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Revelation Overview

WOW!         We made it!

Revelation is the last book of both the New Testament and the whole Bible! In a very real sense it is the last book of the Old Testament as well!

The Old Testament could have the three words “to be continued” at the end of it. For it to be fulfilled Messiah has to come and do His work as the Suffering Servant and the Conquering King who fulfills all of the OT prophesies.

The Gospels come along and show Jesus the Messiah came in a “First Coming” and atoned for the sins of the world, fulfilling the Suffering Servant passages made in places like Isaiah 53.

All who believe in His name now and trust in His atoning sacrifice, whether Jew or Gentile, will receive eternal life, and God’s Kingdom rule will begin in their lives. 

But someone has said that for every 1 prophecy made in the Old Testament about Christ’s First Coming as the Suffering Servant, there are 8 prophecies about what we would call Christ’s Second Coming as Conquering King, where He will reign on the throne promised to David in the land promised to Abraham.

When Christ came to His people, under the yoke of Roman oppression, it was easy for them to so emphasize the Conquering King passages that they missed His fulfillment of the Suffering Servant passages.

One place this is clearly seen is that even Jesus’ own disciples, who readily acknowledged that His resurrection proved He was the Messiah, are still expecting that Conquering King reign to begin right before He ascends back to Heaven.

Read Acts 1:6-8

This would have been the perfect time for Jesus to correct them for taking Old Testament prophecies literally and tell them to spiritualize them and apply them to the church.

Instead of that, Jesus affirms that in a future day, He will return again and restore the Kingdom to Israel, ruling the world from Jerusalem.

In the meantime, they are to be His witnesses to all the nations, making disciples and planting churches. Thus we refer to this current time we are in as the church age, before the future ages unfold.

The Book of Acts shows the gospel the church preached permeating the Roman Empire, poised to reach out to the entire world.

The letters of Paul and the others clarify Christian belief, doctrine, and behaviors as they live out their faith in the world.

In the gospels and the letters there is some teaching about the end times after the church age, including references to a rapture of believers in places like John 14 and I Thessalonians 4.

But in the beautiful unfolding of God’s Word, He left it to His beloved disciple John to give us the most comprehensive understanding of the ages to come after this church age! The result is the beautiful Book of Revelation!

A Closer look at Revelation:

1:1 - The Revelation of Jesus Christ… 1:2 - The testimony about Jesus Christ!

Revelation is first about a person, one of the most comprehensive portraits of Jesus in the Bible! Then it is about future events, especially His Second Coming (1:7)!

The word for quickly in 1:1 indicates “imminence.” What John is going to tell us about overshadows everything else happening!

Like if you had an important court date that could send you to prison. If that was coming up on the 23rd of the month, you would constantly have that on your mind as the day approached! The world has a court date with their God, and it overshadows everything else!

1:3     A blessing is promised for those who read, hear, and keep what Revelation teaches.

Revelation is three kinds of literature in one:

A prophecy (1:3).

With prophecies, we look for a literal fulfillment.

A letter (1:4).

First recipients were the seven churches of Asia, but intended for all churches of all time (see 2:7).

Revelation has some “apocalyptic language.”

The word for revelation (1:1) is where we get our word apocalypse from.

Apocalyptic language uses stark language to make a point: The Dragon in Chapter 12 represents Satan.

There were other apocalyptic books of antiquity that used exaggerated language to make a point, so some interpreters minimize some portions of Revelation, dismissing its statements as exaggerated language.

So later when we are told of a coming time when a third of the people on earth die, they would take that to simply mean, “a whole lot of people will die.”

I think that is a mistake because the word Apocalypse simply means “unveiling.” The book unveils Jesus Christ and end times events. Where it uses what has been called “apocalyptic” language it often explains itself, like making clear that the Dragon represents Satan.

I would argue Revelation is much more of a prophetic book than it is an apocalyptic book!

Three times in chapter one we are told that John wrote this down; In later years John ministered in Ephesus. Verse 9 also tells us he wrote it from the island of Patmos.

During the persecution under Domitian, political prisoners were sent to the island of Patmos. John probably received the Revelation around 95 AD.

In verse 9 he refers to himself as the recipients partner in tribulation, kingdom and perseverance for Jesus.

In verse 10 he says he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, no doubt to bring a message of encouragement to his fellow prisoners later that day in “makeshift church.” Boy did he ever get a message to give them!


First time John has seen Jesus in 60 years!

He is not the babe in a manger; He is not the man being killed on a cross; He is the All knowing, All powerful, Everywhere Present Son of Man!

This image in verses 12-18 rounds out our biblical portrait of Jesus, and I submit to you this is how we ought to think of  Jesus as we pray to Him!

1:19 holds the key to outlining Revelation:

Chapter one is the things John has seen: The Returning King.

Chapters 2-3 are the things that presently are: the Church Age.

Chapters 4-22 are the things which will be: ages to come after Church Age.

1:20 lets us know that Christ is among his churches (the lampstands) and holds their pastors (the stars) in his hand!

The letters of chapters 2-3 are a comprehensive portrait of churches of all ages.

I don’t believe each represents a particular age in the life of the church universal; that to me is over-interpretation from overzealous interpreters in the past.

The letters follow a formula:

Addressee; Cool Statements about Jesus; A commendation; A rebuke; A call to repent; A Promise to overcomers; A plea to listen to what the Spirit says to the churches (plural). Jesus is shown actively knowing their strengths and weaknesses!

Is Revelation 3:10 a promise that the church won’t go through the coming Tribulation?                Yes, I think so!

Revelation sure does lay out nicely if you hold that view.

There seem to be three purposes for the Tribulation:

The beginning of judgment on the Satanic world system

The revival and re-gathering of Israel for Christ’s millennial reign

Many last chances for those that don’t know Christ to repent

After chapter 3 the word church doesn’t occur to the very end, but the word “earthdwellars” does. 

If I am wrong, I am not worried, because I belong to Jesus, and He has already promised to be with us no matter what we go through!

Chapters 4-5 are a beautiful look into Heaven; in chapter 4 God is celebrated as Creator, while in Chapter 5 He is celebrated as Redeemer.

Those 2 doctrines are probably the ones Satan attacks the hardest even today.

4:1     Come up here…I will show you…“after this…”     Just like 1:19 had said!

5:1     The scroll is basically the title deed of the earth. Chapter 6 makes clear that this scroll being opened will initiate the next age, the tribulation.   

For Satan to go down, one needs to come forward able to defeat him and set things right! That’s why John says he cried and cried when he saw no one able to open the scroll – because no one could undo what Satan had done to earth.

5:5     Jesus is able to open the scroll and initiate the next age of history.

5:8     Prayers of saints in Heaven!                So pray now, folks, pray now!

5:9     The great promise that every people group will be represented in Heaven!                                                                   So witness now, folks, witness now!

5:13   Every creature in Heaven worships!    So worship now, folks, worship now!

Chapters 6-19 are the Bibles most extensive coverage of the 7-year time of Tribulation, with the last half being the Great Tribulation.

Opening the 7 seals means that finally this evil world system will be judged and Jesus will soon be returning to earth and setting up His earthly kingdom. 

How do we know the Tribulation will be around 7 years?                Daniel 9:27

That’s also why we call the Tribulation the 70th week of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27)

The church age is the interval of time between those first 69 sevens and the 70th seven!

Chapter 6 covers the seal judgments, when God’s wrath begins passively. Chapters 8-9 cover the trumpet judgments, when God’s wrath intensifies. Chapters 15-16 cover the bowl judgments, when God’s wrath is completed before Christ’s return. 

I take the telescopic view of the tribulation: the 7th seal contains all the trumpet judgments; the 7th trumpet judgment contains the unrevealed 7 thunder judgments, and the 7th thunder judgment contains all the bowl judgments.

Those appear to be chronological; we debate whether the other material which is  presented in interludes is in chronological order or back and forth.

The Holy Spirit no longer restrains evil during this time (2 Thess. 2:6); The Lord no longer protects earth from cosmic fallout. The Beast/Antichrist emerges and works with a False Prophet to keep the world under Satan’s sway (Chapter 13, 17).

But God is still at work during the time of the Tribulation. In Chapter 11 we see 2 Jewish witnesses sharing with the entire world, hated by the Antichrist! In chapter 7 we read of 144,000 Jewish witnesses reaching the world for Christ! I believe the two come first and inspire the 144,000, but I may be wrong! 

Chapter 12 is the center of the Book of Revelation and poetically describes the Defeat of Satan!                             Read 12:7-12

Defeated and constrained, Satan will persecute Israel hard for the last half of the tribulation. The O.T. called it the “Day of Jacob’s Trouble.” See also Daniel 9:27.

14:6-7   Perhaps my favorite verses in Revelation –one last chance, earth!

Ch. 18   Babylon goes down to the lament of the unrepentant and the joy of the saints!

Ch. 19   The marriage supper of the Lamb; The Second Coming of Jesus Christ!


An angel throws Satan into the abyss for a 1,000 years; The 1,000 years reign of Christ on Old Earth happens before New Earth comes

Jesus said to them, “I assure you: in the Messianic Age, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me will also sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel.”             -Matthew 19:28    

Surely this is what the Apostles desired when they asked Jesus in Acts 1:6, “Lord, at this time are you restoring the Kingdom to Israel?”

There are numerous Old Testament passages that seem to speak of this time of the Millennium, although none specify as it as a thousand years. When you look at them, though, it seems that this time is very much different than the earth as we know it now, but not quite the New Earth yet. (Isaiah 65:17-25).

The Millennium brings up lots of questions, and I try to avoid speculation!

We see two big things about the millennium time in our passage here:

Satan won’t be around, and Jesus will be! Hallelujah!

Satan thrown into the Lake of Fire!

At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan is released and goes out to deceive the nations.

What does this look like? I don’t know!

Who is in the army he recruits for battle? Certainly not the redeemed of all time!

Demons?     That’s a good guess!

The unsaved dead of all generations now raised, spoken of in verse 4?   Maybe!

Any children born during the millennium who refused to believe?          Could be!

Not sure, don’t know! But I do understand verse 9! Fire consumes them!

And then the verse the whole Bible’s been waiting for, Rev. 20:10!

The Devil is thrown into the Lake of Fire Forever! Hallelujah!

20:11-15     The Great White Throne Judgment                    

Based on the fact that the old Earth flees from God’s presence in this moment, I believe all people who have ever lived will be before God here.

There will be the book of deeds, and the book of life. Believers are written in the Book of life, and so won’t be judged by the book of deeds.

There is some time there will be rewards given to believers. I join those who think that will be a separate time than this.

But I do think believers will be there, based on passages like Revelation 3:9, where people from the synagogue of Satan will have to apologize to believers for persecuting them.

This passage is clear: No one being judged in the book of deeds that they have done will be going anywhere except the Lake of Fire. No one will have had enough good deeds of their own to merit Heaven. If only they had turned to Christ!

According to places like John 3:36, all sin will be dealt with one of two places: for believers, sin is taken care of by what Jesus Christ did on the cross for sinners. For unbelievers who reject Christ, their sin will be dealt with in the Lake of Fire.

Why then a time of judgment from the book of deeds?

Just as there are rewards in Heaven based on what is done for Christ, it appears the Lake of Fire will have degrees of punishment based on what sinners did (Matthew 11:24).

21:1-22:5    The New Jerusalem on the New Earth                          

In verse 2 John sees the place Jesus has been working on for over 2,000 years (John 14)!                         See 2 Peter 3:13

He goes on to describe it in beautiful detail!

Believers will live in this place in their new bodies (I Cor. 15). God will be with them forever, and they will worship! They will get to know angels and other saints!

I can’t wait!

No more Satan, no more sin, no more death! No more pain, no more grief! The previous things have all passed away! 

I love to think about how God’s going to renovate and expand the earth, because it lets us know that Satan didn’t even win earth!

Genesis 1-3 compared with Revelation 20-22:

Genesis 1-3                                         Revelation 20-22

Satan tempting mankind                      Satan thrown into Lake of Fire forever!

Paradise Lost                                       Paradise Restored

Tree of life guarded                             Tree of life granted

God and man together in garden          God and man together on New Earth

No sin                                                  No more sin

No death                                              No more death

22:6-21       The Final Invitation               

The Spirit and the Bride say ‘Come to Christ and live!’              22:17