Lesson 151: Revelation 1

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

While on the island of Patmos, John wrote a letter of encouragement to seven congregations of the Church describing revelation he had received. John bore record of what had been delivered to him from an angel and from Jesus Christ. John also recorded details about his vision of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Suggestions for Teaching

Revelation 1:1–11

John bears record of his vision

Before class, place an object on a table or chair at the front of the class. Cover the object so students will not know what it is. When class begins, invite students to guess what the object is. After several guesses, invite a student to come to the front of the class and ask him or her to lift part of the covering from the object so that only he or she can see the object. Ask this student to describe the object to the class.

  • How might the student who described the object represent one role of prophets and apostles?

Ask the student to be seated. Invite students to turn to the book of Revelation. Explain that this book is also known as the Apocalypse, which in Greek means a revelation, uncovering, or unveiling of that which is hidden. In this book, the Apostle John recorded truths that were revealed or unveiled to him about the Lord Jesus Christ, His role in Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, the events leading up to His Second Coming, and His Millennial reign.

Invite students to look for truths that were revealed to John as they study the book of Revelation.

Invite a student to read aloud Joseph Smith Translation, Revelation 1:1–3, located in the Bible appendix. Ask students to follow along, looking for what John taught about the revelation he had received.

  • Why was this revelation given to John?

  • What did John want the Saints to do with this revelation?

To help students understand why John mentioned both those who hear his words and those who read his words, explain that in John’s day many Saints could not read, so they became acquainted with the book of Revelation by listening to others read it aloud.

  • What did John say about people who would read, seek to understand, and keep (or obey) the teachings recorded in the book of Revelation?

  • How would you summarize John’s teachings in Revelation 1:3 as a principle? (Students should identify the following principle: As we read, seek to understand, and obey the Lord’s words, we will be blessed.)

Invite a student to read Revelation 1:4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for whom John addressed in his letter.

  • Whom did John address in his letter? (Explain that “the seven churches which are in Asia” refers to seven Church congregations, like wards and branches today, that were located in what is now the western area of modern-day Turkey. “The seven Spirits” refers to the leaders of those congregations.)

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Revelation 1:5–8. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what John wanted the seven congregations to know about Jesus Christ. Consider inviting students to mark what they find.

  • What did John want the seven congregations to know about Jesus Christ?

  • Which phrase about the Savior in these verses is especially meaningful to you? Why? (You may want to point out that Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. This title indicates that Jesus Christ’s role in Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation encompasses everything from the beginning to the end. [See also Revelation 22:13.])

Invite a student to read Revelation 1:9–11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for where John was when he received this revelation and where the seven churches were located.

  • Where was John when he received this revelation? Where were the seven congregations located?

Consider asking students to turn to Bible Maps, no. 13, “The Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul,” to locate Patmos and some of the seven cities listed in Revelation 1:11.

To help students understand what Patmos looks like, consider inviting them to locate Bible Photographs, no. 32, “Isle of Patmos.”

  • According to Revelation 1:9, why was John on the island of Patmos?

Explain that John received this revelation during a difficult time for members of the Church. During this time, there was intense persecution toward the Saints and apostasy and divisions among Church members. Additionally, all the Apostles except John had been killed. The book of Revelation may have been written during the time of the Roman emperor Domitian, who had reinstituted emperor worship throughout the Roman Empire and exiled or executed those who did not worship gods approved by the Roman government. Many people believe John was exiled to the island of Patmos for that reason.

  • According to Revelation 1:10, how did John describe his circumstances when he received this revelation?

  • What do you think the phrase “I was in the Spirit” means?

  • According to verse 11, what did Jesus Christ command John to do?

Explain that we learn from the Book of Mormon that Nephi had a vision similar to John’s vision. Nephi saw the events of the last days (including Jesus Christ’s Second Coming, the Millennium, and the completion of God’s work on the earth), but he was commanded not to write about them because John had been foreordained to do so (see 1 Nephi 14:24–29).

  • Why is it important for us to study John’s words in Revelation?

Invite students as they continue to study the book of Revelation to look for truths about the last days, the Second Coming, the Millennium, and the completion of God’s work on the earth.

Revelation 1:12–20

John sees the Lord Jesus Christ in a vision

To introduce the idea of symbolism, display (or draw on the board) pictures of a few common signs in your culture that can be easily understood without words. For instance, you might display traffic signs or warning signs. Ask students to explain the purpose of these signs.

Explain that in the book of Revelation John used symbols and images to teach important messages about the gospel. Symbols can be powerful teaching tools because they can communicate to people in different generations and cultures. They can also communicate several different messages.

Divide students into pairs. Invite each pair to read Revelation 1:12–18 aloud together, looking for symbols John used to describe his revelation. You may want to suggest that students mark the symbols they read about.

  • What symbols did John use to describe his revelation?

handout iconProvide students with a handout of the following chart (or recreate the chart on the board). Invite each pair of students to read the scripture references in the right-hand column of the chart and to write in that column the possible meaning of each symbol John used.

Symbolism in Revelation 1

Symbol

Possible Meaning

Revelation 1:12—Seven golden candlesticks

Revelation 1:20; 3 Nephi 18:24

Revelation 1:16–17—The right hand

Mark 16:19

Revelation 1:16—Seven stars

Joseph Smith Translation, Revelation 1:20 (in Revelation 1:20, footnote b)—

Revelation 1:16—A sharp two-edged sword

Hebrews 4:12

Revelation 1:18—The keys of hell and death

2 Nephi 9:10–13

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After sufficient time, ask several students to report the possible meaning of each symbol John used. As needed, help them identify that the seven candlesticks represent the seven churches that are to hold up the light of the gospel; the right hand represents divine power and approval; the seven stars symbolize the servants or leaders over the seven churches who are upheld by the Lord; the sword represents the word of God, pronouncing judgment on the wicked and freeing the innocent; and the keys of hell and death represent the Lord’s power to overcome spiritual and physical death.

  • Based on the message the Lord revealed to His Saints through John, what truth can we learn about Jesus Christ and His relationship to His faithful followers? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify a truth similar to the following: Jesus Christ watches over and cares for His faithful followers.)

Remind students of the challenges that Church members in John’s day were facing.

  • Why would it have been important for Church members in John’s day to know that Jesus Christ continued to watch over and care for them?

  • Why is it important for us to remember this same truth?

Invite students to think about a time when they felt Jesus Christ watch over and care for them. Ask a few of them to share their experiences with the class. Consider sharing one of your experiences as well.

Invite a student to read Revelation 1:17–18 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Savior said to John.

  • What doctrine can we learn about Jesus Christ based on what He said to John? (Students may use different words but should identify the following doctrine: Jesus Christ is a glorified resurrected being who has power over death and hell.)

  • What hope might this doctrine have brought to the Saints in John’s day?

  • What hope can this doctrine give to us?

  • What does this doctrine teach us about the eventual outcome of the battle between good and evil that exists throughout the earth?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement about the book of Revelation:

“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” (Bible Dictionary, “Revelation of John”).

Point out that because we know that good will eventually triumph over evil, what remains to be seen is whose side we choose to be on, Satan’s or God’s. You may want to testify of the Savior’s victory over death and hell and of the fact that because of Him we can choose to side with God in the battle between good and evil.

Invite students to consider what they can do to more fully choose to be on God’s side. Encourage them to act on any promptings they may receive.

Invite a student to read Revelation 1:19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told John to write. Invite students to report what they find.

Explain that Revelation 1 records what John wrote about his vision of the Savior. As recorded in Revelation 2–3, John wrote about “things which are” (Revelation 1:19), or the condition of the Church in his day. Revelation 4–22 records what John wrote about “things which shall be hereafter” (Revelation 1:19), or the future.

Commentary and Background Information

Revelation 1:12. Seven golden candlesticks

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about the seven golden candlesticks that John saw:

“Candlesticks carry light; they do not create it. Their function is to make it available, not to bring it into being. So by using seven candlesticks to portray the seven churches to whom John is now to give counsel, the Lord is showing that his congregations on earth are to carry his light to the world. Christ is the Light of the world. (John 8:12.) ‘Hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do.’ (3 Ne. 18:24; Matt. 5:14–16.)” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 3:442).