Study On The Book Of Revelation – If you would like to comment on one of the lessons simply click on the title of the lesson and you will be take to the lesson page where you will find a comment section at the bottom.
*The material for these studies is from Jon Courson’s Commentary by Thomas Nelson Inc., R. Kent Hughes Preaching the Word series by Crossway, and Warren W. Wiersbe’s Commentary by Chariot Victor Publishing, and from James Montgomery Boice’s Expositional Commentary published by Baker Books, and from The Message of Romans, John R. W. Stott published by Inter Varsity Press, unless otherwise noted.
We find now, a stack of letters, seven in all, which have largely been ignored and unopened by the Christian Church over the years. Many people tend to skip over these seven letters to the churches, so eager to hurry to those juicy, action-packed, sections of Revelation. We would rather hear about the great cataclysms of the last days than be confronted with the urgent challenge of our own present moment. These seven letters to seven churches are powerful letters, burning with urgency. Their message is still as vital and timely today as when first written. So many ills of our churches in the twenty-first century could be cured if we would only listen with attentive ears to the message Jesus gave us through the pen of John over 2000 years ago,
In these letters, our Lord outlines for us His plan for the church. He shows us that He has set His church in the midst of the world. It is His instrument to impact and direct the course of human history. Jesus calls the church “the light of the world” and “the salt of the earth.” The apostle Paul calls the church “the pillar and ground of truth.” That is the mystery and the mission of the church. God intends the church to exert tremendous influence over the affairs of the world.
These seven letters set forth His eternal “game plan.” So it’s a grievous mistake to slight the crucial importance and timely relevance of these letters. They are filled with both warning and encouragement to churches that are struggling with sin and complacency within, and persecution without. In these letters, our Lord teaches the church how to live as light in a darkening world while also confronting the sin and error that threatens the health and life of the church.
Do you remember the first time you fell in love? Do you recall that feeling of always wanting to be near the object of your love, to simply bask in the presence of that person? In Revelation 2:1-7, we meet a church that once loved Jesus that way. But tragically, at the time that we encounter this church in Revelation, the fondness, the remembrance, the yearning of that first glow of love had faded. Instead of a church that is ardently in love with its Lord, we find a church that has lost its love.
The first thing the Lord impresses upon the Ephesian church is that He is the Lord of all the churches. He holds the seven stars in His right hand, and He walks among the seven lampstands. He is in control of the angels of the churches, and He is directly observing the lampstands, the churches themselves, as He walks through their midst.
Ephesus was the leading city of Asia. It was the gateway to the Roman Empire in the region now known as Turkey, with rivers and roads connecting it to far-flung places. Ephesus was famous for its large harbor, a flourishing marketplace, and especially the great temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was also a dissolute and greatly immoral city, in large part because of the cultic prostitution and the liberty granted to criminals at its famous temple.
The church in Ephesus was now a second-generation congregation, having been founded forty years earlier by Paul, who later stayed to teach for three years during his third missionary journey. It was then overseen by Paul’s helper Timothy, until after Paul’s death the apostle John came, probably around the year A.D. 66. The apostles had thus invested a great deal in this church, and it is likely that the church in Ephesus extended the gospel throughout Asia so as to plant the other churches of the region. With such leadership and ministry, it is not surprising that Jesus finds much to praise in these believers (v. 2). Here, we are reminded of the words that Jesus will say to all His followers who worked hard for Him while He was gone: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21).
Not only had the Ephesians performed good works in Christ’s name, but they had persevered patiently under trials (vv. 2-3). This commendation indicates not merely that they had continued in believing, but that they had stood up to the pressure to conform to the surrounding culture. Then Christ commends the Ephesians for their vigilance over the truth (v. 2) It seems that false teachers had come among them, claiming to be apostles, but under testing they had been proved false and rejected. Jesus goes on to identify this threat in a further commendation in verse 6. Jesus’ praise to the Ephesians for testing and rejecting the false teachers should disabuse us of the idea that we can remain neutral in matters of truth! Certainly we should avoid needless controversy and argument. But when truth is up for sale, there is fidelity to Christ on one side and friendship with the world on the other.
There was however, a serious problem in Ephesus, and Jesus did not hesitate to confront it (v. 4). This rebuke is understood in two ways. Many commentators hear Jesus saying that in their zeal for correct doctrine, the Ephesians have become unloving toward people. In the earlier days they warmly embraced all who named the Lord in faith, but their zealous orthodoxy has made them suspicious and harsh. The second view sees this rebuke as charging the Ephesians with growing cold in their love for Jesus and their zeal for a close relationship with Him. It is likely that both are involved, especially since loss of love for God will result in less fervent affection for fellow Christians. This poses a serious challenge for doctrinally minded people: Jesus’ rebuke does not say that zeal for truth must always make our love grow cold, but it certainly indicates that it is possible. This is why Paul warned: “If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2).
This same rebuke should be directed toward Christian individuals: “I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (v. 4). Many Christians recognize that the enthusiasm they once had for Christ is no longer seen in their lives. We have not turned from faith, and we are still performing our Christian duties. But from Jesus’ perspective, it is obvious that the first love has grown dim, perhaps replaced with lesser, more worldly priorities. If so, Jesus urges us to remember our first love with longing. Remembering is not enough, however. Jesus adds: “repent” (V. 5). This means that we must take action to change whatever caused us to lose our fervor for Christ. We should ask ourselves what happened or what entered our lives so as to account for our lessened fervor for Christ. Then we should remove it or put it back into its proper place and priority.
The final element in the seven messages to the churches of Revelation is a promise from Christ for blessing to those who conquer through faith (v. 7). To conquer with Christ doesn’t mean that all our difficulties have gone away or that believers can all expect to become thin, beautiful, wealthy, and powerful. Christians conquer by persevering to the end in faith, godliness, truth, and fervent love. This is the chief message of the entire book of Revelation, so we will gain a deeper idea of Christian overcoming as we progress in the book.
To conquer in Christ is to confess our sins and seek the atoning power of His death for our forgiveness, to hold fast to the gospel truths of the Bible as the foundation of our faith, and out of love for Jesus to be willing both to live for Him now and to die with Him should there be a day of final testing. Christians conquer amid tribulation in this world, but the blessing Jesus promises is received in the world to come when He returns (v. 7).
This promise refers back to the blessing lost by Adam and Eve through sin, as they were barred from eating from the Tree of Life (Gen. 3:22). Ever since that day, sinners have desperately sought to either find or build a paradise here on earth. Have you been trying to do that? Every earthly form of paradise fails precisely because it cannot provide the life for which we were created. Yet Jesus holds open before those who persevere with Him, bearing the cross through this world, and conquering through their faith, a true paradise prepared in heaven for those who love Him, where the Tree of Life blooms with leaves “for healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:2). Jesus confronts us with our obligation to overcome through faith in Him: He warns, “In the world you will have tribulation.” But, together with the promised Tree of Life, Jesus offers His own presence to those who rekindle their first love for Him: “Take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Revelation 2:1-7 Study Questions:
Do you sometimes hesitate to speak up about things you really believe in out of fear that you might offend someone? Explain.
What words of praise, warning and promise are spoken to the church of Ephesus?
The Ephesian believers have drawn a clear line between those who are really following Jesus and those who are not (v. 2). As all church workers, a group that is rightly concerned for the truth of the gospel may forget that the very heart of that gospel is love. What can we do to help maintain this delicate balance between truth and love in our own churches today?
Here, even in the first chapter of Revelation, we discover truth imparted in the form of symbols. Jesus is described in a way that is not intended to convey His actual physical appearance but various aspects of His character, His attributes, and His role.
The setting for the vision John received is a tiny island in the Aegean Sea. This island, called Patmos, is only about four miles wide and six miles long, located just off the coast of Turkey. It was a dreary little place in John’s day, containing a stone quarry, some mining excavations, and very little else. John had apparently been banished to Patmos by the Romans in order to silence his preaching – hence his statement that he was there “because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (v. 9). John was a prisoner on Patmos.
On one Sunday morning (or “the Lord’s Day,” as John calls it), John was “in the Spirit.” This does not mean that John was in some state of religious ecstasy, but rather that he was worshiping God and meditating on God’s greatness and majesty. It is the state of mind and spirit that Jesus described in John 4:24 when He said, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” When John was in this worshipful attitude, a voice like a trumpet said, “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches” (v. 11). Upon hearing this voice, John did what you and I would have done: he turned to find the source of this powerful, trumpet-like voice. What he saw was the Lord Himself, standing among seven golden lampstands, holding seven stars in His hands. Note the significance of the number seven again, the number of completeness.
Let’s look at each of the symbols which characterize John’s vision of the Lord Jesus: (1) Jesus is dressed in a long robe, bound across the chest by a golden sash, a priestly garment symbolizing His role as the Great High Priest. In Scripture, gold symbolizes deity. This robe with its golden sash speaks of the fact that Jesus is a priest who is Himself God. He is the Lord, sovereign over all of history. (2) His head and His hair are white. These are symbols used in the book of Daniel to denote wisdom and purity. (3) His eyes are like blazing fire, from which nothing can be hid. Fire speaks of judgment. (4) His feet are like bronze, glowing in a furnace, again, the image of furnace-hot fires of judgment. (5) His voice is like the sound of rushing waters, like the roar of the surf as it dashes against the rocks. The sound of His voice is the sound of power, inspiring our awe. (6) The sword which comes out of the mouth of Jesus is clearly the Word of God, by which Jesus reveals truth to us. (7) His face is like the sun shining in its strength. The brilliance of the sun symbolizes the burning intensity of truth.
Throughout the remainder of Revelation, we will see other symbolism employed to describe various aspects of Jesus’ character, power, and position. But it is the image of Jesus which John describes here in chapter 1 that is the most startling and graphic of all. Before such an awesome sight, what could John do, what could any human being do, but fall at the feet of Jesus as though dead?
This is the reaction of every human who experiences the kind of profound encounter with the living God that John experiences here in chapter 1. And as John lay prostrate before the feet of Jesus, the Lord did something that was completely typical and characteristic of Him: He reached down and touched John! As you read through the gospels, you see that Jesus was always toughing people. Now here in chapter 1, Jesus touches John and reassures him with the words, “Do not be afraid.” Jesus is saying in effect, “I am your friend, not your enemy. I am the First and the Last. I set the boundaries of time and history. I hold the keys of death and hell, the keys of both physical death and spiritual death. I am sovereign over all that is, so you have nothing to fear, my friend.”
Does this vision not prove to us that we should never fear to live boldly for Jesus, in accordance with His Word? The world is likely to scorn us and may even persecute us, as it did John. But if the exalted Christ is with us, what will we fear? Should we not, like John, fearlessly preach the truths of God’s Word into a dark and hostile culture? Even if we are placed in chains, the exalted Christ will send forth His Word through us. How important it is then, that we fix our eyes on the mighty and victorious Jesus of Scripture!
Having reassured John, Jesus then commissions him: “Write, therefore,” says the Lord, “what you have seen, what is now, and what will take place later.” Notice that Jesus gives john a three-part writing assignment. First, John is to write what he has seen, which is the vision we have just studied. Second, John is to write “what is now.” That is, he is to write seven letters to seven churches about existing conditions in those churches (Rev. 2-3). Third, John is to write “what will take place latter.” This is the prophetic vision of the future contained in Revelation chapters 4-22. These are the three divisions of the book of Revelation, as given to us by the Lord Himself. If we follow these divisions carefully, we will be able to understand God’s message to us in this challenging, rewarding, symbol-laden book.
The point of the first chapter of Revelation is to focus our attention on Jesus. He is the central figure of Revelation, just as He is the central figure of all history. He is the source of our courage, our peace, our wisdom, our forgiveness when we sin, and our help in the time of need. John takes up the commission given him by Jesus and performs it with dramatic force; he elevates our hearts and focuses our attention upon Jesus, upon who He is and what He is doing in human history. The Lord, through His servant John, has lifted the veil from the obscured face of the future. He invites us to look behind the scenes of history and see the great and awesome things He is doing and is about to do upon the earth, and within each individual life.
Revelation 1:9-20 Study Questions:
Where is John when he writes this letter and why is he there? Why would this be important to John’s original readers?
Exile has given John time to pray, to reflect, and now to receive the most explosive vision of God’s power and love. How have you experienced God’s power and love in the midst of painful or distressing situations?
What does John see when he turns to find out who is speaking to him (vv. 12-16)? What is John’s response when he sees this vision (v. 17)?
Why does Jesus emphasize that He is the “living One” who holds “the keys of death and Hades” (vv. 17-18)?
Numbers may escape the notice of you and I, but hold a strange fascination for mathematicians. Similarly, we find there are certain numbers which hold a fascinating significance in the book of Revelation. Note, first of all, the greeting: “Grace and peace to you from him who is, and was, and who is to come.” These words describe God the Father as the Lord of all time and all eternity. His name in Hebrew, Yahweh, means “I Am.” In English, “I Am” sounds like a statement in the present tense, but in Hebrew it contains all the tenses used in Revelation 1:4 – in effect, “I am he who is, and he who was, and he who is to come.”
Next we come to the key number of Revelation, the first of a series of sevens: “and from the seven spirits before his throne.” Why is the number seven significant in Revelation? Because, whenever you encounter seven of anything in this book, it is a symbol of completeness and perfection. Who is signified by the “seven spirits before his throne”? Here we find the first of many echoes from the Old Testament prophecy. In Isaiah 11:2 the prophet speaks of the Spirit of God coming upon the Messiah. In Isaiah’s passage the Spirit of God is described in a sevenfold way: he is (1) the Spirit of the Lord, (2) the Spirit of wisdom, (3) the Spirit of understanding, (4) the Spirit of counsel, (5) the Spirit of power, (6) the Spirit of knowledge, and (7) the Spirit of the fear of the Lord. So the “seven spirits” of Revelation 1:4 are a symbol of the Holy Spirit in His sevenfold completions, perfection, and fullness.
This greeting of grace and peace comes from God the Father, the eternal “I Am”; from the Holy Spirit; and from Jesus Christ, the central figure of Revelation, who is introduced in threefold fashion as (1) the faithful witness, (2) the firstborn from the dead, and (3) the ruler of the kings of the earth. So, in this passage, Jesus is introduced in threefold fashion as the truth-teller, the life-giver, and the law-maker.
This introduction is followed in verses 5-6 by a threefold doxology to: (1) “him who loves us;” this is a statement in the present tense. It’s an amazing fact. Despite all our foolishness, waywardness, selfishness, and sin, the Lord Jesus loves us. He is always on our side. (2) Who “has freed us from our sins by his blood;” Jesus breaks the shackles of sin and destructive habits in our lives. He sets us free from addictions and destructive habits which harass us, enslave us, and chain us down. It is true that many Christians continue to struggle with evil habits even after coming into relationship with Christ. But the blood of Christ gives us the power to break the chains of sin – if we will but turn the control of our lives over to Him. (3) He has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father. We are all sinners, estranged from a holy and just God because of our sin. The role of a priest is to bridge the alienation between the people and God, to bring the people near to God again.
All believers are called to perform the function of a priest. It is a high and holy calling, given to us by Jesus Himself. We are to reach out to others in their pain and lostness. We are to explain to them the sacrifice that Jesus has made on their behalf. We are to share with them the fact that God loves them and longs to draw them to Himself, to heal their loneliness and alienation. For this reason, Jesus has made all believers, including you and me, to be a kingdom of priests.
In verse 7 the Lord is introduced to us not only in terms of who He is, His attributes and His glory, but also in terms of what He will do in the future: “Look, he is coming with the clouds.” This is the focal point of human history, the single event toward which all human history, the single event toward which all events – and heavenly events as well – are moving. One day Jesus Himself will break through the skies, and He will appear again in glory, just as when He left the earth. His coming will have planet-wide impact; He will be visible to everyone in the world at once.
In verse 8, we come to the final verse in John’s introduction to this remarkable book. The prologue gives useful information about Revelation, and the most important bit is the purpose for which John is writing. There are many secondary purposes for Revelation, such as giving information about the future and exhorting the churches to which it was written. But the great purpose of Revelation is to provide Christians with a view of history from God’s perspective in heaven.
By keeping this grand purpose for Revelation in mind, we can best understand the role of verse 8 in concluding John’s prologue. It might seem strange, after all, that at the end of the apostle’s introduction, God the Father Himself speaks to the readers. This is more surprising when we note that the first person of the Godhead does not speak again in this long book until almost the end (Rev. 21:5-8). Why then, does John’s prologue conclude: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty’” (v.8)? The answer is that since Revelation presents God’s view of history, it makes sense for God to present Himself as the Sovereign who is able to hold all things together and accomplish all His purposes in Christ to save His people.
In no other book of the Bible do we find this wonderful mark of approval of God. When we read these words, we are reading a copy autographed by the Author Himself!
Revelation 1:4-8 Study Questions:
Do you ever think of yourself as a priest?
Even in this short opening John manages to unveil a good deal of what he believes about God and Jesus, and about the divine plan. God is the Almighty, the beginning and the end. Other “lords” and rulers will claim similar titles, but there is only one God to whom they belong. What other “lords” in our own day make competing claims to the Almighty status – as John testifies here – in reality belongs to God alone?
Where else in the New Testament is the account of Jesus’ return?
The opening words of the book of Revelation begin with “The revelation of Jesus Christ” (v.1). This means that this book’s purpose is to reveal something. God gave it “to show to His servants the things that must soon take place,” and “make it known” to His servant John. We begin by finding that Revelation is a message from the triune God through John to seven churches in Asia. Before the salutation that begins in Revelation 1:4, John penned a prologue that provides four vital pieces of information to help us understand the book. According to the opening verses, Revelation is an apocalyptic prophecy, a historical letter, a gospel testimony, and a means of blessing for God’s needy people.
The first three verses of Revelation form a prologue or preface which tells us the purpose of the book, the importance of the book, and the spirit or attitude in which it is to be read. There are two words in this paragraph that reveal to us the special nature of this book: it is called a revelation and a prophecy. The Greek word which is translated “revelation” is apokalupsis, which literally means “an unveiling of something hidden.” It might be used of a sculpture that has been covered by a cloth (veil), which is now pulled away. The apostle Paul used this word to describe Jesus’ second coming (1 Thess. 1:7). Revelation is more accurately, an unveiling of the plan of God for the history of the world, especially of the Church. A revelation removes the veil which obscures our understanding, it unravels the mystery, and it makes the meaning plain.
As we move through the book of Revelation, we will find many mysteries made clear. We will learn why evil persists on the earth, and what the ultimate fate of evil will be. The mystery of godliness will also be explained, so that we can discover how to live a godly, righteous life in the midst of a broken, evil world. Many other mysteries will be unveiled in this book of apokalupsis, of revelation.
Then there is the other word used to describe the book of Revelation: “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy.” This is a book that deals in predictions. It deals with people and events which lie in the future. Powerful personalities are waiting to make their entrance on the stage of human events. Extraordinary circumstances are waiting to unfold as the juggernaut of history rumbles toward its fateful consummation. We will meet these personalities and witness these events in the book of Revelation.
The book is called the “revelation of Jesus Christ,” and John says that Jesus Himself “made it known by sending His angel to His servant John.” The English phrase “made it known” actually has a deeper meaning in the original Greek, where instead of three words there is just one Greek word, semaino. This word should be translated “signified” – or, if you want to really get the true sense of this word: “sign-i-fied.” In other words, Jesus made His revelation known to John by signs or symbols. Once you grasp the symbolic “sign-ificance” of this book, you can begin to understand and apply the book of Revelation.
Revelation is a book of symbols, and these symbols are important. Symbols help to simplify difficult concepts and to clarify things which are baffling or murky. The book of Revelation uses symbols with great precision and clarity. The weird beasts and strange persons of Revelation are all symbols of things which are real and literal. As we journey through this study together I think you will be surprised to see how many seemingly difficult images and events in the book of Revelation become clear. The key to understanding the symbols of Revelation is recognizing that almost all of these symbols have been given to us elsewhere in the Bible.
Who is the author of the book of Revelation? At first glance, the answer might seem to be John. But look again. John writes that this book is “the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him,” and which Jesus in turn made known to John. The author of Revelation is God Himself! John was certainly involved in the process of producing this book, but it truly had its origin not in the mind of John, but within the Godhead, in the mind of God the Father. The Father revealed it to the Son, who in turn made it known to a human being named John.
Why did God the Father have to give this revelation to Jesus the Son? Remember that in Matthew 24:36 Jesus said that though He understood many of the events of the last days of the age, He did not know the time when these events would happen. This knowledge, He said, belonged only to the Father. Now of course, since Jesus is risen and glorified, He knows all that the Father knows, but while on earth the timing of these events was unknown even to Jesus Himself.
So God the Father gave this revelation to Jesus, who in turn entrusted it to John by means of an angel. Thus, while all Scripture is inspired by God, the book of Revelation occupies a unique place in the Bible, because no other book in the Bible has been given to us in this way. John’s roll in the writing of this book is virtually that of a secretary taking dictation. John is the writer, but God is the Author of the book of Revelation.
As we begin our journey through the vision God gave to John, notice the inspiring promise we find at the onset: “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it.” God has promised all the readers of this book – including you and me – a special blessing if we read, hear, and take to heart the words of this prophecy. What kind of blessing? I believe the Lord is promising that we will find comfort, guidance, and assurance, even through such times of upheaval and fear described in Revelation. The twenty-first century is full of troubled and confused times, filled with temptations, pressures, and anti-Christian philosophies – and the days will grow darker as we near the conclusion of history. But the person who understands the book of Revelation will have a faithful guide through the tumult and confusion of this dying age.
Revelation 1:1-3 Study Questions:
Who is this book all about and what do we learn about him in the opening verses 1-8?
What does it mean that this book serves as a “testimony” or “witness” (v. 2)?
Welcome to the study of the last book in the Bible, the Book of Revelation. Many people today regard Revelation as the hardest book in the New Testament. It’s full of strange, lurid, and sometimes bizarre and violent imagery. You might have thought that in a world of clever movies and DVDs, stuffed full of complex imaginative imagery, we would take to Revelation like ducks to water, but it doesn’t always seem to work that way. As a result, many people who are quite at home in the Gospels, Acts and Paul find themselves tiptoeing around Revelation with a sense that they don’t really belong there. But we all do!
The book in fact offers one of the clearest and sharpest visions of God’s purpose for the whole of creation, and of the way in which the powerful forces of evil, at work in a thousand ways but not least in idolatrous and tyrannous political systems, can be and are being overthrown through the victory of Jesus the Messiah and the consequent costly victory of His followers. The world we live in today is no less complex and dangerous than the world of the late first century when this book was written, and we owe it to ourselves to get our heads and our hearts around Revelation’s glorious pictures as we attempt to be faithful witnesses to God’s love in a world of violence, hatred and suspicion. The Book of Revelation is vibrant, alive, and profoundly applicable to the times in which you and I live today.
It’s no accident that the Book of Revelation appears as the last book of the Bible. Revelation gathers all the threads of theme and historic events contained in the rest of the Bible, weaving them into a seamless whole. The entire scope of human history – and of eternity itself – comes into brilliant focus in the Book of Revelation. Someone has rightly observed that the Book of Genesis and the Book of Revelation are like two bookends that hold the entire Bible together. In Genesis we have the story of the origin of human sin; in Revelation we have the complete and final victory over sin. Genesis presents the beginning of human history and civilization; Revelation presents the end of both. In Genesis we learn the beginnings of God’s judgment and His grace toward mankind; in Revelation we see the awesome result of His judgment and the triumph of His grace. The great themes of these two books are intricately intertwined.
John, its author – sometimes called “John the Seer” or “John the Divine,” sometimes (probably wrongly) identified with the John who wrote the Gospel and epistles – is picking up a way of writing well known in the Jewish world of the time. This way of writing was designed to correspond to, and make available, the visions and “revelations” seen by holy, prayerful people who were wrestling with the question of the divine purpose.
Revelation – the idea, and this book – are based on the ancient Jewish belief that God’s sphere of being and operation (heaven) and our sphere (earth) are not after all separated by a great gulf. They meet and merge and meld into one another in all kinds of ways. For ancient Jews, the place where this happened supremely was the temple in Jerusalem; this is not unimportant as the action proceeds. Most humans seem blind to this, only seeing the earthly side of the story. Some are aware that there is more to life, but are not quite sure what it’s all about. Ancient Jews struggled to see both sides of the story, though it was often too much of an effort.
When John was writing Revelation, the early Christian movement grew and developed momentum throughout the latter part of the first century. Still, many questions emerged. What was God doing now? What were His plans for the little churches dotted around the Mediterranean world? Where was it all going? In particular, why was God allowing followers of Jesus to suffer persecution? What line should they take when faced with the fastest growing “religion” of the time, namely, the worship of Caesar, the Roman emperor? Should they resist?
There may have been several groups of Christians in ancient Turkey, where John seems to have been based. They would have been mostly poor, meeting in one another’s homes. By contrast, people were building grand and expensive temples for Caesar and his family in various cities, eager to show Rome how loyal they were. What would Jesus Himself say about this? Did it mean that, after all, the Christians were wasting their time, following a crucified Jew rather than the one who was rather obviously the “lord of the world”?
As we will see through our studies, Revelation is written to say “no” to that question – and say much more besides. At its center is a fresh “revelation of Jesus the Messiah” (1:1). John, with his head and his heart full of Israel’s Scriptures, discovered on one particular occasion, as he was praying, that the curtain was pulled back. He found himself face to face with Jesus himself.
Revelation Study Suggestions:
As you begin each study, pray that God will speak to you through His Word.
Read and reread the Bible passage to be studied.
Then after your study, pray to God thanking Him for what you have learned and pray about the applications that have come to mind.