knows what time we are living in. Movies, television series, and books have emerged that cover strange things that are very popular today such as zombies, vampires, possession, paranormal activity, and so on. There has also been the appearance of many books that cover Bible prophecy, and those books make Bible prophecy more understandable to the common man. An unprecedented interest by the average Christian in Bible Prophecy in general and the Apocalypse in particular is driving some ministers of all persuasions back to their studies and producing articles, books, and DVDs. It is being studied by both friend and foe with a renewed interest. By the former to explain it better, by the latter to explain it away. I guess we could say that at least it is being studied.
The most amazing research in connection with the Apocalypse was done by a line of Biblical scholars. Through centuries they took the Apocalypse seriously and sought to understand its message in the most literal futuristic sense possible. They came from many different denominations, and saw its primary message as prophetic to the events that occur just before, during, and after the Second Coming of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. While seeking to understand other views, Hal Lindsey has studied continuously to understand this unique Book of Revelation, with all of its challenges, for over 45 years.
There are some who believe the Church must stay on earth during a portion or all of the Tribulation to lead the unbelievers to Jesus Christ. This can be easily proven to be false. Among many other scriptures, 1 Thessalonians 1:10 says, “And to wait for His Son from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” Romans 5:9 says, “Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” Ephesians 5:6 says, “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” 1 Thessalonians 5:7-8 teaches us that we are children of light and not children of darkness. Then, Amos 5:18 and 20 says, “Woe to you who desire the Day of the Lord (the Tribulation). Why would you want the Day of the Lord? It is darkness, and not light…Shall not the Day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? Even very dark with no brightness in it?” Then, and most dramatically, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says, “For God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” John 8:12 says, “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” And what is darkness other than God’s wrath? Isaiah 13:9 says, “Behold, the Day of the Lord (darkness) cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land and the whole earth desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.” Zephaniah 1:7, 14, 15, 17, 18 says, “Be silent before the Lord God, for the Day of the Lord is near…the great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening fast…that day is a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness…and I will bring distress upon men, so that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung…the whole earth shall be consumed in the fire of His jealous wrath; for a full, yes, a sudden end will He make of all the inhabitants of the earth.” And Romans 1:18 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” With all these considered, it should be clear that the day of the Lord, the Tribulation, the central focus of the Book of Revelation, the time of Jacob’s trouble where the Jews are given their last chance to come to their Messiah, to restore God’s Chosen People to Himself, is NOT for the Church, the Body of Christ. John 5:24 says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you. He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” We are removed from this earth in the Rapture of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; saved “out of” [“ek’] the wrath to come – Revelation 3:10) prior to the start of the Tribulation and we experience a “pre-tribulation” Rapture! The wrath of God is meant only for those who live in rebellion against Him, and not for those who have accepted Jesus as Savior (Ephesians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). They have kept His command to persevere through the tribulations of this life, and so He will also keep them from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth (Colossians 3:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58; Revelation 3:10).
Only a Bible illiterate is unable to see that these are the last days, the End Times, the days leading up to the Rapture and then the day of the Lord. No book in the Bible has been more discredited than Revelation except for its counterpart in the Old Testament, the Book of Daniel, and especially by the Church itself. Modern erroneous and heretical teaching of Replacement Theology or Covenant Theology, Chrislam, and the prosperity gospel all take away the importance and even the relevance of Biblical prophecy. Tim LaHaye stated that proper understanding of Revelation and associated prophecy motivates Christians to consistent dedication and service. It lifts their spirits and gives them a hope in the future that no other book in the world provides. To understand the will of God which true Christians want to be fully engulfed in, we need to know His Word thoroughly. And up to a third of the Bible was once unfulfilled prophecy, now with much of those prophecies fulfilled. What is left unfulfilled are the prophecies concerning and surrounding Christ’s Second Coming, Christ’s Millennial Kingdom, and the New Heaven and the New Earth. The Book of Revelation is a source of what is to come on the Earth in the Day of the Lord. It is not a pretty picture. It is motivation for all of us to spread the gospel of Christ so that few instead of many will go through the Day of the Lord. That is why we should study this amazing book.
With all this information on the End Times, and knowing that we have a short time left before the Rapture, what about the outreach to the globe with the Gospel? The true missionary and evangelistic outreach of the church is one of the best kept secrets of our times. The prince of the power of the air, the god of this age, would have us believe that the whole world is following him. The news outlets of today do not cover good news, only bad news or propaganda on globalism. Not much if anything is covered about the spread of Christianity throughout the world. That is probably the biggest lie of our day. In reality, millions from all over the world are coming to Christ. In China, the Holy Spirit is bringing millions to faith in Christ through the ministry of faithful “house churches”. Still others are hearing good news via satellite. In Muslim countries, people are having visions and dreams of the Savior. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims are coming to Christ because they want a personal God, a personal Savior, and Jesus is that Savior. In all, millions of souls all over the world are coming to the Savior.
What is interesting is that the only religious group not tolerated today is Bible believing Christians. They are seen as intolerant because they insist that “Jesus is the only way.” The outrageous, cruel, and tyrannical beliefs and practices of Islam are tolerated by men today, but Christianity is vilified because we are “intolerant” of other beliefs because we know God says that only through His Son, Jesus Christ, is Heaven obtained. And, once we are removed by the Rapture, nothing on the religious horizon would impede the idolatrous worshipers of the world from uniting and becoming the Babylonian harlot that has for centuries been “drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Rev 17:6). It is clear from Revelation that these idolatrous religionists will continue to hate Jesus Christ and His new followers right into and through the Tribulation. What we as believers do not want to happen is to know that loved ones, friends, co-workers, people we know, people we do not know will go through the horrible wrath of the Tribulation because we failed to share the Gospel with them. So, let’s learn of the judgments of God in Revelation so we can be sure that we are motivated to evangelize.
The Setting and Author
The apostle John identifies himself as the human author and witness of the Revelation three times in the first nine verses (verses 1-2, 4, 9). He humbly calls himself God’s “servant” (doulos, “bond-slave”), not even referring to himself as an apostle. In verse 9, he adds that he is “both your brother and companion in tribulation and the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.” He claims no special prominence or distinction; in his own mind, he is just a “regular guy” enduring the same trials in his walk to God’s Kingdom as any other Christian. These few details are surprisingly more information than John normally includes about himself in either his gospel or his three epistles.
Traditionally, the Book of Revelation has been ascribed to the apostle John, son of Zebedee (Matthew 4:21), “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20; 13:23; 20:2), and no creditable argument has been put forward to dispute his authorship. When it was written about AD 95, he would certainly have been a very old man, but by all accounts, the apostle John lived to be nearly 100 years old, dying a peaceful death in the area of Ephesus sometime during the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan (ad 98-117).
John informs us that he “was on the island that is called Patmos” (Revelation 1:9), a small, rocky Aegean island just west of due south from Ephesus, employed as a prison or place of exile by the Roman emperors. Most prisoners were required to work the quarries and mines on the island, but John’s advanced age may have allowed him to avoid such backbreaking labor.
He writes that he was exiled there “for [because of] the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ,” an indication that his preaching had come to the attention of the Roman authorities, and judgment had gone against him. It is likely that John had spoken against the emperor cult (the worship of the current Roman emperor as a god, a practice that reached its height under Domitian, AD 81-96), and his exile rather than execution can only be attributed to Jesus’ prophecy of John not facing martyrdom (John 21:22). The apostle perhaps remained on Patmos for less than two years, as such exiles were routinely released upon the death of the emperor who had exiled them.
The apostle is giving the reader vital information about the time setting of his vision and thus the true application of the Book of Revelation. In a sense, the Book of Revelation is as current as today’s newspaper—even better, because we have it in advance!
By far, the most important feature of Revelation 1 is its long description of the Revelator Himself, Jesus Christ. John wants to be sure that his readers, the members of God’s church, realize not only Who is revealing the future to the church, but also just how special and important He is to us now. In a way, the apostle is adding a final chapter to his gospel, showing us the awesome glory, power, and eternal nature of our Savior in His present role as High Priest and Head of the church.
When John turns “to see the voice” (verse 12), he beholds “One like the Son of Man” (verse 13) standing amidst seven golden lampstands, later explicitly identified as the seven churches (verse 20). John sees a glorious Being who resembles his dear friend and Master, Jesus of Nazareth, but this Person is far beyond human. He is God, in many respects just as the prophets Daniel and Ezekiel describe Him from their visions (Daniel 10:5-6; Ezekiel 1:26-27). John sees Christ, “. . . clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength”. (Revelation 1:13-16)
John had seen something like this in the past, and he recognized who it was immediately: “[Jesus] was transfigured before them, His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as the light” (Matthew 17:2). If anything, this vision had an even greater impact on John than the transfiguration did, causing him to fall “at His feet as dead” (Revelation 1:17), again as both Ezekiel and Daniel did (Ezekiel 1:28; Daniel 10:8-9).
Laying His right hand on John (Revelation 1:17), perhaps in healing or in blessing, Jesus tells the aged apostle not to be afraid because “I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (verses 17-18). In less symbolic language, He says, “Relax, I am indeed the Eternal God, but I am also Jesus, your friend, whom you saw die and then rise from the dead. Look! This is what it is like to have eternal life! I now have all power over life and death.” Though he remained astonished, what a comfort that must have been to John!
And he passes it on to us so that we, too, might have both comfort and faith in what Jesus commands him to write, the Book of Revelation (verse 19). This final book of the canon is not the delusion of a senile old man on a sun-drenched Mediterranean isle, nor the deceptions of another, more sinister spirit whose aim is to distract and corrupt God’s people. No, the Book of Revelation is a direct communication from our Lord Himself, given in love for His sheep, especially for those whom He calls to face the turmoil and terror of that great day of God.
We have this confidence: that Jesus Christ has ascended to the Father, having fulfilled His every assignment and received all things; that He is “the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth” (verse 5) and more besides; and that He will soon return to earth to set things straight (verse 7). In writing the introduction to his book this way, John has endowed us with the background information and the attitude we need to understand the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it (vs 3).
Why was the Book of Revelation written from John’s Perspective?
The Apocalypse was written to seven churches on the mainland of Asia Minor. These seven churches were selected because they represented the types of churches and Christians which John knew and ministered to. These seven churches also mirror the history of the Church Age through the 2000 years from Christ to now. The occasion for this work was most certainly the heating up of the state persecution against Christians (1:9). This is Domitian persecution of John probably because of John’s unwillingness to go along with the rest of the known Roman world and declare Domitian as God. The “Seer of Patmos” (John) may well be wondering how far off the final fulfillment of prophecy of the Old Testament and Jesus Christ’s second Coming really was. Most likely, he believed that the persecutions he was presently undergoing indicated that the end of the age was just around the corner. As it turned out, they were a second wave of earnest fulfillments (just as Hadrian’s leveling of Jerusalem in 135 CE would be a third wave, etc.). But the eschatological hope was always present with the writers of the NT—particularly during troubled times, just as the need for perseverance was always present. The Revelation was intended to encourage believers in the midst of Roman persecution, by revealing that their Messiah was in control and would be the ultimate victor.
Roadmap to Revelation
Section One – Foundation and Blessing
In the first chapter, John begins this apocalyptic book by declaring seven things (the first group of “seven”): First, the source of the revelation of this book (1:1-3), followed by, second, a salutation to seven churches in Asia Minor (1:4-8). This is immediately followed by a vision of the glorified Christ (1:9-20) in which, third, an outline of the book is uttered (1:19) [things past (1:1-20), things present (2:1–3:22), and things to come (4:1–22:21)]. After establishing, fourth, the setting (1:9-11), John discloses, fifth, a magnificent and terrifying sense of the resurrected and glorified Christ (1:12-16). Like Isaiah of old (Isaiah 6), because John had a clear vision of God, he gained, sixth, a deep sense of sin (cf. 1:17). The glorified Lord then, seventh, commissioned him to write this book (1:19-20).
Section Two – Letters to the Seven Churches
Chapters 2 and 3
The second section, chapters 2 and 3, is occupied with the Lord’s messages to seven churches (second group of “seven”) —the things present (2:1–3:22). A brief message, usually containing a rebuke and a promise, and always containing a self-description of the glorified Lord, was sent to: Ephesus (2:1-7), Smyrna (2:8-11), Pergamum (2:12-17), Thyatira (2:8-29), Sardis (3:1-6), Philadelphia (3:7-13), and Laodicea (3:14-22).
Section Three – The Tribulation – Chapters 4 through 18
Chapter 4 and 5 – Worthy is the Lamb
The third and largest section of the book deals with things future, specifically after the Rapture (4:1), and the judgments of God during the Tribulation (4:1–18:24). John begins with an introductory scene in heaven (4:1–5:14), revealing both the holy glory of God (4:1-11) and the redemptive work of the Lamb, the Lion from the tribe of Judah (5:1-14). Since the visions to follow will be horrific in their disclosure both of man’s depravity and God’s judgment, these twin themes needed to be shown to the apostle in a different light first. Thus John is introduced to the tribulation period (4:1–18:24) by first getting a dose of God’s holiness and the cost of redemption. Only in this light could he see the following visions properly.
Chapters 6 and 7 – The Seal Judgments, the First Parenthesis (144,000 Jewish Evangelists), and the Second Parenthesis (the martyred Tribulation Saints)
Then follows a series of judgments, all grouped in sevens. The first group of judgments is the (third group of “seven”) seven seal judgments (6:1–8:1), though they come in two waves. The first six are detailed (6:1-17), followed by two parenthetical sections (7:1-8 and 9-17) which are the first two of seven parentheses in the Book of Revelation. In this first parenthesis, the sealing of 144,000 Israelites (7:1-8) and the second parenthesis, worship of an innumerable number of (presumably Gentile) converts, tribulation martyrs (7:9-17), is revealed. In the midst of the outpouring of God’s wrath in the form of seven seals, this vision of hope and salvation emerges. Once again, God’s holiness (7:15-16) and Christ’s redemption (7:17) are emphasized. Immediately after this glorious sight, the seventh seal is poured out (8:1) which is the seven trumpet judgments.
Chapters 8, 9, 10, and 11 – The Trumpet Judgments and the Third and Fourth Parenthesis (Seven Thunders and the Two Witnesses)
The next series of judgments (fourth group of “seven”) is the seven trumpets (8:2–11:19), which are designed largely after the plagues on Egypt. These trumpet judgments are more drastic, definite, and final than the seal judgments, but not as universal as the bowl judgments to follow. Once again, after a graphic description of six judgments (8:2–9:21), there follows a third parenthesis (10:1–11), dealing with the little book and the seven thunders (fifth group of “seven”) which are, ominously, not to be revealed, and the fourth parenthesis of the two witnesses (11:1-14). As a sort of interlude or calm before the storm, a parenthesis just before the final judgment is given. And as with the first parenthesis, this one should remind him of the glory of God (10:6a), the necessity to carry out his own commission—in spite of the pain (10:6b-11), and the impenitence (not regretting sin) of men, even though they have witnesses (11:1-14). The seventh trumpet follows (11:15-19), which is the seven bowl judgments.
Chapters 12 and 13 – The Fifth and Sixth Parentheses (Israel and Satan, then the Gentiles and Satan)
Then, in rapid succession, are three more parentheses. First, parenthesis five is the woman and the war (12:1-18) described. The dragon who wages war on the woman is Satan; his hostility against the woman, Israel, and her child, the Messiah, are pictured quite vividly. This fifth parenthesis is describing the same events as are taking place in chapters 6-11, though from a different angle. Whereas in the earlier chapters God’s viewpoint was seen, now Satan’s is portrayed. The next parenthesis, number six, concerns two beasts (13:1-18). After Satan’s plans to consume the woman and her child had failed, he now contemplates his next move. Chapter 13 is the result of meditation. Now the beasts go after the saints (13:7), as well as the rest of the world (13:8).
Chapter 14 – The Seventh Parenthesis (Martyred Saints and Prelude to Great Tribulation)
A seventh parenthesis reverts back to the divine perspective (14:1-20), the judgment by the lamb. The scene first depicts the 144,000 worshipping him (14:1-5), followed by announcements of doom on the earth by three angels (14:6-12). In the midst of this prediction of coming judgment a blessing is pronounced on the saints who are martyred during it (14:13). The lamb is then pictured as a reaper (14:14-16) who reaps a global judgment resulting in a blood bath for the earth-dwellers (14:17-20).
Chapters 15 and 16 – The Bowl Judgments
The final series of judgments (the sixth group of “seven”) is the seven bowl judgments (15:1–18:24). There is a lengthy prelude to the judgments (15:1–16:1), which points to decisive results to be obtained during the judgments (15:5–16:1), though prefaced by a note of hope and perseverance seen in a new batch of martyrs singing in heaven (15:1-4). Then comes the judgments (16:2-21). Six out of seven of them are the same as the plagues on Egypt, only these are more climactic and universal.
Chapters 17 and 18 – Mystery Babylon
Chapter 17 deals with the spiritual Babylon, and chapter 18 with economic Babylon of the Tribulation. Care is taken to completely record the history of the rise of this “great harlot” (the rise of the ecumenical church that is led by a ‘pope-like’ figure) so that spiritual Babylon’s destruction can be seen though God’s eyes and justification for spiritual Babylon’s destruction is understood. Her name is called “Mystery, Babylon” (17:5), thus indicating that this is not the literal city, as can be seen in the interpretation given (17:18). The spirit of Babylon lives on in the secular city: in John’s day, it was Rome; in our day, Washington or New York. The economic fall of the great city is then described in 18:1-24. But rather than being a political and religious entity as in chapter 17, this city is commercial, as can be seen by those who lament over her demise (18:9-19). Though merchants and sea captains lament her fall, there is rejoicing by the godly (18:20).
Section 4 – The Second Coming, the Millennium, The Great White Throne, and the New Heaven and New Earth
Chapters 19, 20, 21, and 22:1-5
Section 4 deals with (seventh group of “seven”) seven last things (19:1–22:5). A transition is made to the millennial kingdom (19:1–20:15), but focusing on two women: the harlot and the bride (19:1-10). Once again, judgment is placed against a backdrop of blessing. Then, in rapid succession, come the seven last things (19:11–22:5)—the first six of which are in chronological sequence covering the millennial kingdom.
First, the second coming of Christ is disclosed (19:11-16). Second, the battle at the end of the age is envisioned, with an ensuing feast for birds (19:17-21). Third, Satan is bound for one thousand years (20:1-3). Fourth, the millennial kingdom is described (20:4-6). Fifth, at the end of the one thousand years, Satan is again unleashed and destroyed (20:7-10). Sixth, the Great White Throne judgment which takes place at the end of the millennium is recorded (20:11-15).
The seventh last thing (21:1–22:5) is the eternal state. That God has created a new heaven and new earth is taken by faith, for it is declared from the throne (21:3-8). John then tells us of the New Jerusalem (21:9–22:5). It is a dazzling city (21:9-21), in which there is no temple because God and the Lamb are its temple (21:22-27). Out of its midst is flowing the river of life (22:1-3a), and God and the Lamb provide its light (22:3b-5).
Chapter 22:6-21 – Conclusion and Warning
After this splendid finale to a vision of the future, John concludes his book with an appeal to the readers (22:6-21). Three give their testimony of the veracity of this book: an angel (22:6-11), Jesus himself (22:12-17), and John (22:18-21).
- Section One – The Things Past: Christ (1:1-20)
- Introduction (1:1-8)
- Prologue (1:1-3)
- Salutation (1:4-8)
- The Vision of Christ (1:9-20)
- The Setting (1:9-11)
- The Scene (1:12-16)
- The Subsequent Response and Commission (1:17-20)
- Section Two – The Things Present: The Churches (2:1–3:22)
- The Message to Ephesus (2:1-7)
- The Message to Smyrna (2:8-11)
- The Message to Pergamum (2:12-17)
- The Message to Thyatira (2:18-29)
- The Message to Sardis (3:1-6)
- The Message to Philadelphia (3:7-13)
- The Message to Laodicea (3:14-22)
III. Section Three – The Things Future: The Consummation (4:1–22:21) The Tribulation Period (4:1–18:24)
- Introduction: The Vision of Heaven (4:1–5:14)
- The Throne of the Lord God Almighty (4:1-11)
- The Book of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (5:1-14)
- The Seven Seal Judgments (6:1–8:1)
- The First Seal (6:1-2)
- The Second Seal (6:3-4)
- The Third Seal (6:5-6)
- The Fourth Seal (6:7-8)
- The Fifth Seal (6:9-11)
- The Sixth Seal (6:12-17)
(First Parenthesis: The 144,000 Israelites and the Innumerable Multitude [7:1-17])
- The Sealing of the 144,000 (7:1-8)
- The Worship of the Tribulation Saints (7:9-17)
- The Seventh Seal (8:1)
- The Seven Trumpet Judgments (8:2–11:19)
- The First Trumpet (8:2-7)
- The Second Trumpet (8:8-9)
- The Third Trumpet (8:10-11)
- The Fourth Trumpet (8:12-13)
- The Fifth Trumpet (9:1-12)
- The Sixth Trumpet (9:13-21)
(Second Parenthesis: The Little Book and the Two Witnesses [10:1–11:14])
- The Little Book (10:1-11)
- The Two Witnesses (11:1-14)
- The Seventh Trumpet (11:15-19)
(Third Parenthesis: The Woman and the War [12:1-18])
- The Birth of the Male Child (12:1-6)
- The War in Heaven (12:7-12)
- The Persecution of the Woman (12:13-18)
(Fourth Parenthesis: The Two Beasts [13:1-18])
- The Beast out of the Sea (13:2-10)
- The Beast out of the Land (13:11-18)
(Fifth Parenthesis: The Judgment by the Lamb [14:1-20])
- The 144,000 Worshippers of the Lamb (14:1-5)
- The Three Angelic Announcements of Judgment (14:6-12)
1) Against the Whole Earth (14:6-7)
2) Against Babylon (14:8)
3) Against Worshippers of the Beast (14:9-12)
- Blessing for Martyrs (14:13)
- The Reaper of Judgment (14:14-16)
- The Vintage of Judgment (14:17-20)
- The Seven Bowl Judgments (15:1–18:24)
- The Great Judgments Announced (15:1–16:21)
- Introduction to the Bowl Judgments (15:1–16:1)
1) The Song of Moses Sung by Martyrs (15:1-4)
2) The Scene in Heaven of Seven Angels (15:5–16:1)
- The First Bowl (16:2)
- The Second Bowl (16:3)
- The Third Bowl (16:4-7)
- The Fourth Bowl (16:8-9)
- The Fifth Bowl (16:10-11)
- The Sixth Bowl (16:12-16)
- The Seventh Bowl (16:17-21)
- The Great Harlot Judged (17:1-18)
- The Vision of the Harlot (17:1-6)
- The Interpretation of the Vision (17:7-18)
1) The Present Status (17:7-8)
2) The Future Judgment (17:9-18)
- a) The Seven Heads (17:9-11)
- b) The Ten Horns (17:12-14)
- c) The Harlot (17:15-18)
- The Great City Fallen (18:1-24)
- Announcement of Babylon’s Fall (18:1-3)
- The Cause of the Fall (18:4-8)
- The Lamentation over the Fall (18:9-19)
1) By Kings (18:9-10)
2) By Merchants (18:11-17)
3) By Sea Captains (18:18-19)
- The Rejoicing Over the Fall (18:20)
- The Results of the Fall (18:21-24)
- Section Four – The Seven Last Things (19:1–22:5)
The Millennial Kingdom (19:1–20:15)
- Introduction: Praise for Judgment of the Harlot and Wedding of the Bride (19:1-10)
- The Harlot’s Judgment (19:1-5)
- The Bride’s Wedding (19:6-10)
- The First Last Thing: The Second Coming of Christ (19:11-16)
- The Second Last Thing: The Supper and the Slaughter (19:17-21)
- The Third Last Thing: The Binding of Satan (20:1-3)
- The Fourth Last Thing: The Kingdom of the Messiah (20:4-6)
- The Fifth Last Thing: The Loosing of Satan (20:7-10)
- The Sixth Last Thing: The Great White Throne (20:11-15)
The Eternal State (21:1–22:5)
- The Seventh Last Thing: The New Heaven and the New Earth (21:1–22:5)
- The Visions Declared (21:1-2)
- The New Heaven and Earth: Declared from the Throne (21:1-8)
- The New Jerusalem: Seen by John (21:9–22:5)
1) The New City (21:9-21)
2) The “Non-Temple” (21:22-27)
3) The River of Life (22:1-3a)
4) The Light of the Lamb (22:3b-5)
- Section Five – Epilogue and Warning (22:6-21)
- The Testimony of the Angel (22:6-11)
- The Testimony of Jesus (22:12-17)
- The Testimony of John (22:18-21)