I. Christ and the Seven Churches (Revelation 1:1-3:22)
John sees a vision of the risen Christ, who directs him to write to seven churches in Asia, encouraging them to remain faithful.
A. Introduction (Revelation 1:1-8)
John addresses seven churches in Asia Minor, greeting them in the name of God, Jesus, and the seven spirits before the throne.
B. Vision of Christ among the Churches (Revelation 1:9-20)
John sees Christ, the Son of Man, among the seven lampstands that represent the seven churches, and Christ commands John to write what he sees.
C. Messages to the Seven Churches (Revelation 2:1-3:22)
Each of the seven churches is addressed with words of encouragement, calls to repent, and promises to the faithful.
II. The Seven Seals (Revelation 4:1-7:17)
In God's heavenly throne room, the Lamb opens the seven seals on a scroll, and with each seal threatening figures appear until John sees a vision of the redeemed singing praise to God and the Lamb for salvation.
A. The Heavenly Throne Room (Revelation 4:1-11)
God's throne stands in the heavenly throne room, surrounded by four creatures and twenty-four elders who offer continual praises.
B. The Slain and Living Lamb (Revelation 5:1-14)
John sees Christ as a slaughtered and living Lamb, and the whole creation joins in praising God and the Lamb for their saving help.
C. The First Six Seals (Revelation 6:1-17)
When the Lamb opens the seals on a scroll in God's hand, a series of threats appear, including four horsemen, a vision of martyrs, and a cosmic earthquake.
D. The 144,000 and Great Multitude (Revelation 7:1-17)
The threats are interrupted by a vision of 144,000 redeemed, and these turn out to be a great multitude from every tribe and nation.
III. The Seven Trumpets (Revelation 8:1-11:19)
Angels blow trumpets, bringing six plagues upon the earth, only to have the judgments interrupted so that witness could be given to the nations, preparing for the announcement of the kingdom of God and Christ.
A. The First Six Trumpets (Revelation 8:1-9:21)
Angels blow trumpets, summoning plagues on sea and land, calling forth hideous creatures from the underworld and the River Euphrates, yet the ungodly refuse to repent.
B. John Commissioned to Prophesy Again (Revelation 10:1-11)
The movement toward destruction is interrupted by an angel who calls John to prophesy again concerning many nations and kings.
C. Temple and Two Witnesses (Revelation 11:1-14)
John sees a vision of the temple, which represents the community of faith, and two witnesses calling the world to repent. These witnesses are slain yet rise to life again.
D. Seventh Trumpet (Revelation 11:15-19)
When the peoples of the world give glory to God, the seventh trumpet sounds and angelic voices proclaim that the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of the Lord and his Messiah.
IV. Conflict and Victory over the Dragon and Beast (Revelation 12:1-15:8)
In a series of unnumbered visions, John sees the people of God threatened by Satan the dragon and his ally the beast, yet in the end the faithful are brought to victory beside heaven's crystal sea.
A. The Woman and the Dragon (Revelation 12:1-18)
Satan the dragon is thrown down from heaven, and he persecutes a woman representing the people of God, although she is protected by God.
B. The Beast from the Sea (Revelation 13:1-10)
A seven-headed beast, who is Satan's agent, rises from the sea to dominate the nations of the world and persecute the people of God.
C. The Beast from the Land (Revelation 13:11-18)
A second beast rises from the land to make people worship the sea beast and to imprint people with that beast's name or number, which is 666.
D. Followers of the Lamb and the Beast (Revelation 14:1-13)
A vision of 144,000 shows that those who follow the Lamb are blessed, whereas angels warn that the followers of the beast will suffer God's fiery judgment.
E. The Harvest of the Earth (Revelation 14:14-20)
A vision of a grain harvest extends the hope that the faithful will be gathered in as redeemed people of God, while a vision of grapes being trampled in the wine press of God's wrath warns of the punishment that awaits the wicked.
F. The Heavenly Temple (Revelation 15:1-8)
The faithful sing praises to God beside the crystal sea in heaven, then seven angels process out of the heavenly temple to bring plagues upon the earth.
V. Seven Final Plagues and the Fall of Babylon (Revelation 16:1-19:10)
After angels pour seven final plagues onto the earth, John sees a vision of the fall of Babylon the whore, who personifies the political and economic powers that dominate the earth.
A. The Seven Bowl Plagues (Revelation 16:1-21)
Seven angels pour out bowls full of plagues filled with divine wrath on the earth, yet the ungodly refuse to repent.
B. Babylon the Whore (Revelation 17:1-18)
Babylon the whore, who represents the oppressive power that dominates the earth, rides on the seven-headed beast, until the beast turns against her and destroys her with fire.
C. Judgment on Babylon (Revelation 18:1-24)
Angels speak judgment against fallen Babylon because of the city's arrogance, materialism, and violence. Babylon's allies grieve her downfall because it has diminished their own status and income.
D. Celebrating Babylon's Demise (Revelation 19:1-10)
Songs of Hallelujah sound in heaven at the fall of Babylon the whore, even as the faithful hear that the bride of the Lamb is ready for the great marriage celebration.
VI. From the Great Battle to the New Jerusalem (Revelation 19:11-22:21)
The beast is defeated by the word of Christ, Satan is bound for a thousand years then destroyed, and after a final judgment John sees a new creation and new Jerusalem, where the redeemed worship in the presence of God.
A. Defeating the Beast (Revelation 19:11-21)
Christ appears on a white horse to defeat the beast and his allies by the power of God's word.
B. The Thousand-Year Kingdom (Revelation 20:1-10)
After the fall of the beast, Satan is bound for a thousand years while the faithful reign with Christ; then Satan is momentarily released and destroyed by heavenly fire.
C. The Last Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15)
The dead are raised and are held accountable for their works, as written in the books of deeds, yet salvation ultimately is based on the book of life, which expresses the mercy of God.
D. New Heavens and Earth (Revelation 21:1-8)
A new heaven and earth appear, and new Jerusalem descends, as a voice from God's throne declares that death and grieving have passed away.
E. The New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-22:5)
New Jerusalem has twelve gates through which the nations enter, and living waters flow through its streets, as the saints gather before God's throne in worship.
F. Final Warnings and Blessings (Revelation 22:6-21)
Revelation concludes with warnings against the ungodly but with repeated promises of the blessing to be found in relationship with God and the Lamb.
AUTHOR: Craig R. Koester, Professor of New Testament