The Revelation of Saint John the Divine

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 164–178


What Is This Revelation About?

When they think of the book of Revelation, many people immediately think of prophecies about the last days, beasts, and other mysteries recorded in symbolic language. Revelation contains those things but, as the Apostle John recorded in the first verses, it is the revelation of Jesus Christ given to His servant, who would bear record of what he saw and of his testimony of Jesus Christ (see Revelation 1:1–2). In other words, the main message of the book of Revelation is like that of most other books of scripture—it reveals or teaches about Jesus Christ and invites us to come unto Him.

As you read the book of Revelation, discover its teachings about Jesus Christ. The symbolic language and images in this book may seem challenging at first, but you will find that they deepen your understanding of Christ’s mission and of His power.

Historical Background

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John received and wrote this revelation while he was a prisoner on the island of Patmos, in the Aegean Sea. At the time, the government of Rome was persecuting Christians and most of the Apostles of Jesus had been martyred for of their faith. Many other members were treated cruelly in Rome and elsewhere in the Roman empire.

Giving one’s life for the Savior was a very real possibility for Saints in those days. In the midst of such difficult times, it is not hard to imagine Church members wondering why they were going through such trials and what the Lord would do in response to such evil on the earth—especially the evil specifically directed at the Lord’s people. This revelation from the Lord to John revealed the larger or greater picture of God’s plan and helped the Saints of that day better understand the persecutions and apparent victories of evil over good that occur in this life. Saints in our day who also wonder about the fight between good and evil and the seeming power of the devil on the earth will also find encouragement and hope in the message of the book of Revelation.

You can read more about the background and content of this book in the Bible Dictionary, “Revelation of John,” (pp. 762–63).

For Our Day

The first three chapters of Revelation contain counsel to seven branches of the Church in John’s day, but his counsel can be applied to our day. Most of what John saw in vision represent events that will occur in the last days before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and during the Millennium (see 1 Nephi 14:14–28). Consequently, Saints in our day should be especially interested in its message.

A Challenge from John

Before John explained what he saw in vision and before he gave any counsel to the churches of his day, he said that we would be blessed if we would read and “hear the words of this prophecy, and keep [obey] those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Revelation 1:3). As you read the book of Revelation you should seriously consider his challenge to hear and obey. You live in a day when the events written in this book are “at hand”—they have happened in our day or will yet happen.