Introduction and John’s vision of Christ
This last book in the Bible opens with a statement that it is a revelation of Jesus Christ, given to Him by God, to show
things that are to come to pass, and that this revelation is given to John by an angel while on the isle of Patmos. We are
also told that anyone who reads this book will be blessed.
John first tells us of a vision he has of Christ, the Alpha and Omega (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet), and
the wonder of it, standing amidst seven golden candlesticks with seven stars in his right hand and a two-edged sword
coming from his mouth. He is told to write down the things he has seen, the things that are of the present, and the things
that are to come. John is then told that the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, the churches represented by
the seven candlesticks.
Letters to the seven churches
John is instructed to write to seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.
Each letter is introduced as being from Christ.
The church at Ephesus is commended for her works, how she cannot bear those who are evil, and how she has dealt with
false apostles. However, she is reproved for leaving her first love and called to repent or face the consequences.
Nevertheless, she is commended for her hatred of the practice of those referred to as Nicolaitans and a promise is given to
overcomers – those who live a Christ-like life, have completely died to self and now live a life that’s holy and blameless.
For the church at Smyrna, notice is taken of her works, tribulation and poverty, her richness in spirit but also the
blasphemy of some. There is no criticism given against this church. She is given encouragement to be faithful during
afflictions that will come, with the promise of the crown of life to overcomers.
The church at Pergamos is commended for her works and her faithfulness, despite being in a place so bad it is described as
Satan’s seat. Yet there are those within, identified as Balaamites and Nicolaitans, who have bad practices and doctrines for
which the church is reproved. She is warned to repent or face the consequences. A promise of ‘hidden manna’, a ‘white
stone’ and a ‘new name’ is given to overcomers.
The church at Thyatira is commended for her works, love, service, faith and patience, all of which continue to grow.
However, the church had been infiltrated by spiritual fornication and idolatry. Time was given for repentance, but it was not
forthcoming. Punishment will be inflicted on those who do not repent and all associated with them. To the overcomers is
given the promise of power over their enemies, and the gift of ‘the morning star’.
The church at Sardis seems to have little to commend it, her works being known but are imperfect. Although alive in name,
she is a dead church. She is exhorted to be watchful and remember how the gospel was first heard and received, to hold
fast and repent, or else He will come as a thief in the night. It is recognised there are a few people who are undefiled, and
they will walk with Jesus. A promise is made that overcomers will not be erased from the book of life, and their names will
be confessed before the Father and His angels.
Unlike Sardis, the church at Philadelphia has nothing said against her. She is commended for her works having had the
door open to her for evangelising that could not be shut. She has little power in the secular world, but has kept true to the
word and not denied Christ. Those who profess to be Jews outwardly, but inwardly are not, will be made to come to the
church and recognise the love Jesus has for her. Because she has kept His word, she will not suffer the hour of temptation
and trial the rest of the world will experience. She is not called to repentance but simply told to persevere, and overcomers
will receive their reward.
In direct contrast to Philadelphia, the church in Laodicea is condemned for being lukewarm, a condition repugnant to Jesus.
She has a vain opinion of herself, is unaware of her true spiritual state, and is given counsel to seek and recognise the
truth. It is because of Jesus’ love for her that He rebukes and chastens her and calls her to be zealous and repent, and is
waiting at the door to be invited in. To the overcomers is promised the kind of honour and glory He had received from the
Father when He overcame.
John’s vision of heaven
John is called to be shown the things that will happen hereafter, that is, in the future, following the period represented by
the seven churches. He sees the throne of God, but is not able to see God, only the glory emanating from it. There are
twenty-four thrones around God’s throne on which sit elders, representative of the church, and seven lamps of fire burning,
which are the seven Spirits of God. In the midst, and around the throne, are four living creatures. These creatures can be
likened to the emblems of the four groups of tribes in their marching order around the tabernacle. The living creatures and
the elders are all worshipping and praising God, who created all things for His pleasure.
The seven seals
The sealed scroll
John sees a scroll in God’s right hand, written on both sides and having seven seals (denoting a title deed), which is the
title deed to the earth. No man is able to open it, causing John to weep convulsively. John is told Jesus has prevailed and is
qualified to open the book, then sees Him in the midst of all, appearing as He was when slain. Jesus takes the book and is
worshipped with a new song declaring his qualifications for opening it, and how He has made the redeemed ones kings and
priests to reign with Him on earth. Then John hears the voice of millions of angels and all creatures praising and glorifying
Jesus, with an amen from the four living creatures, followed by the twenty four elders prostrating themselves in worship.
The breaking of the first six seals
The seals are then opened by Jesus. For the first four seals, John is beckoned by each of the four living creatures in turn to
step forward and see what is to be revealed. From these four seals come four horses with riders, generally known as the
‘four horsemen of the apocalypse’.
The first is a white horse with a rider who has a bow and crown of victory, representing the coming world leader
The second is a red horse with a rider given power to take peace from the earth and cause men to kill one another.
The third is a black horse whose rider has a pair of balances in his hand. A voice from the midst of the living creatures
telling of a famine in which a man’s wages would only be sufficient to buy bread, though luxuries would be spared.
The fourth horse is a pale horse whose rider is named as Death, and Hell is following him. The two have the power to
destroy a quarter of the earth with the sword and with hunger, pestilence and wild beasts.
With the opening of the fifth seal, John sees the souls of martyrs crying out for vengeance, but they are given white robes
and told they should have patience until the suffering of their brethren is over.
With the sixth seal there follows earthly and cosmic devastation, causing islands and mountains to be moved and men to
flee and hide themselves in the mountains, for the great day of the wrath of the Lamb has come and none can stand before
The people of God
After the first six seals have been opened, four angels are seen preventing hurt on the earth. Another angel, having the
specific authority of God, instructs them not to allow the pending hurt until God’s servants have been sealed. Those to be
sealed number 144,000 consisting of 12,000 from each tribe of Israel. John then sees a great multitude from all nations, so
great they can’t be numbered, standing before God and Jesus, having overcome the great tribulation to be with Christ, to
hunger and thirst no more, and to have their tears wiped way by God.
The seventh seal
The seventh seal is now opened followed by a period of silence. The seventh seal releases seven angels with their trumpets
that will announce judgements on man. But before the trumpets are sounded, another angel offers the prayers of all the
saints with incense, then fills his censer with the fire of the altar and casts it to earth, the effects of which were voices, and
thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
The Seven Trumpets
The first six trumpets
The seven angels with seven trumpets now prepare themselves to sound, with the first causing hail and fire, mingled with
blood, burning up a third of the trees and all the grass.
The second trumpet sounds; then something like a great mountain with fire is cast into the sea, a third of the sea
becoming blood, killing a third of life in it and destroying a third of all ships.
The third heralds the fall of a great star from heaven burning as a lamp, falling on a third part of the rivers and on the
fountain of waters. It is given the name of wormwood, since a third of the waters become wormwood and many die from
Following the fourth trumpet, a third part of the sun, moon and stars is hidden.
Then an angel proclaims three woes, warning that, although the first four trumpets heralded severe events, worse is to
come from the remaining three.
Following the fifth trumpet, a star falls that has the key to the bottomless pit, releasing smoke that darkens the sky and
locusts that are not permitted to consume any vegetation but are to torment those who do not have the seal of God on
their foreheads. This torment is to last for five months, during which time there is no death, though the tormented will
seek it. The king of these locusts, whose description is of hybrid beings, is identified as the ‘destroyer’, one of the names
for Satan. This is the first woe with two more to come.
When the sixth angel blows his trumpet, John hears a voice ordering this angel to loose four of Satan’s angels. These
angels command a vast army that will slay a third part of all men during a specified period of time. Despite this judgement,
the survivors do not repent of their idolatry, murders, sorceries, fornication or thefts.
The angel and the little scroll
Before the seventh trumpet, John is given a vision of future events. He sees a mighty angel with an open book in His hand
and hears seven thunderous voices. John is about to record what the voices say when he is forbidden to by the angel. A
solemn oath is made by the angel that the mystery of God, as declared by His prophets, would be finished at the beginning
of the seventh trumpet. John is told to take the book and eat it, and that it would be sweet in his mouth but bitter in his
belly. He is then told he must prophesy again before many people of all nations.
The two witnesses
John is given a rod and told to measure the temple, altar and worshippers, but not the outer court where the Gentiles are.
The Gentiles will tread the holy city underfoot for three and a half years, during which time two witnesses ill prophesy in
sackcloth and no rain will fall on the earth. The witnesses will be protected from any who try to kill them, all the while
having the power to smite the earth with plagues as they see fit.
When the three and a half years are over, they will be killed by the beast ho ascends from the bottomless pit. Their bodies
will be left in the street here all will see them, and rejoice over the death of these two who tormented them. Then, after a
short period of time, they will be resurrected and ascend to heaven. At the same time there will be a great earthquake
destroying a tenth f the city and killing seven thousand men, bringing fear on the remnant who will then give glory to God.
This is the second woe; the third is to quickly follow.
The seventh trumpet
The seventh trumpet is sounded heralding the coming of the third woe. Immediately following this trumpet, voices are
heard in heaven announcing the kingdoms of the world are now Christ’s, and He is to reign for ever. The twenty-four
elders, who sat on their seats before God, praise and worship Him, giving thanks that victory has come, that judgement
will follow and rewards given to His prophets and saints who feared Him, and for the pending destruction of the antichrist
and his followers.
The other effects of this trumpet are the temple of God in heaven is opened, the Ark of the Covenant is seen, and there are
lightnings, voices, thunderings, an earthquake and great hail.
The woman and the dragon; the two beasts
The woman and the dragon
Next is seen a vision of a woman and a beast. The woman is pregnant and soon to give birth. The dragon, identified later
as Satan, stands before the woman ready to devour her child. She bares a son, who is taken up to God and to His throne,
then flees to the wilderness where God has prepared a place for her, and where she is to remain and be fed for three and a
half years. Then a war is fought in heaven between Michael and his angels and Satan and his angels, with Michael
prevailing and Satan and his angels being cast out of heaven. There is rejoicing because they overcame Satan by the blood
of the Lamb, but a warning is given to the inhabitants of the earth that the wrath of Satan is to come, because he has only
a short time left. Satan persecutes the woman and makes war with the remnant of her seed, who keep the commandments
of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
The beast out of the sea
A beast is then seen rising out of the sea having the name of blasphemy, and is given power and authority by Satan. This
beast has a wound that was deadly, yet he survived it. The world wonders over this miracle and consequently worships
Satan and the beast. For three and a half years this beast will blaspheme against God and everything that is of God,
making war with the saints and being victorious over them. Yet a word of comfort is given to the saints, encouraging faith
The beast out of the earth
Then a beast is seen rising out of the earth, being like a lamb, but speaking as a dragon and exercising all the power of the
first beast. This beast deceives the world with miracles, and instructs an image of the first beast to be made that everyone
must worship or be killed. Everyone is to receive a mark of the beast on their right hand or forehead, without which they
will not be able to buy or sell anything. The number of the beast is that of a man and is given as 666.
The joy of the redeemed and the harvest
John now sees Jesus with the 144,000 having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. They sing a song that only
they are able to sing, having been redeemed from the earth and having no blemish, the first-fruits through Jesus.
Next John sees an angel having the everlasting gospel to preach before everyone on earth, calling them to fear God and
worship Him for the hour of judgement has come. This angel is followed by another announcing Babylon has fallen because
of her fornication. Then a third ngel is seen, warning that anyone who receives the mark of the beast on their forehead or
hand would receive the full wrath of God.
The patience of the saints will be tried and the overcomers rewarded.
John now sees a vision of the reaping of the harvest of the earth. The reaper is Jesus, who has a sharp sickle and is called
on to reap by another angel, saying the time has come for the earth is ripe. Upon this, the earth is then reaped and the
redeemed gathered. Another angel appears from the temple with a sharp sickle, and the power over fire, to whom another
angel calls to gather the wicked who are then trodden in the winepress of divine wrath, resulting in much blood being spilt.
The seven bowls
Preparation is made to pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath. A song of God’s victory is sung and the temple of the
‘tabernacle of the testimony’ in heaven is open. The seven angels come out of the temple, and the four living creatures
(beasts) give them seven golden bowls full of God’s wrath. No man is now able to enter the temple until he seven plagues
of the seven angels are complete.
John hears a great voice calling to the angels to go their way and pour out the bowls of God’s wrath upon the earth.
The first angel pours his bowl specifically upon the earth, causing a grievous sore, offensive to the senses, on those who
have the mark of the beast and have worshipped his image.
The second pours his bowl upon the sea, causing the sea to become blood, killing every living creature in it.
The third pours his upon the rivers and fountains of water, which also become blood so that those who killed the prophets
and saints should have to drink it.
The fourth pours his upon the sun, causing men to be scorched with fire, for which they blaspheme God and do not repent.
The fifth pours his upon the seat of the beast, and his kingdom becomes full of darkness, causing great anguish, but no
The sixth pours his on the River Euphrates, causing it to dry up to prepare the way for the kings of the east.
Between the pouring of the sixth and seventh bowls is the battle of Armageddon.
The seventh bowl is poured into the air and a great voice from the throne in the temple of heaven announces, ‘It is done.’
There are voices, thunders and lightnings, the greatest earthquake ever seen, the fall of Babylon and a great hail with
stones as heavy as a talent (about 26 kg!). Men blaspheme God because of the great hail, and do not repent.
God’s final judgement
The Woman and the Beast
One of the seven angels who had the bowls comes to John to invite him to see the judgement of the great whore, with
whom the kings of the earth had committed fornication, and who had made the people of the earth drunk with the wine of
her fornication. John is carried into the wilderness and sees a woman on a scarlet beast. She is dressed in purple and
scarlet, arrayed with precious jewellery, and having a cup in her hand full of abominations and filth. She is described by the
names on her forehead, and is drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs. The angel then explains to an astonished
John the mystery of the woman and the beast that carries her.
First, the mystery of the beast is explained, how, having been consigned to the bottomless pit, it now ascends from it. The
beast’s seven heads represent the succession of seven kings, or empires, of which one is yet to come. Its ten horns
represent ten kings who give their power and strength to the beast, and who shall make war with the Lamb, but will be
The angel then tells John the waters on which the woman sat are the peoples of the earth, and that the ten horns will come
to hate the whore and turn against her, according to God’s will to fulfil prophecy.
The woman is then declared as being the great city (Babylon), which reigns over the kings of the earth.
The Fall of Babylon
Then another angel comes and announces that Babylon the great has fallen, having become the habitation of everything
evil, where nations and kings had committed fornication with her, and merchants become enriched with her luxury.
Another voice is heard calling His people to come out of Babylon, and not be partaker of her sins that are causing her to
receive her plagues, but to take full vengeance on her because she has glorified herself and felt secure. Plagues will come
on her in one day and she will suffer death, mourning and famine, and will be utterly burned by fire.
The kings of the earth will lament over her from afar, as will the merchants, for all have benefited from her greatness and
riches, which have all now come to nought within the space of one hour.
God’s people are called to rejoice, for God has now taken vengeance on her. A mighty angel appears and casts a great
stone into the sea, signifying Babylon’s permanent destruction.
The hallelujah and the wedding feast
There follows a great rejoicing in heaven for the triumph over Babylon. The multitude in the church give glory and honour
to God for His righteous judgements, and the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fall down and worship God.
All God’s servants are called upon to join in the praise.
After this, the voice of a great multitude is heard calling one another to be glad and rejoice, for the time of the Lamb’s
marriage with his bride has come. His wife, having made herself ready, is dressed in white linen, the linen depicting the
righteousness of the saints.
John is told to write concerning those called to the marriage supper. He is told these are the true sayings of God, at which
he falls on his feet to worship he angel but is prevented from doing so, being reminded by the angel that he is just a fellow
servant; God is the only one to be worshipped.
John sees heaven open and Jesus riding on a white horse to judge and make war. He is followed by His armies in heaven,
also on white horses, clothed in the white linen of the righteous. An angel calls with a loud voice to gather the birds of
heaven for the supper of the great God, to eat the flesh of those judged as evil.
The beast, kings of the earth and their armies then gather to make war against Jesus and His army. They are defeated and
the beast and his prophet are both cast into the lake of fire, and the kings and their armies are slain to the rejoicing of the
The Thousand Years and the last judgement
John sees an angel with the key to the bottomless pit and with a chain in his hand. He binds Satan for a thousand years so
that he is unable to deceive the nations. During this time the church sits on thrones to judge with Jesus, as do the saints
who had been martyred and had not received the mark of the beast or worshipped him. This is described as the first
resurrection. The rest of the dead will not be raised until the thousand years are complete.
When the thousand years are up, Satan is released to deceive the nations. The number deceived is great and are gathered
to do battle, but are defeated. Satan is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and false prophet are, and
will be tormented day and night for ever.
All the dead, small and great, now stand before God to be judged according to their works.
Death and hell are cast into the lake of fire, as are those whose name is not found written in the book of life. This is the
God’s new world
John now sees the new heaven and the new earth in which there is no more sea, and in which there is no tabernacle, as
God will now dwell amongst His people.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither
shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Jesus then declares the work is done.
One of the angels who had the seven bowls shows John the bride, the Lamb’s wife, which is the new Jerusalem. John sees
the detail of its size and structure, which is then measured by the angel. John observes there is no temple within as God
and the Lamb are its temple, there is no sun or moon as the glory of God and the Lamb are its light, and the gates are not
shut as there is no night. Everything within it is pure and nothing can enter that might defile it.
John sees a pure river of water of life coming from the throne of God and the Lamb, with the tree of life that bares twelve
fruits, yielding a fruit every month, and whose leaves are for the healing of the nations.
The angel tells John that all the visions he has seen are faithful and true, and that the Lord God had sent His angel to
reveal these things to him. John is overwhelmed and again falls down to worship the angel, and again has to be reminded
to worship God only.
John is told to reveal all that he has seen. Jesus tells John He will come quickly with His reward to give every man
according to his works, and confirms John has been given these visions to testify to the churches.
A warning is given that no man is to add to or take away from the words of this book.
Come, Lord Jesus
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
30-Day Reading Plan
This is a 30-day reading plan based on an average of 15 minutes per session - a total read time of 7½ hours.
The actual read times vary from 12 to 20 minutes to accommodate for practical read session end points. If the reading
times don’t suit you, then simply go at your own pace and note where you finished.
Please select your reading day below
New Testament History Books -
Old Testament History Books -
New Testament Epistles -
The Prophets -
The Poetry Books -