Archives For revelation


In this first post in a series of five about the doctrine of Scripture–bibliology–I’d like to introduce you to general and special revelation. In later posts I want to look at the Trinity, sin, salvation, and the church. But before discussing those topics I want to describe for you general revelation and special revelation. Here are a brief outline and definition of those terms. 

Bibliology: General Revelation and Special Revelation

Photo Credit: Chris Yarzab

Would you like to use this post in a small group? 
Become a Patron of my blog and get the handout here. 


The phrase “general revelation” means that God’s revelation is available to all people at all times. It is something seen in creation and our everyday lives. Here are a few other definitions of general revelation:

“General revelation includes all that God has revealed in the world around us, including man.” (Ryrie, Basic Theology, 31)

“General revelation comes through observing nature, through seeing God’s directing influence in history, and through an inner sense of God’s existence and his laws that he has placed inside of every person.” (Gruedem, Systematic Theology, 123)

In one of King David’s psalms he speaks about God’s general revelation through creation: Continue Reading…


A. Past Blog Posts

B. Text of Rev 11:1-14

1He gave me something like a measuring rod saying: “Get up and measure the temple of God, altar, and the ones worshipping there. 2But, regarding the courtyard outside of the temple he said to leave it out and don’t measure it because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample the holy city for forty-two months. 3I will give my two witnesses power and they will prophesy for 1,260 days while dressed in sackcloth.” 4(These two witnesses are the two olive trees and two lampstands which have been standing before the Lord of the earth.) 5If anyone wants to injure my two witnesses fire will come from their mouths and devour their enemies. If anyone wants to injure them, then it is necessary for that person to die. 6They will have power to shut the heavens so that it will not rain during the time of their prophesy. They will have power over water to turn it into blood and to strike the earth with every plague as often as they want. 7When they finish their testimony the beast which comes up out of the abyss will make war against them, conquer them, and kill them. 8So their dead bodies will lie on the street of the great city which is spiritually called “Sodom” and “Egypt.” It is where our Lord was crucified. 9And people from every people, nation, language, and group will see the dead bodies for three and a half days. Their bodies will lay there because no one will be allowed to put the two witnesses in a tomb. 10As a result, everyone who lives on earth will rejoice over the two witnesses, celebrate, and send gifts to each other because these two witnesses harassed the ones who live on the earth. 11Yet, after three and a half days the breath of life from God went into them. They stood up on their feet and great fear fell on the people who saw the two witnesses. 12Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them: “Come up here.” So they ascended through the clouds into heaven while their enemies watched. 13It was at this time that there was a great earthquake which brought down one-tenth of the city. In the earthquake seven thousand people died. Then the rest of the people were afraid and gave praise to the God of heaven. 14The second woe has passed. Look! The third woe is coming soon. (Rev 11:1-14) 1

The Two Witnesses of Rev 11.1 to 11.14

Photo Credit: Phillip Medhurst

C. General Remarks about Rev 11:1-14

“During the Great Tribulation Satan will use two men—the Antichrist and the false prophet—to carry out his evil agenda. At the same time, God will raise up two brigh tlights to shine for Him in the darkness. These two men, called the two witnesses, and Revelation 11:3-14 describes their ministry. God will anoint these two special witnesses who will minister on His behalf amid the darkness and devastation. Just as John the Baptist was the forerunner for the Messiah, these two witness will pave the way for His return.” (Hitchcock, The End, 345)

“chapter 11 has been generally acknowledged to be one of the most perplexing sections of the entire book” (Bruce Metzger, Breaking the Code, 68).

“chapter 11 is one of the most difficult to interpret in the entire book” (Walvoord, Revelation, 177).

“People find many books puzzling, but he Bible is often the most puzzling of all. People find many parts of the Bible puzzling, but Revelation is often seen as the most puzzling book of all. And people find Revelation puzzling, but the first half of chapter 11 – the passage now before us – is, for many, the most puzzling part of all.” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 97)

“The many interpretations of the two witnesses make this one of the most debated passages in the book and indicate its importance” (Osborne, Revelation, 417).

Before we start to study Rev 11:1-14 I want to start by telling you that I see this as real people, actual places, true events, and literal numbers.


A. Measure the Temple; Count the Worshipers (v. 1)

Καὶ ἐδόθη μοι κάλαμος ὅμοιος ῥάβδῳ, λέγων· ἔγειρε καὶ μέτρησον τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον καὶ τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας ἐν αὐτῷ.

He gave me something like a measuring rod saying: “Get up and measuring the temple of God, altar, and the ones worshiping there.” (Rev 11:1)

1. The Measuring Rod

The literal phrase here is, “And something like a measure rod was given to me, saying.”

This measuring rod is a bamboo like item that grew on the banks of the Jordan river. It could be anywhere between ten feet (Osborne, Revelation, 409) and twenty feet in length (Walter Kaiser and Duane Garrett, eds., “Revelation,” The Archaeological Study Bible [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005], 2059 quoted in Walvoord, Revelation, 178).

2. Temple Continue Reading…


  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own. I used the NA28 Greek text


A. Past Lessons

B. Text of Rev 8:1-5

“1When the Lamb opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2Then I saw seven angels who had been standing in front of the throne and they were given seven trumpets. 3Then another angel came and stood near the altar holding a golden censer and a large amount of incense was given to him so that he can give the prayers of the many saints on the golden altar. 4Then the smoke of the incense from the prayers of the saints ascended up out of the hand of the angel in front of God’s throne. 5Next the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire from the altar and threw it on the earth. Then there was thunder, noise, lightening, and an earthquake.” (Rev 8:1-5) 1

The Lamb Breaks the Seventh Seal (Rev 8:1-5)

Matthias Gerung: “The Opening of the Seventh Seal and the First Four Sounding Trumpets, Revelation 8:1-13”


A. The Seventh Seal’s Silence (v. 1)

Καὶ ὅταν ἤνοιξεν τὴν σφραγῖδα τὴν ἑβδόμην, ἐγένετο σιγὴ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ ὡς ἡμιώριον.

“When the Lamb opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” (Rev 8:1)

1. The Sound of Silence Continue Reading…


  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own. The Greek text is from NA28.


A. Past Lessons

John’s Introduction and Vision of the Son of Man (Rev 1)
Jesus’s Letters to the Seven Churches in Asia Minor (Rev 2-3)
John Taken to Heaven and Sees the Throne Room with Four Living Beings and Twenty-Four Elders (Rev 4)

B. Text of Rev 5:1-7

“1Then I saw in the right hand of the one sitting on the throne a scroll with writing on the inside and outside that had been sealed with seven seals. 2Next I saw a strong angel who was announcing in a loud voice: ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and loosen its seals?’ 3But, no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll nor see it. 4As a result I was crying greatly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and to see it. 5One of the elders said to me: ‘Do not cry. Behold! The lion of the tribe of Judah—the root of David—has conquered. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ 6Then I saw a lamb standing as if it was slaughtered in the midst of the throne and the four living beings and in the midst of the elders. The lamb had seven horns and seven eyes which are the seven spirits God sent out to all the earth. 7The lamb came and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne.” (Rev 5:1-7)

The One Worthy To Open the Scroll (Rev 5:1-7)

 “John’s Vision of Heaven” by Matthias Gerung (1500-1570)

C. General Remarks about Rev 5:1-7

Revelation 5 is “one of the most decisive moments in all scripture. What John has heard is the announcement of the lion. What he then sees is the lamb. He is to hold what he has heard in his head while gazing at what he now sees; and he is to hold what he is seeing in his head as he reflects on what he has heard” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 53).

Revelation 5:6 provides “one of the most beautiful mixed metaphors in all the Bible—the lion (5:5) is a lamb! The direction of the transformation is very important; the final stage is the lamb, not the lion. The paragraph of 5:6-10 tells how the lion of Judah has conquered, not through military power (though that will come) but through paschal sacrifice.” (Osborne, Revelation, 254).

“We are still looking, through John’s eyes, at the heavenly throne room, and it is not simply one long round endless, repetitive praise. This is the throne room of God the creator, and his world is not merely a tableau, a living picture to be enjoyed. It is a project. It is going somewhere. There is work to be done.” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 51)


A. A Scroll with Seven Seals (v. 1) Continue Reading…


A. Summary of Past Studies

B. Revelation 4:1-6a

“1After this I looked, and behold! There was a door open in heaven, and the first noise which I heard was like a trumpet sound to me saying: ‘Come up here and I will show you what is necessary to happen after this. 2Immediately I was in the spirit and behold! A throne was standing in heaven and there was someone sitting on the throne. 3The one sitting on the throne was like jasper and sardius in appearance. An emerald-colored rainbow was around the throne. 4Around the throne I saw twenty-four thrones. On those twenty-four thrones were elders wearing white clothes and golden crowns on their heads. 5Coming from the throne was lightening, noise, and thunder. There were seven lamps of fire burning in front of the throne which is the seven-fold Spirit of God. 6aIn front of the throne was something like a sea of glass resembling crystal.” (Rev 4:1-6a)

John Taken to Heaven to See 24 Elders (Rev 4:1-6a)

“The Four and Twenty-Four Elders” by John Henry Stock (1853-1930)

C. General Remarks about Rev 4:1-6a

“’Heaven’ and ‘earth’, as I have often said, are not, in biblical theology, separated by a great gulf, as they are in much popular imagination. ‘Heaven’, God’s sphere of reality, is right here, close beside us, intersecting with our ordinary reality. It is not so much like a door opening high up in the sky, far away. It is more like a door opening right in front of us where before we could only see this room, this field, this street. Suddenly, there is an opening leading into a different world – and an invitation to ‘come up’ and see what’s going on.” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 42-43)

“The view that the book of Revelation beginning with 4:1 is future, from the standpoint of the twenty-first century, is a broad conclusion growing out of the lack of correspondence of these prophecies to anything that has been fulfilled.” (Walvoord, Revelation, 97)

II. THE TRIP TO HEAVEN (4:1) Continue Reading…


A. Summary of Past Lessons

B. Text of Rev 2:8-11

“8Write to the angel of the church in Smyrna: This is the message from the one who is the first and the last, who was dead but now lives. 9I know about your oppression and poverty, but you are rich. I also know about the people who claim to be Jews but are not, instead they are part of the synagogue of Satan. 10Do not fear the things you are about to suffer. Look! The Devil is about to throw some of you into prison in order to tempt you and you will experience oppression for ten days. Have faith until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11The one who has an ear must listen to what the Spirit says to the churches: ‘The one who overcomes will not be harmed by the second death.” (Rev 2:8-11) 1

John Writes to the Churches in Ephesus and Smyrna

Bamberg Apocalypse Bible: “The Letter to the Church in Ephesus and Smyrna” (AD 1,000)

C. History and Background of the City of Smyrna

Among the seven cities that John sent letters to, Smyrna is the only city that still exists today (now called Izmir which is Turkey’s third largest city with seven hundred thousand [Walvoord, Revelation, 59-60]). The city of Smyrna was about thirty-five miles north of Ephesus. Besides Ephesus, Smyrna was the wealthiest city in the area because of its seaport. It was also known for its science and learning.

Walvoord points out that the word “Smyrna” comes from the word “myrrh” which was a sweet perfume used in embalming dead bodies (Pss 45:8). It was also a holy anointing oil used in tabernacle worship in the Old Testament (Exod 30:23). It is mentioned by the bridegroom in the Song of Solomon (Song of Sol 3:6) and the heavenly bridegroom in the Psalms (Pss 45:8). The “protecting deity of Smyrna was a local adaptation of Cybele, which was known as the Sybeline Mother. Greeks identified her with Nemesis which was the Greek goddess of retributive justice. The city also created a temple to the goddess Roma (195 BC) (Osborne, Revelation, 127).

In addition to that deity worship, worship of the Roman Emperor was also very common. In AD 26 Smyrna beat out ten other cities for the honor of building a temple to honor the emperor Tiberias (Osborne, Revelation, 127). Under Domitian (AD 81-96), every year each citizen had to burn incense on Caesar’s altar in order to receive a certificate. Failure to receive a certificate meant death if someone found out. About sixty years after Domitian, the famous bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp (the disciple of John), was burned alive for refusing to call Caesar “Lord” (Osborne, Revelation, 127). Who and how the church started in Smyrna is a mystery. It could be from Paul’s three-year stay in Ephesus, which was nearby (Walvoord, Revelation, 60; Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 158-160).


“Write to the angel of the church in Smyrna: This is the message from the one who is the first and the last, who was dead but now lives.” (Rev 2:8) 2

This brief verse emphasis two aspects of Christ’s deity: eternality and resurrection.

A. Christ’s Eternality and Sovereignty
Continue Reading…


  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own
  2. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own


A. Summary of Past Lessons

B. Text of Rev 2:1-7

“1Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus: This is the message of the one holding the seven stars in his right hand, of the one walking among the seven golden lampstands. 2I know your good deeds, work, and steadfastness. I also know that you do not allow evil, for you tested those who say to themselves that they are apostles (but are not) and you found them to be liars. 3You have perseverance and endured difficulty in my name while not getting tired. 4But, I have this against you: you abandoned your first love. 5Therefore, remember where you have fallen, express remorse, and do the things you did at first. But, if not, I will come to you and I will remove your lampstand from its place if you don’t repent. 6But, you have this: you hate the work of the Nicolaitans whom I also hate. 7The one who has an ear must listen to what the Spirit says to the churches: ‘To the one who overcomes I will give the privileged to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’”

John Writes to the Churches in Ephesus and Smyrna

Bamberg Apocalypse: “John Writes to the Churches in Ephesus and Smyrna” (AD 1000)

C. History and Background of the City of Ephesus

Ephesus was a thriving city at the time of John’s letter (95 AD) that had a population of about 250,000 people (Osborne, Revelation, 108) to 500,000 people (Mulholland, Revelation [2011], 434). In terms of commercial work, it was the largest city in the Roman province of Asia (Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 128). The city was accessible by both sea and land with well built highways connecting it to other cities (Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 128-129). There was no military installment there. Instead, the city was known for its athletic games that it held annually (Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 129). Religious life revolved around the Greek goddess, Artemis (see Acts 19:24, 27, 28, 34, 35). Artemis had a 425 foot long and 220 foot wide temple that is considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world (Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 129).

The city of Ephesus is mentioned several times throughout the New Testament:

  • Paul ended his second missionary journey to Ephesus in AD 52 (Acts 18:19-21)
  • Paul left Priscilla and Aquilla in Ephesus (Acts 18:26)
  • Paul returned to the city of Ephesus in his third missionary journey (Acts 20:31)
  • Paul left Timothy in charge of the church after one of his visits (1 Tim 1:3)

Continue Reading…


A. Summary of Revelation

B. Text of Revelation 1:9-20

9I, John—your brother and partner in oppression, royal reign, and expectation of Jesus—was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and testimony of Jesus. 10I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day and I heard a great noise behind me like a trumpet sound 11saying: “Write into a book what you see. Then, send it to the seven churches. Send it to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” 12I turned to see the voice which was speaking to me, and when I turned I saw seven gold lampstands. 13In the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man clothed in a robe, wearing a gold belt around his chest. 14His head and hair were white like wool and snow. His eyes were like flames of fire. 15His feet were like fine bronze as if they had been refined in a furnace. His voice was like the sound of lots of water. 16He was holding seven stars in his right hand, a sharp double-edged sword was coming out of his mouth, and his outward appearance was shining like the sun in his glory. 17When I saw him I fell at his feet like I was dead, but he put his right hand on me saying, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18I am the Living One. I was dead—but look—now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys of death and Hades! 19Then, write what you have seen, both what is happening and what is about to happen after this. 20This is the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands: The seven stars are angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” (Rev 1:9-20) 1

John's Vision of the Son of Man (Rev 1:9-20)

Bamberg Apocalypse: “The Son of Man and the Seven Lampstands” (1000 AD)


A. The Identity and Location of John (v. 9)

“I, John—your brother and partner in oppression, royal reign, and expectation of Jesus—was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” ( Rev 1:9) 2

John claiming to be exiled to Patmos matches what we know about first century life. Additionally, the islands of Pontia, Gyara, and Seriphus were places that people were exiled to (Charles, Revelation of St. John, 21). Furthermore, the island of Patmos was one of three populated islands (Leros, Lipsos, and Patmos). In other words, Patmos was not a “Gilligan’s Island” type of deal. It had people, a culture, and a ruler.

LEADERSHIP MOMENT – Punishment for Godliness Continue Reading…


  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own
  2. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own


A. Past Lessons

B. Text of Rev 1:1-8

1This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show his servants what was necessary to happen soon. He sent his angel to communicate with his servant John. 2John testified about what he saw about the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3Blessed is the one who reads and those who hear and obey this message of prophesy and what is written in it. For the time is near! 4This letter is from John to the seven churches in Asia. Grace and peace to you all from the one who is, the one who was, and the one who is still to come; from the seven-fold Spirit which is in front of God’s throne; 5and from Jesus Christ who is the martyr, the faithful, the firstborn of the dead and ruler over the kings of the earth. Jesus Christ is the one who, in his love for you all, released you all from your sin by his blood. 6Jesus has made you all a kingdom of priests in God and his father. To him glory and power forever, amen.”

7Look! He is coming out of the clouds and every eye will see him including those who pierced him and every person from every nation of the earth will mourn for him. Yes! Amen!

8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God—the one who is, was, and is still to come—the Almighty! 1

John's Introduction and Greeting to the Seven Churches (Rev 1:1-8)

Bamberg Apocalypse: “John Receives His Revelation” (1803)


A. The Revelation of Jesus Christ (v. 1)

“This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show his servants what was necessary to happen soon. He sent his angel to communicate with his servant John.” (Rev 1:1) 2

1. Revelation from Jesus and about Jesus Continue Reading…


  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own
  2. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own

The book of Revelation is one of the most difficult books to interpret. I like to think of the book of Revelation like a rainbow. From earth we can look into the sky and see a rainbow, but only half of it. Yet, if we go up in a plane we can often see an entire rainbow as one big circle. Our attempts to interpret the book of Revelation are like standing on earth looking at only half of a rainbow. Our position on the earth does not allow us to see the entire rainbow. The same is true for current believers living in the church age before the Tribulation. Because believers are waiting for the events of Revelation 4-22 to start, we can only see a partial interpretation of the works. However, once the events of Revelation 4-22 begin, it will be like looking at the entire rainbow from a plane. Because of someone’s place in the Tribulation they will be able to fully understand and interpret the events of Revelation 4-22.

An Introduction to the Book of Revelation

“St. John at Patmos” by Gustave Dore

I. AUTHOR (click here) Continue Reading…