The book of Revelation provides a clear collection of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together (1:4). While people who study the topic of “Trinitarianism” often look at Old Testament inferences of the Triune Godhead, descriptions in the Gospel of John, and Paul’s theology, the book of Revelation is often forgotten about in regards to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all working and existing together as one person.
Today’s post examines the theme of God in book of Revelation.
A. God Gave this Revelation to Jesus
Revelation 1:1 states that God gave this revelation to Jesus Christ which is the “word of God” and the testimony of Jesus Christ (1:2). Near the end of the book the angel tells John that everything John has heard and seen is trustworthy and true. God inspires his prophets and has sent his angel to tell his servants what will happen soon (22:6).
B. God Has a Plan
During the interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets, John says that when the seventh angel blows his trumpet, God’s mysterious plan will be fulfilled (10:7). Furthermore, that plan will be fulfilled just as he announced it to his prophets (10:7). God has a plan in the minds of people on earth (17:17).
C. God Is Eternal
God is the Alpha and Omega (1:8; 21:6). He is the beginning and the end (1:8; 21:6). He is the one who is, who always was, and is still to come (1:8; 11:17; 16:5). God lives forever and ever (10:6; 15:7).
D. God Is Sovereign
God is, always was, and is to come. He is the Alpha and Omega. He is the beginning and the end (1:8). During the opening of the sixth seal John sees souls under God’s altar (6:9) who call God “Sovereign Lord,” “holy,” and “true” (6:10). He is “Lord of all the earth” (11:4). Salvation, power, and the kingdom of God has come at last (12:10). An angel carries the eternal Good News (14:6) and says to fear God (14:7). God is described as the Almighty whose ways are just and true (15:3; 16:5, 7, 14; 19:2, 5, 15). Only God is holy (15:4). After the seven angels receive the bowls containing God’s wrath, the temple was filled with smoke from God’s glory and power (15:8).
E. God Is Creator
In John’s first vision in heaven he sees twenty-four elders fall down and worship God (4:9-10) because God is creator of all things (4:11). God has created the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water (10:6; 14:7).
F. God Is Worshipped
1. In Heaven
After Jesus’s message to the seven churches God is described in heaven as being as brilliant as gemstones—like jasper and carnelian (4:3). He is encircled with emerald like a rainbow (4:3).
2. Twenty-Four Thrones
During John’s vision in heaven there are twenty-four thrones surrounding God and twenty-four elders sitting on them (4:4). Four living beings were in the center and around the thrones (4:6). Day and night living beings sang praises to God (4:8-9). Whenever this happens, the twenty-four elders fall down and worship God (4:9-10). They say that God is worthy to receive glory and honor because he created all things (4:11).
3. Millions of Angels
During this same vision John sees thousands and millions of angels around the throne of God along with the four living beings and elders (5:11). They sing about how honor, glory, and power belong to the one sitting on the throne (5:13). After announcing that salvation comes from God (7:9), the angels, elders, and four living beings fall on their faces and worship God (7:11). They sing that blessing, honor, glory, wisdom, and thanksgiving belong to God (7:12).
4. Those Who Died in the Tribulation
The ones who died in the great tribulation serve God (7:14-15).
5. Revelation 11
Similar to earlier visions, in Rev 11 John again sees the twenty-four elders sitting before the throne of God on their faces worshipping God (11:16).
6. Revelation 14
A great choir sings a wonderful new song in front of the throne of God (14:3). An angel flies through the sky (14:6) and says that glory should be given to God (14:7).
7. All the Nations
Because God is the only holy one all the nations will come and worship before God (15:4).
8. Before Christ’s Return
Just before Christ returns to the earth a vast crowd in heaven shouts, “praise the Lord” (19:1, 3, 4, 5, 6).
9. Only God Should Be Worshiped
After John sees these many miraculous visions he falls down to worship the interpreting angel, but the angel tells John that the angel is a servant of God just as John is, therefore only God should be worshiped (19:10; 22:8-9).
G. God Brings Judgement and Wrath
1. Revelation 6
The souls of the martyrs under God’s altar (6:9) ask God when he will judge the people who belong to this world (6:10). In that judgement they say that God will avenge their blood for what the people of this world had done to the martyrs (6:10). Shortly after the souls ask this question the kings, generals, rulers, wealthy, slaves, and free men flee to caves (6:15). In those caves they cry out because the day of the Lord’s wrath has come (6:17).
2. Revelation 11
After the death and resurrection of God’s two witnesses (11:7-11) loud voices in heaven say that the nations are filled with God’s wrath, that God will judge the dead (11:18), and that he will destroy all who have caused destruction on the earth (11:19).
3. Revelation 14
As part of the angel’s eternal Good News (14:6), the angel says that the time has come for God to sit as judge (14:7). An angel says that anyone who worships the beast, his statue, accepts his mark on the forehead, or on his hand (14:9), must drink the wine of God’s anger. That anger has been poured into God’s cup of wrath. That wrath will torment unbelievers with fire and burning sulfur (14:10). The smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever. They will have no relief day or night (14:11). One of the ways that God’s judgement is described in Revelation is with the “winepress” in Rev 14. When John sees the harvest of the earth (14:14-20), an angel swings his sickle and brings the “winepress of wrath” (14:19).
4. Revelation 15
In the next chapter John sees seven angels holding seven plagues which will bring God’s wrath to completion (15:1). These seven plagues are contained in the seven bowls that hold the wrath of God (15:7).
5. Revelation 16
The previous events of God’s wrath are followed by the seven bowls which contain God’s wrath (16:1). The angel who has authority over the all the water says that God is just because he has sent these bowl judgments (16:5). These judgments are true and just (16:7).
6. Revelation 18-19
Sometimes God’s judgement is directed towards nations such as Babylon (18:10, 20). Because of the harm the great prostitute has done, God punishes her and avenges the murder of his servants (19:2). Jesus’ return to the earth ushers in the “wrath of God” (19:15).
7. Revelation 22
After all of those judgements have been described, the end of Revelation says that if anyone adds to the book, God will add that person to the plagues described in the book (22:18). Likewise, if anyone removes the words in this book, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city (22:19).
H. God Has People on Earth
When John learns who is worthy to open the scroll (reveals the judgments of the book of Revelation) he is told about how Jesus’s blood has ransomed people to God (5:9) and they belong to God (5:10). Incense is mixed with the prayers of God’s people (8:3-4). God has commandments for how he wants people to live (12:17; 14:12). There are 144,000 people who stand on Mount Zion with the Father’s name and the Lamb’s name written on their foreheads (14:1). During the third bowl judgement an angel describes people on earth as God’s holy people and his prophets (16:6; 19:8; 22:21). They are “people of God” (18:20).
I. God Protects His People
When John learns who is worthy to open the scroll he is told about how Jesus’s blood has ransomed people to God (5:9) and they belong to God (5:10). After the fourth angel blows his trumpet the twenty-four elders say that it is time for God to reward his prophets and holy people (11:18). When the woman of Rev 12 flees into the wilderness God prepares a place to care for her for 1,260 days (12:6).
J. The Seal of God
The seal of God plays an important role in the book of Revelation. John says that the seal is the “seal of God” and indicates that God owns the seal (7:2). Furthermore, the seal of God protects his servants. For example, there are four angels who are ready to harm the land and the sea, but they are not allowed to do harm until the seal of God is placed on the foreheads of his servants (7:3). This seal of God is placed on the 144,000 people (7:4) which includes 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes (7:5-8). During the fifth trumpet locusts harm everyone that does not have the seal of God on their foreheads (9:4).
K. Salvation Comes from God
A vast crowd from every nation, tribe, people, and language stand in front of the throne of God. The number of the crowd is too great to count (7:9) as they shout that salvation comes from God who sits on the throne (7:10). Later, John re-affirms that salvation comes from God (12:10; 19:1). Furthermore, if the people are thirsty God will give freely from the springs of the water of life (21:7).
L. God Permits Evil
There are several ways that God permits evil. One way is that God allows the beast to speak blasphemies against God (13:5-6). Another is that he allows the beast to wage war against God’s holy people (13:7). Later it is said that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently (13:10; 14:12). Additionally, a voice from heaven tells John that there will be believers that die during this persecution (14:13). Later, the woman on the scarlet beast is drunk with the blood of God’s holy people who were Jesus’ witnesses (17:6). The streets of Babylon flow with the blood of God’s holy people (18:24). During the bowl judgements evil is seen by the way people reject God. During the fourth bowl people curse the name of God, do not repent, and do not turn to God (16:9). During the fifth bowl judgement people curse God, but do not repent of their evil deeds or turn to God (16:11). During the seventh bowl people curse God because of the plague of the seventh bowl (16:21). Furthermore, there were “blasphemes” against God written all over the scarlet beast (17:3).
M. The New Earth, New Heaven, and New Jerusalem
There are two brief mentions of the New Jerusalem early in the book of Revelation. The first mention is that the New Jerusalem comes down from the heaven of God (3:12). The second is that the New Jerusalem comes down and as a result God will wipe every tear from the eyes of those who have gone through the Great Tribulation (7:17). In the narrative of the New Jerusalem, New Heaven, and New Earth, it is said that they come down from God out of heaven (21:2, 10).
In this New Jerusalem God does several things that he does not do with believers that live on earth now.
- God Lives with Believers in the New Jerusalem. God will live with them and they will be his people (21:3). All who are victorious will inherit blessings and God will be their God and they will be his children (21:7).
- God Ministers to People in the New Jerusalem. In this New Jerusalem God will wipe every tear away. There will be no more death, sorrow, crying or pain because those things are gone forever (21:4).
- God Makes Everything New. Everything is made new in the New Jerusalem (21:5).
- God Is the Temple. In the New Jersusalem God and the Lamb are the temple (21:22).
- God Is the Light. God illuminates the city (21:23; 22:5).
- God’s Throne. From God’s throne a river with water of life flows (22:1, 3).
N. God Has Prepared a Banquet
An angel standing in the sun shouts to the vultures flying in the sky about how it is time to gather together for the banquet God has prepared (19:17). At this banquet the vultures will eat the flesh of kings, generals, strong warriors, horses, riders, all the free, slave, small, and great people (19:18).
O. God’s Great White Throne Judgement
At the beginning of the Great White Throne Judgement the earth and sky flee from God’s presence (20:11). There is a great white throne and the God sits on it (20:11). John sees the dead (both great and small) standing before God’s throne. Books are open (including the Book of Life) and the dead are judged according to the books (20:12). In this judgement the sea give up their dead, the death and the grave give up their dead, and all people are judged according to their deeds (20:13). Then, death and the grave are thrown into the Lake of Fire which is the second death (20:14). Anyone whose name is not written in the Book of Life is throne into the Lake of Fire (20:15).
II. JESUS CHRIST
A. Jesus Is God
Perhaps the clearest indication from the book of Revelation is that Jesus is God.
Additional evidence that Jesus is God is that he is eternal. Revelation tells readers that Jesus is the one who is, always was, and is still to come (1:4, 8). Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, and the first and the last (1:8, 18; 2:8; 22:13). He is the beginning of God’s new creation (1:17; 3:14) and ruler of all of the kings of the world (1:5). As the source of David and the one who holds the key of David, Jesus is the heir to his throne as king (3:7; 22:16). As God, Jesus lives forever and holds the keys of death and the grave (1:19).
Some of Jesus’s qualities as God are that he is holy and true and he has unique authority because what he opens no one can open and what he closes no one can close (3:7).
3. Book of Life
While the Book of Life is featured as one of the prominent themes in Revelation, it is clear that Jesus owns the Book of Life. It is called the “Lamb’s book of life” (21:27) and that the Book of Life belongs to the Lamb (13:8). When talking to the church in Sardis Jesus says that those who are white will not have their names erased from the Book of Life (3:5). Instead, Jesus will announce before his Father and his angel that the people who are white are his (3:6).
In the book of Revelation it is clear that Jesus is the only one who should be praised. During the time between the Lamb opening the sixth and seventh seal, the kings, rulers, generals, wealthy, powerful, slave, and free people hide in caves and rocks (6:15). While in hiding these people cry out that they want to be hidden from the one who sits on the throne and from the Lamb (6:16) because the wrath of the Lamb and God has come (6:17). Between the Trumpet judgments and Bowl judgments the Lamb is praised by the people who had been victorious over the beast, his statue, and the number representing his name (15:2). These people said that the Lamb has great and marvelous works, his ways are true (15:3), he is holy and all the nations will come to worship before him (15:4). After seeing many miraculous visions John falls down to worship the angel in front of him, yet the angel makes it clear that Jesus is the only one who should be worshipped (19:10).
B. Jesus Is Coming Back
As surely as the book of Revelation affirms that Jesus is God it also affirms that Jesus is coming back to earth.
1. Jesus Is Coming Back
John describes Jesus coming on the clouds of heaven and everyone will see him (1:7). Jesus tells the seven churches that he is coming back (2:25; 3:11). Between the sixth and seventh bowl judgments John says that Jesus is coming as a thief in the night (16:15). Lastly, Jesus says that he is coming soon (22:7, 12).
2. Jesus Comes Back
Revelation 19:11 tells readers about Jesus’s return to earth. Jesus comes back on a white horse. Jesus’s name is “Faithful” and “True,” because he judges fairly and wages a righteous war (19:11). Jesus’s eyes are like flames of fire and he wears many crowns on his head. A name is written on him that no one can understand accept himself (19:12). Jesus wears a robe dipped in blood and his title is the word of God (19:13). The armies of heaven follow him on white horses (19:14). From Jesus’s mouth comes a sharp sword to strike down the nations which he will rule with an iron rod. Jesus will release the fierce wrath of God (19:15). The title of Jesus is “king of all kings and Lord of all lords” and it is written on his robe (19:16).
3. Jesus Reigns
Jesus has authority over the earth (12:10). While Jesus’s return to earth has been foreshadowed by his judgments that he sends and allows to occur, once he comes he will reign on earth for one thousand years (Rev 20:1-7). During Jesus’s reign there are people who come to life again who had been beheaded for their testimony and for proclaiming the word of God. The people who participate in the first resurrection will be priests of God and of Christ. They will reign with Christ for a thousand years (20:4, 6).
4. Jesus Holds a Banquet
Just before Christ’s Millennial reign on earth there will be a banquet of wrath (19:17-18; cf. 19:7-9). Later, in the new Jerusalem an angel describes the “bride” and “wife” of the Lamb (21:9).
5. Jesus’s Effects and Role in the New Jerusalem
In the New Jerusalem and New Heaven John sees no temple because God and the Lamb are the temple (21:22). The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the New Jerusalem. There will no longer be a curse on anything. And the servants will worship him (22:3). In the New Jerusalem there is no need for sunlight because the Lamb is its light (22:23). Who will be in the New Jerusalem? Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life are allowed to enter into the New Jerusalem (21:27; cf. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 21:15). In the New Jerusalem the water of life flows from God and from the Lamb (22:1).
C. Jesus Sends an Angel to Give the Message of Revelation
1. The Chain of Command
The book of Revelation is said to be a revelation from Jesus Christ (1:1) as the word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ (1:2). The broad picture of this Revelation is that it is from God to Jesus, from Jesus to an angel, and from an angel to John. Then, from John that revelation is given to the seven churches. Jesus’s revelation to John came when John was worshiping in the Spirit and he heard Jesus speak to him.
2. The Outline
Jesus told John to write down everything that he saw and to send it to the seven churches (1:11). Shortly after this Jesus provides John with a brief outline of the book of Revelation: write down what you have seen, what is current, and what will happen (1:19).
3. The Interpretation
Not only does Jesus reveal the message to John, but at times Jesus also provides interpretations for John as seen in the seven lampstands and seven stars (1:20). The last chapter of Revelation states that Jesus has sent his angel to give the message of the book of Revelation to the churches (22:16).
D. Jesus Is the Sacrificial Lamb
1. The Lamb Frees Us from Sins
Revelation describes Jesus as the one who freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us (1:5).
2. Salvation Comes from the Lamb
In between the sixth and seventh seal a vast crowd in white robes holding palm branches in heaven are standing before the Lamb saying that salvation comes from God the one on the throne and from the Lamb (7:9-10). The Lamb on the throne will shepherd (7:17) the people clothed in white who died in the great Tribulation (7:9-10, 13-14). The Lamb will lead them to springs of life-giving water (7:17). Later in Revelation it is revealed that the Lamb was slaughtered as a sacrifice (13:8).
E. Jesus Comes to Reward the Faithful.
1. Jesus Rewards Those Who Are Victorious
Jesus will give fruit from the tree of life to everyone who is victorious (2:7). Those who are victorious will not be harmed by the second death (2:11). Furthermore, the ending of the letters to Ephesus (2:7), Pergamum (2:17), Thyatira (2:26-28), Sardis (3:5-6), Philadelphia (3:12), and Laodicea (3:2) all indicate that this is a gift that Jesus provides to those who are victorious. While 2:11 does not explicitly state that Jesus will not allow the victorious to be harmed by the second death, I think it is likely that Jesus has an active role in this. The manna that has been hidden away in heaven will be given to those who are victorious (2:17). Each of these victorious people will get a white stone and on it will be a name that only the person who receives it will understand (2:17). Jesus will give authority over nations to the believers who are victorious (2:26). They will rule the nations with iron rods and smash the nations like clay pots (2:27). These people will have the same authority that the Father gave to Jesus. And Jesus will give them the morning star (2:28).
2. Jesus Protects His Believers
Jesus tells the believers in the church in Philadelphia that he will protect them from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world (3:10). Additionally, the 144,000 believers are purchased from among the people of the earth as a special offering to God and to the Lamb (14:4).
3. Jesus Rewards Those according to Their Deeds
Jesus comes back to reward all people according to their deeds (22:12).
F. Jesus Brings Wrath
Just as Jesus says he comes back to reward people according to their deeds, he also comes back to repay them in wrath according to their deeds (22:12).
1. Jesus Gives Time for People To Repent
Yet, this wrath should not be a surprise. Jesus tells the believers in the church of Pergamum to repent of their sins (2:16). He gives the Jezebel woman time to repent (2:20-21). He gives the believers in Sardis time to repent (3:3).
2. Jesus Delivers the Wrath
The Jezebel woman did not repent so Jesus says he will throw her on a bed of suffering. Those who follow her will suffer too (2:22-23). Since the Laodicean believers are neither hot not cold, Jesus will spit them out of his mouth (3:16). Later in Revelation John learns that anyone who worships the beast and his statute or who accepts his mark on the forehead or hand (14:9) must accept God’s anger (14:10). These people will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb (14:10).
3. Jesus Has Unique Authority to Deliver the Wrath
Jesus is identified as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, who has won victory (5:5). When it is determined that no one is worthy to open the seven-sealed scroll in the right hand of the one sitting on the throne (5:1-4), Jesus is seen as the one worthy to open the scroll (5:5). Jesus steps forward and takes the scroll (5:7). When he takes the scroll the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fall down in worship (5:8-10). Then, John looks again and he hears the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne, the living beings, and the elders, and they sing a song of praise to the Lamb (5:11-12). Then John heard every creature in heaven, on earth, and under the earth sing a song of praise (5:13). Then, the four living beings said, “Amen” and the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the Lamb (5:14). After this the Lamb breaks the seven seals and brings God’s judgement on the earth (6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12; 8:1).
G. Jesus Has Power over Satan
In Jesus’s message to the church in Philadelphia he says that he will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue to bow down at the feet of the Philadelphia people. They will acknowledge that the believers in Philadelphia are the ones that Jesus loves (3:9). While the final battles between Jesus and Satan do not occur until Rev 19 and 20, the “accuser” is thrown down to earth (12:10). He has been defeated by the blood of the Lamb (12:11). In one of the final battles Satan’s coworkers (the false prophet and beast) gather the beasts, the kings of the world, and their armies together to fight against Jesus (19:19). In this battle the beast and false prophet are captured. Both are thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur (19:20). That entire army was captured by the sharp sword that came from Jesus (19:21). After Satan is let out of bottomless pit (20:1-6) he will gather the nations (called Gog and Magog) for a battle (20:8). But, fire from heaven comes down and consumes Satan’s army (20:9). Then, Satan is thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur (20:10).
III. HOLY SPIRIT
While the presence of God and Jesus in the book of Revelation are extremely clear, the Holy Spirit’s active role is less obvious. Nonetheless, a brief survey of the Holy Spirit and his work in the book of Revelation is explained below.
A. The Sevenfold Spirit
The Sevenfold spirit mentioned in the book of Revelation is most likely a reference to the Holy Spirit.
This is because in Rev 1:4-5 appears to mention three people:
- the one who is, was, and is to come;
- the one who is still to come;
- Jesus Christ.
It appears to make sense that Rev 1:4-5 mentions all three members of the Godhead and identifies the Holy Spirit as the “sevenfold Spirit.” Later in Revelation John sees seven torches with burning flames in front of the throne which John explains are the sevenfold Spirit of God (4:5). Additionally, John learns that Jesus has seven horns and seven eyes which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that has been sent out to every part of the earth (5:6).
B. Listen to the Spirit
In Jesus’s letter to Ephesus (2:7), Smyrna (2:11), Pergamum (2:17), Tyatira (2:29), Sardis (3:6), Philadelphia (3:13), and Laodicea (3:22) he tells them to listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.
C. The Spirit Speaks
After John sees three angels fly through the air the Spirit speaks from heaven (14:13).
D. The Spirit Moves John
At the beginning of the Revelation, John hears a voice from heaven and instantly he was “in the Spirit” seeing a throne in heaven (4:2). An angel takes John “in the Spirit” to see the new Jerusalem (21:10).
E. John Worships in the Spirit
While on the island of Patmos John was worshipping in the Spirit when he heard Jesus’s voice (1:10).