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Bible Studies in the Book of Revelation: Summary


In putting together this summary of the first set of studies, I have looked at each of them and drawn out the main focus of each section. However, an overview word which describes the picture given is GLORIOUS. This word is significant in that all the events begin and end with the sole purpose of extolling the Lord and Christ. From the opening statements through the glory of the one on the throne, to the conquering Lamb and the destructions that are promised, we see the glory, authority and power of the Almighty, Redeeming God, whose purpose is to establish an eternal, sinless existence in a heaven that is beyond human understanding and description.
G –  Greetings and glory ch 1
L- Letters encouragement and challenge ch 2 & 3
O – Overcoming in victory ch 4
R – Redemption through the Lamb ch 5
I – Interventions ch 6 
O –Outward restoration ch 7 & 8
U –Unleashed judgments ch 9
S – Salvation belongs to our God ch 1-9

Study 1    Chapter 1.1-11    On the Isle of Patmos
The opening of the book reveals what it is its content, the future events of the world and into eternity. There are a number of phrases and words that are repeated which give clues to the meaning of the revelation. The use of ‘alpha’ and ‘omega’, the a-z of the Greek alphabet are used to describe the focus on Jesus Christ, a picture of completeness. The title also reminds us it is ‘a revelation’, a revealing of things that are not known or unclear, note carefully that it is a revelation of Jesus Christ. 
He is seen in many titles or descriptions:
•    The Priest- King ch 1
•    The Judge of the Churches ch 2-3
•    The Creator ch 4
•    The Redeemer ch 5
•    The Lord of History ch 6-18
•    The Victor over all evil ch 19-20
•    The Bridegroom ch 21-22
In the writing John reminds us of the key name of Christ is ‘The Lamb’, the sin sacrifice that redeems all who trust in Him. Another key is the word ‘throne’, repeated over 40 times, but it also portrays a conflict in the events, between the Throne of the Lamb and the Throne of Satan, but the Lamb is always victorious. 

Perhaps the key verse is 1.19, where John is told to write of things that:
•    Which you have seen ch 1 – The Past
•    Which are ch 2-3 – The Present
•    Which will take place after this ch 4-22 – The Future

The book opens, in the Greek, with the word ‘apokalupis’, which is the root of our word ‘apocalypse’, which means ‘revelation’, not quite the same, as is in common use today. It was a revelation to John, the Gospel writer, the last of the books of the Bible to be written, and was to be given to a waiting and persecuted church. So John was in exile on Patmos, a rocky volcanic island in the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Turkey. John, the sole surviving Disciple, was on a Sunday ‘in the Spirit’, meditating about the situation of the church when he was given this revelation, which he had to write down.
1.1    The Declaration comes from Jesus Christ- so it was important:
o    The Message came from Christ, guided by His angel
o    The Message was entrusted to a faithful man, John
o    The Message is God’s Word and not man’s fantasy
o    The Message has a universal and eternal encouragement for the Christian 
1.4     The Greeting from John to the churches was for their benefit and its authorship would not be in any doubt;
o    From John, their well-known apostle
o    From God, who was, is and is to come- eternal
o    From Christ 
1.7    The Promise of Heaven
o    Return in the clouds- Acts 1
o    Every eye shall see Him- Zechariah 12
o    His coming will cause great sorrow to an unbelieving world
1.8    The Complete One
o    The Alpha and Omega, the first and last
o    The God who is eternal, was, is and will be
o    The Lord God, Adonai, the God of Heaven’s army
o    The purpose of God 
o    His true witness to the truth of the Gospel
o    Suffering but in Christ’s Kingdom, 
o    Patient in his endurance for his hope
o    His attention was drawn from his meditation
o    By a trumpet like voice demanding attention
o    An instruction to write it all down before he has seen anything
o    The destination of his message was to the seven churches

Study 2    Revelation 1.12-20     One like the Son of Man 
John sees the vision of the voice. He is reminded of who it is that he is seeing, it is Jesus, He remembers what he has done, He is the one who died for sin, His blood cleanses 1.5, redeems 7.14, and overcomes 12.11, but when he sees Jesus as the glorified one, he falls at His feet as dead. To begin to comprehend what this book is about, we must start by worshipping the one who is its focus, Jesus Christ in His glory. Although John falls as dead, by 21.4, there is no more death as Christ has finally triumphed and put away sin forever. What caused him to fall as dead? He looked to see whose voice had spoken and sees among the seven candlesticks:
•    Someone like a Son of Man – His humanity was seen in Heaven. 
•    Wearing a full length robe – a robe of a king
•    A golden sash around his chest – symbol of authority of the High Priest
•    Hair white like wool – pure and cleansed
•    Hair as white as snow – white in purity emphasising His life
•    Eyes like blazing fire – challenge to the defeated power of sin
•    Feet like bronze in a furnace – a firm foundation with no dross, there is purity in His judgments
•    Voice like torrents of water – the sound of authority that drowns all other voices
•    In his hand seven stars – explained later as the angels of the churches
•    Out of his mouth a sharp double-edged sword – the sword is the word of God, the power of His message
•    A face that shone like the brilliance of the full force of the sun – He is glorious and outshines all others
Jesus has lost none of his tender love, which he has shown to the people while he was on earth, as he reaches down and touches John on the shoulder to reassure him and comfort him. Then he starts the Revelation with a statement of his position and authority using words that John and anyone else can understand.

•    I am the First and the Last 
•    I am the living One 
•    I was dead but now am alive for 
•    I hold the keys of death and Hades 
It is a mystery, which means it is not easily understood, not something John could have been expected to readily understand.
•    The seven stars represent the seven angels of the churches 
•    The seven lampstands represent the seven churches 

Study 3    Revelation 2.1-11 ‘Churches I Know’ Pt 1 
Study 4    Revelation 2.12-29        Churches I know    Pt 2

Pergamum or Pergamos
Study 5    Rev 3.1-13        Churches I Know     Pt 3
Study 6    Revelation 3.14-21    Churches I know      Pt 4
We can sum them us as follows, including a specific promise to each church:
•    Ephesus – faithful and discerning but had lost the power of their initial faith
o    Promise – right to eat from the tree of life
•    Smyrna – a suffering church with a love for the truth but would face persecution in the     future 
o    Promise – the crown of life
•    Pergamos – they were compromising their faith to be seen as acceptable to the         community yet with a faithful remnant
o    Promise – white stone with a new name
•    Thyatira – a church split with some faithful and others allowing false teaching
o    Promise – the morning star
•    Sardis – nominally alive, but their faith was in the past, repentance was needed to revitalise the witness
o    Promise – acknowledge his name before the Father 
•    Philadelphia – a true believing evangelical active church denouncing false teaching
o    Promise – pillar in the Temple of my God 
•    Laodicea – a failed and useless witness but with hope if they let the Lord into their lives 
o    Promise – sit with the Lord on the throne
What is the Lord looking for in a church?
He is looking for faithfulness in:
•    Trusting Jesus only for salvation
•    Depending on the word of God for truth
•    Being receptive to the leading of the Holy Spirit
•    Proclaiming in all ways the promise of forgiveness to anyone who accepts the finished work of Calvary, and acceptance by God into his family
•     Looking for the return of Christ in glory for his church and eternity with Christ.

Study 7    Revelation 4     I saw a Throne        
CALL to enter and see the future events. He was still aware it was a spirit led experience, essential to the validity of what was about to be revealed. The testing of the truth depends on the leading of the Holy Spirit; this is recalling the message to the churches, when they were to claim the spiritual promises. His vision was now filled with a central THRONE, the Book of Revelation is the book of the throne, and it appears in many of the visions that John is given.
•    Someone was seated on the throne, he does not describe this person, God is here in his indescribable glory, and so no picture or description could do him justice.
•    Twenty-four thrones for the elders
•    Flashing lightening from the throne, thunder sounds, reminiscent of Exodus when the people approached Mt Sinai and the presence of God.
•    Standing before the throne were seven lamps
•    The whole tableau was on a base, glass like clear crystal. This is reminiscent of the polished laver of the tabernacle. It needs to be remembered that glass was very rare in those days; polished metal was used for mirrors. 
Around the throne were FOUR LIVING CREATURES; they are also described in Ezekiel 1.5 and 10.20. 
•    Covered with eyes, front and back
•    Four descriptions
o    Lion like - power
o    Ox like - strength
o    Man’s face - relationship
o    Flying eagle like – majesty 
•    Each had six wings; see also Isaiah 6 for similar descriptions related to the seraphim.  
•    They also had a song which they sang continually
o    Holy, Holy is the Lord, past present and future
Whenever the creatures gave glory, the twenty-four elders react,
•    Worship him with words
o    Worthy Lord
o    Glory, honour and power
o    Creator of all things
o    Creation was an act of His will
o    Creation is sustained by the same will
The living creatures can be seen as creation praising the creator and the elders as God’s people worshipping him. It is no wonder that in heaven around the throne, his glory is preeminent, in creation, in redemption and in voice.   

Study 8 Revelation 5         The Worthy Lamb    
In chapter 4 John saw four things that formed the basis of his record of the vision, a door, a throne, a rainbow and a choir, here in the next vision he experiences four more aspects of the vision: Scroll, Lamb, Incense and Worship. 
The Scroll
•    This had writing on it that appears to be on both sides, but it had seven seals. There was a great desire to have the seals broken, the scroll opened and its contents read.
•    Despite the call of the mighty angel, no one was found worthy to open the scroll; the whole of creation had been searched to no avail. 
•    The worthy one is described so vividly
o    Lion of the tribe of Judah
o    The Root of David
o    The Triumphant one
o    Able to open the scroll and break the seals
The Lamb
•    The freshly slain lamb symbolises the sacrifice that Jesus made on Calvary.
•    He is both Lion, the conqueror and the Lamb, the sacrifice
♣    The Lord is Omnipotent
♣    The Lord is Omniscient
♣    The Lord is Omnipresent
•    He steps forward and takes the scroll out of the right hand of God the Father; who is sitting on the throne.
On his taking the scroll there is a reaction in heaven, the creatures and the elders fall down in worship of the Lamb taking his rightful place of power and authority. 
The Incense: There was still a sweet aroma for the Lord but in 24 bowls and represented not just the prayers of Israel, but of all God’s people, so included the saints or the church
•    So we have a member of the Trinity presenting our incense to the Trinity after creating the incense for us
No wonder in the situation of such sensory experiences that out it come praise and worship in the voices of those around the throne. It needed a new song, a song created in heaven for heaven by heaven.
The Worship
•    The worthiness of Christ as the only one to take the scroll
•    His power came from his death
•    His acceptance came from the blood of a perfect sacrifice
•    His offering was a purchase, a redeemed people for God. 
•    His worthiness is eternal, unending because it cannot be exhausted
•    The Living Creatures said, Amen, an agreement to the praise offered
•    The elders fell again in worship to the Lamb
Notice how the praise grew, from the central throne outwards until it encompassed all creation. Heaven is a place of worship, are we ready to join in the new song? 

Study 9    Revelation 6.1-6 The Seals 1   
However, seals 1 to 4 reveal what are known as the ‘The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.’ 
On each seal breaking, there is a call by one of the living creatures to ‘Come’; that is calling out the horse and rider. John looked and saw the outcome of the seals breaking. John was invited to consider the events that would ensue from the opening of each seal so he would obtain the full picture of the events in a sequence, while it is important to remember it was all happening under God’s direction.
ϖ    The first of the seven seals revealed a white horse with a rider who held a bow, was given a crown, and rode off as a conqueror.
ϖ    The second of the seven seals revealed a fiery red horse with a rider who was given a large sword and the power to take peace from the earth and to cause men to kill each other.                     .
ϖ    The third of the seven seals revealed a black horse with a rider who was holding a pair of scales in his hand and measuring out the day’s wages. [A denarius] 
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse 
•    The White Horse: The white horse rider is bent on conquest. He has a white horse, the sign of a conquering warrior; a bow; but there is no mention of any arrows, this could be significant as it shows the limits of his power. This is what Christ revealed in his teaching to the Disciples in Matt 24. It is the white horseman of religious deception.  This is the deadliest of all the horsemen. He has a crown, which is a symbol of authority, but his methods of conquest are peaceful deception.
•    The Red Horse: The red horse is about taking peace from the earth, an example of which is men butchering one another. This is both the judgment of God and the consequence of sin. The rider is given power and a sword to allow him to exercise it.
•    The Black Horse: Famine is the black horse. While some people are starving, there are those who will be concerned with luxuries. 
These three seals reveal to the world and mankind its true nature. Man is easily deceived if he thinks it will bring peace, he is willing to fight for what he wants regardless of the consequences and then subsequently finds out the terrible outcome is famine. We have only opened three seals; what horrors wait us with the rest? In contrast to this consider the real Christ, the Son of God who died and rose again, who is now in heaven controlling these events. What does he offer to us?
•    The Truth and not deception- John 6.6
•    The Peace that comes from the Prince of Peace- Isaiah 6.9
•    The Provision, he tells us to take no thought of our needs as the Father will provide all our needs- Matt 6.34

Study 10    Revelation 6.7-17 The Seals 2   
•    The Pale Horse. The pale [grey-green corpse colour] horse rider is clearly identified by John as ‘Death’ and he has a companion, ‘Hades’ or the grave; is given added weapons to cause catastrophe. These are plague and wild animals. If we look at conquest, warfare and famine then death will surely follow. so we conclude the four horsemen, bearing in mind that ‘four’ in Revelation often represents the world, then we can see these as world-wide disasters but as always only as long as Christ, the only authority, permits them to happen.
We move away from the horses and riders and that sequence of events to a different set of pictures. 
•    The fifth of the seven seals revealed what is happening to Christ’s people between his first and second coming. He sees the souls of those who suffered for the Word of God and their testimony that is of Jesus. They are seen ‘under the altar’ giving a picture of their deaths as a special heavenly sacrifice. Persecution and martyrdom are often sees as the greatest enemies of the church of Jesus Christ. In fact the greatest enemy of the church is apathy from within and a failure to take the Bible truth as important and a serious message from God in a warning to the world. ‘How Long.’ The cry goes to the Sovereign Lord; the actual Greek translated by this title is ‘DESPOTES’ which means master or lord. [He is the Master of the Martyrs] 
•    The sixth of the seven seals revealed a great earthquake in which the world turned black and the moon turned to blood. This is the next judgment, where the powerful and rich of the earth are found hiding in caves and asking the rocks to fall on them. Look at the descriptions:
•    The Earth experiences an earthquake in an unspecified location with no mention of the death toll
•    The Sun is affected and turns black, black sackcloth is a symbol of mourning. [cf Isaiah 50.3 & Joel 2.31]
•    The Moon turns red, an extreme event reflecting the judgments
•    The Stars start to fall, we know that this is not normal but we can understand the concept of ‘shooting stars or meteors’ across the sky, again this reflects prophesies from Isaiah.
•    The Sky appears to have been shaken and is compared to ripe figs being shaken to fall from the trees at harvest by strong winds. [cf storms an our experience]
•    The Heavens appear as a scroll being rolled up, the stable landmasses are moved and symbolises a geological catastrophe of enormous proportions.
The four horsemen show the judgments on mankind; these descriptions involve the earth and the cosmos. The end of civilisation, as we know it, will come about as God’s great plan is revealed. The picture is moving towards the end when all the seals are opened. However, as we move through the book, we shall see that this chapter forms part of the final and complete judgment of sin and sinful mankind and does not stand alone, it is part of an unfolding scene. What is the human response to this?
•    Self-preservation, hide away from the disaster
•    Blame God, disaster occurs when God or the gods are angry!
•    Fear for more to come, they want to hide from
o    The one on the throne
o    The wrath of the Lamb [first mention of this] The wrath of God is a common phrase in the OT
•    Realisation that they cannot stand against his power, the end has come

Study 11    Revelation 7     The White Robed Multitude
After opening the sixth seal, there is an interlude in the visions recorded before the opening of the seventh seal. We need to remember that Revelation is not a single story with linear events following each other; it is a series of visions that John experiences. John is seeing the scene before the destruction. In this vision John sees two separate things, firstly 144,000 people with a seal on their forehead and then secondly; a great multitude in white robes. These visions of the two groups are one of the most controversial passages in the whole Book. 
Look at the contrasts:
One crowd is numbered
The other cannot be numbered
One crowd is on earth
The other is in heaven
One is made up of Jews from the twelve tribes
The other from every nation

So we can conclude that these verses display the promise of God of a special protection on his servants. They will be protected when the final judgment comes to the earth. It can be seen that there are different uses for numbers in the Bible. Some are exact, others are to give an impression, and the term ‘thousand’ is often used in the Bible to represent a very large number. Could we have two views of the same group but from different perspectives, initially on earth and then in heaven? They are preserved on earth and glorified in heaven! There also remains the view that they are a remnant of the scattered tribes of Israel, the tribes that were spread over the various part of the Assyrian Empire when they were taken into exile. This would mean there are two different groups of people. 

The scene changes in v9 to heaven, from the earth where the people of God are marked and protected, to the throne-room of heaven, where we see a great crowd again. The sealed are in heaven standing before the throne and glorifying the Lord, who has redeemed them. In v9 we see they are an international crowd, from all nations, people and languages. The crowd are excited and burst into praise, a real praise that does not end or diminish. It is infectious and the elders, the four creatures and the angels joined in the praise, v12.

Further, in v13-14, we see they are a rescued people, they are come from great tribulation, Jesus promises in John 16.33 that ‘you will have great trouble [tribulation]’ as an ordinary occurrence of living on earth. These have come through it and out of it, troubles are for a season, they will end and you can praise the Lord for keeping his promise. But not only are they rescued, they are also redeemed and justified, the white shining robes represent the righteousness of Christ covering them, no-one can appear before and be accepted by God, unless he declares us righteous and justified. Finally, in v15-17, we see that they are protected, a perfect state, so look at the provision: [Look at Isaiah 49.10 and 25.8] 
•    Before the throne of God and serving Him
•    He shelters them in his presence and covers them
•    Never hunger and never thirst
•    Protected from the destructive power of the sun’s rays
•    Shepherded by the Lamb to the living springs
In v17, we see the ultimate position of the child of God. What a situation, you may arrive in heaven in a distressed state on leaving the earth, but there is a wonderful transformation, the suffering of this life is removed, our failures are forgotten, sin and death are not there. After a life where heartache and problems may have dogged us, we find God wipes away every tear; the walk is now with him beside the springs of living water. Remember that living water promised to the woman at Sychar’s well by Jesus. The people of God are secure and sealed by the Holy Spirit today while here on earth, this gives us strength to live for Jesus, but the future is a state of glorious position and a perfect place that is beyond our imagination. 

Study 12 Revelation 8 

After the vision of the crowds in ch 7, John sees the next part of the vision related to the opening if the seals. The six seals already open had shown the judgments that were to be poured out on the earth, but the final seal produces a dramatic pause in the vision with a silence for half an hour in heaven. All of the heavenly beings that had been praising the Lamb are silenced, is this in anticipation of what is to come? But he firstly sees an angel before the altar offering incense; note much incense and this is identified as the prayers of God’s people ascending to him. It seems the prayers are accepted, as the censor is now empty and filled with fire from the altar, which is thrown on the earth with dramatic results, loud noise and lights, a precursor to the judgment. This is a direct response to the cry of God’s people down the ages, ‘How long?’

Then seven angels appear and each in turn sounds his trumpet, tradition has identified them as ‘archangels’ and would include Michael and Gabriel as they stand before God. [Jude 9, Luke 1.19]
•    The First Trumpet: hail and fire mixed with blood is thrust on the earth. This produced devastating effects to the vegetation, the trees and the earth.
•    The Second Trumpet: a mountain on fire; is cast into the seas, they turned to blood. This had an effect on the shipping and the animals of the sea.
•    The Third Trumpet: a great star falls from the sky, destroys the viability of the rivers and water supplies, they become bitter- wormwood is a bitter shrub but has its uses in medicine and alcoholic drinks.
So we have three destructions affecting the earth’s surface, but now come the next:
•    The Fourth Trumpet: the sun, the stars and moon are reduced by a third, again not fatal.
o    Not objects from the heavens to earth, but the heavens are subject to some destruction
Note with these four events there is no mention of a time-scale, however, if you look at the sequence of these trumpets again there is a logical sequence of events. However, it does relate to the OT judgments that were powerful, speedy and swift judgments. 

Then he sees the next manifestation, a promise of devastation to the inhabitants of the earth. An eagle flying shouting, [the flying eagle only appears in Revelation] some early manuscripts use the word ‘angel’ not ‘eagle’, but it is the message that is important not the messenger. The four living creatures cried, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty’, here it is, ‘Woe, Woe, Woe to the earth’s inhabitants’. There were three more trumpets to sound with their judgments, three more devastating outpouring of the wrath of God. The eagle was in mid-air, which means at the top of the sky, where the sun shines. Again, we see protection for God’s people as ‘inhabitants of the earth’ refer in Revelation only to those who are hostile to God. Joel 2 is the early connection between the blowing of trumpets with the coming Day of the Lord. A Judgement Day with disasters that are unique! 

Study 13        Revelation 9        
•    The Fifth Trumpet and the effect now is focussed on humans rather than the earth. The star is an angel, cf 1.20, and as with all the other trumpets something happens that can be observed, the angel is given the key to the Abyss. When the angel opens the door, there escapes smoke bursting up the shaft and into view, like smoke from a furnace. It was enough to create darkness in the sky. 
o    At the end of ch 8 there were three woes, so here is the first woe! Locusts appear, these were powerful ones, unlike any before; they had power to attack people rather than the vegetation. They did not kill but torture for a set period of five months. Their victims were those without the seal of God, five months is the normal life cycle of locusts! The picture is one of sustained agony and looking for relief, even for death, but this did not come. John now looks in detail at these creatures, what are they like, he describes them in term that could be understood;
•    Horses prepared for battle- strong and powerful creatures
•    Crowns of gold- sign of victory
•    Like human faces- intelligent thinking
•    Hair like a woman- waving antennae, fierceness
•    Teeth like lions- tearing with power
•    Iron breastplates- warfare protection, strong
•    Sound of wings like an army- this is the volume of noise, producing terror
•    Stinging tails- like scorpions they had power to attack people
•    King- the angel of the Abyss, not the angel with the key but a demonic power related to the Abyss, named as Abaddon or Apollyon, which means Destroyer!
This is the first woe, with two still to come. 
•    The sixth trumpet is sounded, this releases terror and judgment, which causes the death of people. The vision is of the golden altar, seen before with the souls of the martyrs beneath it, the prayers for judgment are about to be answered. The mention of the four horns of the altar represent the strength the action and completeness as it comes in all directions. The instruction was to release the powerful demonic angels who had been held back until now. 
The Euphrates was on the eastern edge of Israel and a remote part of the Roman Empire in John’s day, the river had been a natural barrier but now is breached. The power released was a mighty army, 200m, never been seen before! Their aim and permission was to kill 1/3 of mankind. A dire event, but not a final event; as more than 1/2 of mankind was to remain. John then describes these horses, not the riders:
•    Breastplates in colours- red, blue and yellow like the coming plagues
•    Heads like lions- power and terror, the locusts had lion-like teeth, these had heads, terrible and frightening
•    Fire, smoke and sulphur out of their mouths- picture a volcano erupting, with fire smoke and lava, the effect was similar and so was the destruction, 1/3 of mankind is here repeated as their aim
•    Tails like snakes- inflict more injury. Jesus referred to demons as snakes and scorpions, Lk 10.27; here the demons have scorpion and snakes as their tails. Torture and injury but not total destruction.
After such an event what was the effect on the remnant of mankind?
•    Did not repent of their sin
•    Carried on worshipping idols- the material gods of the first century world.
•    Their evil society carried on with 
o    Murder- sixth commandment broken 
o    Magic arts- witchcraft, drugs etc.
o    Sexual immorality- seventh commandment broken
o    Theft- eighth commandment broken
Human sin has two sorts, one is sin against God and the other is sin against their society. This reflects the 10 Commandments, with 1-4 as the instruction to worship God, and then the other six summed up by Jesus as living their neighbours and themselves. These who remained were like the Pharaoh who defied God and would not release the Israelites until the final plague. God will judge the wicked that reject him. We also see that the forces of evil are powerful and well organised but can only act when God allows it to happen. Sin can be seen as refusing to worship God and also refusing to love others. Sadly, those with hardened hearts refuse to repent even when confronted with the most severe and horrendous warnings. Our love for Christ is shown when we continue to love others and proclaim the message of hope in Christ.

Note that the full text of notes for each study can be found in the relevant section of this church website.





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