Section One – Foundation and Blessing – “The things you have seen…(The Things Past)” Revelation 1:19
|Millennium||The Millennium is a literal one-thousand-year period, when Jesus Christ will reign as king on Earth. During this period, the saints of the New Testament will reign and rule with Christ over the earth. Creation will be at peace, and the earth will prosper. (See Revelation 20:1-7, Matthew 19:28-29, Isaiah 2:1-4, Isaiah 11:6-9)|
|Pre-millennial||The belief we are in a period prior to the Millennium. Those who view the Bible as literal and Revelation as “Futurist” have this view.|
|A-millennial||The letter “A” before a word negates the meaning; hence this view denies a literal millennium. This view holds the Millennium referred to in Revelation as symbolic.|
|Post-millennial||This view sees the current age as having past the Millennium. We are therefore living in a post-millennium age.|
|Rapture||Derived from the Latin word rapio meaning, “Caught up”. The “Rapture” teaches Christ will descend from Heaven, and call those who know Him into Heaven. Those who are alive will be transformed into their resurrected body, at the same time; the dead in Christ will also receive their resurrection bodies in the twinkling of an eye. (I Thess 4:15-17, I Cor. 15:52) This is part of the First Resurrection.|
|In-Between Prophecies||The time after the Rapture and before the seven-year Tribulation, a time when most likely the Psalm 83 War and the Ezekiel 38 and 39 War takes place among a few other prophecies of the old Testament|
|Tribulation||A period preceding the Glorious return of Christ, where suffering on earth will be unequalled in the history of the world according to Christ. The period is seven-years, divided into three parts, a first half, mid-point and a last half. (Matthew 24:15-22, Daniel 12:1, Jeremiah 30:7, Daniel 9:27 )|
|Pre-tribulation Rapture||Before the seven year tribulation, those who know Christ will be raptured or caught up to be with Christ and return with him at the Second Coming.|
|Mid-tribulation Rapture||The view that at the mid-point of the Tribulation period Christ will descend from heaven and call those who know him into heaven.|
|Pre-Wrath Rapture||The view that at the time just before the final Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath Christ will catch up His church. This is after the mid-point of the Tribulation.|
|Post-tribulation Rapture||The view that immediately following the tribulation period, Christ will catch up his church and then immediately return with them in his second coming. Matthew 24:29|
|Abomination of Desolation||The act of desolating the Jewish Temple. Antiochus IV Epiphanes (167 B.C.) desecrated the Jewish Temple and installed in the temple an image of Zeus resembling himself. According to Christ, in the end times a similar event will take place in the Third Temple. The Antichrist will commit the same act of Antiochus IV, declaring his deity, demand worship.(Yet to be rebuilt) (Daniel 8:12, Daniel 9:24-27, Daniel 11:31, 12:11, Matthew 24:15, Revelation 11)|
|Antichrist||The final earthly king who will oppose Christ and attempt to finally destroy the Jewish people. He will be killed at the Second Coming, along with the False prophet who proclaimed his glories. He along with the False Prophet will be the first two occupants of the Lake of Fire. (Daniel 7:11,23-26, Daniel 9:27, 2 Thess. 2:4, Revelation 13:1-8) The Antichrist is referred to as the Beast in Revelation 13.|
|False Prophet||An end times spiritual leader who along with the Antichrist, the Beast, deceives those who dwell on earth. He performs miracles, including calling fire down from heaven and instructing the people on the earth to worship the Antichrist. He along with the Antichrist are the first two occupants of the lake of Fire. (Revelation 13:11-17, 19:20)|
|Armageddon||Literally in Hebrew “Hills of Megiddo”, a location to the north of Jerusalem where the final battle on Earth will take place. The nations will be gathered to battle Christ who will descend from Heaven and destroy the last earthly powers. (Revelation 16:16, 19:19-21)|
|Eschatology||The study of prophecy and the “Last Days”|
|Dispensational Theology||Views the church and Israel as two distinct groups with separate dispensations. The word dispensation means administration and/or age. 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. (Hebrews 1:1-2, Romans 11:25)|
|Covenant Theology (Replacement Theology)||The view that God has one covenant with man, the Covenant of Grace. This covenant starts at Adam and is fulfilled in Christ who died for the sins of all humanity. In this view, the Church has replaced Israel, and is the “New Israel” which incorporates both believing Jews and Gentiles.|
|Glorious Return (Second Coming)||Distinct from the rapture, the Glorious Second Coming is the visible glorious return, as opposed to the catching up of the saints. Christ returns to the earth with His glory accompanied by the angels (Matthew 24:30, 25:30)|
|Seal Judgments||The judgments on the earth, following the opening of the seven seals on the scroll given to the “Lion of the tribe of Judah”, these events occur in the first half of the tribulation period. One quarter of the earth’s population dies in the first four seals opened.|
|Trumpet Judgments||The Seven Trumpet judgments take place in the first half of the tribulation following the seal judgments. They end at the mid-point of the tribulation period. One third of the earth’s remaining population is killed in the 6th trumpet judgment.|
|Bowl Judgments||The final judgments in the book of Revelation, and the worst judgments leading to the return of Christ, are poured out in the second half of the Tribulation period.|
Roadmap to Revelation
Section One – Foundation and Blessing – The Things Past
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 – The Things Present
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 – The Things Future – 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 Seven Last Things
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 which is praise for the destruction of Babylon as well as the Marriage of the Lamb to His Bride. 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).
Section 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).
Revelation Chapter One
A good place to start is at the beginning. Verse 1 opens the book with the words, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” This is the book’s real title, not what the Greeks titled it, Apokalypsis Ioannou—”The Revelation of John.” In a sense, the apostle John is merely a witness or observer of the visions and sayings that we find within these twenty-two chapters, one who faithfully wrote them down for the instruction, preparation, and edification of the church (verse 2). John actually “saw”, with his own eyes, the things he is writing about. How do we know? Because all Scripture is given by God and is trustworthy. (2 Timothy 3:16)
Apokalypsis means “unveiling,” “disclosure,” “revealing”, or “revelation,” which is just the opposite of what most people suppose it means. The book is not intended to be a collection of arcane prophecies, mysteries, symbols, and warnings, but an uncovering of knowledge about “things which must shortly take place.” As verse 1 maintains as the theme of the book, the Father gave the contents of Revelation to Jesus Christ, who as Head of the church passed them on to His disciples through John, so that they would have all the facts that God allowed about the immanent future. God does not desire the book of Revelation to be a frustrating, impenetrable enigma, but as a gift of His grace, a sharing of privileged information. This source of the Book of Revelation, God and His Son Jesus, is the first of seven things in Chapter 1 (source of Revelation, salutation to churches, outline of book, setting of writing, Glorified Christ, sense of sin, and commission to write). This group of “seven” is the first of seven such groups in the entire Book of Revelation.
Many so-called biblical scholars want to deny the wrath and horror described so vividly in a literal, future Tribulation. They want to make the entire book symbolic, beyond any comprehension, full of allegory, mainly hyperbole, and mysterious apocalyptic literature not to be taken seriously. But, looking carefully at Revelation through normal interpretation and common sense, the book can be seen as describing literal and historical events, many of which were predicted in the Old Testament. And many of John’s descriptions of what he saw when he was transported to heaven in visions led by the Holy Spirit show that he could not adequately describe what he saw since what he saw was so far into the future. Throughout the book, John uses two Greek words about 100 times. Those words mean “it seems to be” or “something like” or “like”. Obviously, John had never seen such things before and he struggled to make adequate descriptions of what he saw in order to obey Jesus who told him to write down the things he “heard” and “saw” (1:11). For this reason, we must be cautious NOT to read about these future events through the eyes of the present. We must let the book speak for itself and let the book reveal what it has to say as if we were watching a movie of future events. We must take everything literally, all as future events, and refer often to the book of Daniel and other Old Testament references when we read Revelation.
The Book of Revelation is not only the last of Scripture; it is a summary of the entire Word of God. Because of this, verse 3 pronounces a blessing on those “who [read] and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it.” This verse is similar in form to the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:3-11, and in fact, it is the first of seven beatitudes in the book (see also Revelation 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14). This blessing falls not on those who only read or hear what is written in the book, but on those who also “keep” or heed it. Revelation is full of exhortations to belief and action—God wants His unveiling to spur us to obedience and to a closer relationship with Him. The thrust of Revelation is not necessarily on knowing what is coming but on being prepared for it when it comes, which is accomplished by conforming to God’s instructions.
The final words of the benediction convey the motivation for responding to Revelation’s warning: “. . . for the time is near.” “Near” can be translated “it is certain, guaranteed, sure to take place”. So, in just the first three verses, the idea of imminence has already appeared twice (see also “shortly take place” in verse 1). Our Savior wants the reader to catch a sense of urgency immediately. Elsewhere, biblical authors use similar wording—”soon,” “quickly,” “at hand,” “the time is short”—to give the suggestion of proximity without being precise. Evidently, God feels that the best Christians are fashioned in an atmosphere of expectancy. This is reminiscent of Jesus’ almost paradoxical remark in Matthew 24:44: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect Him.”
The five subsequent verses (4-8) comprise an extended greeting to the seven churches in Asia (verse 4, later specifically named in verse 11, as well as in chapters 2 and 3). As the human author of the book, John includes himself as a sender of the greeting, but the bulk of it reemphasizes the real authors: God the Father, shown as eternal and sovereign, and Jesus Christ, extolled as “the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth” (verse 5). The greeting also includes “from the seven Spirits who [or which] are before [the Father’s] throne” (verse 4). This phrase refers to the sevenfold description of the Spirit of the Lord in Isaiah 11:2 (the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, reverential fear, and obedient fear). The book of Revelation itself identifies the seven Spirits as equivalent to the Lamb’s “seven eyes, which are . . . sent out into all the earth” (Revelation 5:6). These “seven eyes” probably allude to Zechariah 3:9 and 4:10, where they are shown to be “upon the stone,” a symbol of the Branch or Messiah, and directly described as “the eyes of the Lord which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.” In addition, Revelation 3:1 states Christ “has [or possesses] the seven Spirits of God,” and Revelation 4:5 calls them “seven lamps of fire . . . burning before the throne.”
John ensures that we understand that Jesus is the same One who exhibited His love for us (in His First Coming) by sacrificing Himself for the forgiveness of our sins and made possible our future glorification as future kings and priests (verses 5-6). Verse 7 refers directly to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as King and Judge and that every eye shall see him indicating that no man has any excuse. In verse 8, he carries the identification even farther by quoting Jesus’ own words: “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'” Lest we misunderstand, John makes certain that there is no doubt that Jesus is eternally existent, from eternity past to eternity future, the Lord of the Old Testament, the first and the last (Isaiah 44:6; 41:4), the Almighty God, who “declares the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure'” (Isaiah 46:10). This extensive greeting certifies, not only that the prophecy has its source in God, but also that it will come to pass and every eye shall see Him.
In verse 9, John lets us know where he is at the time of the writing of the book, and the reason he was there. John, then, is “in the Spirit” on “the Lord’s Day” or Resurrection Day (Sunday) meaning John was worshipping and praying to the Lord in his exile (verse 10). John heard “behind him”, usually where we hear or sense the Lord speaking to us, a great voice that sounded like a trumpet. John is told in verse 11 to “write what you see” and send it to the seven churches which are listed and are further detailed in Chapters 2 and 3. John turned to see who was speaking and saw seven golden lampstands, really menorahs representing the seven churches (verse 12) and One in the middle of the lampstands like a Son of man clothed in royal garments (verse 13), which is a reference to Christ as seen in Daniel 7:13, 14. John describes Jesus in authority and divinity. Jesus is described as clothed as a priest (robe) and a judge (golden girdle or sash in verse 13); His head and His hair white as wool, white as snow, indicating purity, maturity, and wisdom not of this Earth (verse 14); His eyes flashing like a flame of fire indicating His omniscience and penetrating judgment straight into the heart (verse 14); His feet burnished, bright bronze which, in the Bible, is a symbol for judgment (verse 15); a thundering voice like the sound of many waters meaning a voice full of majesty and power (verse 15); in His right hand He held seven stars (see verse 20) who are the pastors of the seven churches (verse 16); out of His mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, a principle weapon of offense and a symbol of judgment (verse 16); and His face or countenance was like the sun shining at midday indicating His Glory above all Creation (verse 16). John’s reaction to seeing the Christ, the Son of the Living God, was to fall on his face, which is exactly what any one of us would do (verse 17). Jesus reaches down and touches John gently saying, “Do not be afraid!” Then the Lord says, “I am, the First and the last, the Ever-living One. I died, but see, I am, alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (verse 18) Jesus is Sovereign over physical death, spiritual death, and over the place of spiritual death, Hades.
Then, thankfully, John is given the command to record (verse 19 and the outline of the entire Book of Revelation), “the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place hereafter.” The “things which you have seen” refer to the glorified Lord Jesus in heaven. The “things which are” are the letters to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3. And the “things which are to come” refers to the future and what is in chapters 4 through 22.
Then, as a pattern for the rest of the Book of Revelation, verse 20 reveals exactly that the seven stars in Jesus’ right hand are the messengers or the angels assigned to the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches themselves. The “overcomers” mentioned at the end of the letters to the churches fit very well into what this same apostle wrote in 1 John 5:4 and 5, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”