John the Apostle

Book of Revelation

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Book of Revelation Summary

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“The Book of Revelation” is the final book of the New Testament and the last book of the Christian Bible. It is also known as the “Revelation to John,” the “Apocalypse of John,” “Revelation,” or “The Revelation.” It is an apocalyptic prophecy and the only apocalyptic text within the New Testament. Although John the Apostle is often credited as the author of the work, academics argue that the book postdates John’s life, and so the true author is still unknown. Dated at around AD 81-96, the apocalyptic content has been interpreted in many ways by historians, Christians, and academics.

John wrote the book in western Turkey for the benefit of Christians in the area. However, by the time John wrote the book, the other Gospels were hugely popular throughout the Church, and so he knew that his audience would extend far beyond western Asia. It cannot be confirmed, but this knowledge is likely to have affected how he wrote the book. What scholars do know is that the book criticizes Christians who wish to reach a peaceful understanding with the Romans and other non-Christians.

Critics struggle to agree on the structure of the text because there are no clear sections or chapters. However, there is a consensus that the book can be divided into two parts. The first part is a series of letters to the seven Christian churches scattered throughout Asia Minor. The second section is a story filled with symbols, motifs, visions, and warnings. As the text is apocalyptic, there is a sense that the final battle between God and Satan, or Christians and their enemies, is yet to come.

As the text opens, John warns readers that they must heed his words if they want to survive the coming apocalypse. John says that God spoke to him and told him to spread His word to the faithful. If the faithful listen to God’s words, they will inherit the world and God’s love. If they deny Him, their souls will burn. John plans to send the teachings to the seven Christian churches in Asia Minor so they can spread the word to their followers.

John describes a vision of Jesus appearing in the sky. Jesus knows Christians are attacked for believing in him; still, they must remain faithful through this relentless persecution. When John first sees Jesus, he is terrified because Jesus is surrounded by bright light and flames. However, Jesus doesn’t want him to be afraid. He just wants him to listen and write down God’s will.

Jesus then gives John messages from God—one message for each of the seven churches. Jesus warns the faithful that they will be imprisoned, assaulted, and challenged by the Roman authorities, but they must cling to their trust in God. God will come to them, offering them eternal love, and a place in Heaven. Those who doubt God or Jesus will endure eternal damnation.

To reward John for diligently taking this information down, Jesus gives John a tour of Heaven. John sees the Throne and God, and all the angels who worship Him. God reveals a scroll with seven seals, which a sacrificial lamb opens. As the lamb opens each seal, John sees something awful happening in the world—from rivers of blood to plagues of locusts. John is powerless to stop these visions.

Jesus reveals to John what will happen when these plagues are over. Angels brand faithful humans, marking them for Heaven. When they die, God gives them bounty and eternal paradise under the watchful eye of the sacrificial lamb. John is processing this information when the visions begin again—this time, John must watch the angels destroying the world and everyone in it.

Community by community, humans fall and die. Some non-believers, or those with weak faith, change their minds, clinging to Jesus; they know they will be saved. Meanwhile, those who refuse to accept Jesus die in increasingly horrible ways. Enormous beasts appear, causing chaos everywhere; the unfaithful worship them, instead, because they believe these beasts can fight Jesus. Watching this unfold, John is powerless to do anything but take notes.

As the chaos dies down, the Whore of Babylon appears. She represents the beauty and seduction of Rome. Rome may look pretty but it is rotten inside. This is the message John must spread to the people so they may save themselves from the Armageddon. The story, however, doesn’t end here, and the faithful still aren’t safe.

One day, God plans to judge everyone for their actions on Earth. This includes people who are already dead—even if they died for believing in Jesus. God has a Book filled with the names of people who should be spared. If someone’s name is not in the Book, they will be destroyed. Jesus wants to spare as many people as possible, so John must get this message out immediately.

John ends the text with a warning about changing his message or censoring it in any way. Tampering with his words is a direct violation of God’s word and will result in eternal damnation. In the meantime, we should all praise Jesus and wait for the Second Coming, because it will happen.