A. Introductory Questions Author John is the author (1:1,4) but this is not the disciple of Jesus or the author of the Gospel of John (HCSB p2307, Powell p.544). Date 95 CE is the most accepted dating for the book (Powell p545). This is based on knowledge of the destruction of the temple and reference to Nero (HCSB p2308, Powell p545). Audience The seven churches in Asia (1:4). Possibly to those churches as a circuit letter (Powell p534) or for all believers as a prophecy of hope (Powell p547, HCSB p2308). Genre Is revelation a letter, prophecy, or apocalyptic (Powell p534-535, HCSB p2308)? Given the name Revelation comes from the Greek word apokalypsis (HCSB p2308), maybe apocalyptic is the best, but there are pieces of letter and prophecy as well.
B. Outline Diagram with Summaries
Prologue John, on the island of Patmos, on the Lord’s Day had a vision for seven churches (1:9-11). He saw seven lampstands and one like the Son of Man in a white robe with a golden sash, with white hair and eyes of flame (1:12-16). The man told John to not be afraid and to write the vision to the churches (1:17-20). 7 Letters To Ephesus you have endured patiently but you have forgotten your first love (2:1-4). Repent from where you have strayed (2:5). To Smyrna you are rich but afflicted and poor (2:8-9). Do not fear what is coming, beware testing and stay faithful (2:10-11). To Pergamum in the midst of a bad place you are holding onto God and not denying faith (2:12-13). But some of you are following false teachings (2:14-15), repent (2:16). To Thyatira I know your love, faith, service and patient endurance and how your last act is greater than your first (2:18-19). But you allow Jezebel to be called a prophet and to teach, she was given time to repent and now you need to repent, or I will give you what you deserve (2:20-23). But the rest who do not follow her, hold fast to what you have until I come (2:24-29). To Sardis you appear alive but are dead, wake up and do what you should before God (3:1-2). Remember what you received from God and do it, yet a few of you are going to be with me (3:3-5). To Philadelphia you have little power but have remained faithful to my word and not denied God (3:7-8). You will be kept from the hour of trial because you kept my word, hold fast to what you have for I am coming soon (3:10-11). To Laodicea you are neither hot nor cold but lukewarm so I am spitting you out (3:14-16). You think you have what you need but you don’t, so get what you need from me and follow, be truthful and repent (3:17-19). I am knocking at the door for you to hear me (3:20). Heavenly Throne Vision I was called to the vision by a voice like a trumpet, and at once in the spirit I saw a throne with one seated on it (4:1-2). Around the throne were 24 elders in white with gold crowns and seven flaming torches and on each side of the throne are four living creatures full of eyes all over, a lion, an ox, a human and an eagle each with 6 wings (4:3-8). All constantly worship the one on the throne (4:9-10). Four Apocalyptic Horse Riders The first seal opened a white horse appeared whose rider had a crown and a bow (6:1-2). The second seal opened brought another horse which was red whose rider took peace from the earth and yielded a sword (6:3-4). The third seal opened brought another horse which was black whose rider held scales to measure (6:5-6). The fourth seal opened brought another horse which was pale green whose rider was Death and Hades followed with him and they were given power over ¼ of the earth to kill with sword, famine and pestilence (6:7-8). 7 Trumpets The first trumpet brought hail and fire and 1/3 of the earth burned (8:7). The second trumpet brought a burning mountain of fire thrown into the sea that made 1/3 of the sea blood (8:8-9). The third trumpet caused a great star to fall from heaven and 1/3 of the water became wormwood (8:10-11). The fourth trumpet caused a third of the sun, moon and stars to be darkened (8:12). The fifth trumpet allowed access to the key to the bottomless pit and it was opened allowing locusts to ravage the earth except those sealed by God (9:1-6). The sixth trumpet allowed the release of the four angels bound to the Euphrates to kill a third of humankind (9:13-15). The seventh trumpet made the kingdom of the world the kingdom of God and the 24 elders fell and worshipped God (11:15-16). Heavenly woman A woman clothed with sun and moon was giving birth, in agony, before a dragon who was going to devour her child (12:1-4). She gave birth to a son who will rule the nations and was snatched away to God while the woman was sent to the wilderness for 1260 days (12:5-6). The Dragon, the Beasts and the Mark of the Beast Michael and his angels fought the dragon and threw it to earth (12:7-12). A beast rose from the see that looked like a leopard with seven heads and ten horns and it worshiped the dragon because the dragon gave the beast power, and the beast was haughty and uttered blasphemy and the people of earth worshipped it (13:1-8). The second beast rose from the earth and had two horns like a lamb but spoke like a dragon and it makes all the earth worship the first beast (13:11-15). The second beast causes all to be marked on their hand or forehead with 666 the mark of the beast (13:16-18) The Lamb The Lamb was on Mount Zion with 144,000 who had his name and his father’s name written on their foreheads and they worshipped with the 24 elders singing a song only they could learn (14:1-3). 7 Bowls The first bowl brought pain (16:2), the second made the sea blood (16:3), the third made other waters blood (16:4), the fourth allowed the sun to scorch people with fire (16:8-9), the fifth plunged the beasts kingdom into darkness (16:10-11), the sixth dried up the Euphrates and released frogs and caused a battle (16:12-17), and the seventh poured into the air and a voice cried “It is done” (16:17). Armageddon The great city was split in three, lightning flashed and earthquakes rumbled and islands disappeared and mountains vanished and all the earth cursed God for the plagues (16:18-21). The Whore of Babylon A woman clothed in purple and scarlet sitting on a seven headed beast with the name “Babylon the great, mother of whores and earth’s abomination” (17:4-5). Millennium Those who had remined faithful to Jesus were judged and reigned with Christ for 1000 years. (20:4-6). New Heaven, New Earth, New Jerusalem The first heaven and earth were destroyed and a new heaven and a new earth descended from heaven and God came down to be with God’s people and fulfill the kingdom of God and through this all things were made new for the healing of the nations (21:1-8).
C. Interpretive Issues The empire is not what it appears to be and we need to stand against that (Powell p548). Revelation in its imagery helps us see the disease of society and gives us a vision of how we need to hope in Christ and follow God. As Rossing writes on page 556, “Moreover, I believe the Apocalypse can help us today. It can help us face seriously that our world is ill, very ill—ill with what Seattle filmmaker John de Graaf calls “affluenza,” a combination of affluence and influenza; ill with what nature writer and Methodist Bill McKibben calls the disease of “More” with a capital M, a carbon-devouring lifestyle that is not sustainable” Revelation helps us be better stewards and stand against the norms of society.
D. Ministerial Application As stated in the interpretive issues Revelation helps us be better stewards of creation and to stand against the norms of society and the empire of the day. Treehouse strives to be good stewards by not using paper bulletins and not using disposable plates/utensils/cups. This is a way to help care for where we live even though we know there will be a new earth in the fulfillment of the kingdom. The new earth doesn’t stop us from caring for where we are now and helping others see a need to do this also