Pastor of Iglesia Conexiones, a baptist church in Jessup, MD. B.A. in Bible, B.S. English Ed., M.S. in Educational Leadership.
Book of Revelation, by Michael Prevelis
Some years ago, I began to write about the book of Revelation from a perspective that was dispensational, pre-tribulational, premillennial, and futuristic. But I hit a roadblock with the chronology of the book: I didn’t understand why, in chapter 14, Jesus was standing on Mount Zion before he returned to Earth in chapter 19. At that point, I realized that my linear understanding of Revelation’s chronology was flawed, and that I would need to explore the structure of the book.
I went back to analyzing the structure of the book. As a result, my perspective about Revelation and the end-times changed.
In this article, however, I will simply introduce you to the structure of the book as I understand it, because understanding the structure of the book is important for us to understand what is happening in the book.
Parts 1, 6, and 2 of Revelation
The book of Revelation can be divided into six parts, two short small parts, and four large parts. The two very short parts are the introduction (chapter 1:1-8) and the conclusion (chapter 22:8-21).
The second part of Revelation comprises chapters 1:9 to 3:22. In the first chapter, John tells us that Jesus (who had already resurrected and ascended) appeared to him in a vision and instructed him to write seven letters to seven churches in Asia (that is, in the Roman province of Asia, which is now in western Turkey).
In other words, John's vision of Jesus (chapter 1) leads to the seven letters (chapters 2 and 3).
Part 3 of Revelation
The third part of Revelation comprises chapters 4 to 11. John is taken up to heaven, where he is shown visions.
In chapters 4 and 5, John sees God hand Jesus a scroll with seven seals. In chapter 6, Jesus opens six of the seven seals. The seventh chapter is a side note.
In chapter 8, Jesus opens the seventh seal, which introduces the seven trumpets. The first four trumpets are blown in chapter 8, and the fifth and sixth trumpets are blown in chapter 9. Chapters 10 and 11 are side notes.
The seventh trumpet is finally blown in chapter 11.
We see, then, that John's vision of God handing the scroll to Jesus led to the seven seals and the seven trumpets.
Part 4 of Revelation
The fourth part of Revelation consists on chapter 12 to 19:10. John sees a sign in heaven: a woman and a dragon.
Then, after being cast to Earth, the dragon waits at the beach for a beast to emerge from the sea. In chapter 13, a beast rises from the sea; moreover, a second beast rises from the earth. Chapter 14 is another side note.
In chapter 15, John sees another sign: seven angels with seven bowls. The bowls are poured in chapter 16. These seven bowls are a response to the actions of the dragon, the beast from the sea, and the beast from the earth.
Chapters 17 to 18 are a side note on Babylon the Great. They are there to explain the sseventh bowl.
We see, then, that John's vision of the beasts and the bowls were brought about by his initial vision of the woman and the beast.
Part 6 of Revelation
Chapters 19:11 to 22:7 talk about several things:
- Vision of Jesus on a white horse
- Vision of Satan's binding, the thousand years, and Satan's final defeat
- Vision of the judgment at the great white throne
- Vision of the new heaven and new Earth
- Vision of the New Jerusalem
- Vision of the River of Life
These visions appear to be in sequence of each other: Jesus arrives on a white horse and defeats the two beasts, Satan is bound, the thousand years kingdom begins, Satan is afterwards released and defeated, the judgment takes place, a new heaven and a new Earth are created, the New Jerusalem arrives, and the River of Life is found in the New Jerusalem.
Outline of Revelation
With the information I have shared with you, we can put togethr the following outline:
- Introduction (1:1-8)
- Chapters 1-3
- John sees Jesus
- Jesus tells him to write letters
- Chapters 4-11
- John sees a door open in heaven
- John sees God hand Jesus a scroll with seven seals
- John watches as Jesus opens six seals
- Side note on 144,00 and the multitude in white robes (chapter 7)
- The seventh seal is opened, and four trumpets are blown
- Two trumpets are blown
- Side note on angel with the scroll and the two witnesses (chapters 10 and 11)
- The seventh trumpet is blown
- Chapters 12-16
- John sees the sign of the woman and the dragon
- A beast rises from sea, and another beast rises from the earth
- Side note about Jesus on Mount Zion with the 144,000 and on the seven thunders (chapter 14)
- Seven bowls are introduced and poured (seventh bowl introduces Babylon the Great)
- Side note; John is shown Babylon the Great, and Babylon the Great is judged
- God is praised
- The supper for the marriage of the Lamb is announced
- Chapters 19:11-22:7
- John sees Jesus coming on a white horse
- John sees Satan bing bound for a thousand years, then released, and then defeated
- John sees the judgement at the great white throne
- John sees a new heaven and a new Earth
- John sees the New Jerusalem
- John sees the River of Life
- Conclusion 22:8-21
Notice that the appearnce and judgment of Babylon the Great are there to explain the seventh bowl, which (like the other bowls) is in response to the actions of the dragon, the beast from the sea, and the beast of the earth.
This appears to imply that Babylon the Great was active since the dragon appeared in chapter 12.
Understand Revelation Better
In conclusion, the book of Revelation is composed of six parts. Two very short parts (the introduction and conclusion), and four parts that are longer.
Understanding the structure of the book can help us make better sense of the book. For example, if Jesus was at Mount Zion in Rev. 14, and in Rev. 19:11 He comes on a white horse, does that mean that Jesus returns to Earth unofficially before He officially returns to Earth? Not necessarily.
Jesus is presented standing on Mount Zion in part 4 of the book, whereas He is presented as coming on a white horse in part 5 of the book. This can be an indication that the parts of the book aren't necessarily in a chronological and sequential order. Part 3, for example, begins with the story of Jesus' birth and resurrection: but clearly, the brith and resurrction of Jesus happened before parts 2 and 3 of the book.
© 2022 Marcelo Carcach