What is in Revelation?
Revelation is the 66th book in the Bible and the 27th book in the New Testament. It is the last book in the Bible. We need to note that the prophesies in this book have generally been understood not to have happened yet. Some of the things described may be symbolism for something else, so there’s a potential danger in reading Revelation too literally.
The book of Revelation is a vision which John received and recorded. It starts off with John greeting seven churches. In his vision, Jesus, who John sees in radiant glory, has words for each of the churches, to encourage them in what they do right, and warn them about what they do wrong.
John sees the Lord again surrounded by 24 elders, who worship Him. Jesus is presented with a scroll with seven seals that only He is worthy to open. Each seal broken unleashes a judgment (war, famine, etc.) upon the earth. During this time, an angel announces the sealing of 144,000 servants of God, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. These people are sealed on their foreheads. Also during these judgments, untold numbers of people come to believe in Jesus Christ. After the seven seals come seven trumpets from seven angels. Each of these trumpets heralds another judgment on Earth. Notably, the seventh trumpet will come alongside the ‘fulfillment of the mystery of God’.
God grants authority to two of His witnesses to prophesy in His name. Anyone who would harm them would be consumed by fire from their own mouths. They also have authority over the rain and the waters. They would prophesy for 1,260 days, and then be defeated by ‘the beast that rises from the bottomless pit’. After THAT, they would lie dead for three days the ascend to heaven, leaving an earthquake in their wake. This comes before the seventh trumpet call.
Afterward, a pregnant woman is chased by a dragon. The dragon casts down a third of the starts to earth with his tail in pursuit of the woman, and the woman gives birth to a male child, a future ruler. That child is caught up to God, and the woman flees to a place prepared by God for 1,260 days. The angels fight the dragon, who is called Satan. Satan then turns from the child to those on the Earth who proclaimed Jesus Christ. Two beasts rise up from the earth to worship the dragon, blaspheme God, and command loyalty of those on Earth who do not worship Christ. This sets up a massive war. Seven angels with seven plagues come forth to finish the wrath of God. After these, Babylon, a haven for demons and uncleanness, is destroyed, which the people of the earth mourn, having been enthralled by the sin of Babylon. Heaven rejoices at this development, Jesus comes in glory to win the battle against the beasts and Satan, and a thousand-year reign of Christ begins. After a thousand years, Satan will be released from prison and be judged. After that, the Lord resides over a new, glorious Jerusalem on Earth, joining His church.
Who wrote it?
Revelation is identified as being written by someone named John, and there is support for the view that this was indeed the apostle John who wrote the Gospel of John.
Who was it written to?
Revelation 1:4 has John addressing the letter to the seven churches in Asia that are the focus of Revelation 2-3.
When was it written?
The book of Revelation is commonly viewed as the last book in the Protestant Biblical canon to have been written. It is thought to have been written in 95 or 96 A.D.
Why was it written?
Exiled to the island of Patmos, John received visions that became the book of Revelation. Convinced they were from God, John saw fit to write them down.
How does Revelation apply to me?
Revelation displays the glory of God, and the finality of His judgment. The book zooms out to cover the full scope of spiritual warfare happening in the world – God and Satan’s forces battling it out. Elements of this can be seen in our own time, with the battle over people’s spiritual states. Satan does everything he can to deceive people to rebel against God, and in some ways succeeds, but God will have the final word.
As for all posts in this series, a book introduction in a good study Bible will provide more information than listed here. The ESV Study Bible is one recommendation.
The Bible Project videos on Revelation (Part 1) (Part 2)
Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett, courtesy of Sweet Publishing, Ft. Worth, TX, and Gospel Light, Ventura, CA. Copyright 1984. Released under new license, CC-BY-SA 3.0