Revelation: An Introduction

This entry is part 1 of 47 in the series Revelation and Its Connections to the OT

I am teaching through Revelation at my church on Wednesday nights. These are my notes, and they are geared towards a number of goals: (1) to teach for about 15 minutes; (2) to get the overall sense of each passage; (3) to especially draw out any Old Testament connections;1 and (4) to end the night on a devotional thought. I hope you are as enriched by this study as I have been in my own personal study of Revelation.

Author: Unlike his other books (John, 1, 2, & 3 John), John identifies himself as the author of Revelation (Rev 1:1, 4, 9; 22:8).

Recipient: The recipients were the seven churches of Asia Minor: “to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea” (Rev 1:11).

Provenance: John was exiled on the island of Patmos (Rev 1:9).

Date: John wrote Revelation around A.D. 95 during a time of persecution, likely during the tenure of the Roman emperor Domitian (ruled A.D. 81–96).

Three Options for Genre: Some label Revelation as apocalyptic because it uses symbols and figures to narrate future events, epistolary because it is written to churches, complete with an introduction and closing statement (1:4a; 22:1), or prophetic because, though apocalyptic and written to the churches, John calls Revelation prophecy (1:3, 19:10, 22:7, 10, 18, 19).

Four Views of Interpretation: The idealist sees Revelation as a picturesque description of good versus evil. The preterist sees Revelation as an imaginative and cinematic description of good versus evil in John’s day, the church of Christ versus Rome and its oppression of Christianity. The historicist sees the book of Revelation as giving an allegorical description of the history of the church, usually the Western church from John’s writing of the book until the coming of Christ. The futurist sees Revelation 1–3 as actual events in John’s day and Revelation 4–22 as prophecy (cf. 1:19). This view is best, and it uses a consistent, literal method of interpretation that acknowledges symbols, figurative language, and their use and complexity in prophesying the future.

 Outline: After introducing Revelation (1:1–8), John sees four visions (1:9–3:22; 4:1–16:21; 17:1–21:8; 21:9–22:5; cf. 1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10), one present, three future (cf. 1:19), and then concludes his book (22:6–21).

  1. Two helpful lists for OT references can be here (see the appendix) and here. []
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The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 1:1–8)

This entry is part 2 of 47 in the series Revelation and Its Connections to the OT

Passage Summary

God gave Jesus Christ a revelation about that future that was to be shown to the servants of God through the book of Revelation. It was given to an angel who showed it to John (1:1). It is called a witness to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ (1:2). It brings blessing to those who read it, hear it, and keep it, knowing the things to come are near (1:3).

John wishes grace and peace to the seven churches from the Father, Spirit, and Son (1:4–5a). John praises Christ for His redemption, glory, and dominion (1:5b–6). He reminds us that Christ will come in judgment, provoking repentance (1:7). The passage closes with a statement by maybe the Father (cf. 21:6) but more likely the Son (cf. 21:13), calling attention to His eternality and power (1:8).

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
1:1 Dan 2:28–30, 45–47 God gives revelation concerning the future.
1:4 Isa 41:4

Exod 3:14

God is, and He is the first and last.
1:4 Zech 4:2, 10 The Spirit sees all on earth in perfection (cf. Ps 139:7; Rev 3:1; 4:5; 5:6).
1:5 Ps 89:27, 37 God’s faithful witness is through Christ who sits on the Davidic throne, firstborn above all as shown through His resurrection.
1:6 Exod 19:6 Israel was a kingdom whose priests provided access to God. The church is a kingdom of priests who all have access to God.
1:7 Dan 7:13 Christ will come on the clouds in judgment.
1:7 Zech 12:10 Christ was pierced on the cross (cf. John 19:37).

A Parting Thought

If God sees all, knows all, and is sovereign and powerful to bring all things to their rightful judgment through Christ, are you ready for the coming of Christ? Be ready―He is coming soon!

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The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 1:9–20)

This entry is part 3 of 47 in the series Revelation and Its Connections to the OT

Passage Summary

John formally addressed his readers and noted his share of suffering for Christ through exile on Patmos (1:9).The Spirit gave him a vision of Jesus who told John to record his visions to the seven churches (1:10–11). John turned around to further hear and now see Jesus in divine array and standing in the midst of seven lampstands and holding seven stars (1:12–16). Jesus comforted the frightened John and spoke of His eternality, resurrection, and authority over death (1:17–18). He commanded John to write again and explained the stars as messengers to the churches and lampstands as the churches (1:19–20).

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
1:10 Ezek 2:2; 3:12

8:3; 11:1, 24; 37:1; 43:5

Like Ezekiel, John had visions by the Spirit.
1:12–13 Exod 25:37 Lampstands continually dwell in the presence of God (notice Jesus walks in their midst).
1:13–14 Dan 7:9, 13; 10:5–6, 16; Ezek 43:2 The Son of God is as Daniel saw long ago. The robe and sash show His position, the white hair His oneness with the Father in wisdom and eternality, the fiery eyes His seeing all in judgment, the bronzed feet taking His purity wherever He walks, the voice His power.
1:16 Judg 5:31; Isa 11:4; 49:2 The sun shows strength, and the spoken word cuts with judgment.
1:17 Isa 41:4 Like the Father, the Son is the first and last.
1:18 Job 3:18; Hos 13:14 Death is personified. The Taskmaster of the residents of Hades is Jesus, as shown by keys.
1:20 Dan 2:28–30, 45–47 God reveals the unknown (mysteries) concerning the future.

 A Parting Thought

This vision is Jesus’ last appearance to the church. If John fell down as dead, truly comprehending Christ as He is seen here should overwhelm us as well.

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The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 2:1–7)

This entry is part 4 of 47 in the series Revelation and Its Connections to the OT

Passage Summary 

Jesus speaks as the One who holds the seven stars in the midst of the seven lampstands (2:1). He commends the Ephesians for their stand against heresy and endurance (2:2–3), condemns them for losing their first love, perhaps their love for others and one another (2:4), and threatens to remove the church if this love remained unrepentantly absent (2:5). The church was again commended for hating evil works (2:6). Jesus commands the hearers to hear and promises eating from the tree of life to those who conquer (2:7).

 

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
2:4 Jer 2:2 Truly following God has a degree of zeal that sometimes fades away.
2:7a Isa 6:9–11 Those who believe have ears to hear the words of Christ. Cf. Matt 13:9; Luke 8:8; Mark 4:9.
2:7b Gen 2:9;
3:22–24
Those who eat of the tree of life live forever with Him in His paradise.

A Parting Thought

We all share the responsibility of maintaining a zealous love for God and one another in the church. We must show that we truly hear these words (by obeying them!), lest Christ see a lack of love as a whole among the church and remove the church altogether. Those whose love is as it ought to be can be assured by this love and their conquering that they will one day eat from the tree of life.

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The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 2:8–11)

This entry is part 5 of 47 in the series Revelation and Its Connections to the OT

Passage Summary 

Jesus speaks to the church in Smyrna as the First and Last, the One who died and came to life (2:8). He acknowledged the suffering of the believers at the hands of Satanically-driven Jews (2:9). He then prophesied that some of them would be imprisoned for ten days and admonished them to be faithful unto death, implying that some or all of the imprisoned would be executed for their faith (2:10). Such death would yield a crown of life, an accessory perhaps literal and certainly symbolic of eternal life (2:10). Jesus commanded the hearers to hear and promised no harm from the second death (the lake of fire; cf. 20:14), a special comfort for those whose physical death was near (2:11).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
2:10 Dan 1:12–15 Testing would be for ten days, perhaps for refusing to worship the king or emperor.

 A Parting Thought

 Satan will do all he can to crush our faith. Whether imprisonment or pressure from the government or someone else in some other way, let us be faithful to endure and know that we shall not experience the second death but receive a crown of life!

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The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 2:12–17)

This entry is part 6 of 47 in the series Revelation and Its Connections to the OT

Passage Summary

Jesus speaks to the church in Pergamum as the One who has the sharp two-edged sword, which will come from His mouth to slay the nations (2:12; cf. 19:15). Jesus acknowledged that Satan’s dwelling-place and throne were in Pergamum, implying his role in persecution in light of how the believers did not deny the faith in the days of the now-martyred Antipas (2:13). However, Jesus spoke against those who held to teaching that allowed for idolatry and immorality (2:14–15) and commanded them to repent, lest He war against them with the sword of His mouth (2:16). Jesus commanded the hearers to hear and promised the overcomer hidden manna, perhaps a reference to Himself (2:17; cf. John 6:35, 48) or manna stored in the heavens above (cf. Ex 16:4). He also promised a white stone with a new name thereon, perhaps the name of God (cf. 3:12), inviting the recipient to the marriage feast of the Lamb (cf. 19:9), similar to how pagans at that time might invite one another to a feast for one of their gods. The primary idea in 2:17 seems to be eating in a setting that confirms to the overcomer that he has come to enjoy eternal life in full.

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
2:12 Isa 49:2 The sword is one of judgment, warring against its hearers when it is bared (cf. Isa 11:4).
2:14 Num 22:5-25:3; 31:8, 16 Idolatry and immorality came by Balaam’s teaching, sins in Pergamum as well.
2:17 Exod 16:4, 31–36 Manna is God’s provision for life from heaven, physical in the OT, spiritual in NT.
2:17 Isa 62:2; 65:15 God’s people are called by a new name that He will give, showing them to be His people.

 A Parting Thought

Heresy in the church brings the wrath of Christ. Let us be those who persevere not just in the face of persecution but also in teaching the truth so that we might enjoy hidden manna at the feast to which we are invited in the life to come!

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The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 2:18–29)

This entry is part 7 of 47 in the series Revelation and Its Connections to the OT

Passage Summary

Jesus speaks to the church in Thyatira as the One whose eyes are like a flame and whose feet are like burnished bronze, something noteworthy to people known for their bronze works (2:18). He commended them for their love, faith, service, patient endurance, and increased service (2:19) but rebuked those in the church who tolerated Jezebel who encouraged idolatry and immorality (2:20). Jezebel was unrepentant, would be judged with sickness and the loss of her children, and her lovers would experience tribulation, all of which would show Christ to know the hearts and minds of men (2:21–23). Others forsook her Satanic teaching and were given an exhortation to endure (2:24–45). Jesus commanded the hearers to hear and promised the overcomer authority and rule with Him, the morning star, when He returned (2:26–29; cf. 22:16).

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
2:18 Dan 10:16 Legs of burnished bronze are seen in both texts.
2:20 1 Kgs 16:31; 21:25–26; 2 Kgs 8:18; 9:22 Jezebel was idolatrous and immoral and incited Ahab just as the NT Jezebel incited sin as well.
2:23a Prov 24:12; Jer 11:20; 17:10 God knows the minds and hearts of men (cf. Ps 7:9; 26:2; 28:4) and repays man according to his works (cf. Ps 62:12).
2:27 Ps 2:7–9; Isa 30:14; Jer 19:11 Christ will rule with a rod of iron, crushing opposition as one smashes pottery with a rod of iron.
2:28 Num 24:17 Christ is the star from Jacob who came from Israel to reign, a rule shared by overcomers.

A Parting Thought

Tribulation and death come from Christ to those bring idolatry and immorality into the church. Let us prevail in purity so that we will rule with Him in time to come!

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 3:1–6)

This entry is part 8 of 47 in the series Revelation and Its Connections to the OT

Passage Summary 

Jesus speaks to the church in Sardis as the One who has the seven spirits of God and seven stars (3:1). Once vibrant with works, the church was now dead, a fitting analogy for a city surrounded by burial mounds (3:2). Yet, something good remained, which was the basis for Christ to exhort them to strengthen themselves and do their works again (3:2). Christ commanded them to keep what they knew they had received and heard and to repent, complete with the threat of coming to judge them (3:3). Some had not sinned, figuratively described as not having soiled their garments (an offense that could remove one from the city’s list of citizens), and their worthy character was rewarded with the promise to walk with Jesus in white, a fitting analogy for a city that specialized in wool trade (3:4). Jesus commanded the hearers to hear and promised the overcomer to be clothed in white, have his name as a permanent entry in the book of life, and have his name confessed before the Father and the angels (3:5–6).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
3:1 Zech 4:2, 10 The Spirit sees all on earth in perfection (cf. Ps 139:7; Rev 1:4; 4:5; 5:6).
3:4 Ecc 9:8 Wearing white was an expression of joy and happiness that comes from the blessings of life.
3:5 Exod 32:32–33; Ps 69:27–28; Ezek 13:9 Those whose names remain in the book mentioned in the OT, and those whose names are in the NT book of life are those with eternal life (cf. Rev cf. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27).

 A Parting Thought

Even seemingly dead Christians can strengthen what remains and complete good works for Christ. For those who persevere, think of what it will be to hear Christ’s approval of you before the heavenly court in time to come!

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The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 3:7–13)

This entry is part 9 of 47 in the series Revelation and Its Connections to the OT

Passage Summary

Jesus speaks to the church in Philadelphia as the holy and true One who has the key of David and thus the power to allow entrance into His kingdom or not (3:7). His door to this kingdom is open to them, and He commends them for keeping His Word and not denying His name (3:8). Despite their little power, their opponents would bow before their feet and know Christ loved them (3:9). Christ would also preserve them from the hour that would try all unbelievers on earth (3:10). This protection would be soon, which was motivation for endurance and being ready for His arrival to receive their crowns (3:11). Jesus promised the overcomer to be a pillar in God’s temple, symbolic of his permanent future in His kingdom, and to be inscribed with the names of God, the New Jerusalem, and Himself, all indicating his standing in God and Christ and residence in the New Jerusalem to come (3:12). Those with ears were to hear the Spirit’s words (3:13).

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
3:7 Isa 22:22 The authority of kingdom entrance or denial is given to Him who holds the key (cf. Isa 45:1).
3:9 Isa 49:23; 60:14; Ps 86:9 The enemies of God’s people will bow before God’s people because He loves them (cf. Isa 43:4)
3:12 Isa 56:3–5; 62:2; 65:15;   Eze 48:35 The name of God, a new name, and the name of the city are for those who reside with Him forever.

A Parting Thought

A promise to the churches is that we will be spared from the hour to come that ravages those who dwell on earth, those who will bow before the ones they previously persecuted. Instead, we will be blessed to reside in Jesus’ eternal kingdom!

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The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 3:7–13)

This entry is part 10 of 47 in the series Revelation and Its Connections to the OT

Passage Summary

Jesus speaks to the church in Laodicea as the One who speaks truth and was present at the creation (3:14). Neither hot like water from a spring nor cold like water from a mountain stream, the Laodiceans were said to be distastefully lukewarm (3:15–16). Citizens of a wealthy city known for wool and eye medicine, they claimed physical prosperity but were yet described as “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (3:17). They needed faith and to be clothed with true righteousness that comes from spiritual sight (3:18). Jesus’ love and reproof were meant for their zeal to repent (3:19). Were they to respond to his rebuke knocking at their door, He would come to dine with him, perhaps a reference to His coming and the great feast thereafter (cf. 2:25; 3:3; 19:9). Jesus promised the overcomer to join Him on His throne as He has done with the Father (3:21). Those with ears were to hear the Spirit’s words (3:22).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
3:14 Gen 49:3;
Deut 21:17
The Beginning of creation is Him who caused it to begin, making Him preeminent therein, as a firstborn is preeminent among his siblings.
3:14 Isa 65:16 A Hebrew form of amen is used of the God of truth, maybe an allusion and applied to Jesus.
3:18 Prov 17:3;   Zech 13:9 Something purified and given by Christ, this gold may be faith purified through trials.
3:19 Prov 3:12 Christ promised reproof to the Laodiceans because of His love for them as His children.

 A Parting Thought

Faith, righteousness, and illumination―all of these come from Christ who then promises us to reign with Him for having such as these and the works that come from them. What a gracious Savior we have!

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