[Note: The Greek word means ‘to take away the cover’. God shows his nature and he shows other truths to humans. He does this in natural ways and he does it in special ways.]

John wrote this book. He was in prison on Patmos. This is an island in the Aegean Sea. It is not an easy book to understand. However, its main message is very clear. It is this. God, who has all power, rules (19:6). This book reminds every reader about three things:

  • God's eternal power and authority (4:2, 9-10)
  • Christ's eternal victory (1:5, 17-18. This means that he always overcomes)
  • The Spirit's eternal presence (1:10; 2:7; 22:17. This means that he is always there).

People find this book difficult to understand. And there is a reason for this. John wrote the book in a code. He hid the main truths on purpose. The Romans were in control in the first century. And an official might read the book. But he would not understand it. So he would not think that it was dangerous. Yet it showed that the church would win. It showed that the Romans’ rule and their control would end. It also showed the final defeat of all that is evil.

The book is a great work. Its language and its symbols (ideas) are very clever. They come from the Old Testament. So Jews would understand them immediately. But other people would have no idea what it all meant.

There are five main sections:

The Lord who is Alive (Chapter 1:1-20)

It was a time of persecution. But John stayed loyal to God. He continued to declare Christ's truth (1:9). So the Romans took him away from his home and his country. But Christ was always with him. He cared very much about John. And Christ is the one who overcomes (1:12-16). Christ himself came to his friend who was suffering so much. And he promised to give John peace and hope. He also gave John new work to do (1:17-20).

God gave visions to John.

[Note: A vision is like a dream. But the person is often awake. The person sees things, but nobody else can see them. God can use this method to speak to people.]

In the first vision, John saw Christ (1:12-18). It is a good example of Old Testament picture language. The Old Testament used this type of language at certain times. They were during hard times in Jewish history.

This reminded John about what God always does. God is with his people when they have hard times. He helps them when they feel confused. (Read Isaiah 41:4; 49:2; Ezekiel 1:26-28; Daniel 7:9-14; 10:5-6.)

The Church for Whom Christ Died (Chapters 2:1−3:22)

[Note: The Church refers to believers. It does not refer to a building.]

God's people are not perfect. To be perfect is a wonderful blessing. And it will come in the future. It is one of the many things that God is preparing for us. But this passage did not hide the Early (first) Church's failures. It did not make the Church seem better than it was.

This passage had a message for seven churches. They were in Asia Minor. Each of them was important in a district. And people knew all of these districts. There were people who delivered letters even in those days. So each letter would be available over a wide area. God blamed five of the seven churches. They had serious spiritual and moral sins.

Each letter started by reminding the church members about Christ. He is unique. There is nobody else who is like him. (Read 2:1, 8, 12, 8; 3:1, 7, 14.) And each letter ended with a promise that they could trust. (Read 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 20-21.)

God praised two churches very much. Their work for God was difficult. It was a time of persecution for them both. But this message reminded them about their:

  • spiritual wealth (2:9)
  • life that God promised (2:10)
  • immediate entrance. God ‘holds the key’ (3:7)
  • opportunity to tell the gospel (3:8)
  • certain love by God (3:9)
  • protection by God (3:10)
  • eternal safety (3:11-12).

The Throne that is Secure (Chapters 4:1−5:14)

There was a closed door on earth (3:19). Then there was an open door in heaven (4:1). These two chapters were important then and they are still important today. They provide the church (believers) with something that is necessary. Believers can know that there is another ‘world’. They cannot see it. But, there, things are permanent. And there is safety.

There are some special times when the church (all believers) needs to know things about God. They are times when:

  • there is spiritual failure (2:4)
  • religious people oppose them (2:9)
  • people are not loyal to the truth (2:14)
  • there is much moral evil (2:20)
  • church members pretend (3:1)
  • there are not many true believers (3:8)
  • possessions and wealth are most important to people (3:17).

At these times, people need to be sure about God. They need to know that:

  • God is all-powerful (4:2)
  • God is full of mercy (4:3. Read Genesis 9:12-16)
  • God is holy (4:8)
  • God is alive (4:10)
  • God is all-powerful (4:11). [Note: This means that all power belongs to God.]

True believers knew that Christ is like the Lion who overcomes (5:5). He is like the Lamb (young sheep) who died to save them. He was their sacrifice (5:6-14). There is the Father who is King. There is the Lamb who saves. Everybody should praise them only. And we should do this now. We will still be praising God the King and God the Lamb when time ends. (Read 4:11 and 5:13. ‘To praise’ means to admire and to appreciate God.)

The Battle that is Certain (Chapters 6:1−20:15)

These chapters describe a constant fight. It happens when God's Son and Christ's people are active in the world. There will always be war against evil.

This is a dramatic story. It uses word pictures that we cannot forget. The glue that was on some official papers broke open. People played musical instruments. Bowls of anger poured out. The famous four horsemen appeared. And they described four things:

  • Fights (6:1-2)
  • Cruelty (6:3-4)
  • No food (6:5-6)
  • Death (6:7-8).

It is sad that these things were not just in the ancient world. They are common all over our world today.

Things were very bad everywhere. But God's people were safe. And this emphasised something that is still important. However terrible their troubles might be, God was with the believers. He had good things for them. They had God's mark on them. And this mark showed that they belonged to God. (Read 7:3; 9:4; 14:1; 22:4.) They were part of the group of people whom God saved (7:4-10). They belonged to the great crowd of believers (7:14). There were so many that nobody could count them all (7:7).

For all these people Jesus was very special. He was:

  • the Lamb (young sheep) who died for them (7:9)
  • the Person who paid the price for their salvation (7:14)
  • their Shepherd (someone who cares for sheep; 7:17)
  • their King (7:17).

The story developed further. Rome was the capital of a very proud nation. People called it ‘eternal Rome’. But there would be total defeat for Rome. (Read chapters 17-18.) The King of kings will overcome all evil. (Read chapter 19.) He will completely destroy the main enemy, who is the devil. (Read chapter 20.)

The City that is Eternal (Chapters 21:1−22:21)

There will be total success for God. He has overcome all that is evil. He is with his people. And this means that there will be:

  • nobody who is lonely (21:3)
  • nobody who is sad (21:4)
  • no more pain (21:4)
  • no more death (21:4)
  • no more need (21:6)
  • no more sin (21:8, 27; 22:3, 15)
  • no more darkness, no more night (21:23-25)

The book ends with confident words. They are the words of:

  • the God whom we can trust (21:5; 22:6)
  • the Lord who will return (22:7, 12, 20)
  • the Spirit who persuades (22:17. He says ‘Come!’).