Summary of The Bible Project’s Overview of The Book of Revelation

Some notes I took down...


“Apocalypse” is a familiar type of Jewish literature that recounts a prophet’s symbolic dreams and visions that reveal God’s perspective on history and current events so that the present could be viewed in light of history’s final outcome.


John says this apocalypse is a prophecy, that is, a word from God spoken through a prophet to God’s people, usually to warn or comfort them in a time of crisis. John presents this prophetic letter as the climax of all Old Testament prophecies. John sends this prophecy to real people from 7 specific churches in Asia.

Jewish apocalypse is communicated through symbolic imagery and numbers. It is not a secret predictive code about the timing of the end of the world. He uses these symbols a lot and expects his readers to know them well.

Chapters 1b-3 = Message to the 7 Churches

Jesus warns the 7 churches that tribulation is coming (2:9-10) and will force them to either compromise to avoid persecution or stay faithful. Jesus promises a reward for everyone who stays faithful to Jesus and “conquers”.

Chapters 4-5 = The Throne of God

John expected to see a Lion King but sees a Slain Lamb. Jesus overcame His enemies by dying for them. Crucifixion was the Lamb’s enthronement.

Chapters 6-8a = 7 seals

Not a literal sequence of events. But a time period between Jesus’ resurrection and return from 3 perspectives.

  1. 1st 4 seals = 4 horsemen
  2. 5th seal = Murdered Christian martyrs
  3. 6th seal = day of the Lord

Ch.7 = the Lamb’s army

  • John heard the # 144,000 but then turned and saw the surprising fulfillment of this in a messianic army from all nations of innumerable number.
  • They will conquer the beast by laying down their lives just like the Lamb, thus bringing the nations to repentance.

7th seal

Chapters 8b-11 = 7 trumpets

  • Exodus plagues
  • The nations still don’t repent
  • Intermission = angel brings little scroll to John (10:1-11:13)

Chapters 12-14 = The Signs (=Symbols)

  • These chapters explore the message of the open scroll in greater depth.
  • Chapter 12 = cosmic spiritual battle that was underlying the battle the 7 churches experienced. Based on Genesis 3:15, the Messiah and His people will conquer. Real enemy? Dark spiritual powers.
  • Chapter 13 = earthly battle based on Daniel 7-12. Beasts demand the mark of the beast for allegiance 666 (the anti-Shema = written on forehead and hand). The number of the beast = Nero Caesar & beast = both equal 666.
  • Chapter 14a = the Lamb’s army proclaims the eternal Gospel.
  • Chapter 14b = the final justice.
  • CHOICE = Choose to follow the Lamb or follow the Beast.

Chapter 15-16 = 7 bowls.

  • Exodus plagues again. 6th bowl Armaggedon.

Chapter 17-19a = the fall of Babylon

  • Woman drunk with the blood of martyrs. Symbol of rebellious nations. John personifies military & economic power of Roman empire. Uses lots of OT images describing Babylon, Tyre and Edom to show how Rome fulfills it… Babylons will continue with other nations going ahead.

Chapters 19b-20 = the final Battle

  • Jesus appears in a white horse covered with blood before the battle begins and uses the sword of His mouth. Now holds enemies accountable.
  • Martyrs vindicated to reign with Messiah for 1,000 years.
  • Forces of spiritual evil try to rebel but are then destroyed. Dragon, Babylon, and all who choose them are eternally quarantined.

Chapters 21-22 = the marriage of heaven & earth

  • The bride of the Lamb revealed
  • New heavens & new earth
  • New garden of Eden.
  • New Jerusalem.
  • NO temple.
  • Presence of God & Lamb now permeate every square inch of new world.
  • Humanity now rules as God’s image.


  • Not a secret prophecy code to be deciphered. But a symbolic vision that brought hope and challenge to the 7 1st century churches and every generation of Christians since. It reveals history’s pattern & God’s promise that every human kingdom eventually becomes Babylon and must be resisted in the power of the slain Lamb. But there’s a promise that Jesus who loved and died for this world will not let Babylon go unchecked. He will return one day to remove evil from his good world and make all things new. And that is a promise that should motivate faithfulness in every generation of God’s people until the King returns. That’s what the Book of Revelation is all about.


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