Verses about the Apostles' "TRAVELS and ACTS"
Part 31 - BOOK OF REVELATION
Introduction to Revelation & Location Map
Book 27 of 27 - BOOK OF REVELATION
Writer: The apostle John in exile
Date: EITHER c AD68-70 following the persecutions of Emperor Nero, but before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70; OR c AD90-95 during the persecutions attributed to Emperor Domitian at the end of his reign AD81-96
Where written: The Aegean island of Patmos off the west coast of Asia Minor
Reader: The seven named churches of Asia, and the entire Church of Christ
Why: An apocalyptic book describing the revelation Jesus Christ gave to John. The beginning of the Bible (Genesis 1-11) is a prologue describing the downfall of mankind and his separation from God. Revelation is an epilogue in which God and man are reconciled through Christ
Apocalyptic - Greek for "uncover", "reveal". The revealing of great or violent events and especially the end of the world, often described in Jewish apocalyptic literature. The word is applied especially to the Book of Revelation which bears comparison with the Old Testament Books of Daniel and parts of Isaiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah.
According to Some Modern Scholarship: Written towards the end of the 1st century by a close companion of John known as John the Elder, or by another follower. The earlier date of c AD68-70 for the apostle John would help account for the differences in style and language between Revelation and the later Gospel of John
Revelation was written .....
To warn and encourage the churches of Asia as they underwent internal problems and external persecution within the Roman Empire (chapters 1:1-3:22). It then describes how Jesus Christ the Lamb of God is the "instrument" of:
(1) God's judgment on the whole universe (chapters 4:1-19:10);
(2) The final defeat of evil (chapters 19:11-20:15), and:
(3) The coming of a new heaven and a new earth - the new Jerusalem (chapters 21:1-22:5).
It closes with Christ's final appeal to all mankind (chapter 22:6-21).
In the Book, John describes a series of highly symbolic, mainly Old Testament-type visions, many of which incorporate the sacred and perfect number "seven" - seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven angels, seven last plagues. Much of the Book appears to be in sequence but many of the events may overlap. Some of the contents and characters seem straightforward; others are confusing and difficult to understand.
The attempts to interpret Revelations are beyond measure but here the aim is simply to clarify how the different stages in the Book develop and to identify the variety of "beings", objects and events the reader encounters.
In making sense of the Book, it can prove helpful to view it at three levels:
(1) John wrote Revelation when the seemingly all-powerful Roman Empire with its cult of emperor-worship was persecuting the followers of Jesus Christ. It was also widely expected that the dead emperor Nero would come back to life to take revenge against the Rome he once ruled. The Book is therefore a product of that period in world history 2,000 years ago;
(2) How mankind behaved and ruled in Roman times is no different from any other period in human history in any other part of the world, right through to the end of time - whether the empire or way of life is Ancient Indian, Chinese, Persian, Islamic, Holy Roman, Incan, Napoleonic, British, modern American, European, Pacific, world government, or some other form of future empire. Certainly the parallels between Rome and the present are striking;
(3) Most importantly, God is sovereign. He will destroy all forms of evil in his own time and everyone will face a final judgement. Only faith in Jesus Christ can give us life to the full on earth, no matter what trials we may go through, followed by eternal life with Him in heaven - the new Jerusalem.
However in keeping with this arrangement of the New Testament, the reader is recommended to read Revelation not as a book to be analysed and understood, but as a spiritual book to feed upon, and through it, to better understand the power of God and the place of Jesus Christ in his scheme of things. Later, he or she can study the Book knowing they will never plumb its depths nor make much difference to their Christian lives.
More likely, they could find themselves "engaging in stupid arguments, genealogies, controversies and quarrels (over the Law)" that Paul warned Titus to avoid.
As Paul continued "They settle nothing and lead nowhere" (Titus 3:9-10).
Map - John Writes to Seven Churches in the Province of Asia
Map Key: Letter from 1 to 2
I - PROLOGUE
31.1 GOD CHOOSES JOHN TO RECEIVE AND TESTIFY TO THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST
Revelation 1:1-3 - This is a Revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him (Christ) so that he might show his servants (such as John) what must very soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who is the witness of all that he saw - the message of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Happy is the man who reads this prophecy (... the Book of Revelation) and happy are those who hear it read and pay attention to its message; for the time is near (when God will judge the world and establish his kingdom on earth. As this has not yet happened, this suggests that some of the visions in Revelation represent events that have already taken place, some refer to events that subsequently existed or continue to exist in the world, and others to events that have yet to happen).
31.2 JOHN'S GREETINGS TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES IN THE PROVINCE OF ASIA
Revelation 1:4-6 - John (normally living in Ephesus and ministering to the Christians of Asia), to the seven Churches in Asia:
Grace and peace be to you from him who is and who was and who is coming (... God the eternal Father), from the seven Spirits before his throne (... possibly the Holy Spirit described as an Old Testament-type sevenfold Spirit), and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, first-born of the dead, and ruler of kings upon earth (... Jesus Christ the Son). To him who loves us and has set us free from our sins through his own blood, who has made us a kingdom of priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and power for timeless ages, amen.
Revelation 1 continues
in Part 59 with verses preaching the "Gospel of Jesus" 1:7-8 His vision of Jesus' second coming then:
II -THE FIRST VISION OF CHRIST
31.3 HE RECEIVES HIS FIRST COMMAND FROM JESUS TO WRITE TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES IN ASIA
Revelation 1:9-11 - I, John, who am your brother and your companion in the distress (and persecution), the kingdom and the faithful endurance to which Jesus calls us, was on the island called Patmos (as an exile) because I had spoken God's message and borne witness to Jesus. On the Lord's day (a Sunday) I knew myself inspired by the Spirit, and I heard from behind me a voice loud as a trumpet-call saying, "Write down in a book what you see (in a series of visions), and send it to the seven Churches - to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea! (lying on a clockwise circular route from Ephesus on the coast to Laodicea inland)"
Revelation 1 continues
in Part 59 with verses preaching the "Gospel of Jesus" 1:12-16 He describes the awesome appearance of Jesus Christ 1:17-20 Jesus repeats his instructions and explains the significance of the stars and lampstands then:
III - SEVEN COVERING LETTERS TO THE CHURCHES OF ASIA
FORMAT OF THE LETTERS
All seven named churches receive the entire Book of Revelation, but each has its own covering letter. Each letter is in three parts
(Part 1) A greeting from Christ using some of the imagery of chapter 1, to the "angel" of that church - possibly the guardian or leader
(Part 2) A summary of the church's strengths and weaknesses, together with encouragements and warnings. The problems collectively faced are both
internal - false prophets and teachers, lack of love for God and each other, sexual immorality, apathy and complacency
external - paganism, Roman emperor-worship, Jewish hostility, persecution.
As so often in human affairs, most of the problems are internal, with the possible exceptions of Smyrna and Philadelphia
(Part 3) A closing promise of the rewards for those individual Christians who endure the trials their churches face
31.4 TO THE CHURCH IN EPHESUS - STEADFAST, BUT LACKING IN LOVE
- Ephesus is already known from Paul's visit there (Acts 17:19-21), his three year stay (Acts 19), and his Letter to the Ephesians:
Revelation 2:1-7 - (Part 1) "Write this to the angel of the Church in Ephesus: 'These words are spoken by the one who holds the seven stars safe in his right hand, and who walks among the seven golden lampstands. ....
(Part 2) ... I know what you have done; I know how hard you have worked and what you have endured. I know that you will not tolerate wicked men (... false teachers), that you have put to the test self-styled 'apostles', who are nothing of the sort, and have found them to be liars. I know your powers of endurance - how you have suffered for the sake of my name and have not grown weary. But I hold this (internal problem) against you, that you do not love as you did at first. Remember then how far you have fallen. Repent and live as you lived at first. Otherwise, if your heart remains unchanged, I shall come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
Yet you have this to your credit, that you hate the practices of the Nicolaitans (little is known of them, and there is no reason to link them with Nicolas of Antioch, one of the first deacons, Acts 6:5), which I myself detest. ...
(Part 3) ... Let every listener hear what the Spirit says to the Churches: 'To the victorious I will give the right to eat from the tree of life which grows in the paradise of God.'
31.5 TO THE CHURCH IN SMYRNA - TROUBLED AND POOR, BUT RICH IN SPIRIT
Revelation 2:8-11 - (Part 1) "Write this to the angel of the Church in Smyrna: 'These words are spoken by the first and the last, who died and came to life again. ...
(Part 2) ... I know of your tribulation and of your poverty - though in fact you are rich! I know how you are slandered by those who call themselves Jews, but in fact are no Jews but a synagogue of Satan (because they reject Christ as the Jewish messiah of prophecy). Have no fear of what you will suffer. I tell you now that the devil is going to cast some of your number into prison where your faith will be tested and your distress will last for ten days (... symbolically a short period). Be faithful in the face of death and I will give you the crown of life. ...
(Part 3) ... Let every listener hear what the Spirit says to the Churches: 'The victorious cannot suffer the slightest hurt from the second death (when mankind is finally judged).'
31.6 TO THE CHURCH IN PERGAMUM - FAITHFUL, BUT SOME FOLLOW FALSE AND IMMORAL TEACHING
Revelation 2:12-17 - (Part 1) "Write this to the angel of the Church in Pergamum: 'These words are spoken by him who has the sharp two-edged sword. ...
(Part 2) ... I know where you live - where Satan sits enthroned (... a large altar to the god Zeus dominated Pergamum, which was also a centre of Roman emperor-worship). I know that you hold fast to my name and that you never denied your faith in me even in the days when Antipas (an early named Christian martyr, about whom nothing more is known), my faithful witness, was martyred before your eyes in the very house of Satan.
Yet I have a few things (of an internal nature) against you - some of your number cling to the teaching of Balaam, the man who taught Balak (king of Moab) how to entice the children of Israel into eating meat sacrificed to idols and into sexual immorality (... the full story of Balaam is found in Numbers 22-24 and summarised in Numbers 31:16). I have also against you the fact that among your number are some who hold just as closely to the teaching of the Nicolaitans (as in the Ephesus church). Repent then, or else I shall come to you quickly and make war upon them with the sword of my mouth. ...
(Part 3) ... Let the listener hear what the Spirit says to the Churches: 'I will give the victorious some of the hidden manna, and I will also give him a white stone with a new name written upon it which no man knows except the man who receives it.
31.7 TO THE CHURCH IN THYATIRA - HARD-WORKING, BUT SOME REMAIN PAGANS
- Thyatira was the home town of Lydia, converted by Paul in Philippi (Acts 16:14):
Revelation 2:18-29 - (Part 1) "Write this to the angel of the Church in Thyatira: 'These are the words of the Son of God whose eyes blaze like fire and whose feet shine like the finest bronze: ...
(Part 2) ... I know what you have done. I know of your love and your loyalty, your service and your endurance. Moreover, I know that you are doing more than you did at first. But I have this (internal problem) against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess (.. apparently a local woman who is a contemporary version of the pagan wife of King Ahab who seduced Israel into idolatry and immorality. The story of Ahab and Jezebel can be found in 1 Kings 16:29-22:40, and Jezebel's fate in 2 Kings 9:30-37), but who by her teaching deceives my servants into sexual immorality and eating idols'-meat. I have given her time to repent but she has shown no desire to repent of her immorality. See, now, how I throw her into bed and her lovers with her, and I will send them terrible suffering unless they repent of what she has done. As for her children (or followers), I shall strike them dead. Then all the Churches will know that I am the one who searches men's hearts and minds, and that I will reward each one of you according to your deeds.
But for the rest of you at Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, and have not learned what they call 'the deep things of Satan' (.. a secret, and it was claimed, superior knowledge of God known as Gnosticism - a major Christian heresy), I will lay no further burden upon you, except that you hold on to what you have until I come (... the burden John is referring to, is the guidelines laid down for Gentile converts at the Council at Jerusalem, Acts 15:28-29. John was no doubt present when they were drawn up)!
(Part 3) To the one who is victorious, who carries out my work to the end, I will give authority over the nations, just as I myself have received authority from my Father, and I will give him the morning star.
'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the potter's vessels shall be broken to pieces' (Psalm 2:9).
Let the listener hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.
31.8 TO THE CHURCH IN SARDIS - APPARENTLY ALIVE, BUT MAINLY DEAD
Revelation 3:1-6 - (Part 1) "Write this to the angel of the Church in Sardis: 'These are the words of him who holds in his hand the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: ...
(Part 2) ... I know what you have done, that you have a reputation for being alive, but that in fact (your problems are internal, and ...) you are dead. Now wake up! Strengthen what you still have before it dies! For I have not found any of your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember then what you were given and what you were taught. Hold to those things and repent. If you refuse to wake up, then I will come to you like a thief, and you will have no idea of the hour of my coming.
Yet you still have a few names in Sardis of people who have not soiled their garments. They shall walk with me in white (... a symbol of purity), for they have deserved to do so. ...
(Part 3) ... The victorious shall wear such white garments, and never will I erase his name from the book of life. Indeed, I will speak his name openly in the presence of my Father and of his angels. Let the listener hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.
31.9 TO THE CHURCH IN PHILADELPHIA - WEAK IN POWER, BUT LOYAL
Revelation 3:7-13 - (Part 1) "Then write this to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia: These are the words of the holy one and the true,
'He who has the key of David. He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens' (Isaiah 22:22).
(Part 2) I know what you have done. See, I have given you a door flung wide open, which no man can close! For you have some little power and have been faithful to my message and have not denied my name. See how I deal with those of Satan's synagogue, who claim to be Jews, yet are no Jews but liars (... as in Smyrna, persecution came from local Jews, not pagan Gentiles)! Watch how I make them come and bow down before your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Because you have obeyed my call to patient endurance I will keep you safe from the hour of trial which is to come upon the whole world, to test all who live upon the earth. I am coming soon; hold fast to what you have - let no one deprive you of your crown. ...
(Part 3) ... As for the victorious, I will make him a pillar in the Temple of my God, and he will never leave it. I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which comes down out of Heaven from my God. And I will write upon him my own new name. Let the listener hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.
31.10 TO THE CHURCH IN LAODICEA - WORLDLY SUCCESSFUL, AND COMPLACENT
- Laodicea is referred to in Paul's Letter to the Colossians, 4:15-16:
Revelation 3:14-22 - (Part 1) "Then write this to the angel of the Church in Laodicea: 'These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation: ...
(Part 2) ... I know what you have done, and that you are neither cold not hot (as a church). I could wish that you were either cold or hot! but since you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I intend to spit you out of my mouth! While you say, 'I am rich, I have prospered, and there is nothing that I need', you have no eyes to see that you are wretched, pitiable, poverty-stricken, blind and naked (in God's sight). My advice to you is to buy from me that gold which is purified in the furnace so that you may be rich, and white garments to wear so that you may hide the shame of your nakedness, and salve to put on your eyes to make you see. All those whom I love I correct and discipline. Therefore, shake off your complacency and repent. See, I stand knocking at the door. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door, I will go into his house, and dine with him, and he with me. ...
(Part 3) ... As for the victorious, I will give him the honour of sitting beside me on my throne, just as I myself have won the victory and have taken my seat beside my Father on his throne. Let the listener hear what the spirit says to the Churches."
Revelation continues with Vision's of God's judgements, the Defeat of evil, and the Coming of the new Jerusalem
in Part 59 with verses preaching the "Gospel of Jesus"
IV - VISION OF HEAVEN
4:1-11 The Throne of God 5:1-14 The Seven-sealed Book and Jesus the Lamb of God
V - THE SEVEN SEALS ARE BROKEN
6:1-15 The First Four Seals - Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are Released 6: 9-17 The Fifth and Sixth Seals 7:1-8:1 Interlude - Visions Before the Seventh Seal is Opened
VI - SEVEN TRUMPETS ARE SOUNDED
8:2-6 An Introduction 8:7-13 Four Angels Sound the First Four Trumpets 9:1-21 Fifth and Sixth Trumpets 10:1-11:14 Interlude - Visions of the Powerful Angel with the Little Book; The Two Witnesses 11:15-19 The Seventh Trumpet
VII - SIGNS: THE WOMAN; THE DRAGON AND WAR IN HEAVEN; THE TWO BEASTS AND WAR ON EARTH
12:1-17 The Woman and the Dragon 13:1-10 The First Beast - From the Sea 13:11-18 The Second Beast - From the Earth 14:1-20 Visions of the Saved in Heaven and Doomed on Earth
VIII - SEVEN ANGELS POUR OUT THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES OF GOD'S WRATH
15:1-16:21 Pouring Out of the Seven Plagues
IX - THE FALL OF BABYLON
17:1-18 The Prostitute Babylon Sitting on the Beast 18:1-24 The Fall, Earthly Lament for, and Destruction of Babylon 19:1-10 Heaven's Joyful Response to the Fall of Babylon
X - FINAL VICTORY AND JUDGMENT
19:11-21 Christ's victory Over the Two Beasts 20:1-15 Satan is Overthrown; God Makes His Final Judgment
XI - GOD'S NEW WORLD
21:1-27 The New Jerusalem - A New Heaven and a New Earth 22:1-5 Paradise Regained
XII - EPILOGUE: CHRIST'S FINAL APPEAL
22:6-17 Final Appeal and concludes:
31.11 A FINAL WARNING ABOUT JOHN'S RECORDED VISION
Revelation 22:18-21 - Now I bear solemn witness to every man who hears the words of prophecy in this book: If anyone adds to these words God will add to him the disasters described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of prophecy in this book, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city which are described in this book.
He, who is witness to all this, says, "Yes, I am coming very quickly!"
"Amen, come Lord Jesus!"
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all his people.
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