Understanding Revelation Summary

  • Most Christians avoid the Book of Revelation because they can’t cope with it: all those seals, trumpets, bowls and beasts! However the book is in the NT for a reason and has a very important message.
  • There are different approaches to and interpretations of the book, and some people are very dogmatic. We need to take a humble approach, and even to be tentative about some aspects. But we can grasp the gist and general outline of the book which will help us to understand it.
  • Having completed the first main part of my eschatology project – a chronological (time order) approach from the present until the new heavens and new earth – over the last 20 months, I now want to help people understand the Book of Revelation. I shall deal with different interpretations of Revelation and symbolism here on Facebook. But the rest will have to be read on my website because it includes charts (which I find helpful to untangle the complexities of Revelation. I shall provide:
  • 1.      A brief order of events in NT eschatology (doctrine of the end times) showing how Revelation fits into it.
  • 2.      A brief outline of Revelation chapters 4-22 giving a sense of perspective.
  • 3.      A more detailed plan of Revelation.
  • Four main views of Revelation

  • There are four different interpretations of Revelation:
  • 1.      The Preterist/Contemporary-Historical View: that all the prophecies were fulfilled in the Fall of Jerusalem in AD70 or the Fall of the Roman Empire. Some would see “the Beast” as the emperor Nero. But the book speaks of the final overthrow of evil, which clearly has not yet happened.
  • 2.      The Historicist View: that the prophecies refer to the whole of history up to present. People have related it to Popes, the Reformation, the French revolution, Charlemagne (the Holy Roman Emperor), Mussolini etc. But interpreters don’t agree.
  • 3.      The Futurist/Eschatological View: that the prophecies only refer to the (still future) End Times. But this means the book was largely irrelevant to the generation alive at the time it was written and to many subsequent generations, except as something about the distant future.
  • 4.      The Idealist/Timeless View: that the book is only symbolical and should not be taken as referring to any specific events. Obviously the book uses much symbolism but it doesn’t seem likely that such a lengthy and complex book, full of detailed symbols is only symbolic and does not refer to any literal events.
  • Conclusion
  • My conclusion is that all four main views contain truth but none of them totally explains the purpose of Revelation. It seems clear to me that Revelation must be relevant to the whole history of the church – the first century, the 2nd- 21st centuries and future centuries, particularly the final generation when Jesus returns etc. Revelation clearly includes a great deal of symbolism but, as I said, I can’t believe such a lengthy and complex book is solely symbolism.
  • We have noted previously that prophecies can be fulfilled more than once, with initial fulfilment(s) and then a major final fulfilment. I am convinced that this applies to the Book of Revelation. So it could have a fulfilment in the generation in which it was written (e.g. the conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple) and in various centuries since then, but we still await the final End Times fulfilment. Thus it becomes directly relevant to every generation. The basic message is that evil will be with us and recur in each generation but it can be overcome in each generation and will finally be totally overcome and destroyed in the End Times when Jesus returns.
  • So I am quite happy that people interpret Revelation as referring to the 1st century (the Roman Empire and the Fall of Jerusalem), or to the events and traumas of the last 2000 years (even though some interpretations might be fanciful or prejudiced). I firmly believe, however, that the book also refers to the future and to the last generation(s) in the End Times. It is this (Futurist/Eschatological) view that I major on because I am writing about the End Times. But I am not denying the other interpretations.
  • Symbolism in Revelation

  • We must take symbolism seriously and not adopt naïve literal interpretations of Revelation but nor should we rush to adopt a symbolic interpretation of prophetic passages. Even when a passage is symbolic it can still refer to literal events. So references to “Babylon” are clearly symbolical but they refer to the world’s corrupt and unjust economic and religious system – which, sadly, is literal.
  • I found the following quotation from G B Caird helpful about Revelation: “Imagine a room lined with maps, in which someone has placed clusters of little flags. A man in uniform is busy moving some of the flags from one position to another. It is war-time, and the flags represent units of a military command. The movement of flags may mean one of two things: either that changes have taken place on the battlefield, with which the map must be made to agree, or that an order is being issued for troop movements, and the flags are being moved to the new positions the units are expected to occupy. In the first case the movement of the flags is descriptive symbolism, in the second case determinative symbolism. The strange and complex symbols of John's vision are, like the flags in this parable, the pictorial counterpart of earthly realities; and these symbols too may be either determinative' [what is to happen] 'or descriptive' [what has happened]. John sees some things happen in heaven because God has determined that equivalent events should shortly happen on earth, but other heavenly events take place … because earthly events have made them possible …. John himself frequently uses military imagery, but mixes it freely with other types of image, and makes no attempt at sustained metaphor or allegory.”
  • Chronology (Order of Events) in Revelation

  • I believe there is an overall chronological development in Revelation but it is also clear that there is repetition, overlapping and there are flashbacks and flashforwards. John sometimes goes back and restates something with greater detail or intensity and this increases as the book continues. There are also parentheses or intervals when the scene changes dramatically, perhaps from earth to heaven, etc. So we have to be avoid being dogmatic about a detailed order of events in Revelation. 
  • As promised, I want to provide:
  • 1.      A brief order of events in NT eschatology (doctrine of the end times) showing how Revelation fits into it.
  • 2.      A brief outline of Revelation chapters 4-22 giving a sense of perspective.
  • 3.      A more detailed plan of Revelation.
  • We should note in passing that some people believe that Revelation 4-20 is only about the Jewish people but it seems clear that this is not the case.[4]
  • A brief order of events in NT eschatology (doctrine of the end times)

  • There are different views on various aspects but this is how I have come to understand the order of events in the end times according to the NT. You will see that many events have parallels between Revelation and other parts of the NT. [It is important to remember that Revelation sometimes repeats itself - using different language].
  • 1.      War, famine, earthquakes, etc. (Matt 24:6-7; Rev 6:1-8). These are repeating events and like long-distance signs pointing towards a destination on a motorway.
  • 2.      The Jewish people regaining control of Jerusalem (Luke 21:24).
  • 3.      Worldwide Persecution (Matt 24:9-10; Rev 6:9-11; 7, 12). Persecution is worse than ever now but will get even worse.
  • 4.      Worldwide Apostasy - people giving up the Faith (Matt 24:12). Again, this will get worse later on.
  • 5.      Worldwide evangelism (Matt 24:14). Much of this has been achieved but more needs to happen.
  • 6.      An increase in false messiahs/prophets (Matt 24:23-24). Again, they have increased but this will get much worse.
  • 7.      Great Tribulation (Matt 24:22) including:
  • ·         More severe pre-final judgments (Rev 8-9).
  • ·         The ‘Two Witnesses” (Rev 11), if they are a literal pair it seems appropriate to put them here.
  • ·         The Rebellion and Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:3-7, 9-12; Rev 13:1-5 cf. 1 John 2:18-23).
  • ·         The False Prophet and deification of Antichrist - “the abomination which causes desolation” (Matt 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4-12; Rev 13:6, 11-15), the mark of the Beast (Rev 13:16-18), persecution of God’s people (Rev 13:7).
  • ·         Judgment on the Antichrist and his followers (Rev 16:1-15 cf 2 Thess. 2:8). Described in more detail in Rev 19:11-21.
  • ·         Armageddon (Rev 16:16)
  • ·         The fall of ‘Babylon’ (the world’s corrupt and unjust economic and religious system) at the hands of Antichrist (Rev 17-18). Obviously this precedes the judgment on Antichrist of Rev 16, evidence that John does not stick to a definite chronology but has ‘flashbacks’ and ‘flashforwards.’
  • 8.      Cosmic signs – perhaps literal (Matt 24:29; Rev 6:12-17).
  • 9.      Return of Christ (seen by the whole world) (Matt 24:27, 30) including:
  • ·         Gathering of the elect (Matt 24:31)
  • ·         The Wedding supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:1-10). Some would not see this as literal.
  • ·         Destruction of Antichrist and the False Prophet (Rev 19:11-21). Mentioned previously in Rev 16:1-15 cf 2 Thess 2:8.
  • 10.  The Millennium, if literal (Rev 20). The rule of Christ on earth.
  • 11.  The Eternal state (Rev 21-22). The New Heaven and the New Earth and the New Jerusalem (God present in glory with his people).

A brief outline of Revelation chapters 4-22

 1.      Vision of God’s throne and worship in heaven (Rev 4).



SEALS (bringing problems and destruction, emphasising suffering of church. Seals 1-4 emphasise the inevitable results of human sin. Seal 6 is more like divine intervention)


2.      The Lamb [Jesus] alone is worthy to open the 7 seals of the scroll in God’s hand (Rev 5).


3.      6 SEALS opened by the Lamb: ‘releasing’ the 4 horsemen – bringing war, inflation, famine, plague (Seals 1-4 cf Matt 24:6-8); assuring the martyrs their prayers would be answered (Seal 5 cf Matt 24:9); fearful cosmic signs (Seal 6 cf Matt 24:29) (Rev 6).


4.      Interval & scene change: Vision of the “144,000” believers (perhaps martyrs) being ‘sealed’ as belonging to God and the countless number of all believers gathered before God’s throne cf  Matt 24:14 gospel going to whole world. These had come out of great tribulation cf Matt 24:21f. (Rev 7).


5.      7th Seal opened: followed by silence then the “incense smoke” of the prayers of God’s people lead to thunder, lightning and earthquake (Rev 8:1-5).



TRUMPETS (overlapping with the Seals but bringing more intense problems and destruction, emphasising what the world will suffer. 1-4 emphasise limited – ‘one third’ - divine judgment encouraging repentance)


6.      6 TRUMPETS sounded: leading to destruction of third of earth, sea, water sources, heavenly bodies (Trumpets 1-4 sound like asteroid strike cf Matt 24:29) and demonically-inspired great tribulation but no repentance (Rev 8:6-13; 9:1-21).


7.      Interval & scene change: Angel tells John to eat the open scroll, to prophesy and to measure the Temple. Gentiles control city 42 months (Rev 10:1-11:2).


8.      Interval & scene change: 2 witnesses prophesy for 42 months, prevent rains and cause plague. Beast from Abyss (Antichrist) kills them but 3.5 days later resurrected (Rev 11:3-7).


9.      7th Trumpet (3rd Woe): The world becomes the Kingdom of God and the Messiah. The elders praise God and foretell final judgment and rewards for the faithful (Rev 11:8-19)





10.  The pregnant woman (The true Israel) bears a child (Christ). Red dragon (Satan) – with 7 heads, 10 horns - seeks to devour child but child caught up to heaven (Ascension). Woman flees to desert 1260 days (3.5 years first half of Great Tribulation). Michael defeats dragon (devil) and casts him down to earth in fury and the woman flies away to safety for the rest of the Tribulation (Rev 12).


11.  Beast from the sea (Antichrist), (7 heads, 10 horns), One head fatally wounded but healed. All those not in Book of Life worship the Beast who attacks God’s people (Rev 13:1-10).


12.  Beast from the Earth (False Prophet/Religion), (2 horns), made people worship the 1st Beast, set up image and enforced Mark of Beast 666 (Rev 13:11-18).


13.  Interval & scene change: Vision of the Lamb on Mt Zion with 144,000. Angel proclaims gospel and warns of judgment on ‘Beast-worshippers’ (followers of Antichrist). Fall of ‘Babylon’ (the world’s corrupt and unjust economic and religious system) announced. Son of man reaps harvest of judgment (Rev 14)


BOWLS (bringing the final judgments on earth. The judgments are universal, not a call to repentance - no time for repentance).


14.  Those triumphant over the Beast (Antichrist) sing (Rev 15:1-4)


15.  7 angels with 7 Bowls (containing plagues) appear (Rev 15:5-8): Sores and total destruction of sea, water sources. People scorched by sun but no repentance. Darkness. Euphrates dried up and Beast and false prophet gather nations for Armageddon. Earthquake splits Babylon and destroys cities. Huge hailstones but no repentance (Rev 16).


16.  The great prostitute (i.e. Babylon - the world’s corrupt and unjust economic and religious system) with 7 heads/hills/kings (i.e. great power) and 10 horns/kings (i.e. all the nations following the Antichrist who attack the Lamb). The Antichrist and the nations will bring the great prostitute to ruin (Rev 17).


17.  Angel announces fall of Babylon in “one hour,” i.e. swift economic collapse (Rev 18).



THE VICTORY OF JESUS (over the Antichrist; the ‘binding’ of Satan for the Millennium, his release and total defeat; the final judgment, the new heaven and new earth).


18.  Wedding Supper of the Lamb. The church rejoices in the downfall of Babylon/the great prostitute and gathers for the Wedding Supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:1-10).


19.  Rider called Faithful and True, Word of God (i.e. Jesus) judges nations, defeats the Beast and false prophet. They are thrown into lake of fire (Rev 19:10-21).


20.  Satan bound for 1000 years (The Millennium), the saints reign with Christ. Then Satan is released to summon Gog and Magog (godless nations) to attack God’s people. Heaven defeats them and Satan cast into lake of fire (Rev 20:1-10).


21.  Great white throne judgment. All whose names are in the Lamb’s book of life are saved. Death, Hades and others are thrown into lake of fire (Rev 20:11-15).


22.  New heaven and a new earth. The New Jerusalem, crystal-clear river, trees of life (Rev 21-22).


  • An more detailed plan of Revelation 4-22

  • I find it helps to get a clearer impression of Revelation to have the context portrayed in a simple chart format with brief explanations and comments. This is what I have sought to do here.
  • As I have noted above, it is helpful to remember that Revelation majors on the Great Tribulation in chapters 8-18. It includes the repeating, ‘long-distance’ signs (war, famine, earthquakes, etc – Seals - 6:1-8) and worldwide persecution (6:9-11; 7, 12). Then it moves onto the Great Tribulation: more severe pre-final judgments (Trumpets 8-9), the ‘Two Witnesses” (11), the Rebellion and Antichrist (Beast 13:1-5), the False Prophet and deification of Antichrist - “the abomination which causes desolation” (13:6, 11-15), the mark of the Beast (13:16-18) and persecution of God’s people (13:7). Then there is a summary description of the judgment on the Antichrist and his followers (Bowls 16:1-15) described in more detail in Rev 19. John also describes Armageddon (16:16) and the fall of ‘Babylon’ (the world’s corrupt and unjust economic and religious system) at the hands of Antichrist (17-18).


A detailed plan of the Book of Revelation 4-22






Throne in heaven (Rev 4):

With the rainbow, 24 elders, 7-fold (Holy) Spirit, Sea of glass and 4 living creatures







 Lamb as if slain, on throne

Praised by innumerable multitude because worthy to open scroll

(Rev 5, Parallel to Chapter 7)





Only the Lamb/Lion of Judah can open SEALS (Rev 6)




1st Seal:

White horse – conquest

(Rev 6:1-2)



 Cf. Matt 24:6 “wars and rumours of wars”

2nd Seal:

Red horse – removal of peace, bloodshed

(Rev 6:3-4)



Cf Matt 24:7 “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.”

3rd Seal:

Black horse – scales, high inflation, shortages, famine

(Rev 6:5-6)



Matt 24:7 “There will be famines..”

4th Seal:

Pale horse – Death & Hades quarter of earth killed sword, famine, plague

(Rev 6:7-8)


 Luke 21:11 “pestilences in various places”

5th Seal:

Martyrs under altar: “How long?” Given white robe (purity), soon full number will be martyred

(Rev 6:9-11)

 Matt 24:9 “‘Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”

6th Seal: Earthquake, Sun dark, Moon blood red, stars fall, people hide. Wrath of God has come

(Rev 6:12-17)


Matt 24:29: “the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
    and the heavenly bodies … shaken.”





(Rev 7): Angels ready to judge land and sea but the 144,000 of Israel must be sealed first with the name of God on foreheads.

Countless number: God’s people – delivered out of the great tribulation, white robes, palm branches, worship God and the Lamb

(Parallel to Chap. 5) 






 7th Seal (Rev 8): (The judgment scroll is now open). Half an hour silence. Angel with censer offered incense with prayers of saints. Then threw censer onto earth





7 angels with TRUMPETS

(Rev 8:1-7):

1st Trumpet:

Hail, fire, blood.

One third of earth burned




2nd Trumpet: Blazing ‘mountain’ falls into sea. One third of sea and living creatures destroyed

(Rev 8:8-9)



 A natural disaster? Like an asteroid. Only a third killed: the judgment is not yet total and complete

3rd Trumpet:

Asteroid? destroys one third of water supplies, many die.

(Rev 8:10-11)




A natural disaster? Like an asteroid

4th Trumpet:

One third of sun, moon and stars darkened and one third of each day

Eagle cries “Woe” about final 3 Trumpets

(Rev 8:12-13)



 Akin to eclipses
“Each numbered series moves us closer to the end; not so much because it follows the preceding series in sequence but because it heightens and intensifies the final and climactic confrontation of God and the forces of evil.”[1]

5th Trumpet (1st Woe):

Locusts with scorpion-like sting torture those without seal of God on foreheads. From the Abyss ruled over by Abaddon/Apollyon

(Rev 9:1-12)


 Appears to be more of a demonic attack on humans. The torture is for “5 months” the life-cycle of the locust

6th Trumpet (2nd Woe):

Voice from altar calls for release of 4 angels bound near Euphrates to kill 1/3 of humanity, using mounted troops

(Rev 9:13-19)

 Appears to be more of a demonic attack on humans. The Euphrates is the boundary between Israel and her enemies (Assyria and Babylon)

Those not killed by these plagues did not repent of their sins: idolatry, murder, thieving, sexual immorality, magic

(Rev 9:20-21)






(Rev 10:1-8)

Angel with open scroll stands with one foot on land and the other on the sea and the 7 thunders cry out. But John forbidden to record their words. Angel then says: “No more delay.”

Probably the 7 thunders were more warning plagues but men determined not to repent so they were ‘cancelled.’

John told to eat the scroll: sweet taste but bitter in the stomach. He is commanded to prophesy to many peoples.

(Rev 10:9-11)






   “From this point on the Apocalypse becomes a multi-dimensional presentation of the final triumph of God over evil. Any attempt to arrange the material in a strictly sequential pattern is doomed to failure.”[2]

John is told to measure the Temple, excluding the outer Court of the Gentiles. They will control the city for 42 months.

(Rev 11:1-2)






Some say the “temple” represents the church but it could relate to the  literal temple the non-messianic Jews may restore





The 2 witnesses will prophesy for 1260 days (42 months) and have supernatural power to punish enemies, prevent rain (for 1260 days), and strike the Earth with plague – 1st half of Tribulation

(Rev 11:3-6)

 There could be literal witnesses modelled after Moses and Elijah, or leading representatives of believing Jews and Gentiles








Prophecy proves more effective in the End Times, drawing the nations to worship God

Then the Beast from the Abyss kills them, exposing their bodies for 3.5 days, after which they are resurrected to heaven. Earthquake destroys 1/10 of city

(Rev 11:7-14)


First mention of the Beast from the Abyss i.e. demonic







(Foretaste of Parousia)

7th Trumpet (3rd Woe):

(Rev 11:15-19)

The world becomes the Kingdom of God and the Messiah. The elders praise God and foretell final judgment and rewards for the faithful

 The DECLARATION is seen as a ‘woe’ for the wicked







Chapters 12-14 set the scene for the final conflict between the church and evil, and introduce various key characters





The pregnant woman (Rev 12:1) clothed in the sun with the moon beneath her feet and a crown of 12 stars appears.




The woman is the true Israel, i.e. the church, not just the messianic community. The stars cf 12 tribes of Israel

The red dragon

(Rev 12:2-5)

with 7 heads (great knowledge) and 10 horns (great power) seeks to devour her child (who will rule the world) but he is caught up to heaven.

 Satan (cf v 9) 7 heads: great knowledge

10 horns: great power seeks to destroy the Messiah

The woman flees to the desert for 1260 days – 2nd half of Tribulation (Rev 12:6)





The desert: a place of refuge. 1260 days: symbol of limited period of unrestrained evil/persecution

Michael defeats the dragon.

(Rev 12:7-12)

The dragon (devil, accuser of the faithful) is cast down to earth, filled with fury.


 Defeat is ultimately the cross & resurrection but now is the final End Time battle and defeat

Satan pursues the woman  

(Rev 12:13-17)

she is transported into the desert for 3.5 years (1260 days) and protected from attack. Satan attacks the rest of her offspring

Seems a repeat of 12:6. Her offspring are believers. The river spewed by Satan may be river of lies.





John keeps repeating and underlining events in the constant battle against evil, but, overall, moves forward in time towards the End





Beast from the sea (Rev 13:1)

7 heads (great knowledge) and 10 horns (great power), blasphemous name.

The sea is a symbol of evil chaos. The Beast was Rome in John’s day but ultimately the Antichrist: the deification of secular authority

Beast combined characteristics of leopard, bear, lion and one of its heads fatally wounded but healed (Rev 13:2f).


Antichrist combines the evils of all empires (including those in Daniel 7) and shows amazing powers of survival

The dragon gave the beast authority for 42 months

(Rev 13:4-5)


All not in the Lamb’s book of life worshipped the beast which spoke blasphemously

(Rev 13:6-10)

Cf. 2 Thess 2:4

The beast attacked God’s people

(Rev 13:7)




Beast from the Earth (Rev 13:11)

2 horns like a lamb spoke like a dragon.

Probably an individual seeking to appear gentle and harmless (like a lamb) but actually demonic

It made people worship the 1st Beast.

(Rev 13:12)


Fulfils the role of false religion/ideology manipulating humanity (via economic boycott and death threats) to worship secular power. The “universal victory of humanism.”

It exercised miraculous power.

(Rev 13:12-13)


The evil trinity: the beast from the earth under authority of the beast from the sea which is under the authority of the dragon, i.e. religious compromise, secular power, Satan (i.e. the false prophet, Antichrist, Satan)

It set up an image of the 1st Beast which it brought to life.

(Rev 13:14-15)


Cf 2 Thess 2:4 “sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”

It forced people to receive the Mark of the Beast 666.

(Rev 13:16-18)


People were often tattooed with the mark of their god. Of the many interpretations of 666 the best may be the beast and evil trinity was constantly falling short of divine perfection: 777






(Rev 14:1-5)

The Lamb on Mt Zion with the 144,000 sang a new song. (the New Jerusalem)






One angel announces judgment, another the fall of Babylon, which had seduced the nations.

(Rev 14:6-8)

 Originally Rome but now the world’s corrupt and unjust political, economic and religious system

A 3rd angel announces the judgment of hell on all who worshipped the Beast.

(Rev 14:9-13)

The Son of man and angels reap the harvest of judgment.

(Rev 14:14-20)







Those triumphant over the Beast sang songs of victory next to what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire (Rev 15:1-4)







One of the 4 living creatures gave the 7 angels 7 golden bowls of the final plagues (Rev 15:5-8)





(Rev 16)

1st Bowl:

Ugly festering sores on those with the mark of the Beast

 Some trumpet judgments only affected one third of population. Bowls affect all who worship Antichrist

2nd Bowl:

(Rev 16:3)

Sea turned to blood and everything in it died



Unlike the trumpet judgments these are universal and final, happening in quick succession, with no pause between numbers 6 & 7

3rd Bowl:

(Rev 16:4-7)

All water-sources turned to blood

4th Bowl:

(Rev 16:8-9)

Sun scorches people. They curse God but don’t repent





 Bowl judgments: similarities to the plagues of Egypt: Water turning to blood, gnats, flies, boils, hail, locust, darkness (Ex 8-10)

5th Bowl:

(Rev 16:10-11)

Poured on throne of Beast. Its kingdom plunged into darkness. People in agony, cursed God and didn’t repent

6th Bowl:

(Rev 16:12-16)

Poured on the Euphrates, which dried up allowing 3 kings to cross. 3 spirits like frogs came from mouth of Beast and false prophet who gather the nations for Armageddon.

7th Bowl:

(Rev 16:17-21)

Cry from heaven: “It is done!” Great earthquake splits great city in 3. Other cities collapse. Babylon judged. Huge hailstones. People curse God but don’t repent.

The visions are not strictly chronological. Babylon had already fallen according to Rev 14:8 and it is repeated in Rev 18


The great prostitute,

(Rev 17:1-2)

Babylon the great, sitting by many waters on a scarlet beast which had 7 heads and 10 horns, and was covered in blasphemous names.

Prostitute dressed in purple and scarlet, glittering with jewels.

(Rev 17:3-5)



“Babylon”: originally Rome but now the world’s corrupt and unjust political, economic and religious system

She had drunk the blood of the martyrs.

(Rev 17:6)


The Beast ‘once was, now is not, and yet will come.’ The 7 heads are 7 hills on which city built.

(Rev 17:7-9)




The beast appeared once, is not evident now but will appear in the future. The wording is similar to that used of Jesus in 1:4, 8.

They are also 7 kings, (5 have fallen, 1 is and 1 will come briefly). The beast who was and is no longer is an 8th king.

(Rev 17:10-11)


The symbolism of Revelation is fluid: the 7 heads are 7 hills and 7 kings

The 10 horns are 10 kings who will have authority with the Beast for 1 hour. They will unsuccessfully attack the Lamb. The waters are many nations.

(Rev 17:12-14)


The figures 7 and 10 are probably symbols of completeness: complete power

The Beast and 10 kings hate and attack the prostitute.

(Rev 17:15-18)




The fall of Babylon announced. God’s people are called to separate from her. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her. The merchants grew rich from her. They lament her demise and their financial loss which happened in 1 hour.

(Rev 18)

 Sudden universal financial collapse, cf 2008 etc.








There is huge rejoicing and worship in heaven (including over the Fall of Babylon). The church (the Bride of Christ) is prepared for the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.

(Rev 19:1-10)

 Shows the intimate relationship between God and his people






Heaven opened and a rider called Faithful and True, with blazing eyes, many crowns, a robe dipped in blood sat on a white horse. He is the Word of God.

(Rev 19:11-13)

Armies follow him. A sharp sword comes from his mouth. He judges the nations. On his robe and thigh is written “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

(Rev 19:14-16)


The Beast and false prophet were thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulphur. The rest were killed with the sword.

(Rev 19:17-21)







(Rev 20:1-6)

Satan was bound for 1000 years. The martyrs rule with Christ. The rest of the dead came to life after the 1000 years.

Satan is released after the 1000 years and summons Gog and Magog to fight against God’s people. Fire from heaven defeats them and Satan is cast into the Lake of burning sulphur








(Rev 20:7-15)

The dead are judged before the great white throne. All whose names are in the Lamb’s book of life are saved. Death, Hades and all the others are thrown into the lake of burning sulphur.








(Rev 21-22)

There is a new heaven and a new earth. All sadness and death disappears. The New Jerusalem (God’s dwelling place with the saints), brilliant like jewels, with 12 gates, descends from heaven, “prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” It is illuminated by the glory of God and those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life enjoy it and see God.

A crystal-clear river flows from the throne of God and the Lamb through the city, watering the tree of life and providing fruit and healing for the nations.







Jesus says: “Yes, I am coming soon.”






[1] Robert Mounce, The Book of Revelation, The New International Commentary on the NT, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids 1977, p. 205.

[2] Ibid., p.213.

[1] G B Caird, The Revelation of St John the Divine, Blacks NT Commentaries, A & C Black, London 1984, p. 60f

[2] R Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy: Studies in the Book of Revelation, T&T Clark Edinburgh 1993, p. 209.

[3] Robert Mounce, The Book of Revelation, New International Commentary on the NT, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids 1977, p. 178.

[4] Some people say that Rev 4-20 is only about the Jewish people but there is little material which could be understood in this way. Of course, John uses OT terminology and links his eschatology with Jewish eschatology but that doesn’t mean he is only writing about Jews. He is clearly writing about both Jews and Gentiles:

·         In chapter 5 Jesus is called the “Lion of tribe of Judah … Root of David.” But then he is the Lamb who has redeemed “people from every tribe and language and people and nation” (vv 6-10).

·         In chapter 7:1-4 he writes about the tribes of Israel but in vv 9-17 he writes about all nations

·         In chapter 10:11 John was told to prophesy “about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”

·         In chapter 11:1-2 the angel asked John to measure the Temple etc (v. 1-2) but later voices said “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah.” (v. 15).

·         In chapter 21 the New Jerusalem bears the names of the 12 tribes of Israel but also of the 12 apostles.

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