Revelation - Synopsis

A Synopsis


The book is called "The Revelation", meaning, unveiling or revealing, with some versions of the Bible adding, such as the King James Version, "of John [the Divine]". This is of course wrong, as the first verse of the book tells us who the Revelation is of: "Jesus Christ". Furthermore note it is not called "Revelations" – it is "The Revelation", singular – there was one revelation to John on the Isle of Patmos, not many. Some have called the book the Apocalypse – which means unveiling (not disaster as some would have it due to its bleak narrative of the end of the world) but because it is a prophecy.

Who wrote the book[2]

The Book of Revelation was written by John, a brother in Christ (verse 1:9 & 22:1), and hence as a Christian rather than Jew, and is assumed to be, down the ages, Johannine, i.e. John the son of Zebedee.

Why was it written

It was written for Christians and Jews so they would know their past and current status, along with exhortations and warnings, if warranted, their future status, and as a prophecy of the end-times. Although the book is clearly written for Christians, the middle sections have a Jewish flavour, which must be accommodated when read. It was written as a blessing to all those read it:

Revelation 1:3 (KJV) 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 book was written to give confidence in the absolute saving grace of Jesus Christ and his sure salvation, along with the knowledge that he will revenge his and our enemies.

When was it written

Scholars have dated the book as being written in 96 AD, the date also held by Irenaeus, the friend of Polycarp, who knew John.

Where was it written

John wrote the book from the Isle of Patmos:

Revelation 1:9 (KJV) 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.

To whom was the book written

The seven churches of Asia, by name, all Christians, all Jews and the world as a whole. It is also a final warning to Satan, outlining his demise.

Of what or whom it speaks

The Book of Revelation does not introduce many new concepts or ideas, but rather it takes the myriad of prophecies of the Old Testament and lays them out in chronilocal order. Indeed there are at least 550 allusions to the Old Testament in The Book of Revelation.[3] Thus, the Book of Revelation sets out the exact order events will occur, and the length of time they will occur over – Old Testament Prophets did not have this information.

The things seen

Chapter one tells of the things seen, Christ died, returned to His father and was glorified. The church began at Pentecost on the sending of the Holy Spirit.

The things that are

Chapters 2 and 3 are seven letters to 7 churches of Asia, but also represent the history of the church over the past 2000 years. The first three have ended whilst the last four co-exist. They all contain lessons for us all.

The things that are to come

Chapters 4 to the end (i.e. Chapter 22) deal with the end-time, covering seven years, post the rapture of the Church. After the seven years, it speaks of a 1000 years "millennium" period where Satan is "tied up" before his final casting into the lake of fire. Finally it finishes with the description of the New Jerusalem.



Although the passages are in chronological order, the events of some chapters take place coincident with events of previous chapters. That is, visions were given to John about certain events, some of which will take place at the same time as itger events. For example Chapter 10 is about people who live and die during the period of chapters 6-8.

By Division:

I The things which thou hast seen: Jesus Christ in Heaven

II The things which are: The churches

III The things hereafter (4:1): Judgement, Mellennial Period, New Heaven & New Earth

By Event

Chapter Object

1 The Person of the Book

2,3 History of the church

4 Rapture of the church

4,5 The Church in Heaven

6-19 The tribulation, The Indignation

19:11-21 The 2nd coming of Christ

20 The Millennium

21-22 The new heaven and the new earth

Chronoloical Order of The Book of Revelation

There are a number of theories on the timeline of the last days, however, since no prophet of scripture ever interpreted their prophecies metaphorically but literally, so should those who read the Book of Revelation. Furthermore, since all other prophecies are given in their logical order, those of Revelation must also be interpreted in the order in which they are written. The confusion amoung evangelical premillennialists (i.e. those that believe the sequence up to chapter 20 come after all other events described in chapters 1-19) concerns the time when the church will be taken away (raptured to heaven). This author strongly believes there is no other interpretation but that which sets forth the rapture prior to the tribulation. The principal reason being the church is not judged – the world and those that reject Christ are judged, the church being taken out prior to this (noting many will come to Christ during this time). The other reason is the measage and the history of the church is complete at the end of chapter 3 – no other mention is made of her. However, there are some very wise men who think otherwise – usually believing the church is raptured sometime during or at least by the end of the first 3.5 years of tribulation and whose understanding of this book is far better than mine. These men are worth reading, but you need to continue to ask the question – whom is God seeking vengeance against – and is the church be involved?

Simple time-line of the Book of Revelation

Simple time-line of the Book of Revelation

In Chronological Order of the Seven Churches

Ephesus - (faithful brethren of Christ)

  • post apostolic period (2:1-7)

Smyrna - means bitterness

  • period of persecution (2:8-11)

Pergamos - means twice married (400 AD)

  • the corruption period by Judaism (2:12-17)
  • as the Church became a political body

Thyatira – means daughter

  • corruption by Rome, continues until Ch 18 (2:18-29)
  • Note the addition of verse 25 to the message
  • (also 3:3, 3:10, 3:16)

Sardis - means those escaping

  • progress of evil stayed
  • Protestantism (1500) (3:1-6)
  • 1 Thess 5:2-6

Philadelphia - means brotherly love

  • revival (1800) similar to Mal 3:16

Laodocia - means rights of the people

  • indifferent apostate church (1900)
  • see Jude etc.

Principal or Key Verses

Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this (1:19)

Revelation 1:3 (KJV) 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 word "hear" is mentioned 11 times:

Revelation 2:7 (KJV) 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.

Statistics (from KJV)

Divisions 3

Chapters 22

Verses 404

Words 11,952

Studying the book

The aim of studying the Book is not to become experts in the imagery of the book, nor to understand the derivation of the symbols, but to understand the Character of God, His Grace and the confidence we have in His saving grace. Reading the book has a promise; reading means more than just looking. To listen is not necessarily hearing. We are called to hear what the Spirit says. The aim is to help gain a feel for the book, its divisions and general outline of the end-times. The doctrine of post millennial thinking is important if we are to have confidence in our hope in the return of Christ Jesus. A study of the Book of Revelation will, hopefully, reinforce that confidence in the Lord's coming before Armageddon, His mighty power and sovereignty over all creation, and the blessedness of the Lamb who came to die for us.

Section Main Idea Chapter
1 The things seen 1
The things which are 2,3
2 The rapture
Christ Jesus as Judge 4,5
3 The beginning of sorrows
The seven seals
The tribulation
The seven trumpets 6-9
The three woes 9,11
The remnant of Israel 10,11
4 Israel 12,14
Two Beasts and Antichrist 13
The seven plagues 15,16
5 The coming of the King 18-19
The marriage of the lamb 19
The millennium 20
The New Jerusalem 21
The Day of the Lord 22



[1] There have been myriads of books and web-pages devoted to the study of the Book of Revelation, much utter rubbish. The principal fault lies in failing to make the interpretation of the Book of Revelation consistant with the rest of Scripture. The time-course for Revelation is as it is written, the Church comes first, followed by her rapture, then the judgements, followed by the 1000 year reign and finally the New Jerusalem.

[2] "If in this book you choose to look
Five things observe with care
Of whom it speaks,
To whom it speaks
Why and When and Where"

[3] Arnold Fruchtenbaum. The Use of the Old Testament in the Book of Revelation. < > (Accessed 15 July 2018)

David L Simon
Edited July 2008
Edited July 2018
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