The Prophetic Book of the New Testament

: Detailed Overview of Revelation

The Prophetic Book of the New Testament
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With the book of Revelation, we have the conclusion and consummation of the Bible as God’s revelation to man. As Genesis is the book of beginnings, Revelation is the book of consummation which anticipates the end-time events, the return of the Lord, His end-time reign, and the eternal state.

As one moves through the Bible a number of great themes are introduced and developed beginning with Genesis like heaven and earth; sin, its curse, and sorrow; man and his salvation; Satan, his fall, and doom; Israel, her election, blessing, and discipline; the nations; Babylondb01 and babylonianism; and the kingdoms and the kingdom. But ultimately, all of these find their fulfillment and resolution in the Book of Revelation.

The gospels and epistles begin to draw these lines together, but it is not until we come to Revelation that they all converge in one great consummation. We may chart this as follows:


According to the book itself, the author’s name was John (1:4, 9; 22:8). He was a prophet (22:9), and a leader who was known in the churches of Asia Minor to whom he writes the book of Revelation (1:4).

Traditionally, this John has been identified as John the Apostle, one of the disciples of our Lord. That the style is different from the style of the Gospel of Johndb02 stems only from the difference in the nature of this book as apocalyptic literature.

An early church father, Irenaeusdb03, states that John first settled in Ephesus, that he was later arrested and banished to the Isle of Patmosdb04 in the Aegean Sea to work in the mines, and that this occurred during the reign of the Roman emperor, Domitiandb05. This supports the author’s own claim to have written from Patmos because of his witness for Christ (1:9).

    DATES: A.D. 90S menu

Domitian reigned in Rome from A.D. 81-96. Since Irenaeus tells us that John wrote from Patmos during the reign of Domitian, and since this is confirmed by other early church writers, such as Clement of Alexanderdb06 and Eusebiusdb07, most conservative scholars believe the book was written between A.D. 81-96. This would make it the last book of the New Testament, just shortly after John’s gospel and his epistles (1, 2, and 3 John). Other conservative scholars believe it was written much earlier, around 68, or before Jerusalem was destroyed.


One’s understanding of the theme depends to some degree on one’s method of interpretation of Revelation (see below). Following the futurist view of interpreting Revelation, the prominent theme of the book concerns the conflict with evil in the form of human personalities energized by Satandb08 and his world-wide system, and the Lord’s triumphant victory to overthrow these enemies to establish His kingdom both in the Millenniumdb09 (the 1,000 years of Revelation 20) and in eternity.

This is accomplished by taking the reader and hearers (1:3) behind the scenes through the visions given to John to demonstrate the demonic nature and source of the awful evil in the world. But Revelation also demonstrates the conquering power which rests in the Lion of the tribe of Judahdb10, the Root of Daviddb11. This Lion is also the Lamb standing, as if slain, but very much alive, angry, and bringing the judgment of God’s awesome holiness against a sinful and rebellious world.

However, in the study of this book, the real issue is how one interprets the book. Ryriedb12 summarizes the four principal views as it regards the interpretation of Revelation.

He writes: There are four principal viewpoints concerning the interpretation of this book:

  • (1) the preteristdb13, which views the prophecies of the book as having been fulfilled in the early history of the church;
  • (2) the historical, which understands the book as portraying a panorama of the history of the church from the days of John to the end of time;
  • (3) the idealistdb14, which considers the book a pictorial unfolding of great principles in constant conflict, without reference to actual events; and
  • (4) the futuristdb15, which views most of the book (Rev. 4-22) as prophecy yet to be fulfilled.

The futurist is the viewpoint taken in these notes, based on the principle of interpreting the text plainly.fn101

For more on the interpretation of this book and its importance, see

Regardless of one’s method of interpretation, most acknowledge that it was written to assure the recipients of the ultimate triumph of Christ over all who rise up against Him and His people.


As declared in title of the book, and as the book unfolds the person and work of Christ in His ministry to the church today (chaps. 1-3) and in the future (4-22), the key word or concept is the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

    KEY VERSES: menu

  • 1:7. Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the tribes on the earth will mourn because of him. This will certainly come to pass! Amen.

  • 1:19-20. Therefore write what you saw, what is, and what will be after these things. 20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and the seven golden lampstands is this: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

  • 19:11-16. 11 Then I saw heaven opened and here came a white horse! The one riding it was called ‘Faithful’ and ‘True,’ and with justice he judges and goes to war. 12 His eyes are like a fiery flame and there are many diadem crowns on his head. He has a name written that no one knows except himself. 13 He is dressed in clothing dipped in blood, and he is named the Word of God. 14 The armies that are in heaven, dressed in white, clean, fine linen, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth extends a sharp sword, so that with it he can strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod, and he stomps the winepress of the furious wrath of God the All-Powerful.16 He has a name written on his clothing and on his thigh: “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”


Deciding on the key chapters in a book like Revelation is not easy, but certainly:

  • chapters 2-3, containing messages of the promises and warnings written to the seven churches are key chapters.

  • chapters 4-5 which prepare the reader for the great conflict unfolded in the chapters that follow are key as well. Here we see how only the Lord Jesus, the Lion and the Lamb is worthy to open the book of seals and pour out their contents on the earth.

  • chapters 19-22 are key in that here we see the end of history which is radically different from what we see today.

… In Revelation 19-22 the plans of God for the last days and for all of eternity are recorded in explicit terms. Careful study of and obedience to them will bring the blessings that are promised (1:3). Uppermost in the mind and deep in the heart should be guarded the words of Jesus, “Behold, I am coming quickly.”fn102

    KEY PEOPLE: menu

There are a number of key people or persons in this book because of the roles they play. These are first of all, the Lord Jesus, then John, the author, but also the two witnesses, the beast out of the sea and the false prophet. Finally, the bride who returns with the Lord in chapter 19 forms a key group of people.


Since Revelation is indeed “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” it demonstrates:

  • His glory, wisdom and power (1), and
  • Portrays His authority over the church (2-3) and
  • His power and right to judge the world (5-19).

But as the revelation of Christ, it is loaded with descriptive titles. In particular, it describes: Jesus Christ (1:1) as

  • The faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth (1:5),
  • The first and the last (1:17),
  • He who lives (1:18),
  • The Son of God (2:18),
  • Holy and true (3:7),
  • The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God (3:14)
  • The Lion of the tribe of Judah,
  • The Root of David (5:5),
  • A Lamb (5:6),
  • Faithful and True (19:11),
  • The Word of God (19:13),
  • King of Kings and Lord of Lords (19:16),
  • Alpha and Omega (22:13),
  • The Bright and Morning Star (22:16), and
  • The Lord Jesus Christ (22:21).

    OUTLINE: menu

    • I. The Prologue (1:1-8)

    • II. The Things Past (1:9-20)

    • III. The Things Present (2-3)
      • A. The Message to Ephesus (2:1-7)
      • B. The Message to Smyrna (2:8-11)
      • C. The Message to Pergamum (2:12-17)
      • D. The Message to Thyatira (2:18-29)
      • E. The Message to Sardis (3:1-6)
      • F. The Message to Philadelphia (3:7-13)
      • G. The Message to Laodicea (3:14-22)

    • IV. The Things Predictive (4:1-22:5)
      • A. The Tribulation Period (4:1-19:21)
        • 1. The Throne in Heaven (4:1-11)
        • 2. The Seven Sealed Book and the Lion Who Is Also a Lamb (5:1-14)
        • 3. The Seal Judgments (6:1-17)
        • 4. An Interlude: The Redeemed of the Tribulation (7:1-17)
        • 5. The First Four Trumpet Judgments (8:1-13)
        • 6. The Fifth and Sixth Trumpets and the First Two Woes (9:1-20)
        • 7. The Angel and the Little Book (10:1-11)
        • 8. The Temple, the Two witnesses, and the Seventh Trumpet (11:1-19)
        • 9. The Angelic Conflict (12:1-17)
        • 10. The Beast and the False Prophet (13:1-18)
        • 11. Special Announcements (14:1-20)
        • 12. Prelude to the Seven Last plagues (15:1-8)
        • 13. The Bowl Judgments (16:1-21)
        • 14. The Judgment of Religious Babylon (17:1-18)
        • 15. The Judgment of Commercial Babylon (18:1-24)
        • 16. The Second Coming of Christ (19:1-21)
      • B. The Reign of Christ (the Millennium) and the Great White Throne (20:1-15)
      • C. The Eternal State (21:1-22:5)
        • 1. The Descent of the New Jerusalem (21:1-8)
        • 2. The Description of the New Jerusalem (21:9-27)
        • 3. The Delights of the New Jerusalem (22:1-5)
      • D. The Epilogue (22:6-21)
fn101 Ryrie, p. 2009.
fn102 Wilkinson/Boa, p. 513.
JHK Complete Study by J. Hampton Keathley, III Original Source
db* = Content added by to assist the reader
db01 Babylon: Babylon is the most famous city from ancient Mesopotamia whose ruins lie in modern-day Iraq 59 miles (94 kilometres) southwest of Baghdad. The name is thought to derive from bav-il or bav-ilim which, in the Akkadian language of the time, meant ‘Gate of God’ or `Gate of the Gods’ and `Babylon’ coming from Greek. The city owes its fame (or infamy) to the many references the Bible makes to it; all of which are unfavourable. In the Book of Genesis, chapter 11, Babylon is featured in the story of The Tower of Babel and the Hebrews claimed the city was named for the confusion which ensued after God caused the people to begin speaking in different languages so they would not be able to complete their great tower to the heavens (the Hebrew word bavel means `confusion’). [more details]
db02 Gospel of John: The Gospel of John (also referred to as the Gospel According to John, the Fourth Gospel, or simply John) is one of the four canonical gospels in the Christian Bible. In the New Testament it traditionally appears fourth, after the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. John begins with the witness and affirmation of John the Baptist and concludes with the death, burial, resurrection, and post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. [overview]
db03 Irenaeus: was an early Church Father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology [From Wikipedia]
db04 Patmos: Patmos (Greek, Πάτμος; Italian: Patmo) is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea. One of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese complex, an area of 34.05 km2 (13.15 sq mi). [From Wikipedia]
db05 Roman emperor, Domitian: Domitian (/dəˈmɪʃən, -iən/; Latin: Titus Flavius Caesar Domitianus Augustus; 24 October 51 – 18 September 96) was Roman emperor from 81 to 96. Domitian was the third and last emperor of the Flavian dynasty. [From Wikipedia]
db06 Clement of Alexander: Titus Flavius Clemens (Greek: Κλήμης ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς; c. 150 – c. 215), known as Clement of Alexandria to distinguish him from the earlier Clement of Rome, was a Christian theologian who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. A convert to Christianity, he was an educated man who was familiar with classical Greek philosophy and literature. [From Wikipedia]
db07 Eusebius: Eusebius (/juːˈsiːbiəs/; Greek: Εὐσέβιος; 260/265 – 339/340 AD; also called Eusebius of Caesarea and Eusebius Pamphili), was a Roman historian, of Greek descent, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Early centers of Caesarea about the year 314 A.D. [From Wikipedia]
db08 Satan: the Bible defines Satan as an angelic being who fell from his position in heaven due to sin and is now completely opposed to God, doing all in his power to thwart God's purposes. Satan was created as a holy angel. Isaiah 14:12 possibly gives Satan’s pre-fall name as Lucifer. Ezekiel 28:12-14 describes Satan as having been created a cherubim, apparently the highest created angel. He became arrogant in his beauty and status and decided he wanted to sit on a throne above that of God (Isaiah 14:13-14; Ezekiel 28:15; 1 Timothy 3:6). Satan’s pride led to his fall. Notice the many “I will” statements in Isaiah 14:12-15. Because of his sin, God permanently removed Satan from his exalted position and role. Read more:
db09 Millennium: (mih leh' ni uhm) A term not found in Scripture but taken from Latin to express the “thousand years” mentioned six times in Revelation 20:1-7. The meaning of the thousand years and the relation of Christ's future coming to them have given rise to various millennial views. [more details]
db10 Lion of the tribe of Judah: Rev 5:5 (ESV) 5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.
db11 Root of David: Rev 22:16 16I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.
db12 Ryrie: Charles Caldwell Ryrie (born March 2, 1925) is a Christian writer and theologian who served as professor of systematic theology and dean of doctoral studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and as president and professor at what is now Cairn University. He is the editor of The Ryrie Study Bible by Moody Publishers, containing more than 10,000 of Dr. Ryrie's explanatory notes. First published in 1978, it has sold more than 2 million copies. He is a notable advocate of premillennial dispensationalism. [From Wikipedia]
db13 Preterist: is a view in Christian eschatology which holds that some or all of the biblical prophecies concerning the Last Days refer to events which took place in the first century after Christ's birth, especially associated with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The term preterism comes from the Latin praeter, meaning past, since this view deems certain biblical prophecies as past, or already fulfilled. [more details]
db14 Idealist: Idealism (also called the spiritual approach, the allegorical approach, the nonliteral approach, and many other names) in Christian eschatology is an interpretation of the Book of Revelation that sees all of the imagery of the book as symbols. [From Wikipedia]
db15 Futurist: Futurism is a Christian eschatological view that interprets portions of the Book of Revelation, the Book of Daniel, and other prophecies, as future events in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context. By comparison, other Christian eschatological views interpret these passages as past events in a symbolic, historic context (Preterism and Historicism), or as present-day events in a non-literal and spiritual context (Idealism). [From Wikipedia]
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