How to Interpret Revelation

By Sam Caldwell

Some Initial Helps

The key to understanding the book of Revelation is this: there are seven main sections of Revelation that all picture the same period from different angles. This article is devoted to proving that this is the most biblical, faithful, and fruitful way of interpreting this Christ-exalting book of the Bible. 

The seven sections of Revelation depict the time spanning from Christ’s first coming to His second coming, each from a different perspective. The focus in each is what we think of as the “church age” – Christ has come, and His people, both Jew and Gentile, are being gathered together. Many of the visions also include a glimpse of the age that will be inaugurated immediately after Christ’s second coming, “the New Heavens and New Earth.” The focus is always on Christ’s triumph through His people in this present church age, culminating in judgment day and the New Heavens and New Earth. 

It is vital to grasp this structure of the book of Revelation. A proper understanding of the structure will make the whole book come alive before your eyes, as each vision will be immediately applicable to the church and the world around us. Each vision will inform us of Christ’s unstoppable triumph, the impotence of all satanic world powers, and the display of Christ’s glory in human history.  

Again, we are thinking of the seven sections of Revelation as “visions,” “angles,” or “perspectives” that focus on the time between Christ’s first and second coming. These seven main sections are as follows: 

1) 1:1–3:22 The Son of Man and the Seven Churches 

2) 4:1–8:1 The Lamb and the Seven Seals of God’s Scroll

3) 8:2–11:19 The Seven Trumpets

4) 12:1–14:20 The War with the Dragon 

5) 15:1–16:21 The Seven Bowls of Wrath 

6) 17:1–19:21 The Fall of Babylon the Whore

7) 20:1–22:21 The Victory of Jerusalem the Bride 

Since each of those seven visions gives us a glorious picture of the whole church age, we can say that John is writing in a “recapitulatory” way. “Recapitulation” means that John is repeating his vision of a certain era in history, but doing so with variations. (Think of when we watch a “recap” of last week’s news events, for example.) This may also be called a “cyclical” or “parallel” structure. John gives one vision, then circles back around, and takes another look at the very same thing. 

This cyclical way of reading Revelation is different from how many people approach the book, but it is not a historically novel approach. Pre-millennial (and some post-millennial) believers approach Revelation as chronological, where the events in chapters 6 through 20 move in a linear fashion, from earliest to latest. The simplest way to prove that this chronological approach is deficient is to notice that the chapters of Revelation contain repeated material. This repeated material undeniably suggests, again, that the same time periods are being depicted from different angles. A linear, chronological reading cannot account for such repetitions, but instead tries to make different events out of them. The faulty chronological approach usually results in an unnecessarily complex view of the end times, and makes large parts of Revelation irrelevant for the church. 

Also note that in Chapter 1, John gives us four “signposts” that should direct our understanding of the rest of the book. You may think of these as “table-of-contents verses,” because they give some indication of what Revelation will contain. 

In 1:1, we find that Christ is going to reveal “things that must shortly take place.” That suggests that we are not waiting forever to find application for the contents of this book. 

In 1:2, John says he will bear witness to “the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.” That should be our focus as we read, then: what God has to say, how people and events witness to Jesus, and John’s faithful recording of his visions. 

In 1:3, we find that blessings come upon those who read and keep this book for a specific reason: “for the time is near.” This again indicates that the book’s application should not be delayed for some future time. 

And finally, in 1:19, John is commanded: “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.” We can be sure that John will be recording: i) things he had seen in his lifetime, ii) present realities in the church age, and iii) things that will take place after that. 

The cyclical approach allows us to follow all of those “signposts” as we read through the seven church age visions.  

One Proof that the Cyclical Interpretation is True: The Day of the Lord appears Seven Times 

Let’s start with an example of how John’s recapitulatory writing works. Here is a simple proof that Revelation should be read cyclically: the day of the Lord is described in seven different places in the book. On a premillennial interpretation, one would have to see each of those descriptions as describing different events. On a cyclical understanding of the book, we can see that the return of Christ is described seven times because John is giving us seven informative visions of the same event

Here are the seven times when the day of the Lord (when Christ returns in judgment) is depicted: 

1) Revelation 1:7: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” 

2) In Revelation 6:12–17, the sixth seal is a depiction of the Day of the Lord. See 6:17: “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who shall be able to stand?”

3) In Revelation 11:15–19, the seventh trumpet is the Day of the Lord. See 11:18, where the dead are judged, and Christ’s servants are rewarded: “The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints.”

4) In Revelation 14:6–13, angels proclaim the Day of the Lord. See 14:7: “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come.” 

5) In Revelation 16:17–21, the seventh bowl depicts the Day of the Lord. See 16:17: “and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’” And 16:19: “And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.”

6) Revelation 19:11–21. Here we see Christ returning on a white horse to “judge and make war” (19:11). In 19:15, “He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” In 19:20 the Beast and False Prophet are “captured” and “cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.”  

7) Revelation 20:11–15. Here we read of the “great white throne judgment,” which is not a different event in eschatology, but the exact same event as we just saw described in the six passages above. Here “the dead were judged according to their works” (20:12), “Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire” (20:14), and “anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (20:15). 

If we read through those passages, we will find that they are describing the very same event – the Day of the Lord, when Christ returns in judgment – but each time John is highlighting something different about the stakes of that event. Only a cyclical reading can properly account for such repetitions. 

The Realities we will find in each of John’s Seven Visions 

But the Day of the Lord is only one of the events repeated in the book of Revelation. The cyclical pattern of the book can further be proven if you consider that each of John’s seven visions includes many other repeated realities within it. In each of John’s pictures of the church age, we will repeatedly find the following phenomena: 

1) Christ’s victory through His cross and resurrection. Each section gives a glimpse of Christ’s work at His first coming. This is not always described in full, but some element of Christ’s incarnation (12:5), life, death (1:5, 5:1–7), resurrection (1:18; 12:5), ascension (12:5), session (12:5, 15:1–4), or intercession (8:2–6) are typically present toward the start of each church-age depiction. This often includes some mention of Christ’s decisive victory over evil, or His triumph over Satan at the cross (15:1–4; 17:14; 18:1–2; 20:1–3). Every time, we are reminded that the cross and resurrection are Christ’s decisive victories over Satan. The church age is then full of shock waves coming from that decisive victory. 

2) Evil foments, and the devil rages because of Christ’s victory. In every vision, Christ has triumphed over Satan in His cross and resurrection, and yet evil still remains in the world, and Satan still holds some sway. Each church age depiction includes a picture of evil fomenting in reaction to Christ’s victory. This also results in many tribulations, trials, or persecutions for the people of God (see #5 below). 

3) The world is judged. During the church age, the world is being judged through various natural disasters and expressions of evil (temporal judgment), and will be judged decisively on judgment day (final judgment). 

4) The people of God triumph. In every vision, we meet a triumphant church. This includes believers from both Jewish and Gentile heritage. The Book of Revelation is entirely consonant with the rest of the New Testament, which teaches that God has “made one new man” out of the previous Jew-Gentile division (Ephesians 2:15). These people are pictured as triumphing through Christ in every one of John’s seven visions. 

5) Periods of tribulation, and often some mention of a “great tribulation.” Each vision depicts times when the church suffers at the hands of the world and the devil. Sometimes this comes in the form of extreme trials, like martyrdom, and sometimes in the form of perennial battles against spiritual forces. 

6) The second coming of Christ in Final Judgment. This singular event is also called “judgment day,” “the day of the Lord,” and “final judgment.” It will immediately include in its scope the “second death” and the “second resurrection,” which are the same as the “resurrection of the just and the unjust” that Paul and Jesus speak of (see Acts 24:15; Matthew 25:46).  

7) New Heavens and New Earth. This element is not included in every picture of the church age, but it is included in many. Properly speaking, the New Heavens and New Earth take us out of the church age into “the age to come” (Matt. 12:32; Eph. 1:21) or “eternity.” The New Heavens and New Earth is frequently mentioned in John’s seven visions as a source of comfort and hope for the saints who are enduring the phenomena depicted in each recapitulation of the church age.  

The Seven Sections of Revelation and a Commentary on the Realities that Appear Repeatedly in Each 

Now we will go through every one of John’s seven visions. We will offer a brief commentary on the content of these visions, as it appears cyclically. 

Section 1: Revelation 1:1–3:22: The Son of Man and the Seven Churches 

In this section, each church addressed was a real church in Asia minor, while the seven churches are also representative of spiritual realities that local churches will undergo during the church age. 

i) Christ’s victory in the cross and resurrection 

This is mentioned in the prologue, Rev. 1:5: “and from Jesus, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” In 1:18 we hear of Christ’s resurrection: “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.” And again in 2:8: “These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life.”  

ii) Evil fomenting and the devil raging because of that victory

Many of the churches in Revelation 2–3 experience the threat of evil around them: Rev. 2:2, 2:6, 2:9, 2:10, 2:13, 2:20. 

iii) The world being judged

One of the ways Christ brings comfort to the seven churches is by assuring them that He will take vengeance on, and judge, the evil that surrounds them (Rev. 2:6; 2:15; 2:20–22; 2:26–27; 3:10). 

iv) The church triumphing

In the prologue, John announces the triumphant status of the New Testament church, saying that God “has made us kings and priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:6). Christ leaves each church with a comforting promise to “those who overcome” (Rev. 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:26, 3:5, 3:12, 3:21), and we hear of churches bearing up incredibly under the strain of persecution (2:19, 3:4, 3:8) and reigning with Christ, both in this age and in the age to come (2:26–7, 3:9, 3:21). 

v) Periods of tribulation and a great tribulation  

Tribulation is first mentioned in the prologue, Rev. 1:9 “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ,” and again in Rev. 2:3, 2:9, 2:10, 2:13, 3:10. Great tribulation is mentioned in 2:22. 

vi) Second Coming of Christ in Final Judgment 

The Second Coming of Christ is described both in the prologue (1:7: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.”) and in some of the promises to the churches (see 2:11, 2:23, 3:5).  

vii) New Heavens and New Earth 

The New Heavens and New Earth are often mentioned in the promises Christ gives to the overcoming saints (see 2:7, 2:17, 2:28, 3:12). 

Section 2: Revelation 4:1–8:1: The Lamb and the Seven Seals 

This second section is distinctly a vision from heaven (see 4:1–2). It depicts Christ’s triumph and the unfolding of the seven seals of God’s judgment throughout the church age. 

i) Christ’s victory in the cross and resurrection 

In 4:1–11, God is depicted as victorious in heaven. In 5:5, Christ “has prevailed to open the scroll, and to loose its seven seals.” Notice that He prevails as the “Lamb as though it had been slain” (5:6). In 5:8–14 the reign of the Lamb – again based upon His triumphing through death – is proclaimed.

ii) Evil fomenting and the devil raging because of that victory

This is depicted in the first six seals of 6:1–17, which are visions of evil unfolding during the church age. 

iii) The world being judged

In the six seals of 6:1-17, the evil spreading throughout the earth is in itself a judgment. The world is finally judged at the opening of the sixth seal (6:12–17), which is judgment day. 

iv) The church triumphing

Revelation 4:1–11 depicts a scene in heaven with God victorious on His throne, 24 elders surrounding, and 4 good beasts. This is the worshipping church triumphant in heaven. Rev. 5:8–14 again depicts the church at worship. In chapter 7, the triumphant people of God are first depicted in 7:1–8 as the 144,000 “sealed,” which is a reference to the sealing of the Holy Spirit at regeneration. The number “144,000” is “12 times 12 times 1000,” which is John’s figurative way of depicting the multitude of God’s people, with special reference to their Jewish heritage. That triumphant group of people is then shown again in the parallel picture of 7:9–17 as the “great multitude which no one could number.”  

v) Periods of tribulation and final great tribulation  

In 6:9–11 we hear the cry of the martyrs. In 7:9–17 we hear of those who “came out of great tribulation” (7:14). 

vi) Second Coming of Christ in Final Judgment 

The Day of the Lord is explicitly depicted in 6:12–17, when the 6th seal is opened, and we get a glimpse of the cosmic disturbances that accompany judgment day. See 6:17: “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who shall be able to stand?”

vii) New Heavens and New Earth 

In 7:9–17 we find that those who have come out of great tribulation are now before the throne in heaven. Rev. 7:15–17 depicts the New Heavens and New Earth exactly as it will appear in Rev. 21:1–5, 21:9–27, and 22:1–5. 

As a side note: 8:1 mentions the opening of the seventh seal. This enigmatic silence may speak to the completion of the vision in chapters 4 through 7. It may also be confirmation of the realities of heaven in 7:9–17. The mysterious “no sound” of 8:1 can be compared to the mysterious “time no longer” of 10:6. 

Section 3: Revelation 8:2–11:19: Seven Trumpets 

i) Christ’s victory in His cross and resurrection

In this vision, Christ’s victory in His cross and resurrection is not explicitly mentioned. However, in 8:2–6, the effects of the cross and resurrection are mentioned: the prayers of the saints could only be offered because of the Mediation and Intercession of Christ (Rom. 8:34), and the intercessory work of the Holy Spirit in the church age (Rom. 8:26).  

ii) Evil fomenting and the devil raging because of that victory

We hear of a connection between the triumph of Christ and cosmic disturbance in 8:5. The seven trumpets of chapters 8–10 all warn of judgment upon the evil that foments throughout the church age. 

iii) The world being judged

Again, the seven trumpets of chapters 8–10 announce God’s judgment upon the evils of the world.  

iv) The church triumphing

In 8:2–6, we find the church triumphing through prayer. In 11:1–6, God’s “two witnesses” are powerful in prayer, and in 11:11–14 they are resurrected. 

v) Periods of tribulation and great tribulation  

In this vision, the trumpets announce evil and judgment, which also produce tribulation for the church. In 10:8–11 John must eat the little book, which is sweet in the mouth but bitter in the belly – a figure of the trials John must prophesy. In 11:7–10, the two witnesses are murdered. 

vi) Second Coming of Christ in Final Judgment 

In 11:11–14 the resurrection of the two witnesses points toward the final resurrection of the just. 

At the seventh trumpet of 11:15–19, we hear of Christ’s second coming and final judgment. We find that Christ “has taken great power, and reigned” in 11:17. The dead are judged and Christ’s servants are rewarded in 11:18.

vii) New Heavens and New Earth 

This third vision only gives hints of the New Heavens and New Earth. In 10:6–7 we hear that there will be “time (or delay) no longer” and that the “mystery of God will be finished (or completed).” 11:19 also gives a brief glimpse of heaven: “Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple.”  

Section 4: Revelation 12:1–14:20: War with the Dragon 

i) Christ’s victory at the cross and resurrection 

This is described vividly and undeniably in 12:1–10. Revelation 12:5 is a glorious snapshot of Christ’s first coming: “She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.” 

ii) Evil fomenting and the devil raging because of Christ’s victory

Since this vision focuses on Christ’s war with Satan (the dragon), chapters 12 through 14 have a lot to say about the satanic activity that follows the victory of the cross in 12:1–10. Rev. 12:12 announces that “the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” In 12:15–17, the woman is persecuted by the raging dragon. In 13:1–10, the Beast from the Sea is a counterfeit of Jesus. In 13:11–18, the Beast from the Earth (called the “False Prophet” in 16:13, 19:20, and 20:10) is a counterfeit of the Holy Spirit. In 13:16–18 the mark of the beast is a counterfeit of the sealing of the Holy Spirit (Rev. 7:1–8; Eph. 1:13). The “mark of the beast” is a sign of spiritual allegiance to the world; it is present among reprobate people throughout the entire church age. 

iii) The world being judged

In 12:12 we see woe pronounced against the “earth and the sea.” In 13:16–18, the mark of the beast is a sign of allegiance to the Beast and the world. It is a mark of God’s reprobation and God’s judgment. 

iv) The church triumphing

In 12:11 we hear of triumphant saints, who “overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” In 14:1–5 we see the Lamb and the 144,000 redeemed ones, who are victoriously singing and faithful. 

v) Periods of tribulation and final great tribulation  

In Rev. 12:6, the woman flees to the wilderness. In 12:13–14 the dragon persecutes the woman, and the woman is able to “fly” away “from the presence of the serpent.” In 13:10, we hear of “the patience and the faith of the saints” as they undergo tribulation. In 14:12–13 we hear of the deceptive power of the Beast from the Earth, otherwise known as the False Prophet (16:13, 19:20, 20:10). 

vi) Second Coming of Christ in Final Judgment 

In Rev. 14:7 we hear an angel announcing that “the hour of [God’s] judgment is come.” Rev. 14:6–20 is an explicit picture of final judgment at Christ’s return.  

vii) New Heavens and New Earth 

Rev. 14:1–5 depicts the scene in heaven of “a Lamb standing on Mount Zion” and 144,000 happy saints with Him. 144,000 is a number signifying the completeness of God’s people (12x12x1000). 

Section 5: Revelation 15:1–16:21: Seven Bowls of Wrath 

i) Christ’s victory in His cross and resurrection 

Rev. 15:1-4 describes the effect of Christ’s cross and resurrection – the triumphant saints singing “the song of Moses, and of the Lamb.” Here they are proclaiming that God’s “judgments have been manifested,” which happens both in history, during the church age (as in the seven bowls of wrath to be poured out in chapters 15 and 16), and in the gospel itself (see Romans 1:16–18). 

ii) Evil fomenting and the devil raging because of that victory

As the bowls of God’s wrath are poured out throughout the church age, we see, for example, men who “blaspheme the name of God who has power over these plagues” (16:9), and we see these forces of anti-Christian evil “going out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (16:14). 

iii) The world being judged

The seven bowls of God’s wrath (16:2–21) are explicitly said to be expressions of God’s judgment upon a sinful earth (15:5–16:1). 

iv) The church triumphing

The expressions of God’s wrath in this vision are also expressions of vengeance on behalf of an ultimately triumphant church. In 16:6 it says, “For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, And You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.”  

v) Periods of tribulation and a great tribulation  

We hear that the saints have suffered persecution in 16:6, and in 16:14–16 we hear of evil forces gathering for a final battle of Armageddon, which is the final great tribulation mentioned elsewhere (see Rev. 7:14; 20:7–9).

vi) Second Coming of Christ in Final Judgment 

The second coming of Christ and His final judgment are depicted in 16:17–21. The finality of judgment day is dramatized in the words “It is done” of 16:17.  

vii) New Heavens and New Earth 

Some foretaste of the New Heavens and New Earth is given in in 15:1–4, where we read of those who have ultimate victory over the beast (15:2) holding “harps of God” (15:2) and singing the Song of Moses and of the Lamb (15:3–4). 

Section 6: Revelation 17:1–19:21: Fall of Babylon the Whore 

i) Christ’s victory in the cross and resurrection 

The effects of Christ’s victory are spelled out in 17:14 and especially in 18:1–2, where we read that “Babylon has fallen.” The decisive victory over all worldly evil (of which Babylon is the representative image) was won at the cross. This is how Paul puts it: “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it [the cross]” (Colossians 2:15). 

ii) Evil fomenting and the devil raging because of that victory

In 17:1–18, we read of the Woman and the Beast. The Woman is the image of the world’s militant sexual abomination (17:2, 17:4), intoxication (17:2), greed (18:3) and violence (18:13, 18:24). The Beast is a counterfeit of Christ (17:8), who thrives on state power (17:9, 10, 12–13). In 17:1 the angel tells John, “I will show you the judgment of the great harlot.” We are watching Babylon, already doomed because Christ has won, writhing in death throes, and jumping in bed with the state powers of the world (17:7–9, 17:13). 

iii) The world being judged

The world powers of Babylon and the Beast are already doomed to the judgment of the Lamb (17:14, 18:1–2), who will “overcome them” with His saints reigning by His side (17:14).  

iv) The church triumphing

While Babylon falls, the church triumphs with the Lamb (17:14). The church is called out of Babylon (18:4). The church watches as God takes vengeance on Babylon (18:20). 

And the church exalts in final victory over Babylon (19:1–10). 

v) Periods of tribulation and a great tribulation 

Throughout this vision of the church age, we know that the church has suffered major persecution, because we hear that Babylon is “drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs” (17:6; 18:24).  

vi) Second Coming of Christ in Final Judgment 

Christ’s second coming in judgment is inevitable as early as the “the judgment of the great harlot” mentioned in 17:1. We then hear that Babylon’s ultimate overthrow will come “in one day” (18:8), and she is decisively put down in 18:21–24. In 19:1–9 we hear the exultant triumph song in heaven. In 19:11–16 we hear of Christ returning and judging, riding on a white horse. The final expression of Christ’s wrath against earthly evil, in John’s sixth vision, comes in 19:17–21. 

vii) New Heavens and New Earth 

The glorious heavenly worship scene of 19:1–9 depicts the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb.” This is the final heavenly consummation of the betrothal Christ’s church enjoyed while on earth (2 Cor. 11:2).  

Section 7: Revelation 20:1–22:21: The Victory of Jerusalem the Bride 

i) Christ’s victory in His cross and resurrection 

In this seventh and final vision, Christ’s victory in His cross and resurrection is depicted as a binding of Satan for one thousand years (20:1–3), explicitly “so that he should deceive the nations no more” (20:3). This is the millennial reign of Christ, when God’s gospel can go forth freely. This is exactly what our Lord spoke of in John 17:2 and Matthew 28:18. The decisive fact of the church age highlighted here is that Satan can no longer prevent the Gentiles from coming into the kingdom as he was able to do before Christ (Isa. 14:12; 25:7), nor can he keep them “in times of ignorance” (Acts 17:30). The angel who “comes down from heaven” and “lays hold on the dragon” in Revelation 20:1–2 is “the one who hinders” the wicked one in 2 Thessalonians 2:7. 

ii) Evil fomenting and the devil raging because of that victory

During the millennial kingdom, which is the church age, Satan continues to rage. This is consonant with what we have seen with all other 6 visions in the book of Revelation. Indeed, we read elsewhere that Satan rages because his time is short (Rev. 12:12). Moreover, we know from the rest of the New Testament that Satan continues to “hinder” (1 Thess. 2:18) and to “prowl about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8), for example, even while he has been bound so that he cannot deceive the nations (Rev. 20:3). Later in this seventh vision, we hear that righteousness and unrighteousness will continue to coexist until judgment day (22:11). Regarding the millennial church age, Satan particularly rages when he is “released for a little while” at its end (20:3, 7–8). 

iii) The world being judged

The world is in one sense judged when Satan is locked up and no longer able to deceive the nations (20:3). The sins of the world are judged in Rev. 21:8. And a final judgment is pronounced upon anyone who adds to the book of Revelation in 22:18–19. 

iv) The church triumphing

The church is shown to be powerfully triumphant in this final seventh vision. In 20:4–6 we read that the church is reigning with Christ for the 1000-year church age, because of the “first resurrection.” This “first resurrection” is the regenerate new life of all believers in the church age. Those who take part in the Christian “resurrection life” do not suffer the judgment of the second death (20:6). In 21:7, we even hear that “he who overcomes shall inherit all things,” just like in 1 Corinthians 3:21–23. In Rev. 22:6–17 we hear of some final blessed promises to Christ’s triumphant church. 

v) Periods of tribulation and a great tribulation  

A final great tribulation is depicted in Rev. 20:3, where we hear that Satan “must be loosed a little season.” This same reality is further described in 20:7–10. Note that the saints are present for this time of satanic loosing and great tribulation; in 20:9 it says, “They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city.” 

vi) Second Coming of Christ in Final Judgment  

Christ’s second coming and judgment day are depicted many times in this seventh vision. The judgment of the unjust is called the “second death” in 20:6; it is further described in 21:8. The devil, beast, and false prophet are finally judged in 20:10. The “great white throne judgment” is the ultimate depiction of judgment day (20:11–15). Christ’s return is promised one more time in the second-to-last verse of Revelation (22:20). 

vii) New Heavens and New Earth 

This seventh and final vision is dominated by stunning depictions of the New Heavens and New Earth. For these, see: 21:1–5; 21:9–27; and 22:1–5. May the saints take courage. 

I pray that this study will help you open up the book of Revelation for your daily meditation and life. I pray that we may all come to see that each one of John’s seven visions is describing the church age right here and right now. This is the time to be the church. This is the time to watch and pray. This is the time to advance Christ’s kingdom. What are we waiting for?