About this book
This book tells what John had seen in a vision about God's message and about what Jesus Christ had said and done (1.2). The message has three main parts: (1) There are evil forces at work in the world, and Christians may have to suffer and die; (2) Jesus is Lord, and he will conquer all people and powers who oppose God; and (3) God has wonderful rewards in store for his faithful people, who remain faithful to him, especially for those who lose their lives in his service.
This was a powerful message of hope for those early Christians who had to suffer or die for their faith. In this book they learnt that, in spite of the cruel power of the Roman Empire, the Lamb of God would win the final victory. And this gave them the courage to be faithful.
Because this book is so full of visions that use ideas and word pictures from the Old Testament, it was like a book with secret messages for the early Christians. The book could be passed around and be understood by Christians, but an official of the Roman Empire would not be able to understand it. For example, when the fall of Babylon is described (chapter 18), the early Christians knew that this pointed to the fall of the Roman Empire. This knowledge gave them hope.
At the beginning of this book there are seven letters to seven churches. These letters show what different groups of the Lord's followers will do in times of persecution (2.1—3.22).
The author uses many powerful images to describe God's power and judgment. The vision of God's throne (4.1–11) and of the scroll and the Lamb (5.1–14) show that God and Christ are in control of all human and supernatural events. Opening seven seals (6.1—8.5), blowing the seven trumpets (8.6—11.19), and emptying the seven bowls (16.1–21) are among the visions that show God's fierce judgment on the world.
After the suffering has ended, God's faithful people will receive the greatest blessing of all:
God's home is now with his people. He will live with them, and they will be his own. Yes, God will make his home among his people. He will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain. These things of the past are gone for ever.
A quick look at this book
1. A prophecy from John (1.1–8)
2. A vision of the living Lord (1.9–20)
3. Letters to the seven churches (2.1—3.22)
4. A vision of worship in heaven (4.1–11)
5. A scroll with seven seals (5.1—6.17)
6. Worship in front of God's throne (7.1–17)
7. Seven trumpets (8.1—11.19)
8. A dragon and two beasts (12.1—13.18)
9. Visions of God's judgment and protection (14.1—15.8)
10. Seven bowls of God's anger (16.1–21)
11. God's enemies are defeated (17.1—20.10)
12. The final judgment (20.11–15)
13. A new heaven and a new earth (21.1–8)
14. New Jerusalem (21.9—22.5)
15. Christ will soon return (22.6–21)