FTC Preaching Guide: Revelation

by Jason Kees July 27, 2021


1. Introduction
2. Preaching Outlines
3. Key Themes and Motifs
4. Problem Passages
5. Commentaries and Resources
6. Preaching Christ from the Book
7. Why You Should Preach This Book


The book of Revelation has long fascinated the church with its narrative of impending doom for those who fail to repent and for the hope of glory for those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes (14:4). The book is filled with a masterpiece of literary imagery, theological discourses, Old Testament fulfillment, and the ultimate battle between good and evil. It is a book that contains three genres (epistle, narrative, apocalyptic) and is perhaps one of the more, if not most, difficult books of the Bible to preach and teach. But for the one who patiently and carefully mines the caverns of this marvelous work, there are riches to be unearthed (1:3; 22:7).

Unfortunately, I am afraid the church has largely misunderstood and, therefore, misapplied this book largely due to the “newspaper” interpretation of the book. In other words, there are many well-meaning believers in Christ who will read Revelation alongside a newspaper and begin finding some prophecies fulfilled in their time. They will then begin to lose themselves in the weeds of trying to outline every single prophetic event with what is happening presently in their culture. Church history is full of these types of example, and sadly the trend still continues. Yet, patient and careful preaching through the book will better equip God’s people to see the overarching connection of themes and allusions that John uses from his Hebrew Bible and utilizes in his book. Revelation concludes the canon of the Christian Bible for a reason, and it provides the longing hope of all creation and redeemed people of God: God once again dwells with his people, and they will see his face (21–22; cf. Gen 1–2).

Preaching Outlines

James Hamilton, Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches

  1. The Revelation of the Glory of God’s Justice and Mercy (1-22)
    • 1:1–8 The Apocalyptic Prophecy’s Epistolary Opening
    • 1:9–22:9 John’s Vision on the Lord’s Day
      1. 1:9–3:22 Jesus and the Letters
      2. 4:1–16:21 The Throne and the Judgments
      3. 17:1–22:9 The Harlot, the King, and the Bride
      4. 22:10–21 The Apocalyptic Prophecy’s Epistolary Closing
  1. The Blessing of the Revelation of Jesus Christ (1:1–8)
    • 1:1–3 The Blessing of the Apocalyptic Prophecy
    • 1:4–8 The Doxology of the Epistolary Opening
      1. 1:4–5a John’s Salutation
      2. 1:5b–6 The Doxology to Jesus
      3. 1:7 The Coming of Jesus
      4. 1:8 The Father’s Solemn Pronouncement
  1. John’s Vision of the Risen Christ (1:9–20)
    • 1:9–11 John’s Situation and Commission to Write
    • 1:12–16 John’s Description of the Risen Jesus
    • 1:17–20 Jesus Asserts His Authority
  2. The Risen Christ to the Seven Churches (2, 3)
  3. First Love (2:1–7)
    • 2:1 The Authority of Jesus
    • 2:2–6 The Address to the Church at Ephesus
    • 2:7 A Call to Hear and Heed the Promises (2:7)
  4. Faithful unto Death (2:8–11)
    • 2:8 Jesus Is Bigger than death
    • 2:9 Jesus Knows His People in Their Suffering
    • 2:10 Jesus Calls His People to Be Faithful unto Death
    • 2:11 Jesus Promises His People Life
  5. Repent of Nicolaitan Teaching (2:12–17)
    • 2:12 Jesus Has the Word of Judgment
    • 2:13 Faithfulness in Pergamum
    • 2:14–16          A Call to Repent of Nicolaitan Teaching
    • 2:17 The Promise of Hidden Manna and a White Stone
  6. King Jesus Versus Jezebel (2:18–20)
    • 2:18 Jesus is the Searching and Pure Davidic King
    • 2:19 Commendation of the Church in Thyatira
    • 2:20–23 Jezebel and Her Children
    • 2:24–25 Hold What You Have
    • 2:26–29 Hear the Promises
  7. Wake Up! (3:1–6)
    • 3:1a The One Who Has the Seven Spirits and Seven Stars
    • 3:1b–4 Jesus Knows the Weakness and Strength of the Church in Sardis
    • 3:5–6 Hear the Promises
  8. An Open Door No One Can Shut (3:7–13)
    • 3:7 Jesus Has the Key of David
    • 3:8–9 Keeping the Word: An Open Door and Subjected Enemies
    • 3:10–11 Keeping the Word: Kept in Tribulation and Ready for His Coming
    • 3:12–13 Hear the Promises: A Pillar in the Temple
  9. I Will Spit You out of My Mouth (3:14–22)
    • 3:14 Jesus is the True Witness
    • 3:15–17 Laodicea’s Self-Reliance
    • 3:18–20 The Counsel of the True Witness: Rely on Jesus
    • 3:21–22 Hear the Promises That the Spirit Speaks
  10. The Throne Room Vision (4:1–5:14)
    • The Exposition of Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1, and Daniel 7 in Revelation 4, 5
    • The Worship of God and Christ in Revelation 4, 5
  11. The One Seated on the Throne (4:1–11)
    • 4:1–6a The One Seated on the Throne
    • 4:6b–11 The Worship of the One Seated on the Throne
  12. The Lamb Standing as Though Slain (5:1–14)
    • 5:1–4 No One Can Open the Scroll
    • 5:5–7 The Conquering Lamb
    • 5:8–14 The Worship of the Lamb
  13. God’s Plan to Save and Judge (6—16)
    • The Contents and Literary Structure of Revelation 6—16
      1. The Contents of Revelation 6—16
      2. The Literary Structure of Revelation
      3. Revelation 6 and the Olivet Discourse
      4. Daniel’s Seventieth Week
  1. The Seals on the Scroll (6:1–17)
    • 6:1–8 Four Seals and Four Horsemen
    • 6:9–17 Martyrs and Signs in the Heavens
  2. The Sealing of the Servants of God (7:1–17)
    • 7:1–8 The Sealing of the Saints
    • 7:9–17 The Saints Worship God
  3. Trumpeting the End of the World (8:1–13)
    • 8:1–5 Our Prayers Will Be Answered
    • 8:6–12 The First Four Trumpets: Wrath on the World
    • 8:13 Woe to the Earth-Dwellers
  4. The Unimagined Horrors of God’s Judgment (9:1–21)
    • 9:1–12 The Fifth Trumpet: The First Woe
    • 9:13–19 The Sixth Trumpet: The Second Woe
    • 9:20–21 Unrepentant Sinners
  5. Eat This Scroll (and Prophesy the History of the Future) (10:1–11)
    • 10:1–3 The Angel of Salvation through Judgment
    • 10:4–7 No More Delay at the Seventh Trumpet
    • 10:8–11 John Eats the Scroll
  6. Bearing Witness ’til Kingdom Come (11:1–19)
    • 11:1–2 Measuring the Temple
    • 11:3–14 The Two Witnesses
      1. 11:3–6 The Three-and-a-Half-Year Ministry of the Two Witnesses
      2. 11:7–14 The Three-and-a-Half-Day Defeat of the Two Witnesses
      3. 11:15–19 The Seventh Trumpet
  1. The Seed of the Woman Conquers the Serpent (12:1–17)
    • 12:1–6 Enmity between the Serpent and the Seed of the Woman
    • 12:7–12 The Cross Defeats the Accuser
    • 12:13–17 On the Wings of an Eagle
  2. The Beat (13:1–10)
    • 13:1–4 Satan’s Fake Christ
    • 13:5–8 The Murderous Blasphemer
    • 13:9–10 The Call to Persevere
  3. The False Prophet (13:11–18)
    • 13:11–12 The False Prophet and His Work
    • 13:13–15 Signs That Deceive and Produce Idolatry
    • 13:16–18 The Mark of the Beast
  4. The Song of the Redeemed (14:1–13)
    • 14:1–5 The Song of the Redeemed
    • 14:6–11 Three Angelic Pronouncements
    • 14:12–13 A Call to Persevere and a Blessing on the Faithful
  5. The Harvest of the Earth (14:14–20)
    • 14:14–16 The Grain Harvest of the Earth
    • 14:17–20 The Grape Harvest of the Earth
  6. Seven Angels with Seven Plagues (15:1–8)
    • 15:1 Another Sign in Heaven
    • 15:2–4 The Song of Moses
    • 15:5–8 The Seven Angels and Seven Bowls
  7. The Seven Bowls of Wrath (16:1–21)
    • 16:1–7 The First Three Bowls and the Response of the Righteous
    • 16:8–21 The Last Four Bowls and the Response of the Wicked
  8. The Harlot and the Beast (17:1–18)
    • 17:1–6 John Sees the Harlot and the Beast
    • 17:7–18 The Angel Explains the Mystery
  9. Lamenting or Rejoicing over Babylon’s Fall? (18:1–24)
    • 18:1–3 Announcement One: Judgment
    • 18:4–5 Come Out of Her
    • 18:6–8 Pay Her Back
    • 18:9–19 The Wicked Weep for Her
      1. 18:9–10 Kings
      2. 18:11–17a Merchants
      3. 18:17b–19 Men of the Sea
      4. 18:20 The Righteous Rejoice over Her
    • 18:21–24 The Angel and the Millstone
  10. The Harlot and the Bride (19:1–10)
    • 19:1–5 Hallelujah, God Saves through Judgment
    • 19:6–8 Hallelujah, God Reigns and the Lamb Takes His Bride
    • 19:9–10 Blessed Are Those Invited to the Marriage Supper
  11. The Return of the King (19:11–21)
    • 19:11–16 The Glory of King Jesus
    • 19:17–18 Birds Summoned to Celebrate Victory
    • 19:19–21 The Victory of the King
  12. The Millennium (20:1–15)
    • 20:1–3 Satan Bound
    • 20:4–6 The Millennial Reign
    • 20:7–10 Satan Released and the Final Battle
    • 20:11–15 The Great White Throne
  13. A New Heaven and a New Earth (21:1–8)
    • 21:1–4 The Former Things Have Passed Away
    • 21:5–8 “I Am Making All Things New”
  14. The New Jerusalem (21:9–27)
    • 21:9–14 The Descent of the Edenic Temple-City
    • 21:15–21 The City’s Measurements and Materials
    • 21:22–27 God and the Lamb Are Its Temple
  15. They Will See His Face (22:1–9)
    • 22:1–5 The River, the Tree, and the Presence
    • 22:6–9 Keep the Words
  16. Come, Lord Jesus! (22:10–21)
    • 22:10–17 Don’t Seal the Book Because Jesus is Coming
    • 22:18–20 Don’t Change the Book Because Jesus is Coming
    • 22:21 The Grace

Jason P. Kees

  1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ (1:1–3)
    • 1–2 The Revelation
    • 3 The Knowledge
  2. Greetings from God Almighty (1:4–8)
    • 4–6 Authorial Wishes
    • 7–8 The Return of the King
  3. The Vision of the Son of Man (1:9–20)
    • 9–11 John, the Appointed Disciple
    • 12–16 The Vision of the Son of Man
    • 17–20 The Nature of the Son of Man
  4. To the Church in Ephesus (2:1–7)
    • 1–3 Commendation
    • 4–6 Rebuke
    • 7 Listen and Gain
  5. To the Church in Smyrna (2:8–11)
    • 8–9 The Encouragement
    • 10–11 The Exhortation
  6. To the Church in Pergamum (2:12–17)
    • 12–13 The Encouragement
    • 14–16 The Rebuke
    • 17 Listen to the Spirit
  7. To the Church in Thyatira (2:18–29)
    • 18–19 The Encouragement
    • 20–23 The Rebuke
    • 24–29 The Exhortation
  8. To the Church in Sardis (3:1–6)
    • 1 The Encouragement
    • 2–4 The Rebuke
    • 5–6 The Exhortation
  9. To the Church in Philadelphia (3:7–13)
    • 7–10 The Encouragement
    • 11–13 The Exhortation
  10. To the Church in Laodicea (3:14–22)
    • 14–17 The Rebuke
    • 18–22 The Exhortation
  11. The Throne Room (4:1–11)
    • 1–6a The Vision of God
    • 6b–11 The Song of God
  12. The Victorious Lamb (5:1–14)
    • 1–5 The Closed Scroll
    • 6–7 The Slain Lamb
    • 8–14 The Heavenly Song
  13. The Four Horsemen (6:1–8)
    • 1 The Opening of the Seals
    • 2 The White Horse
    • 3–4 The Red Horse
    • 5–6 The Black Horse
    • 7–8 The Pale Horse
  14. The Fifth and Sixth Seals (6:9–17)
    • 9–11 The Martyr’s Plea and the Fifth Seal
    • 12–17 The Earth and the Earth-Dwellers Endure God’s Judgment
  15. The Sealed and Multitude are Safe (7:1–17)
    • 1–8 The 144,000 are Sealed
    • 9–17 The Great Multitude is Protected
  16. The Trumpets Sound (8:1–13)
    • 1–5 The Seventh Seal
    • 6–13 The Four Trumpets
  17. The Fifth Trumpet (9:1–12)
    • 1–6 The Fifth Trumpet is Blown
    • 7–12 The Terrifying Locusts
  18. The Sixth Trumpet (9:13–21)
    • 13–19 The Sixth Trumpet is Blown
    • 20–21 The Earth-Dwellers Refuse to Repent
  19. The Angel and the Little Scroll (10:1–11)
    • 1–7 The Mighty Angel
    • 8–11 The Consumption of the Scroll by John
  20. The Two Witnesses Bear Testimony (11:1–14)
    • 1–3 The City to be Trampled
    • 4–14 The Two Witnesses
  21. The Seventh Trumpet (11:15–19)
    • 15–18 The Kingdom of God Has Arrived
    • 19 The Temple of God
  22. The Woman and the Dragon (12:1–6)
    • 1–2 The Picture of the Woman
    • 3–4 The Picture of the Dragon
    • 5–6 The Picture of the Child
  23. Satan Cast to the Earth (12:7–17)
    • 7–12 The Heavenly War
    • 13–17 The Salvation of the Woman
  24. The First Beast (13:1–10)
    • 1–3a The Appearance of the First Beast
    • 3b–4 The Earthly Worship of the First Beast
    • 5–8 The Blasphemous Actions of the First Beast
    • 9–10 Listen to the Word
  25. The Second Beast (13:11–18)
    • 11 The Appearance of the Second Beast
    • 12 The Works of the Second Beast
    • 13–15 The Deception of the Second Beast
    • 16–18 The Mark of the Beast
  26. The Song of the Redeemed (14:1–5)
    • 1 The Redeemed Gather on Mount Zion
    • 2–3 The Voice of the Redeemed
    • 4–5 The Identity of the Redeemed
  27. The Angelic Announcements (14:6–13)
    • 6–7 The First Angel Cries Out
    • 8 The Second Angel Cries Out
    • 9–11 The Third Angel Cries Out
    • 12–13 The Endurance of the Saints
  28. The Church Removed (14:14–20)
    • 14–16 The First Harvest of the Earth
    • 17–20 The Second Harvest of the Earth
  29. The Angels with the Last Plagues (15:1–8)
    • 1 Introduction to the Final Plagues
    • 2–4 The Redeemed Sing the Song of Moses
    • 5–8 The Temple of God
  30. The Seven Bowls of Judgment: Part 1 (16:1–9)
    • 1–2 The First Bowl
    • 3 The Second Bowl
    • 4–7 The Third Bowl
    • 8–9 The Fourth Bowl
  31. The Seven Bowls of Judgment: Part 2 (16:12–21)
    • 10–11 The Fifth Bowl
    • 12–16 The Sixth Bowl
    • 17–21 The Seventh Bowl
  32. The Great Prostitute (17:1–18)
    • 1–6 The Woman and the Beast Described
    • 7–18 The Woman and the Beast Explained
  33. It Has Fallen! (18:1–8)
    • 1–3 The Declaration of Babylon’s Fall
    • 4–8 The Punishment of Babylon
  34. The World Mourns the Loss of Babylon (18:9–20)
    • 9–10 The Kings Mourn
    • 11–17a The Merchants Mourn
    • 17b–20 The Seafarers Mourn
  35. The Rejoicing of Babylon’s Fall (18:21–19:5)
    • 18:21–24 Babylon is Finished
    • 19:1–5 Joyful Celebration in Heaven
  36. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb (19:6–10)
    • 6–8 The Multitude is Seated at the Table
    • 9–10 People Must Worship God Alone
  37. The Return of the King (19:11–21)
    • 11–16 The Rider and His Army
    • 17–21 The Great Supper of Our God
  38. The Saints Reign with Christ (20:1–6)
    • 1–3 Satan is Bound
    • 4–6 The Saints with Christ in the First resurrection
  39. The Judgment of the Earth (20:7–15)
    • 7–10 The Victory of Christ
    • 11–15 The Great Judgment of God
  40. The New Heaven and New Earth (21:1–8)
    • 1–2 The New Creation
    • 3–5a The New Temple
    • 5b–7 The Newness of Everything
    • 8 The Final Judgment
  41. The New Jerusalem (21:9–27)
    • 9–14 The Bride of the Lamb
    • 15–21 The Measurement of the City of God
    • 22–27 No Longer is a Temple Needed
  42. At the End of All Things (22:1–21)
    • 1–5 The River of Life
    • 6–11 Trustworthy are the Word of Jesus
    • 12–17 Jesus Will Return Bringing Rewards
    • 18–19 Do Not Add or Subtract from God’s Word
    • 20–21 Jesus Will Return


Problem Passages

Symbolism plays a significant role in interpreting Revelation, and there are traditionally four methods of interpretation: historicist, preterits, idealist, futurist. Rather than subscribing to one specific method, most commentators and scholars today prefer an eclectic approach that borrows from each method. The methods of interpretation compound the already difficult symbolism that the reader must interpret, and each minister must decide for himself which method of interpretation to use. However, identifying the Old Testament background that is associated with John’s symbolism normally assuages these problem passages, thereby alleviating the apparent problem and providing the minister with confidence to preach this book. Although not an exhaustive list, I will highlight two examples of passages in Revelation that difficult.

The 144,000 are Sealed

After the Lamb opens the sixth seal and catastrophic events occur to the earth, those who have not sided with the Lamb beg for the rocks to cover them and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb and the one who sits on the throne, for “the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand” (Rev 6:17)? John provides the answer to that question by introducing the 144,000 who are sealed (Rev 7:1–8). In 7:5–8 John uses the name of twelve tribes from Israel (Gen 49:1–27), excluding Dan and including Manasseh (Gen 48:20). The problem is identifying these twelve tribes. Are they a literal reference to the tribes of Israel or should the church be interpreted as the 144,000? If they are the twelve tribes of Israel, then what are the implications for the nation of Israel today? If they are the church, then what does that interpretation mean if one holds to a pre-tribulation rapture? I am comfortable saying the 144,000 are the church sealed based on the church being a renewed Israel (cf. Mt 19:28; Rom 2:29; Gal 6:16). Both positions are argued by trustworthy and faithful scholars, and the preacher will need to settle this issue for himself by consulting differing views.

The Thousand Years

Revelation 20:1–6 may be one of the more disputed sections within the book. Here, of Satan is bound and sealed in a pit that will not be opened for a thousand years (cf. Dn 7:9–10, 22–27). “After that he must be released for a little while.” There are three primary views associated with the thousand-year reign. First, the premillennial reign contends that the church, who has been raptured prior to the events that begin to unfold in chapter 6, will now return with Christ during this millennium reign. Satan will be bound in the abyss and the church will reign, with both believers and unbelievers on the earth at that time. Another possibility is the post-millennium view, which understands that the gospel will experience a triumphant expansion that will be accompanied with a time of peace before the second coming of Christ. Jesus, then, is not physically on earth yet, but he is still reigning from heaven. The final view is called the amillennial view, which understands the thousand-year period to have begun after Christ was resurrected and ascended to heaven. When he returns, then the reign is ultimately concluded. Again, much like the 144,000 example above, all three positions are held by reputable scholars. Yet, the preacher must decide by thorough exegesis and research which position he concludes is the one most faithful to the biblical text.


Key Themes and Motifs

The Sovereignty of God

The sovereignty of God is a theme that permeates the book of Revelation and can be found opening and closing the work. The overall theme of God sitting upon the throne, reigning over the world, bringing judgment and wrath upon the earth, and redeeming his people at the end of the days further illustrates God’s sovereignty. In fact, when the main narrative section (4—22) of the work begins, it is God the Father who is seated (4:1–11) and has the scroll with the seven seals in his hand (5:1). The Son is the only one found worthy to take the scroll and open it (5:7; 6:1), thus bringing to the earth God’s judgment.

The preacher should also remember that it is only by God’s allowance that judgment is inflicted upon those who have not sided with the Lamb (i.e., the “earth-dwellers”). Even the first beast is given (ἐδόθη; used throughout Revelation) “a mouth to utter haughty and blasphemous words” (13:5) against God. God is the one who judges mankind, and he does so justly (cf. 11:18; 18:8; 19:2). Although he may use other agents in this judgment, such as the four horsemen or the seven angels with the seven trumpets, he nonetheless rules over each scenario with the motif of sovereignty. God’s people must remain steadfast, then, during this time of tribulation.

The Return of the King

The climax of the work is the emphasis upon the return Christ, the one true King, to return and reign over his people. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah (cf. Gen 49:9), the Root of David (cf. Isa 11:1, 10), and the return of this Davidic King (cf. 2 Sam 7:13) is the purpose of this apocalyptic vision (1:7; cf. Dan 7:13; Zech 12:10). He is the rider on the white horse and is called “Faithful” and “True” (19:11), reigning sovereignly over the cosmos (19:12; cf. 12:3; 13:1), and now returning dripped in blood (19:13; cf Isa 63:2–6) with the armies of heaven prepared for battle (19:14), and he will rule as the true Messianic King with his rod of iron (19:15; cf. Ps 2:9; Isa 11:4). He returns to make war against the earth-dwellers and their Unholy Trinity and to vindicate his redeemed ones, and the battle ends almost as soon as it begins (19:17–21). The futile attempt of the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies are quickly defeated by Christ, as the boastful beast and false prophet (13:1–18) are quickly bound and cast into the lake of fire. Those who received his mark and worshiped its image are slain by the sword that came from the mouth of the King of Kings.

Worship of the True God

Revelation is adamant that every person participates in worship, and the object of this worship falls in only two categories: either people worship the one true God or they worship the unholy Trinity. Worship is used in direct connection with the beast (13:4, 8, 12, 15) and those who refuse to worship the beast, or the image, will be the victim of persecution and death (13:15). Even the “earth-dwellers” who experience the wrath of God early in the book still refuse to repent and worship the one true God (6:15–17; 9:20–21). Yet God is the only one who is worthy of worship (4:11; 5:2–12; 7:11) and only God is to be worshipped. Believers are urged by this theme of worshipping the one true God to remain loyal and committed no matter what cost. The identification of the believer is bound up by nothing else other than their identity with the slain Lamb who stands victorious and is worthy of our worship, and believers must follow him wherever he goes (14:3).


Helpful Commentaries and Resources

Technical Commentaries and Resources

Aune, David. Revelation. 3 vols. World Biblical Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017.

Bauckham, Richard. The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1998.

_____. The Theology of the Book of Revelation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Beale, G.K. The Book of Revelation. The New International Greek Testament Commentary. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 199.

Charles, R.H. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St. John. 2 vols. The International Critical Commentary. Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1985.

Fanning, Buist M. Revelation. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2020.

Koester, Craig R. Revelation. The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries. Yale: Yale University Press, 2014.

Mounce, Robert H. The Book of Revelation, Revised. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997.

Osborne, Grant R. Revelation. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002.

Pastoral Commentaries and Resources

Akin, Daniel. L. Exalting Jesus in Revelation. Christ Centered Exposition Commentary. Nashville: Holman, 2016.

Emerson, Matthew Y. Between the Cross and the Throne: The Book of Revelation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016.

Hamilton, James M. Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches. Preaching the Word. Grand Rapids: Crossway, 2012.

Hoskins, Paul M. The Book of Revelation: A Theological and Exegetical Commentary. North Charleston, SC: ChristoDoulos Publications, 2017.

Wall, Robert W. Revelation. New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1991.


How to Preach Christ from Revelation

John opens this final book of the canon by informing the reader of its content: the revelation of Jesus Christ (1:1). This simple, yet profound, statement provides the reader not just an overview of things that are to come, but the reader is also reminded that what must soon take place is not outside of the grasp of Jesus. Revelation is truly about the return of the King, and in order to preach Jesus from this book the preacher would do well to remember two things.

First, the preacher must remember the slaughtered Lamb who stands victoriously and leads his servants faithfully through tribulation. It is almost redundant to say, but remembering Jesus is the first step to preaching him from Revelation. There are portions of the narrative where Christ is present, such as the scroll and the Lamb (5) and the Lamb and the 144,000 (14), but there are also other instances where he is not specifically mentioned within the narrative. Yet, it is important to remember that Christ stands in the background of each scene carefully guiding and protecting his people. When the seals are broken and judgment falls upon the earth, when the trumpets sound and locusts advance, when the great harlot rides drunkly upon her beast, Christ is always there reigning, protecting, and awaiting his full return. It is important for the preacher to remember that Christ, and thereby the Holy Trinity, is sovereignly in control of every single event that occurs, and he is not out of reach from his people.

Second, the preacher must remember that the Bible is the primary resource for his study and proclamation of Revelation and nothing else. What I mean by that statement has to do with the newspaper interpretation method that seeks to read modern day creations back into the Bible. For example, the locusts in 9:7–11 have been interpreted by some to be apache helicopters that will be used to bring since the descriptions of them is similar, ignoring the clear link to Joel 2:4 and the Exodus plagues. The preacher must avoid these types of hermeneutical leaps and rather stick closely to his Old and New Testament. Throughout the book John uses his Old Testament for his hearers and emphasizes God’s judgment. Just as God judged Egypt, Babylon, and other nations in the Old Testament, so he will pour out his wrath upon those who side with the beast and refuse the one true King. Exhaust every Old Testament (and New Testament) usage and stay close to your Bible!


Why You Should Consider Preaching or Reaching Revelation

When I began my doctoral studies, I never anticipated writing a dissertation on Revelation, but I am grateful that it happened. In fact, prior to writing my dissertation I reluctantly preached through the book not knowing at the time I would be writing on it over a year later. I made the off-hand comment once that I would likely need a year to prepare for the sermon series just because of how difficult the book can be and how many various interpretations there are, but the year of study does not need to happen. Here are a few reasons that I encourage the church to dig in, dig deep, and preach or teach this wonderful book.

First, Revelation demands that we know our Bible. As John writes and takes the reader through the panorama of his narrative, he does not stop along the way to clarify what each vision means or the connection to the Old Testament Scriptures; rather, he just keeps the storyline going expecting the reader to keep up. The reason why Revelation is probably one of the more difficult books to read, preach, or teach from is because we do not know our Scripture well enough to keep up with John’s pace. But preaching or teaching this book forces us (and our people!) to slow down for the scenic tour. Through careful study, we are able to point to the Old Testament examples that John uses, how they correspond to one another, and why it matters.

Second, Revelation forces us to remain cordial to differing viewpoints on the book. As previously mentioned, there are historically four major interpretation methods that have been, and still are, used for this book, not to mention the discussions of the millennial reign of Christ. Trustworthy scholars and Bible-believing Christians differ on this work, and yet still hold to an orthodox view of Scripture, faith, and God. In the preaching and teaching of this book, it is important to remember that not everyone will agree with your interpretation. What is important is to be charitable in our presentation of differing views, gracious in our conversations with others, and resilient for orthodoxy.

Third, Revelation reminds us that God’s patience and mercy will one day end for those who are not Christians. No matter how someone understands the tribulation, whether the church is still present or raptured out, judgment still pours out on the earth for the “earth-dwellers” who do not follow Christ. There is certainly a time when God’s patience runs out, and judgment flows from the throne to the earth. The reality and horrors of God’s impending judgment is seen all too clearly in this book with the judgment before the great white throne (20:11–15) and those whose name was not found in the book of life. The people of God should be reminded of the gravity and reality of hell and those who are separated from Christ, and remember that following the Lamb wherever he goes means bringing the Gospel to a lost world.