Revelation of John
Also known as the Apocalypse, a Greek word meaning revealed or uncovered. The message of Revelation is the same as that of all scripture: there will be an eventual triumph on this earth of God over the devil; a permanent victory of good over evil, of the Saints over their persecutors, of the kingdom of God over the kingdoms of men and of Satan. This is the subject on which Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Paul, Peter, and all the prophets have written. They spoke of a day of victory that would come, and that the end would be better (more glorious) than the beginning. The victory would be achieved through Jesus Christ.
Such is the theme of the Revelation. The details about the beasts, the wars, the angels, the men, etc., contribute to the development of this theme. By a little study, the theme can be perceived even if the details are not completely identified. It may be in this sense that the Prophet Joseph Smith said that Revelation was “one of the plainest books God ever caused to be written” (HC 5:342). However, the more fully the details are understood, the greater will be the appreciation of the theme. If we fail to catch a glimpse of the theme, we fail in our comprehension, no matter how many details we are able to understand.
- The Revelation seems to be divided into two parts. The first, Rev. 1–3, deals with things at the time the Revelation was given, and is addressed to branches of the Church in seven cities of Asia. Note Rev. 1:3: “the time is at hand.” These three chapters show clearly that the Church in that day was rapidly going into apostasy. The second part, Rev. 4–22, deals with things yet future for John, things that had not yet come to pass. It begins with John’s time and continues to the end of the world. Note Rev. 4:1: “I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” Accordingly, it offers a sort of panoramic view of events through the ages—of Apostasy, Restoration, Judgment, and Millennium.
- Apostasy and Restoration. Apostasy and Restoration are relatively gradual events. Compare the setting and the rising of the sun. It does not become dark or light all at once (see D&C 45:29).
- A guided tour. An interesting circumstance in the Revelation is that an angel comes to John and explains things to him—a sort of guided tour. This is consistent with the visions given to Nephi, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Enoch, who had similar guided tours. It appears to be a typical visionary experience.
Some Guidelines to Understanding:
- A description of the resurrected and glorified Savior (1:13–15).
- The importance of overcoming the world (3:21; 21:7).
- The faithful are to be kings and priests unto God and will reign on the earth (1:6; 5:10; 20:6; 21:7).
- Animals are resurrected from the dead, and there are animals in heaven, redeemed by the blood of Christ (5:11–14; D&C 77:3; HC 5:343).
- Two prophets will lie dead in the streets of Jerusalem in the last days and then be raised (11:1–11).
- The woman driven into the wilderness, and the man child (Rev. 12). The woman is the Church; the man child is the political kingdom of God growing out of the Church.
- The angel with the everlasting gospel. This being is generally identified in the Church as the resurrected angel Moroni (JS—H 1:33) but may be representative of all the angels involved in the Restoration.
- All people shall be judged by their works out of the books that are written both on earth and in heaven (20:11–13; see D&C 128:6–7).
- The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (19:10).
- The New Jerusalem, the city foursquare (3:12; 21:1–22:7; see Ether 13:2–10; Moses 7:62–63). The Revelation was received on the Lord’s day by John on the isle of Patmos (Rev. 1:9–10), off the coast of Asia, not far from Ephesus. The exact date is not known. The Book of Mormon confirms that the recipient was John, one of the Twelve (1 Ne. 14:18–27; see D&C 20:35; 77).