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New Testament Survey:
The Book of Revelation


In This Lesson
Interpretations | Outline | Further Study


Determining the purposes for which Revelation was written depends, to some extent, on how one interprets the book, on the whole. Because of its complex imagery and symbolism, Revelation is the one of the most difficult biblical books to interpret.

Basically, there are four major alternative interpretations:

  1. The symbolic view maintains that Revelation is not a predictive prophecy, but a symbolic portrait of the conflict between spiritual principles.
  2. The preterist1 view [from the Latin praeter meaning "past"] maintains that it is a symbolic description of the Roman persecution of the Church, emperor worship, and the divine judgment of Rome.
  3. The historicist2 view approaches Revelation as a panorama of the history of the [Western] church from the first century to the coming Second Advent.
  4. The futurist view acknowledges the influence that the first-century conflict between Rome and the Church had upon the theme of this book. It also accepts most of Revelation as an inspired look into the time immediately preceding the Second Coming.

Advocates of all four interpretations agree that the book was written to assure the readers of the ultimate triumph of Christ over all who rise up against Him and His saints. The original readers were facing dark times of persecution, and even worse times would follow. They needed to be encouraged to persevere and stand firm in Christ in view of God's plan for the righteous and the wicked.

In the book of Revelation, the divine program of redemption is brought to fruition, and the holy name of God is vindicated before all creation. Although there are numerous prophecies in the Gospels and Epistles, Revelation is the only New Testament book that focuses almost exclusively on prophetic events.

The book of Revelation centers on the visions and symbols of the resurrected Christ, who alone has authority to judge the earth, to remake it, and to rule it in righteousness. Because of its many complex symbolic images and the varied interpretations of the book, it is not easy to outline. What follows here is a very general outline that seeks to outline the overall divine program of redemption without assigning specific earthly events -- past, present or future -- or trying to fix dates for those events.

For a more in-depth study of Revelation, I highly recommend the verse-by-verse Commentary written by Pastor Dave Honey. It goes into great detail and yet is quite easy to understand. You may download the PDF version here.

TO WHOM: Seven churches in Asia and believers in general.
PURPOSE: To reveal God's plan for the world.
1:19— "Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this."
19:11-16— "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords."
LIFE AND MINISTRY PRINCIPLE: In the end, good is always victorious over evil. God always accomplishes His established plan and purpose.
MAIN CHARACTERS: John, Antichrist, False Prophet, Jesus Christ

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Part One: The Past: "Things which you have seen": 1:1-20

  1. Introduction: 1:1-3
  2. Salutation: 1:4-6
  3. Theme of the Revelation: 1:7-8
  4. Author: John 1:9-10
  5. John's Vision of the Lord: 1:10-18
    1. His Person: _______________ and _______________, the Lord: 1:11
    2. In the midst of the churches (candlesticks):_______________
    3. His characteristics: 1:13-16
    4. His _______________: 1:17-20

Part Two: The Present: "The things which are": 2:1-3:22

  1. Messages to the Churches: 2:1-3:22
    1. __________: 2:1-7
      1. They patiently endure and cannot bear with those who are __________: 2:2
      2. They have abandoned their __________ love: 2:4
      3. _______________________ and do the works they did at first: 2:5
      4. They hate the works of the ________________: 2:6
      5. The one who conquers will eat of the __________ __________: 2:7
    2. __________: 2:8-11
      1. They are facing tribulation and poverty: __________
      2. They are slandered by those who say they are __________ and are not, but are a synagogue of __________: 2:9
      3. Do not fear what you are about to _______________: 2:10
      4. Be faithful unto death, and Christ will give them the _____________________: 2:10
      5. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the __________ death: 2:11
    3. __________: 2:12-17
      1. They dwell in __________ throne: 2:13
      2. They hold fast Christ's __________ and do not deny the faith: 2:13
      3. Some are holding to the teachings of __________: 2:14
      4. Some who hold the teaching of the __________: 2:15
      5. The one who conquers will eat of the hidden __________ and receive a white stone with a new name written on it: 2:17
    4. __________: 2:18-29
      1. Their works, love, faith, service, and patient endurance exceed what they did at the first: 2:19
      2. They tolerate a __________ in their midst: 2:20-23
      3. All the churches will know that it is __________ who searches minds and hearts: 2:23
      4. Christ will give to each person according to their __________: 2:23
      5. Christ will not lay any other __________ on the remaining believers: 2:24
      6. Hold fast until Christ comes: __________
      7. The one who conquers and keeps Christ's works until the end will receive _______________ over the nations: 2:26-27
      8. Christ will also give to them the _______________< star: 2:28
    5. __________: 3:1-6
      1. They have the reputation of being alive, but are __________: 3:1
      2. __________, and strengthen what remains and is about to die: 3:2
      3. Their works are not complete in God's sight:__________
      4. We don't know at what hour Christ will __________: 3:3
      5. A few are worthy and will walk with Christ: __________
    6. __________: 3:7-13
      1. They have kept God's word and have not denied His name: __________
      2. Christ will make those of the synagogue of __________ to bow down before the faithful believers: 3:9
      3. Christ says they have kept His word with patient endurance; therefore, He will keep them from the "hour of trial (also "hour of temptation", "time of testing", "time of trouble") that is coming to try those who dwell on the earth.": __________
    7. ________________________________________: 3:14-22
      1. They are "neither __________ nor __________", but are lukewarm: 3:15, 16
      2. Because they are __________, Christ rejects them: 3:16
      3. They do not realize they are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked: __________
      4. Christ counsels, "Buy from Me": 3:18
      5. The one who conquers will sit with Christ on His __________: 3:21

Part Three: The Future: "The things which shall take place after this": 4:1-22:21

  1. The Person of the Judge: 4:1-5:14
    1. The _______________ of God: 4:1-11
    2. The sealed __________: 5:1-5
    3. The __________: 5:6-14
  2. Prophecies of Tribulations: 6:1-19:6 (21?)
    1. The seven __________ of judgment: 6:1-19:6
      1. First seal:__________
      2. Second seal:__________
      3. Third seal:__________
      4. Fourth seal:__________
      5. Fifth seal:__________
      6. Sixth seal:__________
      7. Interlude:__________
      8. Seventh seal:__________
    2. The seven _______________ of judgment: 8:6-11:19
      1. First trumpet:__________
      2. Second trumpet:__________
      3. Third trumpet:__________
      4. Fourth trumpet:__________
      5. Fifth trumpet:__________
      6. Sixth trumpet:__________
      7. Interlude:__________
      8. Seventh trumpet:__________
    3. Explanatory prophecies: 12:1-14:20
      1. The __________ : 12:1-6
      2. The __________ in Heaven: 12:7-12
      3. The war on __________ : 12:13-17
      4. The __________ from the sea: 13:1-10
      5. The __________ from the earth: 13:11-18
      6. The __________: 14:1-5
      7. The three angels' announcements:__________
      8. The harvest __________: 14:14-20
    4. The seven bowls (vials) of _____________________: 15:1-19:6
      1. Preparation for the __________ judgments: 15:1-8
      2. First bowl:__________
      3. Second bowl:__________
      4. Third bowl:__________
      5. Fourth bowl:__________
      6. Fifth bowl:__________
      7. Sixth bowl:__________
      8. Seventh bowl:__________
      9. _______________ of the world's religious systems [the Great Harlot]: 17:1-18
      10. _______________ of the world's political & economic systems [Babylon the Great]: 18:1-19:6
  3. Prophecies of the Second Coming: 19:7-21
    1. Celebration and marriage _______________ of the Lamb: 19:7-10
    2. Defeat of the enemies of God at _____________________: 19:11-21
  4. Prophecies of the Millennium: 20:1-15
    1. The dragon (Satan) bound for __________ years: 20:1-3
    2. Saints __________ for 1000 years: 10:4-6
    3. Satan is released and leads a new rebellion:__________
    4. Satan thrown into the lake of __________ and sulfur: 20:10
    5. Great White __________ judgment: 20:11-15
  5. Prophecies of the Eternal State: 21:1-22:5
    1. A new heaven and new __________ are created: 21:1
    2. New _____________________ descends: 21:2-8
    3. Description of __________ Jerusalem: 21:9-22:5
  6. Conclusion: 22:6-21

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Further Study
Write the seven blessings pronounced in the book of Revelation:

  • 1:3—

  • 14:13—

  • 16:15—

  • 19:9—

  • 20:6—

  • 22:7—

  • 22:14—

    Study and write the description of demons given in chapter 9.

    Revelation 6:15-17 could be called the greatest prayer meeting of unsaved men in history. Write the verses below:

    Write the last words of Jesus to the seven churches that are recorded in chapters 2 and 3:

    Refer back to the book of Daniel as you study Revelation. Note the following references:

    • Concerning Israel: Daniel 3 and 6 / Revelation 12

    • Concerning the Antichrist: Daniel 3:1-7; 7:7, 8, 24, 25; 8:9-12, 23-25; 9:27; 11:36-45 / Revelation 13

    • Concerning the tribulation: Daniel 9:24-27 / Revelation 11:2, 12:6,14; 13:5

    • Daniel was a sealed book (Daniel 12:9). This meant that everything about the future was not to be revealed at that time.

    Most of Revelation is an unsealed book (Revelation 22:10). It was written to complete the revelation to man of God's plan.

    The Bible speaks of several different crowns to be given believers. Write them here:

    • 1 Corinthians 9:25—

    • 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20—

    • 2 Timothy 4:8—

    • 1 Peter 5:2-4—

    • Revelation 2:10—

    Study the messages to the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Make a chart and record the following information about each church addressed:

    Name of Church: Each church is clearly named.
    Description: Each message contains a description of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    Commendation: List the good qualities commended by the Lord.
    Condemnation: List the faults which are condemned by the Lord.
    Command: In each message, the Lord gives a command and offers a remedy for the church's problem.
    Promise: A promise is given to each church to encourage its reformation.

    Revelation lists more titles for Jesus Christ than any other book in the Bible. Write the titles next to the Scripture references, and see if you can find others:

    • 1:1—

    • 1:5 (3)—

    • 1:8—

    • 1:17—

    • 1:13—

    • 2:18—

    • 3:7—

    • 1:18—

    • 5:5 (2)—

    • 5:6—

    • 6:16-17—

    • 7:17—

    • 11:8—

    • 12:5—

    • 15:3—

    • 19:11—

    • 19:13—

    • 19:16 (2)—

    • 22:13—

    • 22:16—

    The following chart will help you understand the three final and decisive wars of which the Bible speaks:

    Study the contrasts between the beginning and the ending of this age:

    In Conclusion...
    The Bible reveals God's eternal master plan.

    • The Old Testament is the preparation for the plan.

    • The Gospels are the manifestation of the plan.

    • Acts and the Epistles are the appropriation [deliberate act of acquiring] of the plan.

    • Revelation presents the glorious conclusion of God's plan.

    Revelation tells us what is going to happen, but it does not tell us when. Be careful about trying to predict that which God has not revealed to us or of adding to that which God has resolved in His Word. "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book." (Revelation 22:18-19)

    Additional Study
    For a more in-depth study of Revelation, we highly recommend the verse-by-verse Commentary written by Pastor Dave Honey. It goes into great detail and yet is quite easy to understand. You may download the PDF version here.

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    ABTI Professor PoolQuestions/Comments?
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    1preterist — n. theologian who believes that the Scripture prophecies of the book of Revelation have already been fulfilled

    2historicist — n. a belief in the theory that social and cultural events are determined by history


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