Download a printable PDF version of this study by clicking the orange “Get PDF” button to the right.
Q. According to these verses, who wrote the book of Revelation?
The book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John. Let’s look at the Gospels to learn a little more about him.
Matt 4:21-22. Q. According to these verses, Who was John’s brother? What did they do for a living?
Mark 5:37. Q. What do we learn here about Jesus` relationship with Peter, James and John?
Gal 2:9. Q. According to Paul, what did John “seem to be”?
Matt 17:1-9. Q. According to this passage, what event was John privileged to witness?
John 13:23. Q. It is commonly believed that John is the disciple referred to here. How is he described?
John 19:26-27 Q. Who did Jesus entrust to John’s care?
From these passages we learn that John was a fisherman, the brother of James and close acquaintance to Peter. He was a part of Jesus’ “inner circle” and a pillar of the church. When all other disciples were told to depart, John along with Peter and James were permitted to go up the mount to see Jesus transfigured. It was there that John got a personal preview of the glory of Christ. Jesus’ special relationship with John is clearly stated by his choice of John as Mary’s caretaker.
Knowing these things about John is helpful in understanding why he was chosen by God to be the recipient of the Apocalyptic vision. John previewed Christ’s glory on the mount of transfiguration and through this special vision, he will once again see Christ’s glory but this time in its glorious fullness.
The Location of Its Writing
Rev 1:9. Q. Where was John when he received his revelation? Why was he there?
The Isle of Patmos is a small Greek island in the Aegean sea off the coast of modern day Turkey. It is about 13 square miles and has a present population of about 3000. John was exiled there by the Roman Emperor Domitian for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Source of the Revelation
Although the Apostle John is the author of the book of Revelation he is not the source of it. In Rev 1:4-5 we see who the source is:
Rev 1:4-5 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from __________________________________________
_____________________; and from ___________________________ which are before his throne; And from _____________________ . . .
In these verses we see clearly that the revelation which John received has the Trinity as its source. God the Father (him which is, which was, which is to come), God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Spirit (the seven spirits before the throne, see Isa 11:2) are all mentioned. The Revelation of Jesus Christ was given to John by the Godhead.
The Intended Audience
According to Rev 1:4, who was John writing to? ____________________.
Look up Rev 1:11. Q. Where were the seven churches?
These churches were located in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) and represent the scope of the Apostle John’s ministerial influence. Upon receiving the epistle, churches would have copied it and shared it with many others. The seven churches were John’s immediate audience. It is through their distribution of the text that we also have received it. Like all of the Bible, even though it was not written to us it is most certainly for us.
According to Rev 1:1, John was given the revelation to “shew unto” whom?
Can you describe yourself as a “servant of Jesus Christ”? If you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour you can. This revelation of “things which must shortly come to pass” is for you and for me!
The Main Subject
Q. Look at Rev 1:1. Here we see the main subject of the book of Revelation. What are the first five words of the first verse?
The main subject of the entire Bible is God’s redemptive plan and how he would accomplish it through the person of Jesus Christ. He hinted at His plan for redemption as far back as Gen 3:15, and from that time on, we find a gradual and progressive revelation of Jesus Christ and the plan by which he would redeem all of creation.
Throughout the Old Testament we find only veiled references to Jesus Christ and never read his name. It wasn’t until Bethlehem that God chose to reveal the glory of his son in a more tangible way (John 1:14). But even then, Jesus did not come as the mighty Messiah that the Jews were expecting, but chose rather to “take upon him the form of a servant” (Php 2:7). He lived for thirty-three years as a servant to others (Matt 20:28; Luke 22:27; John 13:4-15) and then, as the ultimate act of humility he submitted himself to the death of the cross as a sacrifice for sins (Php 2:8; Heb 9:26-28; Eph 5:2; 1 Pet 2:24).
Having been revealed as our suffering saviour, Jesus now awaits the day when God the Father will reveal him to all men as the conquering king! (Acts 1:6,7; Matt 24:36-37; Rev 1:7). It is this full revelation of the glory of Christ and the final climax to God’s redemptive plan that we read about in the book of Revelation. It is a revelation from Jesus Christ, but more so, the revelation of Jesus Christ in all of his glory.
The Description of Christ
As the revelation of Jesus Christ, this book has many names, titles and descriptions of Jesus. In Rev 1:12-16 we begin to see Christ in his glory:
He is the Interceding Priest
Rev 1:13. Jesus was “clothed with a _______________________,” and “girt about the paps with a _________________________.”
The “golden girdle” mentioned here was likely a wide belt worn across the chest. In Lev 16:4 we find instructions to Aaron the priest regarding his priestly attire, included is a “linen coat” and a “linen girdle”. Unlike the priest’s linen girdle, Jesus wore gold. Gold is often associated with deity (Ex 36).
Rev 1:8. Q. How is Christ described here?
As we have already seen, the primary audience for the book of Revelation is the church. Christ’s long robe and golden girdle is likely a reflection of his priestly ministry. He stands today at the right hand of the throne of God as a divine high priest for the church (Heb 8:1). He continually makes intercession for us (Heb 7:25) and serves as our advocate when we sin (1 John 2:1).
He is the Pure and Righteous Judge
Rev 1:14. Q. How is Christ’s hair described?____________________.
Q. How are his eyes described? __________________________________.
Q. How are his feet described? __________________________________.
Throughout scripture brass is representative of judgment (Ex 38:1-2; Num 21:9). Here Christ’s feet of brass speak of his role as the judge of all men (John 5:22; Acts 17). His eyes of flame speak of his searching and scrutinizing gaze with which He discerns righteous judgment (Heb 4:13).
Read Daniel 7:9-10. Q. What similarities do you see?
Here we see God the Father as the “ancient of days”. The very same imagery used here to describe God the Father is used in Rev 1 to describe Christ. Both scenes feature a white garment, white hair and flames of fire. Notice in v10, “the judgment was set, the books were open”. The scene is Dan 7 is a scene of judgment. Likewise, Christ is seen in Rev 1 as our divine judge who judges all men according to his pure and perfect standard (Rev 20:11-12).
The day is coming when Jesus Christ will defeat all of his enemies. All men who have rebelled against him will receive a just punishment for their sins. Often in scripture defeating enemies and “placing them under your foot” is used synonymously (1 Cor 15:24-28; Heb 2:8). Christ’s feet of judgment will ultimately be placed on the neck of all of his enemies! (Ps 110:1)
Christ is not only a revenging judge, judging all who rebel against him, but he is also a rewarding judge, rewarding his faithful servants in the church (Matt 16:27; Rev 22:12; 1 John 2:28-29; Matt 25). No man will escape his searching eyes as he moves with feet of judgment to judge all men according to his righteous standard of purity!
He is the Authoritative Lord
Rev 1:15. Notice the latter part of this verse. “and his voice as the sound of many waters.”
Have you ever been to Niagara falls and heard the mighty roar of the water as it crashes to the ground? Imagine this many times over and you will have an idea of the power and might of Christ’s voice. No man can command the waters of Niagara, nor can anyone answer back to the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt 17:5; Heb 1:1-2; John 18:3-6). He is the authoritative Lord (John 13:13; Acts 10:36). Note that in Eze 43:2, God the Father is also described as having a voice “like a noise of many waters”, again Christ’s deity is affirmed in John’s vision.
As the Lord of All, Christ is the supreme authority to the church. All that we do in church, our preaching, teaching, programs and methods should fall in line with His word. We hold the Bible up as our standard because it is Christ’s authoritative word which no man can answer back to.
Rev 1:16. Q. What did Christ have in his right hand? ________________.
There is no need to guess what these stars represent. According to verse 20, they are the “angels (messengers) of the seven churches” and the candlesticks are the churches themselves. Jesus Christ protects and controls the church. The messengers likely refer to the Pastors of the seven churches. They are in the hand of the Lord.
Jesus said that He would build his church (Matt 16:18). He has the power to bless or rebuke the church (Rev 3:8; 3:18). He alone as the power to reward or chasten (Rev 3:19). As such, all leadership in the church must first be subject to the lordship of Christ (Heb 13:17).
John 12:48. Q. How will unbelievers be judged in the last day?
The church is not exempt from being judged by the word of God. After all, the church is the intended audience for this vision of Christ.
Look at Rev 2:12-16. Q. Who is being spoken to here?
Q. What did Christ say he would do to the church in v16?
Jesus Christ will purify His church by the word of God (Eph 5:25-27). Unbelievers, holding false doctrines in the church, will be purged. They will find themselves fighting against His word – a battle that no man can win. As the authoritative Lord of the Church, He walks amongst the churches with their leaders in his right hand. He chooses when churches rise and fall. He chooses to bless and not to bless.
He is the God of Glory
We have already seen Christ’s deity affirmed over and over again as John sees him possessing the very same attributes as God the Father. And here we see without question that Jesus Christ is the God of Glory.
Rev 1:16 …his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
Q. According to Rev 21:23, How is the heavenly Jerusalem lit?
Q. According to 1 John 1:5, “God is _______________”.
John saw Jesus as an interceding priest, a righteous judge, the authoritative Lord and the God of glory. Jesus is not just a historical figure, he is the living God who is all things to the church (Col 1:18).
Rev 1:17. Q. How did John respond to this vision of Christ?
One day, all men will fall prostrate before Christ in his glory! (Php 2:10)
The Outline of the Book
Finally, in Rev 1:19 we see the outline of the entire book of Revelation. “The things which thou hast seen” refers to the vision of Christ we have already looked at. “The things which are” refers to the letters to the seven churches found in chapters 2-3. Lastly, “The things which shall be hereafter”, refers to the prophecy found in chapters 4-22.