Let the Word Speak!

Revelation

This study of the book of the Revelation to John was presented first as a series of Sunday School lessons that lasted over six months. Since I was writing the study as we went along, they study was a journey more than presentation, and the earlier lessons, in particular, show influences from the variety of opinions from those of us in the class. Later lessons show a clearer focus and understanding, as we together came to share a closer understanding of this book.

I based this study on a number of different source books so that I could at least skim over the range of popular opinions concerning this unusual book. My conclusion from doing research and teaching the study is that we too often make it into something it is not. I have found no reason to interpret this book as a foretelling of events in the previous centuries or centuries to come. This is a marvelous book of hope and reassurance, intensely steeped in the culture of that time. Once we understand more about that culture, heritage, and ways of story telling, everything in the book makes sense—at face value!

Throughout these web pages, I will quote the scriptures along with the study materials. Because I will be using the entire book of Revelation in this way, I am using a public domain version of the Bible, the King James Version. I encourage you to follow along in a more modern version, such as the New Revised Standard Version or the New International Version.

The key to understanding Revelation is understanding the cyclical nature of how this book was written and how it was orally recited to believers in that day. For that reason, I am using the following outline for this study:

Outline for the Revelation Study:

  • Introduction
  • Prelude: Teachings of Jesus
  • Background for Revelation
  • Opening: Chapters 1 – 3
    • Prologue – 1:1 through 1:3
    • Greetings from John – 1:4 through 1:8
    • Situation of John – 1:9 through 1:20
    • Greetings from Christ – 2:1 through 3:22, with messages for the seven churches
      • Revelation 2:1-7 – Ephesus
      • Revelation 2:8-11 – Smyrna
      • Revelation 2:12-17 – Pergamum
      • Revelation 2:18-29 – Thyatira
      • Revelation 3:1-6 – Sardis
      • Revelation 3:7-13 – Philadelphia
      • Revelation 3:14-22 – Laodicea
  • Body – Chapters 4 – 22, including the visions
    • Preparation for the Visions
    • Vision 1: The Seven Seals
      • Opening scene in heaven 4:1 – 5:14
        • Worship for the King 4:1-11
        • Worthy is the Lamb 5:1-14
      • The four horsemen 6:1 – 6:8
      • The souls slain 6:9 – 6:11
      • The sun darkened 6:12 – 6:17
      • The church in earth 7:1 – 7:8
      • The church in heaven 7:9 – 7:17
      • The silence 8:1
    • Vision 2: The Seven Trumpets
      • Opening scene in heaven 8:2 – 8:6
      • The first 4 trumpets 8:7 – 8:12
      • The eagle proclaims 3 woes 8:13
      • The fifth trumpet 9:1 – 9:12
      • The sixth trumpet 9:13 – 9:19
      • The people reject God 9:20 – 9:21
      • The proclamation 10:1 – 10:7
      • The little scroll 10:8 – 10:11
      • Measuring the temple 11:1 – 11:2
      • The two witnesses 11:3 – 11:14
      • The fanfare 11:15 – 11:18
    • Vision 3: The Roots and Role of Roman Power
      • Opening scene in heaven 11:19
      • Woman, dragon, child 12:1 – 12:6
      • Dragon thrown down 12:7 – 12:12
      • The persecution 12:13-12:17
      • The first beast 13:1 – 13:10
      • The second beast 13:11-13:18
    • Reconciling God of Judgement with God of Love
    • Vision 4: The Seven Agents of Judgment
      • Opening scene in heaven 14:1 – 14:5
      • The news 14:6 – 14:7
      • The fall of Babylon 14:8
      • Warning to beast worshippers 14:9 – 14:12
      • The voice from heaven 14:13
      • The grain is ripe 14:14-14:16
      • The grapes are ripe 14:17-14:20
    • Vision 5: The Seven Plagues of Wrath
      • Opening scene in heaven 15:1 – 15:4
      • Introducing angels of wrath 15:5-16:1
      • The first three bowls 16:2 – 16:4
      • The two voices 16:5 – 16:7
      • The fourth and fifth bowls 16:8 – 16:11
      • The sixth bowl and Armageddon 16:12 – 16:16
      • The last bowl – done! 16:17 – 16:21
    • Vision 6: The Role and Results of Imperial Power
      • Opening scene in heaven 17:1 – 17:2
      • Vision of the harlot 17:3 – 17:8
      • Overcoming power of the lamb 17:9 – 17:18
      • Announcement 18:1 – 18:3
      • Mourning and rejoicing 18:4 – 18:20
      • The great millstone 18:21 – 18:24
      • Celebration in heaven 19:1 – 19:5
    • Vision 7: The Consummation
      • Opening scene in heaven 19:6 – 19:10
      • The white horse 19:11 – 19:16
      • Food for birds 19:17 – 19:18
      • The defeat of the beast 19:19 – 19:21
      • Binding Satan 20:1 – 20:3
      • The millennial reign 20:4 – 20:10
      • The final judgment 20:11 – 20:15
      • The new Jerusalem 21:1 – 22:5
        • The prologue 21:1 – 21:5
        • Vision of the new Jerusalem 21:5 – 22:6
  • Epilogue – 22:6-21
  • Appendix A
  • Appendix B
  • Bibliography

Later, we covered the book of Revelation during Wednesday night Bible studies at Peace United Methodist Church, with my goal to complete this study in nine weeks. I am including the handouts for that Bible study as downloadable document files in Microsoft® Word format below:

If I teach this study again, I will probably compress this to seven weeks by covering the second vision with the last part of the first vision in week 4, and combining the third and sixth visions into one week.

 

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