Study questions, maps, charts, key words, history, background, outlines, and links to help you study the New Testament book of Revelation.
There are basically 4 main approaches to interpreting the book of Revelation: Preterist; Historist; Idealist; Futurist. Different scholars and different commentators use different approaches. Make sure you know the difference and which approach the source you’re consulting takes.
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- Author: John, the Apostle (Rev 1:1; Rev 1:4; Rev 1:9; Rev. 22:8)
- Who was John?
- Audience: Clue comes from Rev 1:9 where the author calls himself “your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus.”
- Date: Main debate is about which Roman emperor’s persecution should be understood as the background for the book: Nero (60s AD) or Domitan (90s AD).
- Relation to John’s Gospel: deep harmony of outlook and expression (Examples: Jesus as Lamb of God; Jesus as the “beginning” of creation and “beginning and end”; metaphors of water, light and life associated with Jesus).
Important Literary Features
- hymns and doxologies (Rev 4:8-11; Rev 5:9-14; Rev 7:9-12; Rev 11:15-19; Rev 15:3-4; Rev 19:1-8)
- prophetic call and commissioning narratives (Rev 1:12-20; Rev 10:1-11:2)
- seven blessings (Rev 1:3; Rev 14:13; Rev 16:15; Rev 19:9; Rev 20:6; Rev 22:7; Rev 22:14)
- visions interpreted
- virtue and vice lists (Rev 9:20-21; Rev 13:4-8; Rev 14:4-5; Rev 21:8; Rev 21:27; Rev 22:7; Rev 22:14)
- use of common stock images in a creative way (e.g. thrones, white)
- pre-announcements (e.g. Rev 14:6-20 announces what is developed in chapters 7-20)
- extensive cross-references (e.g. Rev 1:9-20 with chapters 2-3, as well as Rev 19:11-16; Rev7:17 and Rev 21:4 on wiping away tears)
- dramatic contrasts (e.g beast vs lamb; great harlot vs bride of the Lamb)
- interludes (especially visions and hymns)
- use of numerical structures (e.g. 3 plague septets)
- 1:1-3 – General introduction
- 1:4-8 – Christological prologue
- 1:9-20 – prophetic commissioning
- Ch 2-3 – Prophetic oracles to 7 churches
- Ch 4-5 – Heavenly vision (fulfilled divine purposes)
- Ch 6-16 – Three cycles of sevenfold conflict
- Seven seals 6:1-8:5
- Seven trumpets 8:6-11:19
- Parenthesis: great conflict between the people of God and forces of darkness 12:1-14:20
- Seven bowls of wrath 15:1-16:21
- 17:1-19:10 The approach of the end (fall of the great city)
- Collapse of the world empire Babylon Ch 17
- Lament over the collapse of Babylon Ch 18
- End of the kingdom of antichrist ushers in kingdom of God and marriage supper of the lamb Ch 19:1-10
- 19:11-20:15 – The advent of the kingdom of God (victory of Christ)
- 21:1-22:5 – New Jerusalem and River of life
- 22:6-21 – Epilogue: concluding exhortations
Some important themes
- Christ as victor (especially chapter 5)
- The church as a prophetic community bearing witness to Jesus
- Divine judgment – destruction of evil and blessing of eternal life
Genre: Understanding Prophecy
Background & Outlines
David Malick (Bible.org): An Introduction To The Book Of Revelation
James van Dine: Intro to Revelation
Maps from Holman Bible Atlas
Romans, Palestine, and Herod the Great
The World of Jesus
Maps from Bible-History.com
Jesus (14x/12v); Christ (7v)
Lamb (30x) – Strong’s G721b in Rev 5:6; Rev 5:8; Rev 5:12; Rev 5:13; Rev 6:1; Rev 6:7; Rev 6:9; Rev 6:16; Rev 7:9; Rev 7:10; Rev 7:14; Rev 7:17; Rev 8:1; Rev 12:11; Rev 13:8; Rev 13:11; Rev 14:1; Rev 14:4; Rev 14:10; Rev 15:3; Rev 17:14; Rev 19:7; Rev 19:9; Rev 21:9; Rev 21:14; Rev 21:22; Rev 21:23; Rev 21:27; Rev 22:1; Rev 22:3.
Alpha & Omega – Rev 1:8; Rev 21:6; Rev 22:13; first & last – Rev 1:17.
The One who is and who was and who is to come – Rev 1:4; Rev 1:8; Rev 4:8; Rev 11:18; Rev 16:5.
The Lord God the Almighty (9v) – Rev 1:8; Rev 4:8; Rev 11:17; Rev 15:3; Rev 16:7; Rev 16:14; Rev 19:6; Rev 19:15; Rev 21:22.
The One who sits on the throne (7x) – Rev 4:9; Rev 5:1; Rev 5:7; Rev 5:13; Rev 6:16; Rev 7:15; Rev 21:5.
throne (35v) – Strong’s G2362 in Rev 1:4; Rev 2:13; Rev 3:21; Rev 4:2; Rev 4:3; Rev 4:4; Rev 4:5; Rev 4:6; Rev 4:9; Rev 4:10; Rev 5:1; Rev 5:6; Rev 5:7; Rev 5:11; Rev 5:13; Rev 6:16; Rev 7:9; Rev 7:10; Rev 7:11; Rev 7:15; Rev 7:17; Rev 8:3; Rev 12:5; Rev 13:2; Rev 14:3; Rev 16:10; Rev 16:17; Rev 19:4; Rev 19:5; Rev 20:11; Rev 20:12; Rev 21:3; Rev 21:5; Rev 22:1; Rev 22:3.
Commentaries & Study Bibles
Ligionier.org Top 5 Commentaries: Revelation
Tim Challies Best Commentaries: Revelation
Commentary Reviews: Revelation
Alford Exegetical: Revelation
Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible: Revelation
Matthew Henry: Revelation
Albert Barnes Notes: Revelation
Reformation Study Bible Notes: Revelation
Geneva Study Bible: Revelation
Precept Austin Commentaries & Sermons: Revelation
Dictionaries & Encyclopedias
Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary: Revelation, Theology Of
American Tract Society: Revelation
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary: Revelation, Book Of
Easton’s Bible Dictionary: Revelation, Book Of
Fausset Bible Dictionary: Revelation, the Book Of
Holman Bible Dictionary: Revelation, the Book Of
Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible: Revelation, Book Of
Morrish Bible Dictionary: Revelation, The
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Revelation of John:
McClintock and Strong’s Bible Encyclopedia: Revelation, Book Of.
The Nuttall Encyclopedia: Revelation, Book Of
The Jewish Encyclopedia: Revelation (Book Of)
Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology:
Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: John, Theology Of
American Tract Society: John
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary: John the Apostle
Easton’s Bible Dictionary:
Fausset Bible Dictionary: John the Apostle
Holman Bible Dictionary: John
Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible: John, the Apostle
Kitto’s Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature: John the Evangelist
Morrish Bible Dictionary: John the Apostle
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:John the Apostle
McClintock and Strong: John, the Apostle
The Nuttall Encyclopedia: John
John means “the grace or mercy of the Lord” – Hitchcock’s Bible Names
J Daryl Charles: Imperial Pretensions and the Throne-Vision of the Lamb- Revelation 5
David Cooper: Exposition of the Revelation – literal
Trevor P Craigen: Eternal Punishment in John’s Revelation
Robert Dean: The Meaning of Angels in Revelation 2 and 3
Bob Deffinbaugh: Revelation 21:1-22:5 A Heaven to Seek
Bob Deffinbaugh: The Purpose of Prophecy
Charles Dyer: The Identity of Babylon in Revelation 17-18 Part 1
Charles Dyer: The Identity of Babylon in Revelation 17-18 Part 2
Keith Essex: The Rapture and the Book of Revelation
Jim Fletcher: Opposing Joshua—The Modern Evangelical War on Israel
Arnold Fruchtenbaum: The use of the Old Testament in the Book of Revelation
Arnold Fruchtenbaum: Israel’s Right To The Promised Land
Arnold Fruchtenbaum: The Prophetic Promise of the Land of Israel in the Abrahamic Covenant
Tony Garland: Criticism of the Futurist Interpretation of Revelation
Tony Garland: The Manchild of Revelation 12
Tony Garland: Seven Spirits of God – Revelation 1:4, 3:1, 4:5, 5:6
Robert Gromacki: Revelation 20: A Premillennial Analysis
Robert Gromacki: The Times of the Gentiles
Robert Gromacki: Where is “the Church” in Revelation 4–19?
Gregory H Harris: Can Satan Raise the Dead? Toward a Biblical View of the Beast’s Wound in Revelation 13 (or here)
Gregory H Harris: What is New About the New Heaven and the New Earth?
Gale Heide: Interpretive Models for the Book of Revelation
Mark Hitchock: Debate on the Date of the Book of Revelation
David Hocking: The Rapture in Revelation
David Hocking: The Positive Aspects of Premillennial Theology
Opeyemi Oladosu: The Use of the Old Testament in the Book of Revelation Revelation
RC Sproul: The Last Days According to Jesus
Richard Mayhue: New Covenant Theology and Futuristic Premillennialism
Richard Mayhue: Why A Pre-tribulation Rapture?
Treat like any commentary: Read carefully, read thoughtfully and require proof.