Chapter 1: Revelation – The Book for Today
You are about to embark upon a most fascinating and interesting adventure in Bible study. In all the Bible there is no book more intriguing and perhaps more misunderstood than the Book of Revelation!
Have you ever read Revelation all the way through? If you have, chances are you were impressed by the numerous dazzling symbols, the colorful cartoon-like character, and the glowing promises. You may have wondered how to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. Be assured that the study of this book will be a real “revelation” to you of God’s wonderful plan for this world and for your life.
In some versions of the bible, the Book of Revelation is called the “Apocalypse,” coming from the Greek word Apocalypsis. Meaning a “revelation,” or “unveiling.” Perhaps you have wondering why God chose to use symbols and imagery. Why does the unlocking of Revelation’s mysteries seem so difficult? In His infinite wisdom, God chose to reveal His truth for the end time in pictorial language for several reasons:
- As Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, declared, “one picture is worth ten thousand words.” God condensed truth by summarizing prophecy in symbols.
- Revelation’s prophecies condemn tyrannical, political, and fallen religious systems. Since symbols are used, these powers were less likely to understand and retaliate.
- As we study prophecy we discover truths that are not apparent to the surface reader, and the very process of study strengthens our spiritual experience.
Of course, the central person in the Book of Revelation is Jesus Christ. May we behold the Lamb of God as we study this unique book? The same Spirit who gave these truths to John will be present to make God’s special last-day message clear.
Note before we start: It is my recommendation that the student use the New King James Version of the Bible for this study. Any version will do, but answers to questions are given from the New King James. When a different version or translation is used, it will be noted for the student.
1. What is the official title given to the last book of the New Testament? Revelation 1:1
Answer: The Revelation of Jesus Christ
NOTE: It is not “Revelation of St. John the Divine, as some Bibles state. It is the Revelation of Jesus, the Lamb of God, and of God’s plan to restore mankind to the family of God and the Earth made new.
See additional texts: Ephesians 3:3-5; I Corinthians 14:6, 9
Paul in both instances is making an incredible point. Starting with Ephesians 3:3-5; That it is by Revelation He has made know to us through the Holy Spirit to His apostles and prophets the things we should know. And In I Corinthians 14:6, 9 Paul further states that it is not with unclear tongues that the words of God is spoken to His people, but clear words, clear words for understanding that all scripture is made known. Does this mean that everything in the Bible we can understand today? No, for we are learning new truths all the time. But it is when the Bible and the Bible alone is used to interpret itself that we gain a clearer understand of what is taught in the Bible. As we unfold the pages of Scripture we will check to see if history confirms the true word of God. Or is history and the Bible at odds with each other. One further note before we continue: The Bible only talks about the part of history that pertains to God’s people, His message to the world and the events that have in the past and will in the future affect those that are following the true God of Heaven.
2. To whom did God give this book? Revelation 1:1
Answer: Him, Jesus Christ
3. Why did God give this book to Jesus? Revelation 1:1
Answer: To show his Servant things which must shortly take place
NOTE: Revelation might be said to have come in answer to the prayer of Paul. Writing to the church at Ephesus, he tells how he prayed that they might be given a revelation of Christ (Ephesians 1:15-18). Thirty years later John received this Revelation, and the first church to which it was sent was Ephesus. It was written not for the world, but for the church, for the servants of God Revelation 1:1.
When God wrote on the palace wall of Belshazzar, (see Daniel chapter 5 for this story) the wise men could not read the writing. But Daniel interpreted the message. Those who walk with God can know His secretes. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing but He revealeth His secrets unto His servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7)”
While this Revelation was particularly helpful for the persecuted saints in John’s day, and has spoken to every age since, yet it has a special message for those living just before the Lord’s return.[i]
4. What chain of communication did God use to get this book to His people? Revelation 1:1, 2, 11; Revelation 2:11
- God gave the revelation of Jesus
- Jesus sent and signified it by His Angel
- His Angel sent it to John
- John “bore record” or “witness” or wrote it
- The Spirit says to the churches.
- Blessed is he that reads, hears the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it.
NOTE: John 1:3 is the first of the 7 beatitudes of Revelation. Each starts with the words. “Blessed is he” then proceeds to give council or reward. Revelation 2:11 also gives us the promise; “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches, He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” Toward the end of our lessons we will learn that those who hear and do what is written in the book of Revelation will not suffer that second death.
5. Upon whom is a special blessing promised as they study the book? Revelation 1:3
- “He that reads”
- “They that Hear”
- “And Keep (or do) those things which are written therein.”
NOTE: God has promised special blessings to those who study this book and follow its admonition. When encouragement we have for its study! Would God ask us to study a book and even promise to give us special blessing for doing so if we were not able to understand it? Of course not! Another important motive for the study of this particular book is that “the time is at hand, “ or near! There is an urgency about the messages of Revelation. This will become increasingly true as we draw nearer to the great final conflict!
Jesus has promised; “Lo I am with you always even until the end of the earth. Matthew 28:20 You see Jesus will be with his church always, even during persecution. If He has promised to be with the church, will he also not be with us always? Matthew 28:20 makes it perfectly clear that He has promised to be with us always, even until the end of the world.
The three pillars shown above represent the scriptures. When we base our study of the Bible on just a text or two, we do not have much to hang our Bible interpretations on, and by taking a text out of context or by using just one or two texts we are building our understanding of the Bible on a shaky foundation. As we will see, in just few moments Christ used the type of study used in the illustration and supporting text below.
As you can see by the illustration above, the more texts we can add on a particular subject, by studying all the texts on the subject, then the clearer our understanding of scripture the true meaning of the scriptures we will have. So, let’s begin!
6. Who gave the prophets the messages from God which they shared? II Peter 1:21
Answer: the Holy Spirit
7. How much of scripture was given by God is inspired? II Timothy 3:16
Answer: All Scripture
8. What warning is given concerning the interpretation of Scripture? I Peter 1:20, 21
Answer: No Prophecy has any private interpretation
NOTE: We have all heard the old saying, “The Bible is like a violin – you can play any tune you like on it.” That may be true if you take a verse or two and base your belief on a doctrine without studying all the bible text concerning that subject. You will need to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Peter’s warning was followed by these words: “. . . there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies . . . And many follow their malicious ways” II Peter 2:1, 2.
9. What does God say will happen to anyone who adds to the things written in the book of Revelation? Revelation 22:18, 19
Answer: God shall add unto him the Plagues that are written in this book.
10. What did God say will happen to anyone who takes away from the things written in the Book of Revelation? Revelation 22:19
Answer: Their name shall be taken out of the Book of Life
Note: It would be a grave offense for any pharmacist to willing tamper with a physician’s prescription, when the life of the patient might be in danger. To knowly tamper with God’s Holy Word is far more serious. It would mean experiencing the seven last plagues and then having the tamperer’s name eliminated from the Book of Life.
Now, let’s discover . . .
How to Study the Book of Revelation
In the book of prophecy we find numerous quotations from other books of the Bible. In fact, of the 404 verses in the Book of Revelation, 278 are either quotations from or allusions to other places in the Bible.
In the study of this book it will be necessary to let the rest of the Bible help us interpret its many symbols and cryptic images. As we saw just a few moments ago, (see questions 6, 7 and 8) the Bible is not of private interpretation. So all the truths of the Bible are open to those that search the scripture. Only as we understand and study Revelation in the light of what the rest of the bible teaches can we know the message God has for us. Jesus Himself used this method of teaching the Scriptures.
11. How did Jesus use Scripture to explain the prophecies concerning Himself? Luke 24:27
- Where did He begin? With the Prophets, Moses and then moving forward
- And all the Scriptures
- He expounded unto them all the Scriptures
NOTE: Jesus let the various prophecies of the Bible explain each other, skillfully putting them together as parts of a beautiful jigsaw puzzle. And the Bible says that the hearts of the disciples burned within them as He gave that Bible study.We will use this method of comparing Scripture with Scripture as we study the Book of Revelation. When we find difficult terminology, prophetic symbols, or cartoon-like characters, we will seek to discern their meaning in another part of the Bible. We will let the Bible Interpret itself.The Bible Interprets Itself
12. What did John see coming up out of the sea? Revelation 13:1-5
Answer: Beast with 7 heads, 10 horns, and it looked like different animals
13. What does the sea or water represent in Bible prophecy? Revelation 17:15
Answer: People, or populated area
14. What do beasts represent in Bible prophecy? Daniel 7:17, 23
Answer: Nation or Kingdom or Kings
NOTE: We will learn more about the beast of Revelation 13:1-5 in later lessons, but now you can see how easily the Bible explains the mysterious symbols that God uses in outlining the past and the future.
15. Have you already discovered, by studying this lesson, that the Book of Revelation will be an exciting book to study?
I’m not certain
Please pray for me that I may not only “read, hear and understand,” but that I will be willing to do the things revealed to me in the book of Revelation. If you would like prayer, just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have decided, by God’s grace, to study Revelation so I can better understand Jesus and the future He hold in His hands!
Should you wish to do any additional reading I suggest the book: God Cares, Vol. 2, pp. 54-62.