A Quick Overview of the Book of Revelation

THE BOOK OF REVELATION, OR THE APOCALYPSE AS IT IS ALSO CALLED, is the last book of the Bible. It is a revelation that was received by the apostle John while he was in Roman-imposed exile on the Island of Patmos in the eastern Mediterranean around 90 A.D. According to the first words of the book, God gave this revelation to Jesus, who entrusted it to an angel to pass on to John. Although not at first in chapter form, the book of Revelation is now divided into 22 chapters and can be broken up into four separate parts for an easier understanding of how it flows. And then throughout this sermon we will attempt to break it up into smaller chunks for better understanding.
  • Chapters 1–6: The first chapter introduces the book and how it was received. Chapters 2 and 3 are letters to churches in seven cities that were in existence in John’s day. In chapter 4, John the Revelator is taken up to the throne room of God, and in chapter 5, he sees a scroll with seven seals, the first six of which are opened by Jesus in chapter 6. These take us through a summary of world history from a spiritual perspective, from the birth of Christianity to the end of the world.
  • Chapters 7–14: These deal with the time we call the Great Tribulation, and once again these chapters culminate at the end of the world. Chapter 7 talks about the 144,000 and others who go through the Tribulation. The seventh seal is opened in chapter 8, and it heralds the beginning of the sounding of the Seven Trumpets of Tribulation. In chapters 8 and 9 the first six trumpets sound and result in various plagues and chastisements on the wicked. In chapter 10, the seven thunders sound to announce the seventh trumpet (the Second Coming of Jesus). In chapter 11 we are told that there will be two famous Endtime prophets who will be the vanguard of God’s witnesses in the Tribulation and that three and a half days after their martyrdom, the seventh angel sounds his trumpet. In chapter 12 we learn more about the Endtime church, and in chapter 13, we are told about the Beast and the False Prophet. In Chapter 14 we reach the end of the world again—well, almost—as both the Second Coming occur, as well as the beginning of the Plagues of the Wrath of God.
  • Chapters 15–20: In these chapters, we are taken through the events that occur at the very end of this world’s current epoch. In chapters 15 and 16, the Plagues of the Wrath of God are poured out. In chapters 17 and 18 we read of the judgment and destruction of Babylon the Great Whore. In chapter 19 we are told about the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and then about the Battle of the Great Day of the Lord, commonly known as Armageddon. Chapter 20 is a busy chapter, as it covers the imprisonment of Satan, the 1,000-year reign of Jesus and His saints on Earth, the Battle of Gog and Magog that occurs at the end of the Millennium when Satan is loosed for a little season, and then the final destruction of the surface or the entirety of the earth as we now know it. Finally, we are told of the Great White Throne Judgment when all the unsaved are judged.
  • Chapters 21–22: These pick up where chapter 20 leaves off and cover the New Earth that is made on the surface or the entirety of the old one and the enormous, glorious Heavenly City that descends from Heaven and the bright, beautiful happy eternity that awaits all believers in the most wonderful place ever made, the new garden of Eden!
I do not know when the Church Age will officially end, but I certainly know how it will end. The dispensation that we call the Church Age will formally end in an event called the Pretribulation Rapture. When that happens, it will usher in the most chaotic time that will ever be known in all of human history, the time of Jacob’s trouble. But the early Acts church knew nothing of a Pretribulation Rapture, because they were not looking for Heaven they were waiting for a kingdom as we see here:
“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” Acts 1:6,7 (KJV)
The dispensation the early Jewish believers were in was called the Kingdom Age, and it included both the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of Heaven is summed up as the Jews in an eternal Israel with their Messiah King ruling over them.
“But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” Isaiah 11:4 (KJV)
The Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, one that you enter when you become born again. Originally, both kingdoms were offered to the Jews, but when they rejected the preaching of the Holy Ghost through Stephen, God split the kingdoms, gave the Kingdom of Heaven to the Jews, and the Kingdom of God to the what would become the New Testament church with the commissioning of Paul. Then He put the Kingdom of Heaven on a “pause” that has so far lasted just about 2,000 years.
The Kingdom Age, of which Peter was the designated apostle, was put on hold in Acts 7 when the Jews stoned Stephen after rejecting his preaching. The dispensation that came next is what we call the Church Age, and it will end in the Rapture of Church Age believers. When that happens, the Kingdom Age which was put on hold will be reactivated. Peter’s gospel of faith plus works (Acts 2:38) will come back to the forefront. Hebrews and James will have their doctrinal fulfillment during the time of Jacob’s trouble, and the believers of that time period will not be eternally secure. These are the people that Jesus said must “endure to the end” of the Tribulation in order to be saved. So, this also fulfills or if I may, explains those who would say, ‘do what Jesus said’ or what I affectionately call them ‘Red Letter believers,’ along with those who would say ‘the Epistles were voted holy scriptures 350yrs later by men not GOD and they excommunicated or killed whoever disagreed’. But, that’s NOT what the Bible clearly says!
Bible Prophecy End Time Timeline:
  • Pretribulation Rapture of the Church comes first. Revelation 4.
  • The time of Jacob’s trouble begins on earth, while the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Wedding of the Lamb are happening up in Heaven.
  • Antichrist is revealed when Jesus opens the First Seal in Revelation 6, this officially starts the Tribulation.
  • The Mark of the Beast and all the seal, vial, bowl and trumpet judgements take place during Daniel’s 70th week. Revelation 13.
  • The Battle of Armageddon. Ezekiel 39.
  • Jesus at the Second Coming, wedding supper reception on earth. Revelation 19 and Luke 12:36
  • The Thousand Year Reign of King Jesus from Jerusalem. Revelation 20.
  • The Battle of Gog and Magog. Ezekiel 38 and Revelation 20.
  • The Great White Throne Judgment. Revelation 20.
  • Eternity. Revelation 21 and 22.
Yes, Revelation is absolutely written in chronological order of events. But in 4 different places, the Holy Spirit has John start with an event and then taking you all the way to Second Coming before returning to where he left off and continuing chronologically.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” Revelation 1:1-3 (KJV)
For many students of the Bible, the book of Revelation is the “holy grail” of prophetic information, if you’ll pardon the pun. There are those who are frightened of it, mystified by it, or just confused to the point where they kind of leave it off to the side and go back to inspirational scripture instead like the Psalms. I’ll grant you that Revelation is a tough nut to crack, but that said, born again believers who are armed with the Holy Spirit for discernment, a King James Bible, and a few simple “hacks” I’m going to give you today, Revelation just might become your favorite book in the Bible.
For starters, Revelation is divided into 3 main sections and they are as follows:
  • Chapters 1 – 3: In the first three chapters of Revelation, we see John’s commission from Jesus Christ to write the book, followed by a listing of the 7 churches which he mentions by name. These 7 churches existed at the time John wrote Revelation, that’s historical. The 7 churches will exist in the time of Jacob’s trouble, that’s prophetic, and they also represent the 7 conditions of the church age over the past 2,000 years, that’s doctrinal. The last stage of the Church Age, the Laodicean Age, is where we are right now. The professing Church is lukewarm, mostly dead, and more concerned with building programs and budgets than they are with getting the gospel out. Jesus is locked outside, asking to be let back in. This is how the last days of the Church wind up right before the Rapture, don’t believe me? Just look at all the news. Do you see Jesus or God mentioned much? No, me either!
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Revelation 3:15,16,20,21 (KJV)
  • Chapters 4 – 19: Chapter 4 starts out with John, the disciple that Jesus loved, being taken to heaven in type of the Rapture Paul reveals in 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians, Titus 2 and other places. You will note that from Revelation 4 all the way to Revelation 19, the Church is not seen on the earth and when mentioned we find that the Church is safely relocated to Heaven. Chapter 4 is the joyous reunion of the Rapture saints, chapter 5 is the ceremony leading to the opening of the book of future events that Daniel was told to “seal up” in Daniel 12, and chapter 6 through 19 is everything you need to know about the 7 year period known as the time of Jacob’s trouble, also referred to as a time of “great tribulation” in Matthew 24 by Jesus. Revelation 19 ends with Jesus Christ on horseback returning with His raptured army of saints at the Second Coming.
“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” Jeremiah 30:7 (KJV)
  • Chapters 20-22: Revelation 20 shows us the binding of Satan for a thousand years, the thousand year reign of Jesus Christ as King on the throne of David from Jerusalem, and the Battle of Gog and Magog after Satan is released from the bottomless pit. Chapter 20 ends with the Great White Throne Judgment were the unsaved are given their “day in court” then found guilty and convicted, the Old Testament saints from Abraham’s Bosom are given rewards. Chapter 21 shows us the remade world that Peter prophesied about, and the John 14 “mansions” contained in the New Jerusalem where the Church, the Bride of Christ will live. Chapter 22 shows us eternity.
“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:20 (KJV)
Now that you know this much, I bet your general understanding of Revelation has increased already. So how did we arrive at this knowledge? We got here by doing what Paul tells us to do in 2 Timothy, we “rightly divide” the scriptures to put everything in it’s proper place. Once done, many of the “secrets” of Revelation come swimming to the surface of our understanding, willingly revealing themselves to us. It is this rightly dividing that prevents us from falling into the error of confusing dispensations which always leads to wrong conclusions.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
For example, when we rightly divide Revelation we clearly see that chapter 3 shows us the end of the Church Age, leading into chapter 4 which shows us the rapture of the Church. Having this information prevents us from thinking that the Church is on earth during the time of Jacob’s trouble, and we wind up with the proper conclusion that it is a pretribulational rapture which removes us and not anything else. When you fail to rightly divide and make these necessary divisions, you will wind up in the doctrinal ditch of either mid-trib, post-trib, or no trib thinking.
Is Revelation written in chronological order? Yes, and here’s why
Once having mastered the 3 main divisions in Revelation, we now move on to the discussion of whether or not Revelation is written in chronological order. The easy answer to that question is, to quote D.L. Moody, “yes, a thousand times yes!” but there is a “catch” to coming to that conclusion.
Many people have written to me over the years saying that they thought Revelation went in chronological order, but then appeared to veer way off course in multiple places every time they thought they had it figured out. Well…that’s because it does! But as with most things in the Bible, when you rightly divide it out, the confusion melts away quickly and is replaced by everything finally being seen “decently and in order” as God wrote it. Here’s the secret.
Yes, Revelation is absolutely written in chronological order of events. The Church Age, the Rapture of the Church, the time of Jacob’s trouble, Armageddon, the Thousand Year Reign of King Jesus, Gog and Magog, judgement, new heaven and new earth, eternity. But in 4 different places, the Holy Spirit has John start with an event and then taking you all the way to Second Coming before returning to where he left off and continuing chronologically. Here are the 4 places where John takes you on a round trip ride though the time of Jacob’s trouble:
  • Revelation 5 & 6: As we said earlier, Revelation 4 is the joyous reunion of the saints in Heaven immediately after the Rapture of the Church. Chapter 5 shows the unsealing of the book of prophecy, and chapter 6 is the very beginning of the Tribulation when Jesus unleashes Antichrist. But now look all the way down to the bottom of chapter 6 and what do you see? Amazingly, you see Jesus Christ at the Second Coming! This “break” starts in verse 12 where in your King James Bible you see the paragraph marker denoting a new thought or subject. Everything from verses 12 – 17 are the exact same events that you will see when you arrive, chronologically, at chapter 19. Then in chapter 7, John having made his first round trip returns to the timeline and tells us about the 144,00.
“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.” Revelation 6:12,13 (KJV)
  • Revelation 8-11: Starting in chapter 8, we see judgment, lots and lots of judgment. But did you notice that the Seal judgments that started in chapter 6 do not conclude until chapter 8? That’s because chapter 7 is what they call a parenthetical chapter where the Holy Spirit is giving us additional information we need to know before proceeding on the timeline. This same parenthesis happens again in chapter 10. Now flash forward all the way to chapter 11 verse 15 and what do you see? We see the end result of what will be at the Second Coming in chapter 19! John has now taken us on round trip number two through the time of Jacob’s trouble. Again, please note the paragraph marker(s) in this section denoting something new.
“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.” Revelation 11:15-17 (KJV)
  • Revelation 12 – 14: The third round trip though the time of Jacob’s trouble starts in chapter 12 and concludes in chapter 14. Again you will note that John, after having given us more chronological information, concludes this trip by bringing us to the Second Coming 5 chapters before the Second Coming happens chronologically on the timeline. Again, we see the paragraph marker in our King James Bible starting in 14:17, again in 14:18, and presto! see Jesus slaughtering His enemies at the Battle of Armageddon.
“And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.” Revelation 14:18 (KJV)
  • Revelation 15 – 19: The Holy Spirit has John make one last round trip in these 4 chapters. The first trip showed us the Seal Judgments ending in the Second Coming. The second trip showed us the Trumpet Judgments leading to the Second Coming. The third trip showed us the activities of Antichrist,and Israel fleeing to Selah Petra leading to the Second Coming. The fourth and final trip shows us the Vial Judgments, and when John takes us to the Second Coming, this time it is happening in chronological order, or in “real time” as we say in the tech business. Again, note the paragraph markers wherever you see them, they are very important in understanding where the divisions are taking place.
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” Revelation 19:11-14 (KJV)
Here we shall conclude today’s look at the amazingly awesome and awe-inspiring book of Revelation.
Quick Overview of the Book of Revelation
Don’t you just love bullet points? I sure do, makes everything so much easier to understand. And I promise you that if you will study out these 7 simple points, comparing scripture with scripture, that your understanding of Revelation will increase dramatically. But please also know this, too. The Bible, unlike any other book, cannot be “figured out” apart of the instructive leading of the Holy Spirit. You get the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation, are “sealed” until the day of redemption, and He leads us into all truth, knowledge and understanding. But if you don’t have the Holy Spirit to lead the way and make complex doctrines simple, you cannot receive it. Some of the brightest minds that have ever lived were unable to understand the bullet points on this page.
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14 (KJV)
We hope this study will be a blessing to you all, it is a heavy and meaty sermon but it is only a quick overview! Lord willing more to come. Please comment in the section below to share your thoughts and insights.
God Bless and see you next time!


3 Replies to “A Quick Overview of the Book of Revelation”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s