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Chuck Smith :: Study Guide for Revelation

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REVELATION 1: THE REVELATION OF JESUS

v.1 The word "revelation" in Greek is apocalypse and means "unveiling." This book is the unveiling of Jesus Christ in His relationship to the Church, to judgment, and to what is to come. The route by which the revelation came to John is given here.

v.3 The revelation was meant to be read in the churches. It refers to itself as a prophecy. The various interpretations of Revelation:

(1) The Preterist view: symbolizes the struggles of the Church against Rome.

(2) Historic view: symbolizes the historic problems the Church has had with the world.

(3) Spiritual view: a spiritual allegory without direct application to actual events.

(4) Futurist view: it is a straightforward account of what is to come. (I hold this view.) See v. 19 of this chapter for the key to understanding the Book of Revelation.

v.4 Seven is the number of completeness: seven days in a week, seven colors in a rainbow, etc.

v.5 "First begotten" refers to Jesus being first in prominence, not first in time, to be raised from the dead. Jesus, the faithful witness, is our example to be a representative of God in our walk and in our talk.

v.6 The Church will reign with Jesus during the Kingdom Age.

v.8 Since this statement is also made by Jesus in v. 11, we see that He is eternally co-existent with the Father.

v.10 "The Lord's day" may refer to a particular day of the week, or John may mean "unto the day of the Lord," which would refer to the days of the end times.

v.12 The seven candlesticks refer to the Old Testament tabernacle when Israel was God's light in the world. In the revelation, the Church had taken that place.

v.13 Jesus often referred to Himself as "the Son of man." This term is used interchangeably with "Son of God" in referring to Jesus.

v.14-17 The only description of Jesus in the New Testament is here: Jesus in glory.

v.19 The word "hereafter" is meta tauta which means "after these things." John was to write about what he had seen (Chapter 1), the things which were (Chapters 2 and 3), and the things which would be "after these things" (Chapters 4 through 22).

v.20 "Angel" means "messenger," usually a supernatural being carrying divine messages. The messages of Christ to the seven churches are applied in three ways:

(1) Local application: written to the churches at that time.

(2) Historic application: there are seven periods of Church history.

(3) Personal application: universal message to His churches.

REVELATION 2: EPHESUS, SMYRNA, PERGAMOS, THYATIRA

v.2 "I know thy works"-Jesus is aware of what we do and our motivations.

v.4 The labor of the church at Ephesus was not motivated by love.

v.5 Jesus will not stay in a loveless church.

v.6 The Nicolaitanes established a priesthood over the laity.

v.8-11 Jesus did not call the Church of Smyrna to repentance because He knew they would be purified by the sufferings they would endure. In verse 10 Jesus spoke of death, because many of them were to be martyred.

v.14 Pagan idol worship often involved sexual orgies.

v.17 The white stone is the stone of acceptance, the black stone signifies rejection.

v.20-23 The unrepentant Church of Thyatira (carnal Christians) will go through the Tribulation because of her spiritual fornication.

REVELATION 3: SARDIS, PHILADELPHIA, LAODICEA

v.1-5 Sardis is the dead Protestant church that kept too many of the pagan rituals and holidays of the churches of Thyatira and Pergamos after the Reformation.

v.7 Philadelphia is the faithful Church in the last days.

v.8 Philadelphia has a little strength, places importance on God's Word, and has not denied Jesus as God's Son.

v.10 God's promise to keep His Church from the Tribulation.

v.14 Jesus is the origin of God's creation, the creative force of God.

v.17 The Laodiceans were lukewarm because they trusted in materialism. They thought they were rich and secure, but Jesus said they were "poor, blind, and naked."

v.19,20 The cure for the lukewarm church:

(1) chastening,

(2) to be zealous for God and to repent,

(3) to open their hearts to God.

REVELATION 4: THE THRONE OF GOD

v.1 After these things-the things of the Church-the Rapture will take place when the trumpet calls, "Come up hither."

v.4 The 24 elders may be specially created beings representing the Old and New Testaments or the Church in heaven. The song they sing in Chapter 5:9-10 is the song of the Church and similar to John's statement in Chapter 1:6.

v.5 "The seven Spirits of God": Isaiah 11:2 describes the sevenfold working of the Spirit in Christ.

v.6 "Beasts" here means living creatures, cherubim (Ezekiel Chapter 1 and 10).

v.7 The appearances of these creatures may represent the four aspects of Christ in the Gospels: lion, calf, man, and eagle.

REVELATION 5: THE SEALED BOOK

v.1 "Book" is "scroll" in the Greek in this verse.

v.1-5 The scroll contains the title deed to the earth. When Jesus gave His life on the cross, He redeemed the earth back to God, but God hasn't taken possession of it yet.

v.9-10 The song of the Church (see Chapter 1:6). This song places the Church in heaven during the Tribulation.

v.11 100 million plus millions will praise the Father and the Son.

REVELATION 6: THE SEALS ARE OPENED

v.1 "Beasts" refers to cherubim again.

v.2 I believe the white horse rider is the Antichrist, because he appears on the scene at the beginning of the Tribulation and wars and famine follow after him. When Jesus comes, peace and plenty will follow.

v.8 One-fourth of the earth's population will die as a result of the opening of the first four seals.

v.9-11 Those who refuse to take the mark of the beast during the Tribulation will be martyred and will ask God to avenge their deaths.

v.13 "Stars of heaven" may refer to meteorites.

v.16-17 Since this time will mark the unleashing of God's wrath, we know His Bride, the Church, will not be on earth.

REVELATION 7: THE REMNANT IS SEALED

v.3 The Lord will not allow the angels to hurt the earth until He has protected the remnant of Israel.

v.4-8 The 144,000 people from the tribes of Israel are simply those the Bible says they are. Various cults try to identify themselves as the 144,000, but God even named the twelve tribes to make clear whom He meant. Ephraim and Dan aren't included in this list of the tribes, but Levi and Joseph are.

v.9,10 These are the same martyrs we saw in Chapter 6.

v.13,14 The reasons I believe this group is not the Church:

(1) John didn't recognize them. If this was the Church, John would know them, because he never had trouble recognizing the Church. He would also have recognized this group if they were the Old Testament saints, because he had seen Moses and Elijah with Christ and knew them (Matthew 17:1-8).

(2) The position of this group in heaven is not that of the bride but that of servants. The Church will be the Bride of Christ and in an exalted position.

v.16 They had suffered on earth during the Tribulation.

REVELATION 8: THE TRUMPET JUDGMENTS

v.2 These seven angels are perhaps the archangels. Gabriel and Michael are two of the archangels.

v.3-5 The ceremonies in the tabernacle were patterned on the heavenly ceremonies.

v.7-11 These catastrophic events resemble environmental pollution.

v.10-11 The fresh water supplies will be polluted.

v.12 The darkening of the heavenly bodies will probably be an atmospheric condition resulting from the three preceding trumpet judgments.

REVELATION 9: MORE TRUMPET JUDGMENTS

v.4 The men with the seal of God on their foreheads are the 144,000 from Chapter 7.

v.6 For five months, no matter how badly injured they are, people will not be able to die.

v.11 Abaddon and Apollyon both mean "destroyer." This is Satan, the king of the demons.

v.14 Euphrates is the river that ran through the ancient city of Babylon. Babylon was the center from which all the satanic cults originated.

v.16 200,000,000 horsemen.

v.20-21 The people left alive after these plagues will continue to worship Satan. "Sorceries" comes from the Greek word pharmakia which is the use of drugs for hallucinatory purposes.

REVELATION 10: THE SECOND COMING

v.1 "Angel" means messenger. This angel is Jesus-the description here matches the one in the first chapter. The rainbow symbolizes God's covenant with man

v.2 The little book is the scroll which has now been unsealed; it is the title deed to the earth.

v.3 This is the second coming of Christ. Other references to this loud cry are: Isaiah 42:13, Jeremiah 25:30, Hosea 11:10 and Joel 3:16.

v.9 "Eating" or reading the book was pleasant, but digesting or absorbing it was bitter.

v.11 Some scholars believe that this verse indicates that John will be one of the two witnesses of Chapter 11.

REVELATION 11: THE TWO WITNESSES

v.1-13 This passage breaks the sequence of events and tells the story of the two witnesses

v.1 The Antichrist will allow the Jews to rebuild their temple

v.2 The Jews will lose control of Jerusalem for 42 months

v.3 These two witnesses are primarily to the Jews Sackcloth was worn by the prophets as a sign of mourning for the condition of the nation 1,260 days equals three and one-half prophetic years

v.4 Zechariah 4 contains a vision of the olive trees and the candlesticks God explained that He would abundantly supply His power to those who would call on Him. The implication is that the two witnesses will be supplied with God's power in a mighty way

v.5 Elijah was able to call down fire from heaven on those who sought to arrest him.

v.6 Elijah went to King Ahab and predicted a drought. Moses dealt with Pharaoh of Egypt when God sent the plagues. Some Bible scholars think Moses and Elijah will be the two witnesses for the above reasons. Also, in Malachi 4:5 God promised to send Elijah before the great day of the Lord, and in Matthew 17:11 Jesus said that Elijah would come and restore all things.

v.7 Only when they had finished their testimony could the beast touch them.

v.8 The city of Jerusalem will be so corrupt that God will call it spiritually Sodom and Egypt.

v.9 In John's time it would have been impossible for all the people of the earth to see the two dead bodies. Today, television will make it possible.

v.15 We take up the story in sequence again. The kingdoms of the world which Jesus Christ purchased back for God will be in His control again.

v.18 Daniel 12:1-3 also speaks of the judgment of all men.

REVELATION 12: THE DRAGON CAST OUT

v.1-2 The "woman" is the nation Israel. She wears a crown of twelve stars, symbolizing the twelve tribes and reminiscent of Joseph's dream (Genesis 37:9).

v.3 The "dragon" is Satan, that old serpent.

v.5 The "man child" of Israel could be the 144,000 who will be taken to heaven in the middle of the Tribulation. When we next see the 144,000, they are in heaven before God's throne (Chapter 14:3). Most scholars agree that the "man child" is Jesus Christ.

v.6 When the image of the beast is set up in the temple, Israel will flee to the city of Petra.

v.9 Isaiah 14:12-17.

v.10 Satan is the one who accuses us before God.

v.11 The victory over Satan is won through the blood of Christ.

v.14 Isaiah 16:1 tells of Sela (Petra) as the refuge for the Jews. "A time, and times, and half a time" is three and one-half years.

v.15 The "flood" is an army.

REVELATION 13: THE BEAST AND THE FALSE PROPHET

v.1 The beast will rise out of the ten nations of the Common Market ("ten horns").

v.2 "Seat" means throne. Satan will give the beast his power, throne, and authority.

v.3-4 An attempt to assassinate the beast will put out one of his eyes and paralyze an arm (Zechariah 11:17).

v.7 "The saints" refers to Israel.

v.11-15 This "beast" is the false prophet who leads the people to worship the beast and to erect an image in his honor.

v.16-18 The number of the mark of the beast is 666. People will have to have this number stamped on their heads or hands in order to buy and sell.

REVELATION 14: THE 144,000 IN HEAVEN

v.4 The 144,000 follow the Lamb, but the Church as the Bride of Christ will be with the Lamb.

v.6 These angels will preach the Gospel to all people in all nations.

v.7-11 The people will be warned about the consequences of taking the mark of the beast or worshipping him.

v.13 Those who are killed by the beast for refusing to take his mark will be spared from further suffering in the Tribulation.

v.14-20 The Battle of Armageddon will take place in the Valley of Megiddo in Israel. The valley will be filled with blood from the slaughter.

REVELATION 15: THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES

v.2-3 This throng may be the 144,000, for they sing the song of Moses.

v.8 These plagues mark the culmination of God's wrath upon the earth.

REVELATION 16: THE PLAGUES ARE POURED OUT

v.2 "Noisome" means running. The burns from radiation are running sores.

v.5-7 The Lord's judgments will be righteous.

v.9 The ozone blanket around the earth is being depleted. Without it the ultraviolet rays will not be filtered out, so people could be badly burned from the sun.

v.12 Russian scientists are constructing a dam in Syria across the River Euphrates. The "kings of the east" will probably be a coalition of forces from China, Japan, and India. They will travel down the dry river bed to reach Megiddo for the Battle of Armageddon.

v.14 The kings of the earth will be driven by demon powers to the Battle of Armageddon.

v.21 A "talent" weighs about 200 pounds.

REVELATION 17: THE PULLING DOWN OF BABYLON

v.1 The "whore" is the false church system that was very powerful and ruled over many nations ("many waters").

v.3 The "seven heads and ten horns" describe the Antichrist.

v.5 Suggested reading for history students: The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop. This book connects ancient Babylon with the corrupt church.

v.6 "Admiration" here means "wonderment."

v.7 This church system will help the beast gain power.

v.9 The seven heads are the seven mountains upon which the city of Rome is built. The "woman" (false church) is based there.

v.10,11 When John was writing, the sixth king was on the throne of the Roman empire; five had died and one was yet to come. The beast will be one of the seven. Caesar Nero was the fifth emperor of Rome and was called "The Beast" by the early Church. His actions after he rejected Paul the apostle's witness were those of a demon-possessed man. In my opinion, the demon who possessed Nero will possess the Antichrist.

v.12 The "ten kings" are the nations of the Common Market (see Daniel 7).

v.13 The Common Market countries will need a strong leader, so they will give their power to the Antichrist.

v.18 Rome will come to prominence again during the reign of the Antichrist.

REVELATION 18: COMMERCIAL BABYLON FALLS

Though spiritual Babylon is identified as Rome, commercial Babylon isn't identified with a particular city. With the transfer of the world's wealth to the Middle East, some believe that the original Babylon will be rebuilt.

v.1-10 The destruction of commercial Babylon will be swift. In one hour it will be utterly burned. Since the onlookers will be "standing afar off for the fear of her torment," perhaps there will be radiation contamination.

v.20-24 While those on earth are mourning the fate of Babylon, heaven is rejoicing.

v.23 This verse speaks of the merchants. "By thy sorceries were all nations deceived" suggests a Madison Avenue-type advertising which makes people slaves to the acquisition of things.

REVELATION 19:

v.7 The "Lamb" is Jesus Christ, "wife" is the Church, and the wedding is finally taking place.

v.8 The "righteousness of the saints" is their faith in Jesus Christ.

v.10 John was so overwhelmed by what the angel was revealing to him that he began to worship the angel, who immediately stopped him. When the Holy Spirit speaks, He exalts Jesus Christ, never the instrument or the man. This is the sign of the true movement of God's Spirit. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" means that all prophecy has to do with Jesus Christ. He is the heart and soul of the Scriptures.

v.14 This army on white horses is the Church.

v.15 The Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword.

v.19 This is the "war" of Armageddon.

v.20 "Lake of fire" is referring to the Greek Gehenna.

REVELATION 20: THE JUDGMENTS

v.3 "The bottomless pit" is also called the abussos or shaft which goes from the surface to the center of the earth. Hades, in the center of the earth, is where dead men go; the abussos is where the demons go.

v.4 Those on the thrones of judgment may be the Church.

v.6 The Church will be in heavenly bodies and, thus, will not be subject to the deceptions of Satan.

v.7-9 Many people will choose to follow Satan, though they will have lived on earth during the reign of Christ. They will rebel against the "rod of iron"-the enforced righteousness that will characterize His reign.

v.10 "Forever and ever" is from the ages to the ages.

v.11-15 The great white throne judgment will not be for the Church.

v.12 The books that will be opened suggests that accounts of our actions are kept in heaven.

REVELATION 21: A NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH

v.11 "Jasper stone" is the diamond.

v.12 The number twelve is used often in the new city.

v.16 The new city will be about 1500 miles in a cube, so it may be built on many levels.

v.19-20 These stones were in the breastplates of the Jewish priests.

v.23 God will provide the light source for the new city.

REVELATION 22: THE SOON RETURN OF CHRIST

v.13 Jesus is speaking in this verse. The attributes of God are His, too.

v.19 Any man who adds to or subtracts from this book will be plagued and will lose his place in heaven.


Used With Permission

© The Word For Today. We thank Chuck Smith, The Word For Today and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for their permission to utilize this work.

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The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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