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AUTHOR: John
DATE: 90s

The book tells that John is the author (Rev 1:4, 9; 22:8) and that he was a prophet (Rev 22:9), yet this is not John’s revelation. It is the revelation of Jesus. Written at a time of Christian persecution, when Rome was demanding emperor worship, John was exiled to the island of Patmos.  The Church Father Irenaeus and early Christian writers concur that this was during the reign of Domitian (A.D. 81-96).

There are four views on how to interpret this book:

1) Preterist: Claiming that the prophecies were fulfilled in 70 AD

2) Historical: Viewing the book as portraying a panorama of the history of the church from the days of John to the end of time

3) Allegorical: Considering the book to teach great principles, but not recording actual events.

4) Futurist: Understanding most of the book (chapters 4-22) to be prophetic, telling of God’s return to Israel to restore a remnant and His final work in completely redeeming a fallen world.

The futurist is the viewpoint accepted here, based on the principle of interpreting the text plainly.

The book is a revelation, or apocalypse (1:1), meaning an unveiling, which further supports its prophetic interpretation.  Many symbols in the book are explained (1:20; 17:1, 15), but many are not, making the book one that must be studied by referencing Old Testament prophecies, which shed light on the prophecies of Revelation.

In the 404 verses of Revelation, there are more than 800 Old Testament references.  Genesis is considered the foundation of the Bible and Revelation is considered the capstone. Genesis arguably the most controversial book, and Revelation is the most ignored. And, while every book of the Bible is a blessing to those who read them, Revelation is the only book that explicitly promises a blessing. Perhaps that is God’s enticement to get people to read and study this book.

Jesus is central to the message of this book, from 1:1 to 22:21, this book unveils HIs risen glory and mighty power.  Jesus clearly reveals Himself to John (chapter 1), He delivers messages to the churches on earth (chapters 2-3), He brings John into the throne room of God (chapters 4-5), He unleashes judgment upon the earth (chapters 6-19), He returns to earth (19:11-21), rules for 1,000 years (chapter 20) before making all things new (chapters 21-22).

A simple outline of the book is given in Rev 1:19: 

  1. the things which thou hast seen (the vision of the risen Christ in chapter 1)
  2. the things which are (the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor in chapters 2-3)
  3. the things which shall be hereafter (the prophecies of chapters 4-22)

A DETAILED OUTLINE OF REVELATION

I. The Prologue, 1:1-8

A. The Superscription, 1:1-3
B. The Salutation, 1:4-8

II. “The Things Which You Have Seen,” 1:9-20

A. Circumstances of the Vision, 1:9-11
B. Content of the Vision, 1:12-16
C. Consequences of the Vision, 1:17-20

III. “The Things Which Are,” 2:1-3:22

A. The Message to Ephesus, 2:1-7
B. The Message to Smyrna, 2:8-11
C. The Message to Pergamum, 2:12-17
D. The Message to Thyatira, 2:18-29
E. The Message to Sardis, 3:1-6
F. The Message to Philadelphia, 3:7-13
G. The Message to Laodicea, 3:14-22

IV. “The Things Which Will Take Place After These Things,” 4:1-22:5

A. The Tribulation Period, 4:1-19:21

1. The throne in heaven, 4:1-11

a. The throne, 4:1-3
b. The throng, 4:4-8
c. The theme, 4:9-11

2. The book in heaven, 5:1-14

a. The book, 5:1
b. The search, 5:2-5
c. The Savior-Sovereign, 5:6-7
d. The song, Rev 5:8-14

3. The seal judgments, 6:1-17

a. First seal: cold war, 6:1-2
b. Second seal: open war, 6:3-4
c. Third seal: famine, 6:5-6
d. Fourth seal: death, 6:7-8
e. Fifth seal: martyrdom, 6:9-11
f. Sixth seal: physical disturbances, 6:12-17

4. Interlude: the redeemed of the Tribulation, 7:1-17

a. The 144,000 Jews, 7:1-8
b. The multitude of Gentiles, 7:9-17
5. The six trumpet judgments, 8:1-9:21
a. The seventh seal opened, 8:1-6
b. First trumpet: the earth smitten, 8:7
c. Second trumpet: the sea smitten, 8:8-9
d. Third trumpet: the waters smitten, 8:10-11
e. Fourth trumpet: the heavens smitten, 8:12-13
f. Fifth trumpet: men smitten, 9:1-12
g. Sixth trumpet: men killed, 9:13-21

6. The little book, 10:1-11
7. The two witnesses, 11:1-19

a. Temple, 11:1-2
b. Time, 11:3
c. Traits, 11:4-6
d. Termination, 11:7-10
e. Translation, 11:11-14
f. Seventh trumpet, 11:15-19

8. War, 12:1-17

a. War on earth: phase I, 12:1-6
b. War in heaven, 12:7-12
c. War on earth: phase II, 12:13-17

9. The beast and his prophet, 13:1-18

a. The beast, 13:1-10
b. The false prophet, 13:11-18

10. Various announcements, 14:1-20

a. Concerning the 144,000, 14:1-5
b. Concerning the eternal gospel, 14:6-8
c. Concerning beast worshipers, 14:9-13
d. Concerning the harvesting of the earth, 14:14-20

Revelation

Click Image to Enlarge

10. Various announcements, 14:1-20

a. Concerning the 144,000, 14:1-5
b. Concerning the eternal gospel, 14:6-8
c. Concerning beast worshipers, 14:9-13
d. Concerning the harvesting of the earth, 14:14-20

11. Prelude to the bowl judgments, 15:1-8
12. The bowl judgments, 16:1-21

a. First bowl: painful sores, 16:1-2
b. Second bowl: seas smitten, 16:3
c. Third bowl: rivers smitten, 16:4-7
d. Fourth bowl: scorching, 16:8-9
e. Fifth bowl: darkness, 16:10-11
f. Sixth bowl: Euphrates dried, 16:12-16
g. Seventh bowl: widespread destruction, 16:17-21

13. Religious Babylon, 17:1-18

a. The description, 17:1-7
b. The interpretation, 17:8-18

14. Commercial Babylon, 18:1-24

a. Announcement, 18:1-3
b. Appeal, 18:4-8
c. Anguish, 18:9-19
d. Acclaim, 18:20-24

15. The second coming of Christ, 19:1-21

a. Announcements, 19:1-10
b. Advent of Christ, 19:11-16
c. Armageddon, 19:17-21

B. The Millennium, 20:1-15

1. Satan bound, 20:1-3
2. Saints resurrected, 20:4-6
3. Sinners rebelling, 20:7-9
4. Satan doomed, 20:10
5. Sinners judged, 20:11-15

C. The Eternal State, 21:1-22:5

1. Descent of the New Jerusalem, 21:1-8
2. Description of the New Jerusalem, 21:9-27
3. Delights of the New Jerusalem, 22:1-5

V. Epilogue, 22:6-21

A. Words of Comfort, 22:6-17
B. Words of Warning, 22:18-19
C. Closing Benediction, 22:20-21

Videos and Charts Used By Permission of the Bible Project

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