Why study this book?
As “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:1), this book is sometimes called the Apocalypse, which in Greek means a revelation, uncovering, or unveiling of that which is hidden (see Bible Dictionary, “Revelation of John”). This book is an unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ and a revelation of His authority, power, and preeminent role in the Father’s plan of salvation. The book also reveals much important information about the events leading up to the Second Coming and the Millennium.
Studying the book of Revelation can help students gain a deeper understanding of the resurrected and glorified Son of God and His dealings with God’s children throughout the ages of earth’s history, particularly in the last days. This book extends a message of hope to the righteous and can encourage students to remain faithful to their testimonies of the Savior in the midst of persecution and trials.
Who wrote this book?
The Apostle John, the beloved disciple of Jesus Christ, is the author of this book. The Book of Mormon affirms that John was foreordained to write the things recorded in the book of Revelation (see 1 Nephi 14:18–27; Ether 4:16).
When and where was it written?
The book of Revelation was written at a time when Christians were facing false teachings, apathy, and severe persecution (see Revelation 1:9; 2:4, 10, 14–15; 3:16; 6:9). This persecution most likely came at the hands of Roman officials in the final two decades of the first century A.D. John wrote from the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) southwest of Ephesus (see Revelation 1:9).
To whom was it written and why?
John wrote a message of hope and encouragement to the Saints in his day (see Revelation 1:4, 11) and those in the latter days. The first three chapters of Revelation were specifically addressed to seven branches of the Church in Asia Minor (see Revelation 1:4, 11; 2–3). Because of intense persecution, the Saints were in great need of the encouraging message found in Revelation. In addition, the prophet Nephi testified that “God hath ordained the apostle” John to write about the end of the world (1 Nephi 14:25) and that his words would come forth to both the Gentiles and the remnant of Israel in the latter days (see 1 Nephi 13:20–24, 38; 14:19–27).
What are some distinctive features of this book?
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “The book of Revelation is one of the plainest books God ever caused to be written” (in History of the Church, 5:342). Though it is rich with imagery and symbols that are not always easy for readers in modern times to understand, the themes of this book are simple and inspiring.
John described the conditions of the Church in his day (see Revelation 2–3) and wrote about past and future events (see Revelation 4–22). The book of Revelation contains one of the few passages in the scriptures that describes the premortal War in Heaven (see Revelation 12:7–11) and presents an inspired overview of the history of the world, concentrating particularly on the latter days and the Millennium. Its major themes include Jesus Christ’s role in carrying out God’s plan, the hand of God in earth’s history, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the destruction of evil, and the promise that the earth will eventually become celestial. The book also explains that there will be “a permanent victory of good over evil … [and] of the kingdom of God over the kingdoms of men and of Satan” (Bible Dictionary, “Revelation of John”).
Revelation 1–3 John sees a vision of Jesus Christ. He writes individual messages to the seven churches in Asia; these messages include praise, admonitions, and promises to the faithful Saints in each branch.
Revelation 4–11 John sees a vision of God enthroned in the celestial kingdom, the Lamb of God, and a book sealed with seven seals. John sees visions in connection with the opening of each of the seven seals. Those who have the seal of God in their foreheads will receive God’s protection in the last days. John sees wars, plagues, and many other latter-day events that will precede the Lord’s Second Coming.
Revelation 12–16 John sees a vision of the premortal War in Heaven and its continuation on the earth. He teaches that evil forces seek to destroy God’s kingdom on the earth. In the last days the gospel will be restored to the earth in its fulness by angelic ministry. Preparations will be made for the battle of Armageddon.
Revelation 17–22 Spiritual Babylon will be spread throughout the earth. After the righteous Saints are gathered, Babylon will fall and be mourned by her supporters. The righteous will be invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb of God. Satan will be bound, the Millennium will begin, and Christ will reign personally on the earth. The dead will be judged. The earth will receive its celestial glory.