Unit 31, Day 1: Revelation 1–3

New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, 2015


Introduction

While on the island of Patmos, the Apostle John wrote a letter of encouragement to seven congregations of the Church. In it he described revelations he had received. John bore record of what had been delivered to him from an angel and from Jesus Christ. He also conveyed the Lord’s words of commendation, correction, and warning to the Saints.

Revelation 1:1–11

John bears record of his vision

Put a checkmark by each of the following events that you would like to know more about:

____ Premortal existence

____ The last days

____ The Second Coming of Jesus Christ

____ The Millennium

____ The Final Judgment

The book of Revelation is “also known as the Apocalypse, a Greek word meaning revealed or uncovered” (Bible Dictionary, “Revelation of John”). In this book the Apostle John recorded truths that were revealed to him about the premortal existence, Jesus Christ and His role in Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, the events leading up to the Second Coming, the Millennium, and the Final Judgment.

Look for truths about these topics as you study the book of Revelation.

Read Joseph Smith Translation, Revelation 1:1–3 (in the Bible appendix), looking for what John taught about the revelation he had received. You may want to mark or note what John wanted the Saints to do.

The Apostle John mentioned both those who read his words and those who hear his words. In John’s day many Saints could not read, so they became acquainted with what he wrote in the book of Revelation by listening to others read it aloud.

Based on John’s teachings in Revelation 1:3, we can learn the following principle: As we read, seek to understand, and obey the Lord’s words, we will be blessed. One blessing John taught that we would receive was being prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

The Joseph Smith Translation clarifies that John addressed his letter “to the seven servants who are over the seven churches in Asia” (Joseph Smith Translation, Revelation 1:4 [in the Bible appendix]). This helps us understand that “the seven churches 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.

Read Joseph Smith Translation, Revelation 1:5–8 (in the Bible appendix), looking for what John wanted the seven congregations to know about Jesus Christ.

Notice that John explained that we can be “washed … from our sins” and become clean through the blood, or the Atonement, of Jesus Christ and be made “kings and priests unto God” (Revelation 1:5–6).

  1. journal icon1.

    Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal: What phrases about the Savior in Revelation 1:5–8 are especially meaningful to you? Why?

Read Revelation 1:9–11, looking for where John was when he received this revelation and where the seven churches were located. Notice where some of these cities are on the accompanying map.

map, eastern Mediterranean

John received this revelation during a difficult time for members of the Church. There was intense persecution toward the Saints, including some of them being killed, as well as 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 reign of the Roman emperor Domitian (A.D. 81–96), 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.

John writing

John received a vision when he was on the island of Patmos.

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). Consider the importance the Lord has placed on John’s record. As you continue to study John’s words in Revelation, 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 Jesus Christ in a vision

Think of three companies you are familiar with. Do any of the companies use a logo to identify itself?

Why do you think companies use logos? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

In the book of Revelation the Apostle John used symbols and images to teach important messages about the gospel. Symbols can be a powerful teaching tool because they can communicate to people in different generations and cultures and on many levels. They can also communicate several different messages.

Read Revelation 1:12–18, looking for symbols John saw and used to describe his revelation. You may want to mark or note what you find.

  1. journal icon2.

    In the accompanying chart, read the passages in the right-hand column of the following chart to consider possible meanings for symbols John wrote about in Revelation 1:12–18. In your scripture study journal, record the possible meaning for each symbol.

Symbol

Possible meaning

  1. a.

    Seven golden candlesticks (Revelation 1:12)

  1. b.

    The Savior’s right hand (Revelation 1:16–17)

  1. b.

    See Mark 14:62; 16:19

  1. c.

    Seven stars (Revelation 1:16)

  1. c.

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

  1. d.

    A sharp two-edged sword (Revelation 1:16)

  1. d.

    See Hebrews 4:12

  1. e.

    The keys of death and hell (Revelation 1:18)

Christ with candlesticks

Based on the message the Lord revealed to His Saints through John, one truth we can learn is that Jesus Christ watches over and cares for His faithful followers.

  1. journal icon3.

    Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

      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?

    2. b.

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

Think about a time when you felt that God had watched over and cared for you. Consider how that experience has blessed you.

Notice in Revelation 1:17–18 that the Savior told John that He held the keys of hell and death. From these verses we can learn that Jesus Christ is a glorified resurrected being who has power over death and hell.

Consider what this doctrine teaches about the eventual outcome of the battle between good and evil that exists throughout the earth.

Ponder how the following statement relates to Jesus Christ’s power over death and hell: “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”).

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.

President Ezra Taft Benson

President Ezra Taft Benson said: “Each day the forces of evil and the forces of good pick up new recruits. Each day we personally make many decisions that show where our support will go. The final outcome is certain—the forces of righteousness will finally win. What remains to be seen is where each of us personally, now and in the future, will stand in this fight—and how tall we will stand. Will we be true to our last-days, foreordained mission?” (“In His Steps” [Brigham Young University fireside, Mar. 4, 1979], 1, speeches.byu.edu).

Consider what you can do to more fully choose to be on God’s side. Act on any promptings you may receive.

Revelation 2–3

John writes the words of Jesus Christ to the leaders of the seven churches

Revelation 2:1–3:13 includes the Lord’s message to specific churches in Asia Minor. Read these verses, looking for the counsel and promises the Lord gave to these Church members.

Which of those promises would you like to receive?

Read Revelation 3:14–17, looking for a condition the Church members in Laodicea needed to overcome in order to receive exaltation. In verse 14, “the Amen” refers to Jesus Christ.

  1. journal icon4.

    Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

      What do you think it means that these Church members were “neither cold nor hot” (Revelation 3:15) but were lukewarm disciples of Jesus Christ?

    2. b.

      In your opinion, what are some things lukewarm disciples of Jesus Christ might do and might not do?

Think about what you have done to follow Jesus Christ over the past few days and whether you might be a hot, cold, or lukewarm disciple of Jesus Christ.

Read Revelation 3:19, looking for why the Lord said He was correcting the Saints in Laodicea. You may want to mark or note what you find.

Read the first phrase in Revelation 3:20, looking for what the Savior said He was doing.

Christ at the Door

What are some different ways people might respond if they realized the Savior was knocking on the door of their homes? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Think about the feelings you might have if you heard a knock at the door of your home and realized it was the Savior. Would you open the door?

Read the rest of Revelation 3:20, looking for the blessing the Lord offered to the Laodicean Saints and what they needed to do to obtain it.

Based on the Lord’s message to the Saints in Laodicea, we can learn the following principle: As we open the door to the Savior, He will come in to us and sup with us.

In ancient Near Eastern culture, eating a meal with someone was a sign of fellowship. It indicated that a bond of friendship and peace existed or was at least being offered.

What do you think the door mentioned in Revelation 3:20 represents?

Think about what the door might represent as you read the following account by President Spencer W. Kimball:

President Spencer W. Kimball

“One day [an artist named Holman Hunt] was showing his picture of ‘Christ Knocking at the Door’ to a friend when the friend suddenly exclaimed: ‘There is one thing wrong about your picture.’

“‘What is it?’ inquired the artist.

“‘The door on which Jesus knocks has no handle,’ replied his friend.

“‘Ah,’ responded Mr. Hunt, ‘that is not a mistake. You see, this is the door to the human heart. It can only be opened from the inside.’

“And thus it is. Jesus may stand and knock, but each of us decides whether to open” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 212).

Consider what you can do to open your heart to the Savior.

Read Revelation 3:21–22, looking for the Lord’s promise and counsel to the Saints.

According to verse 22, what counsel did the Lord give?

Strive to “hear what the Spirit saith” (Revelation 3:22) by reflecting on what you have learned in this lesson. Act on any impressions you may receive.

  1. journal icon5.

    Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied Revelation 1–3 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: