(G Beale’s outline slightly amended and with annotations).
(1:1 ) The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place… OT prophecy anticipated an End-Time (Dan 12:4) involve divine judgements, persecution for God’s people and ultimate salvation and blessing in the kingdom of God (Cf. Dan 7, 12). Sometimes this period is called the latter or last days (Dan 2:28; Isa 2:1). This End- Time began with the arrival of Christ (Isa 9:1,2, Matt 4:12-1; Lk 4:16-21). However, it did not arrive in its full sense… unbelief prevented this (Acts 3:19). Nevertheless, the NT assumes that since the End-Time has begun the End must be imminent; it must ‘soon take place’. We live in the last hour (I Jn 2:18. Cf. Roms 13:2; 1 Pet 4:7, Hebs 1:2, 9:26; 1 Tim 4:1). In Revelation, from chapter four, John describes the events of the End yet to be fulfilled. Most are prophesied in the OT. John’s prophecy consciously sums up and completes all previous prophecy.)
Prologue (1:1-3). Greetings and Doxology (1:4-8)
Christ in the midst of the seven Churches (1:9-3:22)
The things which are…
John’s Vision of Christ (1:9-20)
Prophetic Messages to the Seven Churches (2:1-3:22)
To the Church in Ephesus (2:1-7). To the Church in Smyrna (2:8-11). To the Church in Pergamum (2:12-17). To the Church in Thyatira (2:18-29). To the Church in Sardis (3:1-6). To the Church in Philadelphia (3:7-13). To the Church in Laodicea (3:14-22)
The Heavenly Throne Room (Ch 4,5)
(the things that are yet to be… 1:19,4:1)
(Dominating the heavenly scene in Ch 4 is the throne. God, the Creator, the one who sits on the throne, is totally sovereign. In Ch 5, focus shifts to the Lamb. He takes the scroll from the right hand of God with its decrees of judgement that will bring rebellious history to a conclusion and bring in God’s eternal kingdom. He is the only one worthy to effect these decrees. Surrounding the throne are representatives of both creation (the four living creatures) and the church (the twenty four elders). Behind Ch 4, 5 lie Ezek 1, Dan 7 and Ps 2).
The Throne in Heaven (4:1-11). The Scroll and the Lamb (5:1-14)
(Much of the drama of Ch 4-19 is set within a time frame of 3½ years variously called 1260 days, 42 months, a time, times, and half a time. Some see this number as symbolic of the whole age until Christ’s return (Rev 11:2; 12:5,6). Numbers in Revelation are often symbolic, however, there are a few reasons to think these, even if they have symbolic allusions, are intended literally: various ways are used to express the same time-frame; the numbers are not obviously stylised; the time-frame is derived from Daniel where it seems literal (Dan 7:25); the beast in Rev 13 drawn from Daniel 7 appears to be a real person, the antiChrist who is given power for 42 months. If so, this limits the 3½ years to within the reign of the antiChrist.)
The Seven Seals (6:1-8:5)
(There are four cycles of ‘sevens’ (seals, trumpets, thunders and bowls) though only three are developed (the seals, trumpets and bowls). Each is largely a series of divine judgements. The final judgement in each series is the arrival of the End. It is effectively the return of Christ which means catastrophe for a godless world. Between the sixth and seventh seal and sixth and seventh trumpet is an interlude that focuses largely on God’s people during these judgements. There is also an interlude between the trumpets and bowls.)
The First Six Seals (6:1-17)
144,000 Sealed (7:1-8) (the church militant… viewed as an army on earth). The Great Multitude in White Robes (7:9-17) (the church triumphant… in heaven)
The Seventh Seal and the Golden Censer (8:1-5)
The Seven Trumpets (8:6-11:19)
The First Six Trumpets (8:6-9:21). Trumpets herald a warning to repent.
The Angel and the Little Scroll (10:1-11). The Two Witnesses (11:1-14) (Probably the church as a prophetic witness almost annihilated by the Antichrist).
The Seventh Trumpet (11:15-19)
The Cosmic Conflict Between the Dragon and the Lamb (12:1-14:20)
Ch 12 forms a kind of break in the book. It traces the whole conflict of Revelation to its origins and the conflict between the woman and the dragon.
(Interlude between the trumpets and bowls)
The Beast out of the Sea (13:1-10) (Political power… the AntiChrist (Dan 7:19-28). The Beast out of the Earth (13:11-18) (Religious power employed in the interests of the AntiChrist)
(Both of these beasts were easily identifiable in the Roman Empire which becomes a template for the final world empire)
The Lamb and the 144,000 (14:1-5). (God’s people viewed as warriors in a holy war). The Three Angels (14:6-13). Harvesting the Earth and Trampling the Winepress (14:14-20)
(Probably both harvesting images depict the final judgement of the wicked or possibly the first harvest is the gathering in of God’s people at the Second Coming.)
The Seven Bowls (15:1-16:21)
(These seem to be mainly poured on the kingdom of the beast. Remember other kings and kingdoms exist. Rome was not the only kingdom. It was massive and it was the empire that most impacted on God’s people but beyond it there were other kingdoms. In the final days of history there will be other kingdoms too)
Babylon Mother of Prostitutes (17:1-19:10)
(Babylon is the archetypal city of Man that stands in contrast with the New Jerusalem, the city of God. In the first century this city would have been identified as Rome. Whether it’s final manifestation is an actual city or the whole corrupt human culture remains to be seen).
Babylon, the Prostitute supported and destroyed by the Beast (17:1-18). Lament Over Fallen Babylon (18:1-3). Warning to Escape Babylon’s Judgment (18:4-8). Threefold Hallelujah Over Babylon’s Fall (19:1-10)
The Final Victory, Judgment, and Restoration (19:11-21:8)
(A final series of visions showing various aspects of the end climaxing in a new heavens and new earth and a description of the new Jerusalem. Most of these are divided by ‘and I saw’. The links between each vision suggest they are chronological.)
Heaven celebrates the arrival of the reign of God (19:1-5) The wedding anticipated (19:6-10). The Heavenly Warrior defeats the Beast (19:11-21). The Thousand Years (20:1-6). The Judgment of Satan (20:7-10). The Judgment of the Dead (20:11-15). A New Heaven and a New Earth (21:1-8). The New Jerusalem and God’s Glorious Presence (21:9-22:5). The New Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb (21:9-27). Eden Restored (22:1-5)
(God created a good world that was spoiled by human rebellion. His task since has been to recreate what was spoiled in a reconfigured form. Of course the final form was always his initial plan, the second was always first, and all will be to the glory of his grace.)
John and the Angel (22:6-11). Invitation and Warning (22:12-21)