Quotes about Revelation:

"The Apocalypse of John has as many secrets as words." - Jerome, Ep. LXXX.9

"My spirit cannot accommodate itself to this book. There is one sufficient reason for the small esteem in which I hold it--that Christ is neither taught in it nor recognized." - Luther’s Works, Vol. 35, trans. C.M. Jacobs and E. T. Bachman (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1960) 399. Later in his life Luther came to have more appreciation for Revelation. Luther

"Revelation shows us beyond doubt that the New Testament is concerned, not merely with human existence, but at the same time with world history. It, therefore, asks everywhere: Whose is the world?" Ernst Käsemann, Jesus Means Freedom, p. 133

". . . any detailed analysis of the book of Revelation is somewhat arbitrary and in a sense a denial of its very quality as a literary text. An apocalyptic work seeks to stun its readers by the power of its vision so that the reader loses his fear of the present and is caught up in the hope for the future it presents." - Norman Perrin, The New Testament: An Introduction, p. 82

Examples from Art: 

I. Genre - Apocalypse with a letter frame inclusio

II. Historical Background

A. Time Reflected - conflict between Christians and Roman empire, martyrs mentioned, 666 (Neron Caesar?), beast, Nero redivivus, period of Domitian; possibly 64 to 100 CE. Likely mid-90's, near the end of the reign of Emperor Domitian (who died in 96 CE)

B. Authorship - John of Patmos; language freighted with allusions to Hebrew Bible, some semiticized Greek

C. Seven churches in Asia Minor -

III. Four Modes of Interpretation  - see Barr

A. Historical - reference to first century in coded language - 666 = Nero, 7 churches are 7 literal churches

B. Prophetic

1. Chronology of whole of human history in coded language - from John’s time in chapter one to the end of the age in chapter 22; 7 churches are seven ages or epochs through which the church will pass - the last church neither hot nor cold is like the mainline churches in the modern US; 666 is some future leader such as Hitler, etc.

2. Rev. 1-3 deal with first century; starting with 4:1 - refers to events of the end time

C. Symbolist - The historical view is right in that these symbols represent first century events and the prophetic view is correct in applying them to future historical events; but both are wrong in tying each symbol to some specific event. "Revelation is a book of timeless truths in symbolic form. The seven churches represent seven kinds of churches that exist in any age. 666 "is a human number" 13:18 Barr, p. 422.

D. Meaning Possible for 1st Century Readers as Scholars Reconstruct it.

E. Steno and Tensive Symbols

F.  Millenialism -

IV. Symbols

A. Numbers - See Barr 440-441

1. Gematria and Pythagorean system

2. Number 7 - 7 days of week; 7 in Philo - 7 neither begets nor is begotten; 7 as a number of completion, perfection

3. Number 6 falls short of seven

4. Number 10 - also a number of perfection; totality

5. Number 12 - number of the twelve tribes of Israel; "product of 3 and 4"

6. Number 3 "stands for the spiritual order"

7. Number 4 "stands for the created order"

B. Colors

White - victory

Red - war

Black - famine and suffering

Pale Green/Grey - death, rotten meat

Scarlet - distorted power, wealth, etc.

Purple - associated with royalty

C. Animals

1. Lamb - sacrificed; Jesus

2. Lion of Judah - kingly

3. Dragon - 12:1-12 - chaos monster

4. Beast from the sea - Rev. 13 - causes mark on right hand or forehead; beasts always evil

5. Horns represent rulers

6.  Eagle - victory, power

V. Outlines of Revelation

A. Felix Just - Suggested Practical Outline (; accessed 11-11-08)

PROLOGUE (1:1-8)

The Introduction of the Book (1:1-3)

An Epistolary Prescript (1:4-6)

Two Prophetic Sayings (1:7-8)


John's Inaugural Vision & Commission (1:9–3:22)

An Audition and Vision of the Risen Christ (1:9-20)

Seven Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia (2:1–3:22)

Ephesus (2:1-7)

Smyrna (2:8-11)

Pergamum (2:12-17)

Thyatira (2:18-29)

Sardis (3:1-6)

Philadephia (3:7-13)

Laodicea (3:14-22)

John's First Cycle of Visions in the Spirit (4:1–11:19)

Worship in the Heavenly Court (4:1-11)

The Scroll, the Lion of Judah, and the Lamb (5:1-14)

The Seven Seals (6:1–8:5)

The first four seals (6:1-8)

The fifth and sixth seals (6:9-17)

Two interrupting visions:

144,000 Israelites sealed by God (7:1-8)

Countless Gentiles robed in white (7:9-17)

The seventh seal and the angel with a golden censer (8:1-5)

The Seven Angels with Seven Trumpets (8:2–11:19)

The first four trumpets (8:2-12)

The fifth and sixth trumpets (8:13; 9:1-21)

Two interrupting visions:

An angel with a small scroll (10:1-11)

The temple and two witnesses (11:1-14)

The seventh trumpet (11:15-19)

John's Second Cycle of Visions in the Spirit (12:1–22:5)

Seven Symbolic Visions of the Past, Present & Future (12:1-15:4)

The Woman, the Child, and the Dragon (12:1-17)

The First Beast, from the Sea (13:1-10)

The Second Beast, from the Earth (13:11-18)

The Lamb and the 144,000 (14:1-5)

The Three Angels with Messages (14:6-13)

The Final Harvest and Vintage (14:14-20)

The Victory Song of Moses and of the Lamb (15:1-4)

Seven Angels with Seven Plagues (15:1–19:10)

The Seven Angels (15:1-8)

The Seven Bowls (16:1-21)

Elaboration on the Destruction of Babylon (17:1–19:10)

The whore on the scarlet beast: Rome (17:1-18)

The fall of Babylon: Rome's destruction (18:1-24)

The Rejoicing in Heaven (19:1-10)

Seven Visions of the Last Things (19:11–22:5)

The Coming of Christ, the Word of God (19:11-16)

The Invitation to a Great Banquet (19:17-18)

The Final Battle (19:19-21)

The Binding of Satan (20:1-3)

The Millennial Reign (20:4-10)

The Final Judgement (20:11-15)

The New Heaven, New Earth, New Jerusalem (21:1-8)

An Elaboration on the New Jerusalem (21:9–22:5)

EPILOGUE (22:6-21)

A Collection of Short Prophetic Sayings (22:6-20)

An Epistolary Benediction (22:21)

B. Barr -Revelation in Three Acts - 446-56 - Chart on 448

Intro to the Readers 1:1-11 - forms inclusio; Correspondences Table 13.4 in Barr, p. 450

Act One - The Letters - "Drama of the Messages" -The Revelation of Risen Christ - Seven Letters to Seven angels of Seven Churches 1:12-3:22; essentially 1-3

Act Two - "Drama of Heavenly Worship"/Liturgy 4:1-11:18; essentially 4-11

Lamb in Heavenly throne room unseals the scroll that reveals God’s will and judgement on evil

Act Three - "Drama of the Woman, the Dragon, and the Warrior"

11:19-22:5 or essentially 12-22

Dragon Wars on the Elect - Divine Warrior Defeats the Dragon, Prostitute replaced by Bride - small scroll John must eat in 10:2 foreshadows Act Three

Beast harks back to Daniel - animalistic character of the empires and the humaness of Israel;

Rome, the beast demands the loyalty that should be given to God. Who will you worship? Mark of the beast (Rome) or mark of God. "To worship the beast is to bruise the heel of the son; to worship Christ is to crush the head of the serpent "(Gen. 3:15; Barr, 455)

"War to conquer the hearts of minds of the people of Asia Minor" for Christ or for Empire

Contrast between the whore of Babylon (Rome) and the Virgin Bride (the New Jerusalem)

Vision of the Prostitute 17-18

with scenes of judgement 19:1-21:8

Appearance of the Divine Warrior and Judge in 19:11-16

The cosmic warfare in 19:19-21

The Coronation of the Proper King 20:1-6

The Fixing of Destinies-Judgement of the Dead 20:11-15

Vision of the Bride 21:9-22:5

with scenes of restoration 21:22-22:5

The Divine Marriage 21:1-22:5 -

Wedding between the Lamb and the City (Jerusalem where God dwells, heaven, and the Garden of Eden - Enzeit=Urzeit. - Zion)

God’s kingdom is very different from the kingdom of the beast. The people are not subjugated, but share God’s rule.

Closing to Readers 22:6-20 - forms inclusio

Barr on the Three Acts: "Each act reveals the hidden dimension of life in which the kingdom of God is realized: Jesus comes to his churches, enables the cosmic worship of God to persist, and overthrows the work of the evil one." (Barr, 457) "These are three dimension of the work of Christ, not three consecutive actions. Each reveals the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection." (457)

Experiencing the Apocalypse- Barr, p. 465-66

Past, present, and future eschatology - a new vision of life; giving meaning to the suffering of their faithful witness


Works Cited

David L. Barr. The New Testament Story: An Introduction. 4th edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2008.

Jerome, Ep. LXXX.9 

Felix Just.; accessed 11-11-08)

Ernst Käsemann, Jesus Means Freedom, p. 133

Martin Luther. Luther’s Works, Vol. 35, trans. C.M. Jacobs and E. T. Bachman (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1960) 399.

Norman Perrin. The New Testament: An Introduction.  Harcourt Brace, 1974. 

Mark Allan Powell, Introducing the New Testament.  Baker Academic, 2009.