The audience of this book: (1) Christians in the 7 churches who were experiencing the Roman persecution under Domitian in Asia, and (2) the next few generations of Christians who would experience far worse persecution by the Romans.
Some interpret the book of Revelation as containing a strictly chronological account of yet-future events. I see no reason to interpret it this way and doing so leads to the most impossible of interpretations. I consider this book to be a collection of unrelated visions about a variety of topics in similar format as the book of Zechariah.
Key words and topics...
|mark of the beast||7 seals||sea||third beast|
|first beast||7 trumpets||death||great city|
|false prophet||7 bowls||hell||cataclysms|
|lake of fire||bottomless pit||Babylon|
(Revelation 1:1) 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:
Notice the sequence of events: God the Father gave the Revelation to Jesus Christ, who gave it to an angel, who gave it to the apostle John, who wrote it down for us. Angels seem to be in the middle of nearly every interaction between God and his creation.
The audience of this book is the servants of God; Christians at large and their leaders.
The things described in this book would shortly come to pass, from the time John wrote it in 96 A.D. Many prophetic passages of both Old and New Testaments use words such as "soon", "quickly", "at hand" to describe the urgency of the message and to indicate that judgment occurs at death for each of us — and death does come soon; for some sooner than for others.
Shortly come to pass: Many of the images in this book occurred previous to its writing or would occur within the subsequent several hundred years with persecution and martyrdom of Christians. The yet-future images concern the events relating to the phases of the second coming of Christ; there is no Antichrist, no Great Tribulation, no 1,000 year utopian millennium, certainly no rapture. There will yet be ecological disaster with anarchy, brutality, and terrorist wars. Finally, just as Christ begins to manifest his second coming, there will be war directed against Israel (and other places having Christians).
My view of how divine revelation from God to humans via a prophet works: The Spirit of God plants ideas, thoughts, and concepts in the mind of the prophet who passes them along using their own thinking, modes of thought, personality, character, and etc. Sometimes the divine revelation consists in specific words in the language of the prophet that they pass on word for word.
(Revelation 1:2) Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
(Revelation 1:3) 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.
The time is at hand: The prophecies regarding persecution and martyrdom of Christians would occur soon, in the next few hundred years.
(Revelation 1:4) John to the seven  churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven  Spirits which are before his throne;
The audience of the book of Revelation is those Christian's of John's day in the seven churches he had charge over; those of the Roman province of Asia in the western part of modern-day Turkey. Therefore, we should expect the book to address topics of interest to them. This is where the emperor Domitian's persecutions predominately took place and we should expect persecution to be a major theme.
(Revelation 1:5) And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
(Revelation 1:6) And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
(Revelation 1:7) Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
How is it possible for Jesus to come back to this world in such a way that every one will see him and he will come out of the clouds? It's not possible if we imagine it similar to an airplane coming out of the clouds when landing. People often say it will be on TV but I don't think so.
What I think will happen is Jesus will appear with global apparitions over the period of perhaps months. The clouds will not be physical clouds at all (yes, there will be clouds and lightning and such) but a hazy gauzy unfocused light as the spiritual realm opens up as a window into this world. As the souls of the viewers become more attuned to the spiritual realm with the senses following, they will perceive spiritual phenomena with spiritual eyes, having a physical corresponding interaction with the senses experienced by the soul attached to the body, much as when John the Apostle saw the visions of the book of Revelation, or any Old Testament or New Testament prophet. The prophets really saw them with a spiritual component as with all apparitions. The ascension of Jesus into heaven was similar but localized, quicker, much less pervasive.
(Revelation 1:8) I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
(Revelation 1:9) I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
I believe John is saying he is a prisoner on Patmos. Whether he has complete freedom or whether he is working at hard labor, a certain death sentence, is the question.
John knows about the persecution of Christians first hand.
John likely did not dictate the book of Revelation to a scribe because the prison on the island of Patmos would not accommodate visits by others as in the case of Paul's house arrest. But somehow John had to obtain the parchment, ink, and quills to write with; then smuggle the book off the island.
(Revelation 1:10) I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
In chapter 4 John is transported into the spiritual realm. Here, he is merely "in the Spirit", having visions and seeing apparitions. I doubt if Charismatics who claim to be "in the Spirit" are experiencing anything like what John was.
(Revelation 1:11) Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven  churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
John was to write down his visions and send it to the seven Churches of the Roman province of Asia. This implies several things...
The book of Revelation is rooted and grounded in these churches and in their time, their era. It explores topics concerning them: persecution from the Romans in the present and in the near future, the fate of the Roman empire, and the eternal future for followers of Jesus. Thinking it's about a yet-future "great tribulation" and 1,000 year utopian millennium is nonsense.
(Revelation 1:12) And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven  golden candlesticks;
(Revelation 1:13) And in the midst of the seven  candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt [encircled] about the paps [chest] with a golden girdle [sash].
Notice in this vision of Jesus, he is described as like the "son of man", in other words, he had a human form. Jesus often used this phrase to refer to himself. The Old Testament uses this phrase to refer to a human, a person. This phrase is not always used to refer to Jesus but when it does it indicates that, as deity, he took on human nature as part of the divine nature; he "deified" human nature. In this sense, us redeemed humans will someday have some of the same attributes as deity; we will be "deified". This idea stems from eastern theology; I mean from the eastern half of the catholic church, not from Asia or India.
I admit the idea of "deification" of humanity is a horrifying idea to most Protestants but it should not be. It doesn't mean humans are deity. It does mean that the resurrected glorified body of Jesus is in some way imbued with deity — after all, Jesus, as deity, has this body, it is part of his nature, part of who he is. When we take on a resurrected glorified body in the new heavens and new earth we will also take on this aspect of "deified" human nature. (Protestants seem to often jump to wrong conclusions about such subtleties and castigate those discussing such things, usually brashly denouncing them as teaching such-and-such when, in reality, they teach no such thing. This is somewhat rude and uncultured. To prove I am correct in my assessment — Protestants insist the Catholic Church teaches you are saved by works. It simply does not teach this.)
(Revelation 1:14) His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
(Revelation 1:15) And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
A similar description as the transfiguration of Jesus. Apparitions are often accompanied by light and sounds. The New Testament describes many cases of angels appearing and people would fall to the ground terrified. When we see into the spiritual realm our physical senses are overwhelmed. The senses of our spiritual body can tolerate these kinds of inputs.
(Revelation 1:16) And he had in his right hand seven  stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
Why should we interpret part of this vision literally but other parts figuratively? It is all literal. There literally was a two-edged sword coming from Jesus' mouth. We want to interpret this sword as symbolic, and yes, it is symbolic. The image means the words coming from Jesus cut away error. But John literally sees the sword, it is not a mere symbol. He is seeing a vision from the spiritual realm; in the spiritual realm, symbols are real, they have a tangible substance. Thus, we should expect to see unicorns in the spiritual realm.
Jesus has 7 stars in his right hand; these are identified as the angels of the 7 churches, of the 7 specific churches of John's oversight. It does not say the stars are symbols of the churches; that Jesus is carrying symbols in his hand. And how can anyone carry around a symbol? You can have a statue of a crucifix which represents the event of the crucifixion; but the crucifix is an actual object having symbolic meaning; the crucifix itself is not a symbol. Thus, the number 7 is not a symbol, it is a number. It has symbolic meaning, but meaning resides in the spiritual realm whereas some objects having symbolic meaning, such as a crucifix, reside in the physical realm.
Anyway, the point of the 7 stars in Jesus' hand: even though these 7 churches in the Roman provence of Asia are under the care of the apostle John, Jesus has them in his hand. Jesus is the ruler of the Church. Church leaders are merely caretakers, stewards of something belonging to Jesus.
(Revelation 1:17) And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
The first words angels usually say are, "fear not".
(Revelation 1:18) I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Normally we think of a key as unlocking a door. In Isaiah chapter 22 we see the key of the house of David locking or unlocking the doors of political rulership. In the spiritual realm these are literal keys literally locking and unlocking spiritual doors, but I shall not belabor the point.
So how do hell and death have associated keys? Do they have doors which can't be opened until unlocked? Usually people assume the image of the keys in this verse means: (1) Jesus controls who will enter hell, and (2) he will finally abolish death; but this verse doesn't actually say this. In chapter 20 we see the great white throne judgment: those in hell and death are delivered up for judgment; death and hell are both cast into the lake of fire. Doesn't match the usual teaching of the verse at hand.
Other examples of keys...
I conclude from all of this: the spiritual realm, the realm of life and living, has various compartments having doors with keys. Someone (a spirit being, meaning, an angel, or a person having a soul in the spiritual realm), someone has the keys, and only they can allow others to enter or exit. Every person and every angel, good and bad, can be locked in or out of somewhere; can have keys to something.
Considering all this, it would appear that death and hell are two compartments, two places in the spiritual realm; the wicked when they die end up in the place named hell, the righteous when they die end up in the place named death. At the great white throne judgment Jesus lets all these souls loose for final judgment. Nothing is ever destroyed in the spiritual realm, so, once the places named hell and death are no longer needed, they are cast into the lake of fire — the lake of fire seems to be another place in the spiritual realm containing eternally damned souls and, apparently, other spiritual realms such as hell and death.
There is a verse in Matthew where Jesus hints at this understanding of the word "death" as a place in the spiritual realm, a place influenced by Satan, his kingdom of darkness. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, everyone has lived there, in this place named "death", in the realm of death.
This place named "death" in the spiritual realm is a bubble sealed off from the direct presence of God. God can't look upon sin so he interacts only indirectly with those inside this bubble (all of humanity and all the wicked spirits). Jesus invaded this bubble and made his presence, the presence of God, felt more directly. How could Jesus enter this realm of evil without violating God's repulsion of sin? Only by receiving on his person the judgment for sin, by creating a safe zone inside the kingdom of darkness, a bubble within a bubble. A verse in John mentions that the redeemed don't see death, in other words, they reside in the kingdom of God, this bubble within a bubble.
Satan once had direct access to God from this place named "death" but has since been constrained as he fell from heaven. How could Satan ever have access to God since he is so sinful and evil and wicked? God is repulsed by all this. I suppose this will be part of Satan's judgment, that he had access to God while hating him, that he insulted God's mercy.
(Revelation 1:19) Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
(Revelation 1:20) The mystery of the seven  stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven  golden candlesticks. The seven  stars are the angels of the seven  churches: and the seven  candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven  churches.
Some claim the word "angel" refers to the pastor of the church. It could mean several things...
Only option 1 makes sense since the letters are exhorting change from everyone in the church, not merely the leader.
They form a clockwise flattened circle standing on its point from Ephesus or from Patmos. Probably these were the Churches the apostle John had charge over, each having a bishop (a star in Jesus' hand). He probably made the journey between these Churches in the exact sequence many times before; it's about 400 miles to make the whole loop. Maybe it would take a couple months by foot if he stopped for a couple of days in each Church, but he was likely 85 years old; maybe that's why he wrote letters instead (ignoring he was banished on the Island of Patmos).
A summary of the various images used as greetings from above included in the letters to the 7 Churches...
|7 stars in right hand||Yes||Ephesus, Sardis|
|walks among golden candlesticks||Yes||Ephesus|
|the first and the last||Yes||Smyrna|
|was dead, and is alive||Yes||Smyrna|
|sharp two-edged sword||Yes||Pergamum|
|eyes like a flame of fire||Yes||Thyatira|
|feet like fine brass||Yes||Thyatira|
|7 Spirits of God||Yes||Sardis|
|holy and true||No||Philadelphia|
|has the key of David||No||Philadelphia|
|opens and no one shuts; shuts and no one opens||No||Philadelphia|
|the faithful and true witness||Yes||Laodicea|
|the beginning of the creation||Yes||Laodicea|
Additional images included as conclusion of each of the letters to the 7 Churches, for those who overcome...
|eat of the tree of life in paradise||Ephesus|
|not be hurt by the 2nd death||Smyrna|
|eat the hidden manna||Pergamum|
|a white stone with a new name written on it; only the one receiving it can read it||Pergamum|
|power over the nations and etc.||Thyatira|
|the morning star||Thyatira|
|wear white clothes||Sardis|
|not blot out his name from the book of life||Sardis|
|will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels||Sardis|
|make him a pillar in the temple of God||Philadelphia|
|he will go out no more||Philadelphia|
|will write the name of God upon him, and the name of the city of God (new Jerusalem which comes down from heaven)||Philadelphia|
|will write upon him my new name||Philadelphia|
|to sit with me in my throne, even as I sit with my Father in his throne||Laodicea|
(Revelation 2:1) Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
(Revelation 2:2) I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
The Catholic Church has failed this test. It rarely addresses discipline issues with its leadership and usually only when the problem has become very large or when there are lawsuits involved.
(Revelation 2:3) And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
(Revelation 2:4) Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
(Revelation 2:5) Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
This happened with the Catholic Church. The Protestant Reformation was Christ's judgment on the Catholic Church.
God can remove Churches and Christian communities from the pages of history, or at least add them to the list considered as non-Christian. For example, liberal churches and others proclaiming a false gospel are not really Christian Churches at all even though these groups exist and claim to be Christian. On rare occasions, some groups have modified their doctrine and become truly Christian. Not everyone agrees on which groups are Christian and which are not.
(Revelation 2:6) But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
(Revelation 2:7) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
John mentions the tree of life in the new heavens and new earth before he mentions the new heavens and new earth. Perhaps his audience had already learned about this topic and he assumed they knew about it already?
Perhaps in the new heavens and new earth we will have a new celebration with which we worship God: eating of the tree of life. Perhaps it will be like communion in which we each go up and partake. Imagine when Adam and Eve finally partake of it.
(Revelation 2:8) And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
(Revelation 2:9) I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
(Revelation 2:10) Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
The word "death" refers to physically dying; the soul leaves the body and the body stops functioning as a result.
The phrase "some of you" indicates that the word "angel" refers to the whole body of Christians at that local church, not just the pastor.
(Revelation 2:11) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
(Revelation 2:12) And to the angel of the church in Pergamos [Pergamum] write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
(Revelation 2:13) I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
(Revelation 2:14) But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
The doctrine of Balaam is to corrupt God's people with the depraved culture around them. The historic Church is guilty of this; it has cast a stumbling block upon its members in many ways and in many times.
(Revelation 2:15) So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
(Revelation 2:16) Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
(Revelation 2:17) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
(Revelation 2:18) And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
(Revelation 2:19) I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
(Revelation 2:20) Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest [tolerate] that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
I favor option 2. Perhaps she thought it was OK to be a pagan and a Christian at the same time, similar to liberal Christians who think all religions lead to the same place. In the early days of the Church, prophets and prophetesses were very active; only later the bishops usurp all Church leadership authority. Notice that Jesus doesn't here object to women teaching or being prophetesses.
The question is what the word "fornicate" means. I prefer a strictly literal interpretation but notice that eating food sacrificed to idols as part of a pagan religious celebration is associated with the word "fornicate". From the Old Testament we see that the word "fornicate" literally means to turn from God and participate in pagan religious practices.
(Revelation 2:21) And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
(Revelation 2:22) Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
The question is what the word "adultery" means. I prefer a strictly literal interpretation but even so this doesn't necessarily mean the word here refers to violating the marriage covenant. From the Old Testament we see that the words "adultery" and "harlot" literally mean unfaithfulness to the Lord.
Some interpret the word "fornicate" in verse 20 as referring to sexual activity, but this verse refutes that: it is unlikely that the problem at this Church was that many members of the congregation were having relations outside of marriage with Jezebel. That would make her a prostitute rather than a prophetess.
I suppose you could say the phrase "with her" means they were all having adulterous relationships as Jezebel was, but not necessarily with Jezebel. This implies they were all married and found willing partners; maybe among each other? Anyway, the whole idea is rather farfetched in my opinion.
The word "bed" probably refers to sickness.
(Revelation 2:23) And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
(Revelation 2:24) But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
(Revelation 2:25) But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
(Revelation 2:26) And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
(Revelation 2:27) And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
Notice from the previous verse, it is the redeemed who are referred to as ruling with a rod of iron. The image of "rod of iron" refers to rulership, not judgment.
(Revelation 2:28) And I will give him the morning star.
(Revelation 2:29) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
(Revelation 3:1) And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
(Revelation 3:2) Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
(Revelation 3:3) Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
(Revelation 3:4) Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
(Revelation 3:5) He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
(Revelation 3:6) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
(Revelation 3:7) And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
(Revelation 3:8) I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
(Revelation 3:9) Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
(Revelation 3:10) Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
(Revelation 3:11) Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
(Revelation 3:12) Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
The redeemed become pillars of the temple. This temple is in the spiritual realm. The spiritual realm is like the dream world or the world of cartoons in which the most magical of events can occur. Notice we have a spiritual body in the spiritual realm. People usually interpret images such as these figuratively but doing so renders them meaningless, after all, what possible meaning could it possibly have for there to be a figurative temple having figurative pillars composed of the figurative redeemed? I prefer a literal interpretation of an actual structure in the spiritual realm composed of living entities (humans) like a coral reef or some such (but we are not trapped there like in a prison). Being united with God has a real and tangible effect in the spiritual realm; he will build his temple from us rather than using mere stones and wood.
(Revelation 3:13) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
(Revelation 3:14) And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
(Revelation 3:15) I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert [were] cold or hot.
Our works can be hot, cold, or lukewarm. It's hard to imagine why cold works are a good thing; people often claim it's better to be struggling against God than ignoring him. But notice: both kinds of drink, hot and cold, are good. For example, hot tea or cold fruit juice. Since they didn't have refrigerators or ice cubes back then, the cold drink must be either cold mountain water or liquid left outside during the cold nights. In any case, "hot" does not mean "on fire" for God, and "cold" does not mean struggling against God. Both hot and cold drinks are those requiring careful preparation whereas lukewarm drinks are those merely left sitting around at room temperature, neglected and uncared for.
(Revelation 3:16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue [spew] thee out of my mouth.
(Revelation 3:17) Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
(Revelation 3:18) I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment [clothing], that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Their spiritual bodies need to be covered in the spiritual realm. The perfect condition for us is to be wealthy, clothed, and able to see. Spiritual blindness causes the spiritual body to lose these capabilities. There will be no poverty in the new heavens and new earth. Poverty in this world is caused by humans exploiting others and taking away from them what should rightfully be theirs.
(Revelation 3:19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
(Revelation 3:20) 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.
Jesus calls everyone to salvation, but not all receive him. He continually knocks but we must answer. Some don't hear the knocking because their lives are so full of materialistic and self-centered pursuits. Sin makes us hard of hearing.
Jesus stands at a literal door, literally knocking — this image is not figurative but strictly literal. In the spiritual realm, our spiritual body is in a room with a door and Jesus knocks on it continually. This spiritual body corresponds to our physical body and is able to experience multiple realities at once, just as our dream body can. (In fact, our dream body is just one facet of our spiritual body.) In the spiritual realm there are many interactions, such as the door, going on at once; each is highly symbolic but, nonetheless, real. I reject the philosophical notion of forms; philosophical constructs such as these are, in reality, real and tangible aspects of the spiritual realm.
In eating with Jesus we are saved. This is one of the many kinds of interactions we can have with Jesus. This is the importance of the Eucharist in Church. In fact, it is the only way in which the presence of Christ, in fact the very body and blood of Christ, becomes truly present in this world.
(Revelation 3:21) 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 3:22) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
John's soul, his spirit, was transported to a higher realm of heaven, of the spiritual realm (as was Paul). In this realm, God was visible in the form of various symbols, as were the angels. In the new heavens and new earth we will have access to this realm of heaven.
God in his essence can never be seen by humans (or angels) but we can see various manifested forms of his in the various spiritual realms. I think these provide the basis for various images of God in the various world religions. (Note: I am not claiming that all these religions validly express the truth about God — salvation comes through no other name than Jesus Christ and everyone will ultimately encounter him.)
The events in the remainder of the book of Revelation occur in the spiritual realm. These events trickle down to the physical realm but John is describing what occurs in the spiritual realm, not the physical realm.
(Revelation 4:1) After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
(Revelation 4:2) And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
(Revelation 4:3) And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
(Revelation 4:4) And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
(Revelation 4:5) And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
(Revelation 4:6) And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
(Revelation 4:7) And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
(Revelation 4:8) And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
(Revelation 4:9) And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
(Revelation 4:10) The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
(Revelation 4:11) Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
This scroll has something very significant written inside. All 7 seals must first be removed by someone authorized to do so before the contents can be read.
The 7 seals are the various kinds of struggles built-in to this world. Seals 1–5 have been occurring since the fall; seals 6 and 7 are yet-future...
|1st Seal||Power-crazed generals such as Nimrod, Alexander the Great, and Hitler conquer everybody they can leading to war, death, and calamity.|
|2nd Seal||Civil wars by various factions within a nation forcing people to choose sides and fight their own families.|
|3rd Seal||Economic hard times affecting primarily the poor and disadvantaged.|
|4th Seal||Death to all creatures.|
|5th Seal||Persecution and martyrdom for those of all eras seeking God.|
|6th Seal||The final global destruction, the grand finale including the phases of Christ's 2nd coming, the disintegration of the world as Christ returns, the great white throne judgment. The 7 Trumpets and 7 Bowls all occur during the 6th Seal.|
|7th Seal||And finally, peace. The noise and cacophony finally ends. The new heavens and new earth.|
(Revelation 5:1) And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book [scroll] written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
The question is, "when do we get to read what is contained in the scroll?" The purpose of seals on a scroll is to ensure unauthorized people don't read it and to certify who is the author. Only when all 7 seals are removed can the scroll be opened and read. This occurs after the second coming of Christ (the events of most of the book of Revelation occur before the 7th seal is removed).
We never do hear about the contents of the scroll. This is odd considering the emphasis given to opening it and that only Jesus can open it. You would think there would be a verse later saying, "and here is what the scroll said."
(Revelation 5:2) And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
(Revelation 5:3) And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
(Revelation 5:4) And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
(Revelation 5:5) And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
(Revelation 5:6) And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
The image of Christ as a lamb that was slaughtered — John sees a literal lamb in the spiritual realm, and this lamb is Christ. Notice in the spiritual realm, in this compartment having God's presence sitting on his throne, there is the image of death and redemption. This is the image of the sacrificial worship by the 144,000 in the new heavens and new earth. Do we really expect Christ to someday abandon this sacrificial aspect of his nature, of the human nature he willingly took on?
I should note that I do not interpret this verse figuratively but strictly literally. In the spiritual realm symbols are literally real and living. For example, Christ is literally a lamb as if slain. (He is many other things besides this.) Jesus takes many forms in the spiritual realm including a slain lamb.
In the new heavens and new earth there will be a literal temple in Jerusalem with animal sacrifices, priests, rituals and rites. However, animals will not be killed; Jesus' sacrifice on the cross will be the sacrifice they offer just as during the Eucharist.
(Revelation 5:7) And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
(Revelation 5:8) And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials [bowls] full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
(Revelation 5:9) And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
(Revelation 5:10) And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
(Revelation 5:11) And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
(Revelation 5:12) Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
(Revelation 5:13) And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
The implicit understanding of this verse (and much of the book of Revelation) by many moderns is that it is totally a work of fiction, a fabrication, an inspiring movie, but that the plot and characters are inventions; that there are no 24 elders or 4 beasts; that certainly every living creature doesn't sing songs. And that yes, there really are angels and they do the kind of thing described here, but these particular angels are only fictional. I reject this view preferring, instead, that every experienced event, including those of dreams and imaginations, actually occur in the spiritual realm. Thus, Toonland and Wile E. Coyote and Darth Vadar really do exist.
So where and when do the actions of this verse occur? All we can know about it is...
The question is whether the creatures in heaven are the angels or birds. Since the angels were already referred to in verse 11, this verse probably refers to the birds that fly in the sky, also known as the heavens.
How is it possible that animals worship God yet their souls are annihilated at death? And how is it possible for mountains and rocks to worship God unless they have souls? In my view, all created things have a soul. Not all souls are alike; the soul of a human is different than the soul of a sea gull or a mountain.
(Revelation 5:14) And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
(Revelation 6:1) And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
(Revelation 6:2) And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
(Revelation 6:3) And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
(Revelation 6:4) And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.
(Revelation 6:5) And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
(Revelation 6:6) And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
(Revelation 6:7) And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
(Revelation 6:8) And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
(Revelation 6:9) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
The question is whether these are Christians or whether they include those from Old Testament times (who also had the word of God).
(Revelation 6:10) And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
(Revelation 6:11) And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
They have no physical body (because they were martyred) but yet they have a body to wear a robe. This means we have a spiritual body in addition to our physical body, and this spiritual body persists after death.
The 6th seal encompasses all the tribulations before and during the second coming of Christ as well as the great white throne judgment. It is the grand finale including the phases of Christ's 2nd coming, the disintegration of the world as Christ returns, the great white throne judgment. The 7 trumpets and 7 bowls all occur within the 6th seal.
But there are many digressions and vignettes back to historical events before Christ, during Christ, the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., the persecution of Christians by the Romans (yet-future when John wrote this), even references to the fall of the western Roman Empire.
(Revelation 6:12) 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;
The moon turned red, like blood. This occurs when there is dust or pollution in the air increasing the scattering of the light. The blue light scatters more than the red light so when you look at the moon only the red light reaches your eyes.
The sun became dark, perhaps a solar eclipse. It's hard to imagine how there could be enough dust or smoke or fog in the air to block the sun (and why doesn't it mention darkness?) yet allow the moon to still be seen. Perhaps this occurs over a period of time and conditions change; as the dust settles or is blown away the moon becomes visible. Perhaps the sun sets before the moon becomes visible.
(Revelation 6:13) 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.
These signs in the heavens and on earth are so severe that none could possibly survive them — therefore they refer to the final destruction of the earth and final judgment.
(Revelation 6:14) And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
This is the final destruction of this world before the great white throne judgment.
(Revelation 6:15) And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
The events of preceding verses occur over an extended time period. The people living at the time respond in various ways.
The events occurring here are all in the spiritual realm. The people referred to are the spiritual bodies of the souls of the people referred to. Perhaps these events are the panicky dreams of those who are afraid for their future and who notice the events of the phases of the second coming of Christ.
This reminds me of cave man days before there were castles and cities.
(Revelation 6:16) And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
(Revelation 6:17) For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
(Revelation 7:1) And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
Notice it doesn't say these events occur after those preceding but, rather, that John's vision of these occurred afterward; perhaps days or weeks afterward.
This occurs just before the events of the preceeding verses; these events are prerequisites for the preceeding. God won't start the devastation beginning with the phases of Christ's 2nd coming until he has sealed the 144,000.
A new scene. John has probably spent several days in the quarry since his visions of chapter 6. The book of Revelation is not a strictly chronological narrative but is, rather, a series of unrelated visions as are the visions of Zechariah. There is no need to try to fit each subsequent vision into ever smaller and smaller timeframes — John narrates the end of the world and the second coming of Christ multiple times throughout the book.
John mention 4 things of the earth, of the physical realm: (1) earth, (2) sea, (3) trees, (4) wind. As we learn from the next 2 verses, holding back the winds in some way harms earth, sea, and trees.
The phrase "4 corners of the earth" is an idiom based on the human body: front, back, two sides. The earth doesn't have corners and John didn't think it does. There are 4 directions, forming a square; squares have corners. These angels were probably standing in 90 degree angles with each other; this is why John referred to them as being at the corners.
John is seeing these visions in the spiritual realm so these images all reside in the spiritual realm. But even though the earth, sea, trees, and wind he sees are all in the spiritual realm, they correspond to the actual earth, sea, trees, and wind in the physical world. Just as we have a (real) dream body and a real physical body, so also everything in the physical realm has a corresponding copy in the spiritual realm. When things happen with the spiritual copy, there is some sort of corresponding manifestation in the physical world, with the physical body. So when the wind stops blowing, something bad is going to happen here on earth.
(Revelation 7:2) And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
(Revelation 7:3) Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
We should wonder why they were sealed? Perhaps to protect them from the bad effects of what is about to occur. Or perhaps to indicate these were chosen and sealed long before, perhaps when Israel was at the height of its glory.
(Revelation 7:4) And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand [144,000] of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
These 144,000 are Jews. Perhaps these had died, then accepted Christ at death or when he preached to the captives. They wished to live as Jewish Christians in the land of Israel for all eternity in the new heavens and new earth.
(Revelation 7:5) Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.
(Revelation 7:6) Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
(Revelation 7:7) Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.
(Revelation 7:8) Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
This is the great white throne judgment from the perspective of the redeemed. In purgatory we address the consequences of our own sin, at the great white throne judgment the effects on us of the sins of others.
(Revelation 7:9) After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
(Revelation 7:10) And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
(Revelation 7:11) And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
(Revelation 7:12) Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
(Revelation 7:13) And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
(Revelation 7:14) And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Some translations say "the great tribulation" but the word "the" is not in the text.
(Revelation 7:15) Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
(Revelation 7:16) They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
This doesn't mean to say there is no sun in the new heavens and new earth but, rather, no scorching heat causing sunburns, even death. We can eat in the new heavens and new earth and will have bodily desires such as hunger and thirst (among others). But these will not include pain and suffering.
(Revelation 7:17) For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
(Revelation 8:1) And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
The new heavens and new earth. It is mentioned only briefly here; later near the end of the book there are several chapters about the topic. It is so stunning in comparison to the nonsense that just occurred, everyone sits there in dumbfounded amazement. The 7 seals are now all removed but the scroll is not yet opened.
The remainder of the tribulations in the book of Revelation are all part of the 6th seal.
The 7 Trumpets are all the tribulations before and during the second coming of Christ and the great white throne judgment. It is the grand finale including the phases of Christ's 2nd coming, the disintegration of the world as Christ returns, the great white throne judgment. The 7 Trumpets are the same events as the 7 Bowls.
(Revelation 8:2) And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
(Revelation 8:3) And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
If they use incense with censers in heaven, shouldn't we use it in church? Isn't church supposed to bring us into God's presence?
(Revelation 8:4) And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
(Revelation 8:5) And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
Satan (formerly named Lucifer, renamed to Satan at his fall) has power over the earth. Before the fall of Lucifer, God gave him creative power and he participated with God in designing and creating the universe. After his fall, Satan corrupted the universe and the spiritual realm associated with it such that it would be a place of suffering and pain. The animals eat each other and die as a result of Satan's influence. In the new heavens and new earth there will be no more pain, suffering, or death.
The 7 trumpet judgments are those caused by Satan's influence on the world and includes physical hardship, spiritual blindness, and, ultimately, eternal damnation.
The first 4 trumpet judgments are those physical hardships resulting in famine, disease, etc. due to bad weather, political unjustice and oppression, etc.
(Revelation 8:6) And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
These judgments of thirds are based on Ezekiel; the first third is the judgment (fire), the second third is the death of many (sword), the final third is the scattering of the survivors. In the trumpet judgments it appears that the first third is what is in mind; the judgment itself, ignoring its impact on the people judged.
(Revelation 8:7) The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
(Revelation 8:8) And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
(Revelation 8:9) And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
1/3 fish, 1/3 ships. The creatures in the sea are fish and other creatures that live in the ocean. The ships were destroyed by the tsunamis and falling lava caused by this event. These ships were probably close to shore since the lava from the mountains were on land. The ships of those days probably remained close to shore.
(Revelation 8:10) And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
1/3 rivers, springs
(Revelation 8:11) And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
1/3 drinking water
Wormwood is a bush similar to sagebrush.
(Revelation 8:12) And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
1/3 sun, 1/3 moon, 1/3 stars
(Revelation 8:13) And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
Woe: they would experience extreme grief from their impending calamity; ultimately from not being redeemed from their sins.
The 1st woe concerns God's judgment throughout history on those who have rejected God.
(Revelation 9:1) And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
Heaven and the bottomless pit are both in the spiritual realm, therefore the word "earth" also refers to a place in the spiritual realm. This means there is a physical earth and a spiritual earth. All these events are occurring in the various spiritual realms and having a corresponding influence in the physical realm. But really, all of life exists in the spiritual ream anyway.
(Revelation 9:2) And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
People usually imagine a shaft down to the center of the earth or something like that. A better image would be a wormhole in the spiritual realm connecting a hell-like realm of pure wickedness with the realm of human souls, this realm having an earth and sun and air.
(Revelation 9:3) And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
The power these locusts have is the power to harm or kill humans, just as scorpions have this power. Events in the spiritual realm have impacts in the physical realm. I think when people take drugs that make them crazy or kill them, there is a spiritual component to the drug.
(Revelation 9:4) And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
The wicked powers of darkness in the spiritual realm are powerless to spiritually harm those who are sealed by God; those who have given their lives over to God; who trust in God for their redemption. When a person does this, God seals them just as he seals a new Christian when they are baptized.
(Revelation 9:5) And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
(Revelation 9:6) And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
The word "death" refers to physically dying.
(Revelation 9:7) And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.
The spiritual influence of the wicked spirit beings leads men into wars. Men are compelled to follow political rulers into battle, even if they don't truly believe in the cause.
(Revelation 9:8) And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
These wicked spirits took on the form of those they possessed over the millennia.
Men are persecuted by unscrupulous tyrants (lions). These lions are strictly literal — notice that in Psalms 57:4 that the lions vex the author's soul, therefore, these lions are in the spiritual realm. Just as the bread and wine of the Eucharist literally become the body and blood of Christ, just so the souls of wicked men who persecute and vex others become lions.
(Revelation 9:9) And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.
(Revelation 9:10) And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
(Revelation 9:11) And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.
This verse proves I'm right; that the first woe occurs in the spiritual realm, bringing people nightmares so severe they want to die.
(Revelation 9:12) One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
The 2nd woe concerns God's judgment throughout history on unbelieving Israel culminating in the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 A.D. When John wrote the book of Revelation in 96 A.D. this had all already occurred in the past.
(Revelation 9:13) And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
(Revelation 9:14) Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
(Revelation 9:15) And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.
1/3 men killed
I question whether these angels are good angels or bad angels. It seems that some of the angels in the book of Revelation (and the Old Testament) do tremendous damage, hardly what we would expect from holy creatures devoted to God. I think God allows evil creatures to inflict destruction on those who reject his protective grace.
We should wonder who prepared these angels for this brief task? And what did they do before and after this task? Merely wait patiently? Perhaps they had other tasks as well?
(Revelation 9:16) And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand [200 million]: and I heard the number of them.
The text has "2 10,000 10,000". I'm not convinced this means we are to multiply to get 200 million. I doubt they dealt with numbers that large back then. The largest number they had a word for was 10,000. Perhaps they merely string together impressive numbers to highlight the awesomeness, in this case: not merely 10,000 (the largest number), but 10,000 10,000, in fact twice that.
(Revelation 9:17) And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.
(Revelation 9:18) By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.
1/3 men killed
(Revelation 9:19) For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.
(Revelation 9:20) And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:
(Revelation 9:21) Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
The greek word pharmakeia is here translated witchcraft. Some interpret this word as referring to drug use and certainly the word can mean this, but it doesn't only mean this; none of the translations translate it this way. I think interpreting the greek word pharmakeia as drug use is improper; it would be like swapping the two opposite meanings of the word cleave: to split vs. to join.
(Revelation 10:1) And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:
(Revelation 10:2) And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,
This angel seems to be claiming the whole earth, both land and sea. The sea referred to here is the physical oceans.
(Revelation 10:3) And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
(Revelation 10:4) And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
The message of the 7 thunders is for John only — I wonder why he even mentioned it? Perhaps to make us curious. Perhaps it was instructions about how to structure the book of Revelation, or some prophecy about how his time on the island of Patmos would turn out, or some instruction for when he was released from Patmos and returned to his archdiocese, or perhaps something to tell Mary who was living with him.
(Revelation 10:5) And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
(Revelation 10:6) And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time [delay] no longer:
Since reference is made to the angel in verse 2 standing on the physical earth and sea, we should assume the word "heavens" refers to the physical sky. The creatures referred to are the birds, fish, land animals, and humans.
(Revelation 10:7) But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
We should look to the activities of the seventh angel to see the end.
(Revelation 10:8) And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
Back to the little book again. There is a strong emphasis of this angel standing on the sea and earth; it is mentioned three times.
(Revelation 10:9) And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
In the spiritual realm it makes perfect sense to eat a book instead of reading it to understand its message. In the spiritual realm symbols are real. In similar manner, Jesus is present in the Eucharist, and in eating and drinking his literal body and blood we are blessed by him and become united with him. Jesus attaches his spirit to the consecrated bread and wine as if it were a human body; thus we are literally consuming him just as he discusses in John chapter 6. This is why it would be hard for me to attend a church which considers communion to be merely symbolic.
(Revelation 10:10) And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
God's word is sweet but delivering that word to those who will be judged by it is bitter.
(Revelation 10:11) And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
I suppose the prophecies which follow are the contents of the little book.
Even though God had already destroyed the temple in 70 A.D., he wishes those who still consider themselves as Jews to be redeemed by recognizing that the kingdom of God has been given to Christ.
(Revelation 11:1) And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
The purpose of measuring things to demonstrate they belong to God.
(Revelation 11:2) But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
This was literally fulfilled in the Jewish war starting in 66 A.D. and leading to the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. This fits perfectly with the context.
Some say that the image of Gentiles occupying the court outside the temple refers to the current situation in which Islam occupies the temple mount of Jerusalem. The problem with this interpretation is that there is currently no temple at all. To "solve" this problem they assume that the nation of Israel will someday build a temple, perhaps with diplomatic assistance from the Antichrist. But this has a worse problem because there is no longer a covenant nation of Israel as God demonstrated in destroying the temple in 70 A.D. Certainly God does not wish the Jews to build a temple so they can begin animal sacrifices again — yet that is the purpose of an altar!
Preterists have plenty of explanations for the two witnesses before 70 A.D.
Some suggest that one of these witnesses speaks to the Gentiles and the other to the Jews, but there is no distinction in role between the two other than referring to one as priest and the other as king. They are both treated exactly the same in this passage and in the passage in Zechariah 4; priest and king are both leaders of the Old Testament nation of Israel. So there is no reason to assume that these two witnesses minister to Gentiles at all.
Some say the two witnesses are Peter and Paul who were martyred by Nero in Rome in 67 A.D. (or before) just before the start of the Jewish War in Israel and Jerusalem. An interesting idea. Certainly both had miraculous powers.
(Revelation 11:3) And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
There is no change in context from the previous passage about the temple. Since the temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. the two witnesses appeared at or before the start of the Jewish War (66–70 A.D.) There was a Jewish king and a Jewish priest during this time that match the description rather well.
(Revelation 11:4) These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks [lampstands] standing before the God of the earth.
This calls attention to those who should have been the true spiritual leaders of Jerusalem and the Jews: the high priest and the king. But these had lost control and the Jewish messianic revolutionaries were in charge, even taking up residence in the temple and storing weapons there.
(Revelation 11:5) And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
Some say that one of these two witnesses is Elijah because he called down fire, but note that both of them send down fire.
(Revelation 11:6) These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
Some say that one of these two witnesses is Elijah because he stopped it from raining for three years, but note that both of them do this. No one suggests that one of the two witnesses is Moses even though this image of turning water into blood matches one of Moses' plagues. Also, both of them do this.
(Revelation 11:7) And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
In the first woe, out of the bottomless pit comes first smoke, then locusts, then the king over these, who is the beast mentioned here. The same beast who torments the unredeemed also persecutes and kills the two witnesses.
(Revelation 11:8) And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
The city referred to is Jerusalem. It was spiritually like Sodom because the leaders of the city were wicked before it was destroyed in 70 A.D. It was spiritually like Egypt because the leaders of the city persecuted people just as the leaders of Egypt did to the Israelites.
(Revelation 11:9) And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer [allow] their dead bodies to be put in graves.
(Revelation 11:10) And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
(Revelation 11:11) And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
(Revelation 11:12) And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
(Revelation 11:13) And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
(Revelation 11:14) The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
Notice that the events of the two witnesses are part of the second woe.
(Revelation 11:15) 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.
Christ now takes possession of all the kingdoms of the world; the powers of darkness are no longer ruling over us humans. When does this take place? Certainly not until Satan is destroyed just before the Great White Throne judgment.
(Revelation 11:16) And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
(Revelation 11:17) 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.
Christ now takes possession of the world. This only happens at the end of the world so this event is yet-future.
(Revelation 11:18) And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
Judgment day. The unredeemed are angry and God unleashes his eternal judgment upon them. The redeemed are given their eternal reward. Those wicked people and spirit beings which destroyed the earth are forever separated from the redeemed; this is how it will be in the new heavens and new earth.
This should be the start of a new chapter. The activities of the 7 trumpet angels are complete and we now turn to a new series of visions. These new visions do not chronologically follow after the previous visions but are completely independent.
(Revelation 11:19) And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
The next set of visions come directly from God's presence, from his temple in heaven as evidenced by the mention of the ark of the covenant which is where God resides to bless his covenant people. Notice that God's presence is signalled with natural phenomena: thunder, lightening, and hail; and earthquakes. These all literally occurred when God revealed himself to John and gave these visions; these images are all strictly literal, but they occurred in the spiritual realm, not the physical realm (but they had some sort of physical manifestation perhaps lasting for centuries and into the modern age). In the new heavens and new earth I suspect that God will manifest his presence with striking natural phenonema which we will see and delight in. God will delight in manifesting his great power and glory to us and we will delight in experiencing it, and will worship him in response.
(Revelation 12:1) And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
(Revelation 12:2) And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
(Revelation 12:3) And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven  heads and ten  horns, and seven  crowns upon his heads.
(Revelation 12:4) And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
This verse does not state when the fallen angels followed Satan, except to say it was sometime before Christ's birth.
Satan must kill the Messiah, which he finally does at the crucifixion.
(Revelation 12:5) And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
Mary was the mother of Jesus, the mother of God. We might be tempted to say this image of "the woman" refers to Judaism since Jesus (and Christianity) came from that foundation.
Notice the reverse chronological sequence: first Jesus died, then he was resurrected and ascended into heaven. Those who insist the book of Revelation is strictly chronological are simply mistaken.
(Revelation 12:6) And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore [1,260] days.
The word "woman" no longer refers to Mary, but to the Church, to Christians. The Church did not give birth to Mary, rather, Mary represents the entire Church because the Messiah came from her body. This is the source of various Catholic views of Mary. She was the woman who was the enemy of Satan.
(Revelation 12:7) And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
(Revelation 12:8) And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
(Revelation 12:9) And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
At the time of Christ's death and resurrection Satan was cast out of heaven, meaning, his activities in the spiritual realm were constrained to a smaller sphere of possible activities; his kingdom was reduced, meaning, he is more focused on this world. At this time he was also bound in the abyss for 1,000 years; this ended about 1054 A.D. but he remains banished from heaven.
Satan was conquered by Christ after the ascension. In verse 9, Satan was cast down to the earth, meaning, a location in the spiritual realm associated with the earth; his domain of operation was reduced. Within this domain there is an even smaller more constrained domain called the abyss. Satan was bound there for the first 1,000 years of Christianity so he could not destroy the gospel.
(Revelation 12:10) And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
(Revelation 12:11) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
The word "death" refers to physically dying; the soul leaves the body and the body stops functioning as a result.
(Revelation 12:12) Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
This verse refers to 2 realms...
Those on earth, humans and animals and birds and fish, must now endure increased harassment and annoyance. Satan is aware he is now in the final phase of his operations; after this, final judgment. (He is now building up his kingdom for the future eternity in the lake of fire — he has no other hope, although he does enjoy(?) the pain, suffering, and misery he causes.)
Those in the spiritual realm are those who have died (presumably including animals and birds and fish). Those in heaven rejoice because they are no longer plagued by the wicked spirits once Christ came into hell (Abraham's bosom) to transport them to a happier location.
(Revelation 12:13) And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
Remarkable: the word "woman" refers both to Mary and the Church. This is the source of various Catholic views of Mary.
(Revelation 12:14) And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time [3–1/2], from the face of the serpent.
The wings and the flying are not figurative but literal; these occur in the spiritual realm. Events in the spiritual realm are often dreamy, gauzy, symbolical, but, nonetheless, literally true, not merely an artificial construct of the mind. Many times in the Bible we see images of occurrences in the spiritual realm have corresponding events in the physical realm.
(Revelation 12:15) And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
This occurred in the spiritual realm. We do not need to try to find a physical flood matching. Nor do we need to treat it as a figure of speech meaning who knows what: perhaps an expression of frustration and anger; perhaps the failed attempt to destroy her. The problem with not interpreting the Bible literally is, you can make it mean whatever you want to.
We should content ourselves to read the book of Revelation much as we do the Old Testament. Often a story is related with no mention of the morality or significance of the events; we must interpret these from our own knowledge of morality. Likewise with the book of Revelation. It confirms truths we already know of. We do not need to build wild modern theories never before known by the Church such as the rapture or a literal yet-future 1,000 year earthly utopian kingdom.
(Revelation 12:16) And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
(Revelation 12:17) And the dragon was wroth [enraged] with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed [others of her children], which keep the commandments of God, and have [keep, hold] the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Satan is trying to destroy a certain group of people referred to as the "remnant of her seed"; the first of her seed being Jesus Christ. After failing to destroy Jesus and being cast to earth, Satan now targets the spiritual children of Mary the woman, the Christians. Christians are descendants of Mary, not because she literally gives birth to them but, rather, because they have become children of God, children of Jesus; they are descendants of Jesus. This is the significance of being born again.
The next sections continue from chapter 12 giving details about how the dragon, Satan, attempts to destroy Christianity. Since Satan is bound for 1,000 years starting with the time of Jesus he must carry out his plans through proxies, using Roman rulers.
7 heads (1 deadly wounded from a sword then healed), 10 horns, 10 crowns upon horns, power from the dragon (Satan), they made an image of the beast, mark of the beast, number 666 of a man. Not the Antichrist; the 10 horns are not the European Union.
The First Beast has 10 kings growing out of him and supporting him. His 7 heads are from the legacy of the Roman empire at the time John wrote the book of Revelation. Domitian was the Roman emperor at the time John wrote this and there was a myth that Nero had not really died and would return. After this, there is a gap of centuries or thousands or millions (billions?) of years until the second coming of Christ, but the conditions referred to are always rumbling under the surface: persecution of Christians, worship of emperors.
(Revelation 13:1) And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven  heads and ten  horns, and upon his horns ten  crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
The beast rises up out of the ocean, like a sea monster. The people of those days had probably heard many stories of encounters with murky unseen creatures doing great damage to their ships and killing people. Even today there is an eerie feeling when seeing the hazy outlines of dolphins or whales or sharks or jellyfish; you can't see them very well so you imagine the worst. Such is this beast; very scary and intimidating. But once it comes out of the water John can see it has heads and horns, like a familiar animal.
(Revelation 13:2) And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
Satan provides the spiritual power, direction, and motivation for the first beast. He also gave him great authority in the spiritual realm; this translates to great influence in the physical realm of humans.
(Revelation 13:3) And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
(Revelation 13:4) And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
(Revelation 13:5) And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two  months.
(Revelation 13:6) And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
It seems that this person doesn't care much for the angels or for the Trinity.
(Revelation 13:7) And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds [clan or tribe], and tongues [languages], and nations.
Persecution of Christians, and age of martyrdom.
(Revelation 13:8) And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
(Revelation 13:9) If any man have an ear, let him hear.
(Revelation 13:10) He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
2 horns, spoke as a dragon (Satan).
(Revelation 13:11) And I beheld [saw] another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake [spoke] as a dragon.
Notice carefully what this verse says: it says John saw a beast. It does not say John is using this beast as a figure of speech or allegory or analogy.
This beast comes up from the earth. The beast is not a physical creature so, therefore, the earth John sees is not the physical earth. Rather, it is a spiritual earth in the spiritual realm and corresponding to the physical earth upon which we live. The entire book of Revelation starting with chapter 4 occurs in the spiritual realm, not the physical world. Certainly, events and images in the spiritual realm correspond with (and cause) events in the physical world.
Notice the two figures of speech: like a lamb, as a dragon. The beast is not a lamb, nor a dragon. The horns of lambs begin as nubs and start growing as early as two months old or even earlier. We should wonder how dragons speak since there is no such creature in the physical world. Later we learn that the dragon is Satan, but Satan is a spiritual creature, not physical.
(Revelation 13:12) And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
There appears to be another person or institution involved, called the false prophet.
(Revelation 13:13) And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
Some Old Testament prophets did this. The False Prophet mimics them. Apparently Satan has power to manifest miraculous events on the earth.
(Revelation 13:14) And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
The False Prophet commands people to make some sort of miraculous image of the First Beast. The First Beast was killed with a sword but was resuscitated.
(Revelation 13:15) And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
It appears that the False Prophet has the power behind this business, presumably powered by Satan.
(Revelation 13:16) And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
(Revelation 13:17) And that no man might buy or sell, save [except] he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
(Revelation 13:18) Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six .
We should wonder whether the 1st beast or the 2nd beast is referred to here. From v17 above it is clear that 666 is the number of the name of the 1st beast.
Nero's name adds up to 666 (or 616). However, not everyone is impressed with the ability to find names whose letters add up to 666.
(Revelation 14:1) And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion [Zion], and with him an hundred forty and four thousand [144,000], having his Father's name written in their foreheads.
(Revelation 14:2) And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
(Revelation 14:3) And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand [144,000], which were redeemed from the earth.
(Revelation 14:4) These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
These were unmarried.
Perhaps as firstfruits they were chosen as examples of true Israelites, honored for their holiness.
(Revelation 14:5) And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
Overview of the plan of redemption...
(Revelation 14:6) And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
(Revelation 14:7) Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
John lists 4 aspects of the physical realm, all created by God...
(Revelation 14:8) And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
The significance of Babylon is this sequence...
(Revelation 14:9) And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
(Revelation 14:10) The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
Those humans in hell will be tormented with fire and brimstone for ever and ever. The image of smoke reminds me of the Old Testament sacrifices in which the smoke of the sacrifice pleases God because the faith of the people offering the sacrifice and their worship of God are pleasing to God — God doesn't delight in offerings performed without faith.
(Revelation 14:11) And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Notice carefully that God is not actively torturing them, rather, those in hell are suffering when in the presence of God's holiness because the unrepented sin in their souls burns them. This burning is literal and it is painful.
(Revelation 14:12) Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
(Revelation 14:13) And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth [from now on]: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
(Revelation 14:14) And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
(Revelation 14:15) And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
(Revelation 14:16) And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
(Revelation 14:17) And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
(Revelation 14:18) 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.
I'm unconvinced all these angels are good angels. Angels that steal, kill, and destroy, even for righteous judgment, must be bad angels. Perhaps the good angel withdraws God protective grace from the people being judged allowing the bad angel to get to work.
Notice that activities and events in the spiritual realm are creative and playful. In this case, judgment becomes a game of harvesting and pressing grapes in a vineyard. This corresponds to the unleashing of destructive judgment on the people involved.
(Revelation 14:19) And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
Angels reside in the spiritual realm as do their activities. Every object in the physical realm has a corresponding spiritual object in the spiritual realm.
God is not angry, nor does he kill and destroy. His wrath consists of his withdrawing protective grace as the sins of the wicked repel them farther and farther from God's protective influence. God's holiness repels wickedness. God judges by shining his light on them; the wicked are blinded by this and crouch down covering their eyes, and run away from God's presence.
(Revelation 14:20) And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred [1,600] furlongs [stadia] [180 miles].
This judgment is modelled after the harvest and pressing of grapes.
It is hard to imagine a battle having this much blood; nothing even remotely similar has ever occurred.
A person has just over four quarts of blood. The volume of blood of 100 people is over 13 cubic feet. A horse bridle is maybe four feet off the ground. A three dimensional rectangle (rectangular box) one foot wide and four feet high and 180 miles long contains the blood of 30 million people (3,800,000 cubic feet). The blood of the 200 million horseman would be 50 feet wide. But most of the blood remains in the body and the piles of bodies (and horses)would be far larger than the blood. Clearly, this event occurs in the spiritual realm, not the physical. (But there is a corresponding physical manifestation, probably a battle with horrific casualties.)
The 7 bowls are all events occurring within the 6th seal. All the tribulations before and during the second coming of Christ and the great white throne judgment. It is the grand finale including the phases of Christ's 2nd coming, the disintegration of the world as Christ returns, the great white throne judgment. The 7 Bowls are the same events as the 7 Trumpets.
(Revelation 15:1) And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
(Revelation 15:2) And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
(Revelation 15:3) And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
(Revelation 15:4) Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
(Revelation 15:5) And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:
(Revelation 15:6) And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.
(Revelation 15:7) And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials [bowls] full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.
(Revelation 15:8) And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
(Revelation 16:1) And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials [bowls] of the wrath of God upon the earth.
(Revelation 16:2) And the first went, and poured out his vial [bowl] upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.
(Revelation 16:3) And the second angel poured out his vial [bowl] upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.
The sea referred to here is the ocean. The living souls referred to are those creatures living in the ocean; notice that they have souls. The men in the previous verse are physical so we should assume this passage occurs in the physical realm.
(Revelation 16:4) And the third angel poured out his vial [bowl] upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
(Revelation 16:5) And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.
(Revelation 16:6) For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.
(Revelation 16:7) And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.
(Revelation 16:8) And the fourth angel poured out his vial [bowl] upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
(Revelation 16:9) And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
(Revelation 16:10) And the fifth angel poured out his vial [bowl] upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,
The seat of the First Beast's kingdom is judged. I assume this means the rulers of this kingdom. If the first beast is the Antichrist, this verse doesn't fit at all.
(Revelation 16:11) And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
(Revelation 16:12) And the sixth angel poured out his vial [bowl] upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
(Revelation 16:13) And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
(Revelation 16:14) For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
(Revelation 16:15) Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
(Revelation 16:16) And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
(Revelation 16:17) And the seventh angel poured out his vial [bowl] into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.
(Revelation 16:18) And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.
(Revelation 16:19) And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
The "great city" mentioned in this verse is Babylon.
(Revelation 16:20) And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
(Revelation 16:21) And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.
(Revelation 17:1) And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials [bowls], and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
We learn that she is to be judged before we are even introduced to her.
(Revelation 17:2) With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
(Revelation 17:3) So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
(Revelation 17:4) And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
(Revelation 17:5) And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
(Revelation 17:6) And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
This woman persecuted Christians.
Only people can kill other people, therefore, the woman represents the spirit influencing people.
(Revelation 17:7) And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
(Revelation 17:8) The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition [destruction]: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
It appears the Third Beast is a line of rulers, the "culture" of an empire or civilization, or I should say, the spiritual powers behind these, energizing them.
(Revelation 17:9) And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains [hills], on which the woman sitteth.
Rome is the city of 7 hills. Perhaps each hill corresponds to each king in the next verse, or these could refer to the 7 hills of Rome but that doesn't make much sense either.
(Revelation 17:10) And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.
Presumably the time period is when John wrote the book of Revelation. The "king that is" refers to Domitian. We are tempted to think that the 7 kings are the 7 heads of the First Beast, but one of these was wounded to death then miraculously healed; perhaps this refers to Nero who, it was believed, would return after his death.
5 — Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus
1 is — Domitian
1 yet to come — Future Nero = future Roman emperors
(Revelation 17:11) And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
The Third Beast is the 8th king who has not yet come from the perspective of the 7 kings. The First Beast appears to be the Antichrist, a world emperor just as the Roman emperors were world emperors (from the perspective of the Romans).
(Revelation 17:12) And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
(Revelation 17:13) These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.
(Revelation 17:14) These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
In persecuting Christians these actually war with Christ because the Spirit of Christ resides within Christians.
(Revelation 17:15) And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
(Revelation 17:16) And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
(Revelation 17:17) For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
(Revelation 17:18) And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
Which city is referred to? Note that it reigns over the kings of the earth. Some possibilities...
(Revelation 18:1) And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
(Revelation 18:2) And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
The past fall of Babylon is mentioned elsewhere using the same exact words. People assume this occurs in the future, this because they have assumed the book to be strictly chronological. But the verbs are not future tense. Certainly the past tense is often used in the book for future events.
Immediately preceding this lengthy description of the past fall of Babylon is the description of the woman sitting on a scarlet beast who is this Babylon. The narrative continues about that topic in this chapter.
(Revelation 18:3) For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
(Revelation 18:4) And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
(Revelation 18:5) For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
(Revelation 18:6) Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
(Revelation 18:7) How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
(Revelation 18:8) Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
(Revelation 18:9) And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,
(Revelation 18:10) Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
We see from the verses following that merchants are the ones affected, especially those shipping merchandise by sea.
(Revelation 18:11) And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:
(Revelation 18:12) The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,
(Revelation 18:13) And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
(Revelation 18:14) And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
(Revelation 18:15) The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,
(Revelation 18:16) And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!
(Revelation 18:17) For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
The word "sea" refers to the physical ocean.
(Revelation 18:18) And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!
(Revelation 18:19) And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
(Revelation 18:20) Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
(Revelation 18:21) And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
(Revelation 18:22) And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;
(Revelation 18:23) And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
The greek word pharmakeia is here translated witchcraft. Some interpret this word as referring to drug use and certainly the word can mean this, but it doesn't only mean this; none of the translations translate it this way. I think interpreting the greek word pharmakeia as drug use is improper; it would be like swapping the two opposite meanings of the word cleave: to split vs. to join.
(Revelation 18:24) And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
(Revelation 19:1) And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:
(Revelation 19:2) For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.
(Revelation 19:3) And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
(Revelation 19:4) And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.
(Revelation 19:5) And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
(Revelation 19:6) And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
(Revelation 19:7) Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
(Revelation 19:8) And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
(Revelation 19:9) And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings [words] of God.
(Revelation 19:10) And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
(Revelation 19:11) 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.
(Revelation 19:12) 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.
(Revelation 19:13) And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
(Revelation 19:14) And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
(Revelation 19:15) And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
Premillennialists commonly believe that when Jesus "rules the world with an iron scepter (rod)" that this refers to an autocratic political rule. However the usage of the phrase "iron scepter" refers to judgment and destruction. Therefore, Revelation 19:15 refers to final judgment.
(Revelation 19:16) And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
(Revelation 19:17) And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
(Revelation 19:18) That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
(Revelation 19:19) And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
(Revelation 19:20) And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
The lake of fire is a spiritual realm, not a physical location. Therefore, physical bodies do not reside there. Just as Jesus shed his physical body upon ascending into heaven, so also those entering the lake of fire. (I suspect they attempt to connect with their physical body during each Creative Frame but the timing is off and they do so during the destruction phase in which the universe is being dissolved in great heat.)
(Revelation 19:21) And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
In my view, the 1,000 years is strictly literal beginning with Christ's first coming and ending with events heralding the great schism of 1054 A.D. The Church had 1,000 years to develop Christian dogma (while Satan was bound and could not deceive the nations); then he was loosed. Now he can't destroy Christianity because it is too entrenched — the gates of hell will never prevail against it. But in 1054 A.D. Satan ascended out of the bottomless pit and continues his evil mischief.
Historical events occurring while Satan was bound...
After Satan was loosed in 1054 A.D. he has since been trying to unite the world as anti-Christian so when Christ returns, Satan can fight against him to destroy him. It is utter madness for Satan to think he can destroy Jesus when he returns; such is the folly of a depraved mind.
Premillennialists claim the yet-future 1,000 years when Satan will be bound, that this will be a utopian millennium. But they must resort to instantaneous evolution to explain how it is animals survive without eating each other and how humans can live much longer lifespans. All these utopian aspects belong properly in the new heavens and new earth.
(Revelation 20:1) And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
How is it possible for an angel to overpower Satan if he is the most powerful? In another place Michael had a prolonged battle with Satan. Apparently, God sometimes empowers them with extra strength, in this case for the purpose of preventing the gospel message from being destroyed.
(Revelation 20:2) And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
(Revelation 20:3) And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season [short time].
Satan could not deceive the nations for 1,000 years, meaning, he could not destroy the gospel message. And after being released he cannot destroy it either because the gospel is too entangled in the fabric of civilization, like trying to wipe out an infectious disease.
Musing on the King James Version translation of the word "time" as "season": to God 1,000 years is as a day; a season is longer than a day — about 90 days. Thus, we should expect this little season to end within 89,000 years and the second coming of Christ to occur after that.
(Revelation 20:4) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
I assume that the souls mentioned are the ones sitting on the thrones in the first part of this verse; that there is only one group of people, not two.
The Christian martyrs during the early age of the Church are in the spiritual realm with Christ, ruling and reigning with him. He hears their prayers (they are under the altar). They are helping to get the doctrines of the Church established correctly through their intercessions.
(Revelation 20:5) But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
What is the difference between those of verse 5 (the rest of the dead) and those of verse 4? The answer is simple. Those of verse 5 are in purgatory.
(Revelation 20:6) Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Verse 5 and verse 6 appear to directly contradict; resolving the contradiction refutes the usual fundamentalist evangelical Protestant understanding of the 1,000 years as referring to a yet-future fantastically utopian millennium. Verse 5 says the first resurrection is after the 1,000 years. Verse 6 says the first resurrection is during the 1,000 years and those who have enjoyed the first resurrection reign with Christ during the 1,000 years.
Here's the solution to the difficulty: those in verse 6 who have part in the first resurrection and who reign with Christ for 1,000 years are those of verse 4, those martyrs during the 1,000 years. This includes, of course, all those early readers of the book of Revelation who would begin to be martyred with Domitian and would continue to be martyred for several hundred years until Constantine. Those in verse 5 are those living during the 1,000 years who were not martyred with those of verse 4, but nevertheless they were true believers and, therefore, participated in the first resurrection. The first resurrection is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that seals believers so that they ultimately end up in the new heavens and new earth. The ushering-in of the new heavens and new earth would not occur during the 1,000 years but yet believers would enjoy its benefits when it finally occurs; this time is yet-future.
There is no need in any of this for the end of the 1,000 years to coincide with the beginning of the new heavens and new earth; there can be centuries or even millions of years intervening. In fact, even millennialists must have a gap after the 1,000 years; my gap is longer (much longer) but a gap is a gap no matter how long.
(Revelation 20:7) And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
Satan again begins to deceive the nations starting in 1054 A.D. It is he who provokes humans to war with one another, but there were wars during this 1,000 year period, in fact, Islam invaded large tracts of the Roman Empire and other areas during this period. His deceiving the nations was primarily about corrupting the message of the gospel. Gog and Magog were Christian regions and Christians fought with Christians.
One of Satan's tactics today is to set up the political scene in the world so that when Christ returns he can easily persuade all the nations to attack him with their modern weapons of war. This, of course, is futile.
(Revelation 20:9) And they went up [ascended] on [upon] the breadth [wide plain] of the earth, and compassed [surrounded] the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
(Revelation 20:10) And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
This is referring to Satan, not to humans.
This is the final phase of the 2nd Coming Christ; the resurrection occurs afterwards.
The lake of fire is a spiritual realm, not a physical location. Therefore, physical bodies do not reside there. Just as Jesus shed his physical body upon ascending into heaven, so also those entering the lake of fire. (I suspect they attempt to connect with their physical body during each Creative Frame but the timing is off and they do so during the destruction phase in which the universe is being dissolved in great heat.)
(Revelation 20:11) And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
The physical realm flees away from the presence of God the Father. Such things can exist in Christ's presence because he took on human nature in the incarnation. But God the Father remains forever pure Spirit.
(Revelation 20:12) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
(Revelation 20:13) And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
Everyone is judged by their works. The New Testament directly states this so many times it is hard to understand how so many Christians deny it claiming that works have no role in salvation. If you are judged for your works I would say works have a role in redemption. Notice it states "every man" was judged this way, not merely the wicked.
We find that the souls of the dead were kept in two places: (1) death and hell, and (2) the sea. Perhaps death and hell contain only the souls of the unredeemed and the place referred to with the word "sea" is where the souls of the redeemed are kept waiting for the white throne judgment. Maybe this sea is the "sea of glass" in 4:6 which is before the throne of God. I would expect the place in the spiritual realm where the souls of the redeemed go after death to be close to God's presence and protected from the wicked spirits. Certainly, this sea of glass meets these conditions.
The question is whether the dead associated with the sea are sea creatures, such as fish, or humans who died in the ocean and who were not given a proper burial. Certainly there were many people killed in this manner during Noah's flood. The other question is whether this verse neglects to mention the fate of the redeemed and, therefore, refers only to the damned; those who died in the ocean, or who ended up in hell.
Protestants consider good deeds to be merely the evidence that a person has saving faith. But this verse says otherwise; a person's acceptance by God is contingent upon good works.
(Revelation 20:14) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
The lake of fire is a spiritual realm, not a physical location. Therefore, physical bodies do not reside there. Just as Jesus shed his physical body upon ascending into heaven, so also those entering the lake of fire. (I suspect they attempt to connect with their physical body during each Creative Frame but the timing is off and they do so during the destruction phase in which the universe is being dissolved in great heat.)
(Revelation 20:15) And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
This verse implies that both the righteous and the wicked were judged at the great white throne judgment.
The lake of fire is a spiritual realm, not a physical location. Therefore, physical bodies do not reside there. Just as Jesus shed his physical body upon ascending into heaven, so also those entering the lake of fire. Apparently even the wicked are bodily resurrected for the events of the great white throne judgment.
(Revelation 21:1) And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
The final goal of redeemed humans is the new heavens and new earth. In fact, the Bible nowhere states we will end up in heaven, yet Christians often say things such as, "Will you go to heaven?" I should note, that based on my system of interpretation, most of the glorious conditions mentioned by the prophets concern the new heavens and new earth — not a yet-future 1,000 year earthly millennium.
The reference to "no more sea" probably refers to 20:13 in which the sea gave up the dead that were in it. Once this occurred, this sea was no longer in the picture. John does not describe much about the new heavens and new earth and I doubt if he is saying it has no oceans. The way some describe it, the new heavens and new earth is a lifeless rock, like the planet mars, with only one walled city on the surface. Probably he mentions the sea because he mentions heaven and earth. The old heavens (universe) and earth passed away; so also did the sea. But just as the old heavens and earth are replaced with the new heavens and new earth, so also, the old sea is replaced with the new sea. I think to the people living at the time the ocean was pretty forbidding and daunting and warranted a separate mention.
It doesn't make sense that the new heavens and new earth would not have oceans. This would imply there are no planets or galaxies.
(Revelation 21:2) And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
The new Jerusalem is part of the new heavens and new earth. It comes into the physical world from the spiritual realm. I suppose everything manifests this way; first appearing in the spiritual realm, then manifesting in the physical realm. The book of Revelation contains many images and events in the spiritual realm and these all have an impact in some way on the physical world.
(Revelation 21:3) And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle [tent] of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
(Revelation 21:4) And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
The verse describes conditions in the new heavens and new earth. There will be no more death, pain, sorrow, or suffering. Therefore, these things are all caused by Satan and are part of his kingdom. Since animals did not start eating each other at the fall, Satan's kingdom on earth existed before the fall, before the universe was created. In fact, Satan helped design and create the universe so he could use it to inflict pain and suffering on sentient creatures. This could only happen because God made some sort of covenant with Lucifer and gave Lucifer the power to participate in creating this universe the way it is. But in the new heavens and new earth God will use the same universe as a place of goodness and peace and blessing.
It a tender reflection on God's intimate love for us that he would himself personally wipe away our tears. This is no mere figure of speech but is, rather, strictly literal. At the great white throne judgment and upon entering the new heavens and new earth, Jesus himself will wipe away the tears of each of us. He can do this because he has a resurrected human body, the same as we will have.
(Revelation 21:5) And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
(Revelation 21:6) And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
(Revelation 21:7) He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
(Revelation 21:8) But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
(Revelation 21:9) And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials [bowls] full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
(Revelation 21:10) And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
This is the new Jerusalem. contrasting with the current Jerusalem which had been destroyed 26 years before John wrote the book of Revelation. It will be a focal point for worship of everyone in the world. It will fulfill the role that the Jerusalem of the Old Testament covenant was intended to.
The new Jerusalem is part of the new heavens and new earth.
(Revelation 21:11) Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
(Revelation 21:12) And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
(Revelation 21:13) On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
(Revelation 21:14) And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
(Revelation 21:15) And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
(Revelation 21:16) And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth [width]: and he measured the city with the reed [rod], twelve thousand [12,000] furlongs [=1,500 miles]. The length and the breadth [width] and the height of it are equal.
Perhaps this detail would inspire someone from New Testament times but it doesn't excite me. A huge cubical city.
(Revelation 21:17) And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
(Revelation 21:18) And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
(Revelation 21:19) And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
(Revelation 21:20) The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
(Revelation 21:21) And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
(Revelation 21:22) And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
(Revelation 21:23) And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
This verse refers to inside the city called the new Jerusalem, not outside. There very well may be a sun shining on the rest of the earth. Some seem to think the only thing in the new heavens and new earth is this city; that this city is the new heavens and new earth. And usually they also interpret the whole thing allegorically while claiming they interpret the Bible literally.
(Revelation 21:24) And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
(Revelation 21:25) And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
(Revelation 21:26) And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
(Revelation 21:27) And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
(Revelation 22:1) And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
(Revelation 22:2) In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
(Revelation 22:3) And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
(Revelation 22:4) And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
(Revelation 22:5) And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
(Revelation 22:6) And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
(Revelation 22:7) Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
(Revelation 22:8) And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
(Revelation 22:9) Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
(Revelation 22:10) And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
(Revelation 22:11) He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
(Revelation 22:12) And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
Jesus will reward us according to our works. The reward is to spend eternity in the new heavens and new earth. This verse is used by those teaching of the bema seat judgment of Christ, a notion I reject, in which believers are given rewards based on their good works.
(Revelation 22:13) I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
(Revelation 22:14) Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
Notice we are redeemed by performing the commandments of Christ. We are judged by our works. We are saved through faith in Jesus having good works. We are not saved by works only.
(Revelation 22:15) For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
(Revelation 22:16) I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
Jesus is the morning star. Probably this refers to Venus which is often at night brighter when above the horizon than all other stars and planets. Venus is close to the sun in the sky but probably there is no significance whatever to this fact. Just because you remark on something beautiful doesn't require you also point to something else nearby also beautiful.
(Revelation 22:17) And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
(Revelation 22:18) For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
(Revelation 22:19) And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
(Revelation 22:20) He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
In 96 A.D. Jesus said he comes quickly; that was nearly 2,000 years ago. He comes to each person at their death; that's pretty quick — within 100 years or so. John wants Jesus to come, as do I. But we must all wait for the new heavens and new earth in hope; there's nothing we can do to speed it up.
(Revelation 22:21) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
King James Version