The Revelation of Saint John the Divine

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.

Revelation 1
The Revelation of Jesus Christ

The island of Patmos was mainly a Roman prison camp. Christians were greatly persecuted during the last part of the first century. John himself was banished to the Isle of Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ (see Revelation 1:9). Even in those circumstances, however, John sought the Spirit “on the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10) and had a marvelous vision of Jesus Christ, which we read about in Revelation 1.

Understanding the Scriptures

Revelation 1

Signified it (v. 1)—Revealed or delivered it

First begotten of the dead (v. 5)—First to be resurrected

Dominion (v. 6)—Authority, rule, to rule over

Alpha and Omega (vv. 8, 11)—The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet; name title of the Savior

Tribulation (v. 9)—Trials and troubles

The Lord’s day (v. 10)—The Christian Sabbath (Sunday), the day of the week the Lord was resurrected

Girt about the paps (v. 13)—Wrapped around the chest

His countenance (v. 16)—Appearance, especially the expression on the face

Studying the Scriptures

Do activities A and B as you study Revelation 1.

Activity A iconA Revelation of Jesus Christ

In your notebook, list what you learn about Jesus Christ from Revelation 1.

  1. Answer one of the following two questions: What did you learn about Jesus Christ in Revelation 1 that you did not know about Him before? What most impressed you about Jesus Christ as you read what John wrote about Him?

  2. Why do you think it is important to know these things about Jesus as you begin reading Revelation?

Activity B iconInterpreting Important Symbols

Find the following symbols in Revelation 1 and write what you think each symbol represents and what it teaches us. In the Joseph Smith Translation for Revelation 1 and in Revelation 1:20 the Lord explained the meaning of some of the symbols that John saw. (You may want to read again “Look for Types and Symbolic Meanings,” p. 5, for help with interpreting symbols.)

Revelation 2–3
Counsel for Seven Branches of the Church

John writing

Revelation 2–3 contains counsel that John gave to seven branches of the Church in his day. You will notice, however, that John was simply the messenger; the words are the counsel of the Lord. Like the counsel given to us today through our leaders, the purpose of the counsel in Revelation 2–3 was to encourage members to live according to Christ’s teachings and receive the blessings of the gospel. It should not be too difficult to understand how the counsel given in these chapters applies to Church members in our day. You will especially want to note the promises the Lord gave to the faithful. They are still true today.

Understanding the Scriptures

Revelation 2

Bear (v. 2)—Put up with, endure

Tried (vv. 2, 10)—Tested (to see if they were true)

Borne (v. 3)—Endured

Nicolaitans (vv. 6, 15)—A group of people who believed in certain false teachings and who allowed—even encouraged—immoral actions, but who apparently acted secretly

Tribulation (vv. 9–10, 22)—Trials and suffering

Blasphemy (v. 9)—To speak lies or irreverently about sacred things

The second death (v. 11)—To be shut out of the presence of the Lord forever

Thou holdest fast (vv. 13, 25)—You stay faithful

Martyr (v. 13)—A person who is killed for his or her beliefs

Seduce (v. 20)—Lead away, tempt

Vessels of a potter (v. 27)—Clay pots

Shivers (v. 27)—Pieces

The morning star (v. 28)—Refers to Jesus Christ (see Revelation 22:16)

Revelation 2—Important Changes from the Joseph Smith Translation

The Joseph Smith Translation for Revelation 2:1, 8, 12, and 18 changes the word angel to servant. (It is also changed for Revelation 3.) In Revelation 2:22 the Joseph Smith Translation changes the word bed to hell. It also changes Revelation 2:26–27, making it clear that the “rod of iron” by which Jesus rules is the word of God (see 1 Nephi 15:23–24) and that He rules with truth, justice, and equity—not with the seeming harshness verse 27 conveys.

Revelation 2:2, 9, 13, 19 (see also Revelation 3:1, 8, 15)—“I Know Thy Works”

The Lord made it clear to each of the branches that He sees and knows all their doings. He could say the same to us. He knows all of our thoughts, words, and actions.

Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26 (see also Revelation 3:5, 12, 21)—“To Him That Overcometh” or “He That Overcometh”

The Lord’s promises to the branches of the Church are worded differently, but they all refer to eternal life and exaltation in the celestial kingdom. It is helpful and interesting to read the different ways exaltation is described in Revelation 2–3.

  • The “tree of life” (Revelation 2:7) refers to eternal life (see Revelation 22:2).

  • The “crown of life” (Revelation 2:10) and the promise of ruling (see Revelation 2:27) refer to the blessing in the celestial kingdom of ruling as kings and priests forever (see D&C 76:56).

  • The white stone with a new name on it (see Revelation 2:17) is only given to those who obtain the celestial kingdom (see D&C 130:10–11).

  • Those who are clothed in white and whose names are written in the book of life (see Revelation 3:4–5) are those who are sanctified and inherit the celestial kingdom (see D&C 88:2).

  • Those who have the name of God written on them (see Revelation 3:12) are gods themselves, which is the promised blessing of those who are exalted (see D&C 76:58).

  • To sit with Christ on His throne (see Revelation 3:21) is to be as He is. This blessing is only given to those who inherit exaltation in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom (see D&C 132:20).

It is significant that these promises of exaltation were given after the Lord explained ways the people had sinned. The Lord is merciful, and those who have sinned can obtain eternal life if they will repent.

Revelation 3

Thou holdest fast (vv. 3, 11)—You stay faithful

Defiled (v. 4)—Made unclean (spiritually unclean through sin)

Key of David (v. 7)—The power to rule

The Amen (v. 14)—A term, referring to Christ, that means “the true one”

Wretched (v. 17)—Enduring troubles, afflicted

Eyesalve (v. 18)—Eye medicine

Rebuke and chasten (v. 19)—Correct and discipline

Zealous (v. 19)—Sincere and diligent

Revelation 3:1—“Thou Livest, and Art Dead”

Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught: “There are many people in this Church today who think they live, but they are dead to the spiritual things. . . . Their service is much of the letter and less of the spirit” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1951, 105).

Revelation 3:20—“I Stand at the Door, and Knock”

Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, told the following story about Revelation 3:20:

“Holman Hunt, the artist, felt inspired to capture this stirring scripture on canvas. One day he 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 Spirit is powerless to compel a man to move. The man himself must take the initiative” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 212).

Studying the Scriptures

Do the following two activities (A and B) as you study Revelation 2–3.

Activity A iconOrganize What You Read

The Lord’s counsel to each of the seven branches of the Church in Asia follows a pattern: He repeated one of the descriptions of Himself from Revelation 1, He told the members of the branch what they were doing that pleased Him, He told them in what ways they needed to repent, and He told them of the blessings that would come if they were faithful. Make a chart in your notebook like the one below, and fill it in with information you find in Revelation 2–3.

City

Description of Christ

What they were doing that pleased the Lord

What they needed to repent of

Promised blessings

Ephesus (see Revelation 2:1–7)

 

 

 

 

Smyrna (see Revelation 2:8–11)

 

 

 

 

Pergamos (see Revelation 2:12–17)

 

 

 

 

Thyatira (see Revelation 2:18–29)

 

 

 

 

Sardis (see Revelation 3:1–6)

 

 

 

 

Philadelphia (see Revelation 3:7–13)

 

 

 

 

Laodicea (see Revelation 3:14–22)

 

 

 

 

Activity B iconApplying the Scriptures to Your Life

  1. What counsel given to the seven branches of the Church in Asia do you think most applies to the Church today? Why?

  2. Which of the promises the Lord gave to the seven Churches (see “Understanding the Scriptures” for Revelation 2) most inspires you to seek eternal life? Why?

Revelation 4
“Things Which Must Be Hereafter”

Revelation 4 begins John’s vision of events in the future—“things which must be hereafter” (v. 1). His account of this vision comprises the rest of the book of Revelation. Although it occasionally refers to events that occurred before John lived, the events were shown to better teach what will occur in the future.

In Revelation 4 John described a vision he had of the throne of God. The Prophet Joseph Smith received interpretations of some of the symbols in this chapter (see D&C 77:1–5).

Revelation 5–7
A Book with Seven Seals

book with seals

In his vision, John saw the throne of God. He also saw that God held a book that was sealed with seven seals (see Revelation 5:1). Jesus Christ was the only one worthy to open this book, which He did, one seal at a time. As He opened each seal, John saw a vision of what was contained in that part of the book. Revelation 6:1–11 tells about the opening of the first five seals. The opening of the sixth seal begins in Revelation 6:12 and continues through chapter 7. Doctrine and Covenants 77:6–7 teaches us that the seven seals symbolize one thousand years of history. Thus, what John saw as each seal was opened symbolized events that occurred during that thousand years of history—the first seal representing the first thousand years after the Fall, the second seal representing the second thousand years, and so forth.

Understanding the Scriptures

Revelation 5

The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David (v. 5)—Jesus Christ (see Genesis 49:9; Isaiah 11:10)

Vials (v. 8)—Containers, bowls

Odours (v. 8)—The pleasant smell of burning incense

Revelation 5:1, 5 (see also Revelation 1:4; 2:1; 8:2)—What Is the Significance of the Number Seven?

The number seven occurs throughout the book of Revelation. For example, John wrote to seven branches of the Church (see Revelation 2–3). He saw a book with seven seals (see Revelation 5), seven trumpets announced judgments upon the earth (see Revelation 8–9; 11), and seven vials of wrath were poured upon the earth (see Revelation 16). The Hebrew word for the number seven, sheva, is a word that represents the idea of fulness or perfection and may be part of the symbolism in John’s account of his vision. His writing to seven churches may be a symbolic way of speaking to the whole Church.

Revelation 5:1–2, 5 (see also Revelation 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12)—Seals

In ancient times, official documents, scrolls, and records were closed shut with a seal of wax that usually had an imprint signifying the one who sealed it. Documents thus sealed were only to be opened by one with authority and in the presence of witnesses. In this case, the “will, mysteries, and works of God” (D&C 77:6) were recorded in the book John saw. Only Christ had authority and was worthy to open it. The same is true of eternal life. “He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in” (“There Is a Green Hill Far Away,” Hymns, no. 194; italics added).

Revelation 6

Balances (v. 5)—Scales for weighing

balance scale

Avenge our blood (v. 10)—Exact justice for the martyrs

Sackcloth of hair (v. 12)—In ancient Israel, when people were or wanted to show they were repentant they put on as clothing the hair, or hide, of a black goat.

Bondman (v. 15)—Slave

Wrath (vv. 16–17)—Anger

Revelation 6:1, 3, 5, 7 (see also Revelation 4:6–9)—The Four Beasts

The four beasts were identified as being the highest, or most powerful, beasts of their kind—the lion among wild animals, the ox (or calf) among domesticated animals (those used by humans), the eagle among the birds, and man among all living things. Doctrine and Covenants 77:2–4 gives inspired commentary on these four beasts.

Revelation 6–7—Symbolism in the Six Seals

Modern revelation teaches us that each of the seals represents a thousand-year period of history (see the introduction to Revelation 5–7 above).

When the first seal was opened, John saw a man with a crown riding a white horse and conquering. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said that this represents Enoch, who helped his people conquer their enemies—including Satan—and establish a city of purity and righteousness symbolized by the white horse (see Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:476–78). The opening of the second seal revealed the violence, death, and destruction that occurred in the time of Noah and the Flood.

The opening of the third seal represented a time when God’s people were affected by famines. Abraham moved because of a famine, and the history of Jacob’s (Israel’s) family was very much affected by famines. The opening of the fourth seal reminds us that the time between 1000 B.C. and Christ’s birth was a time of warfare among the covenant people. It was a time when they were conquered, taken captive, and scattered throughout the world by foreigners. The fifth seal revealed what faithful Saints of John’s day were then encountering—giving their lives for their testimony.

Events depicted in the opening of the sixth seal are more detailed. They pertain to the dispensation in preparation for the Savior’s Second Coming.

Revelation 6:6—What Is the Significance of the Price of Wheat and Barley?

A measure of wheat was enough to feed one man for a day. A penny was the wage for a day’s work in those times. This shows that food was expensive because of the famine. Barley was cheaper, but it was of lesser quality and only used by man in times of famine. The image of the man carrying the balances in Revelation 6:5 suggests that food was given out in precise amounts—again suggesting a time of famine.

Revelation 7

Arrayed (v. 13)—Beautifully dressed

Tribulation (v. 14)—Trials and persecution

Revelation 7:3–8—Sealing the Servants of God in Their Foreheads

It was a common practice in John’s day for people who worshiped false gods to mark their foreheads (or sometimes their hands) with the name or symbol of their god. Those who believed in the Savior’s teachings did not mark themselves. From Revelation 3:12 and 22:1–5 we learn that the righteous are given the name of God. This indicates that they are god-like themselves and receive “his image in [their] countenances” (Alma 5:14). The symbol might signify to us that their thoughts are always upon their God—that they “always remember him” (see D&C 20:77, 79).

Some prophetic explanation of the sealing of the 144,000 is found in Doctrine and Covenants 77:9–11.

Studying the Scriptures

Do at least three of the five activities (A–E) as you study Revelation 5–7.

Activity A iconExplain an Important Doctrine

What is the answer to the question the angel asked in Revelation 5:2?

Activity B iconHow Can He Be Both?

  1. What are the names Jesus is called in Revelation 5:5–6 that are symbolically opposites of each other?

  2. Explain how each of those names represent Jesus and how He can be both of those things.

Activity C iconHonoring the Savior

  1. Describe what Revelation 5 tells us the individuals in heaven did to praise and honor Jesus. Why do you think they continue to honor Him in heaven?

  2. Name at least two ways you could honor Jesus here on earth. Include one that is not described in Revelation 5 and explain how you think your action would honor Him.

Activity D iconPrescribe a Remedy

  1. What was the name of the rider of the horse in John’s vision of the fourth seal? Who followed close behind?

  2. With the help of 2 Nephi 9:6–14, describe how those two can be overcome.

Activity E iconSpiritual Protection in the Latter Days

  1. The events John saw at the opening of the sixth seal prior to the Second Coming of Christ are especially significant to Saints today. He described it as a time of wrath and wondered who would be able to endure it (see Revelation 6:17). From Revelation 7, what did John see that signified how the righteous would be preserved in a day of judgment?

  2. In addition to the 144,000 who received this blessing, how many others were included? (see Revelation 7:9).

  3. Based on the description in Revelation 7:13–17, why were those people preserved? Why would you want to be among them? (Consider also the explanation of “sealing” in the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for Revelation 7:3–8.)

  4. What do you think are two of the most impressive symbols or images in Revelation 7 that you could use in a talk about spiritual protection in the latter days? Explain how you would use them.

Summary of Seven Seals chart
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Revelation 8–9
Seven Angels in the Seventh Seal

seven angels

Revelation 8 begins with the opening of the seventh seal. What John saw after the seventh seal was opened is recorded in Revelation 8–22. As the following chart helps us understand, the seventh seal seems to be the focus of the book of Revelation.

Emphasis in Book of Revelation chart
Adapted from Gerald N. Lund, “The Book of Revelation—Three Keys for Making It a Book of Revelation,” in A Symposium on the New Testament (1980), 120.
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In Revelation 8 we read about the prayers of the Saints, symbolized by the smoke of incense going up to heaven. Because of the prayers of those Saints who were righteous in great tribulations, six angels—each in turn—came in judgment upon the wicked in the world. Revelation 8 tells about the first four angels and Revelation 9 tells about the fifth and sixth angels, whose judgments were even more dramatic and powerful than the first four. Revelation 10 tells about a seventh angel coming down. What happens at his appearance is different from that of the first six angels.

Two things seem especially significant in Revelation 9. First, we read that the judgments of the fifth angel only came upon those who “have not the seal of God in their foreheads” (v. 4), which emphasizes again the spiritual—and often physical—protection provided by obedience to the ordinances of the gospel. The second thing of note is that although the Lord sent these destructions to encourage people to repent (see D&C 43:20–25), after six angels had “sounded” their judgment, the wicked were still not convinced to repent (see Revelation 9:20–21). As in the days of Noah and the last years of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon, the people apparently became so wicked that repentance was nearly impossible.

There are many symbolic images in Revelation 8–9. As in earlier chapters you have read, the images John used may not be what he was actually shown, but symbolically represent what he saw.

Revelation 10
John’s Mission

Since Revelation 9 tells of the fifth and sixth angels, it may be expected that chapter 10 would tell of the seventh angel. Instead we read of “another mighty angel” (v. 1) who came down to teach John what must happen before the seventh angel sounds his trumpet and about John’s role in the latter-day events he saw in vision.

Understanding the Scriptures

Revelation 10

As it were (v. 1)—Like

Mystery (v. 7)—Things not known to the world as a whole

Revelation 10:8–11—What Was the “Little Book” That John Ate?

Doctrine and Covenants 77:14 reveals what that little book represents. As confirmed in Doctrine and Covenants 7, John was translated. He experienced a change in his body that allows him to live without aging or experiencing physical pain. This allows him to accomplish the special mission given to him in Revelation 10. In June 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith “prophesied that John the Revelator was then among the Ten Tribes of Israel who had been led away by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, to prepare them for their return from their long dispersion” (History of the Church, 1:176).

Studying the Scriptures

Do the following activity as you study Revelation 10.

Activity A iconMission Call

  1. John’s eating the little book (see Revelation 10:8–11) represented his call to a special mission for the Lord. Read 2 Nephi 32:3 and explain what you think is symbolized by John eating the book and why he would want to do this before serving his mission (see also D&C 11:21–22).

  2. Find the two words used to describe how the book tasted to John. Write what you think the meaning is of both these things (see also Alma 17:4–5; 26:28–33).

Revelation 11
Two Special Witnesses

Revelation 11 tells of the seventh angel sounding his trumpet. But before that occurred, John saw another significant event that lasted more than three years. Look for it as you read. Also find what happened when the seventh trump sounded and how it is different from what happened when the other six trumps sounded.

Understanding the Scriptures

Revelation 11

Reed (v. 1)—A long straight stick

Rod (v. 1)—Royal scepter, walking stick

Without (v. 2)—Outside

Sackcloth (v. 3)—Simple clothing made of black goat hair, usually worn by someone who is humbled

Testimony (v. 7)—Ministry; after they have said everything they needed to teach and testify of

Make merry (v. 10)—Be happy, celebrate

Tormented (v. 10)—Reminded them of their guilt for their sins

Remnant (v. 13)—The rest who were not destroyed

Woe (v. 14)—Something sad, grief

Revelation 11:2–3—“Forty and Two Months” and 1,260 Days

Revelation 11:2 says that the Gentiles will “tread under foot” Jerusalem for forty-two months, which is three and one-half years. This has reference to a time of apostasy when the Lord’s work is symbolically trampled on. Verse 3 indicates that “two witnesses” will serve a special mission to the sacred city for 1,260 days—which is also three and one-half years. Symbolically, John saw that the ministry of the Lord’s servants balances out the time of apostasy, thus giving people an equal opportunity to choose between the Lord and those who oppose Him. Unfortunately, as this chapter records, many will not listen to those prophets.

Revelation 11:3–12—“Two Witnesses”

Doctrine and Covenants 77:15 reveals more about the two witnesses. These two prophets have power like unto Elijah (see 1 Kings 17:1) and Nephi (see Helaman 10:6–11). Their enemies have power over them only after their mission is accomplished (see Revelation 11:7). In Revelation 11:4 they are called “olive trees” and “candlesticks.” Elder Bruce R. McConkie suggested that these symbolize their mission to “provide oil for the lamps of those who go forth to meet the Bridegroom . . . [see Matthew 25:1–13; D&C 45:56–57]; and that as lamp stands they shall reflect to men that light which comes from Him who is the Light of the World” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:510).

Revelation 11:8—“The Great City, Which Spiritually Is Called Sodom and Egypt”

John called Jerusalem “Sodom” in Revelation 11:8 to symbolically represent the wickedness in the city at the time Jesus was crucified and any other time when the inhabitants reject Jesus and His authorized servants. John called Jerusalem “Egypt” to symbolize the spiritual bondage that results from such wickedness—like the bondage the children of Israel experienced in the days of Moses.

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study Revelation 11.

Activity A iconWitnesses of the Lord

Prophets testify of Christ not only by what they say, but also by what they do. Carefully read Revelation 11:3–12 and list the similarities between what happened to the two witnesses and what happened to Christ and what He has done or will do.

Activity B iconWhat Would You Say?

  1. According to Revelation 11:10, how did the people John saw in vision feel about what the two prophets did during their mission?

  2. Describe how people might view modern prophets in the same way.

  3. If you could talk to one of the people John saw in vision or someone today who views prophets in the same way, what would you say to help that person understand how prophets help, rather than “torment” us?

Activity C iconThe Seventh Angel Sounds

Revelation 8–9 tells that John saw seven angels, each of which had a trumpet to sound, and what happened when the first six angels sounded them. Revelation 11:15–19 tells what happened when the seventh angel sounded his trump.

  1. What does the seventh trump announce?

  2. How is what happened after the seventh trump sounded different from what happened after the first six sounded?

  3. Why do you think the Saints seemed so overcome with gratitude and praise for God?

Revelation 12
The Great Battle between Good and Evil

At the end of Revelation 11 we read that after the seventh angel sounded his trump “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (v. 15). This would begin the Millennium, one thousand years of peace that will occur after the wicked are destroyed. During this time Christ will reign on the earth and “the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory” (Articles of Faith 1:10). Revelation 12, however, does not tell about the conditions during the Millennium, as one might expect. Instead, Revelation 12–18 tells more about the battle between good and evil, the growth of the kingdoms of Satan in opposition to the kingdom of God, and the eventual destruction of the kingdoms of Satan in preparation for the Millennium. In fact, Revelation 12 tells that John saw how this great battle between the followers of Satan and the followers of God began back in the premortal life and has continued throughout the history of the earth. Most of the next few chapters, however, refer to what will happen in the latter days (see 1 Nephi 14:18–22, 27).

Understanding the Scriptures

Revelation 12

Travailing (v. 2)—In labor pains

Devour (v. 4)—Eat up (in this case, to destroy)

Prevailed (v. 8)—To gain the victory

Inhabiters of the earth (v. 12)—People who live on earth

Wrath, wroth (vv. 12, 17)—Anger, angry

Nourished (v. 14)—To be given what is necessary to stay alive

Time, and times, and a half time (v. 14)—This refers to three and one-half years

The remnant (v. 17)—The rest, those who are left

Be sure to read the Joseph Smith Translation for Revelation 12. There are many changes, corrections, and additions.

Revelation 12:1–6, 13–17—The Woman and the Man Child

The Joseph Smith Translation for Revelation 12 helps us understand that the woman John saw represents “the Church of God” and the man child represents “the kingdom of our God and his Christ” (JST, Revelation 12:7), who “was to rule all nations with a rod of iron” (JST, Revelation 12:3), or the word of God. Christ Himself set up this kingdom when He lived on earth. Apostasy drove it “into the wilderness” for centuries, which means it was not a governing influence in the lives of God’s children on earth for a period of time. In the last days, however, the keys of the kingdom of God have again been restored to the earth and will be fully used when Christ comes again and reigns on earth throughout the Millennium (see D&C 65).

Revelation 12:3–4, 7–17—A Red Dragon with Seven Heads, Ten Horns, and Seven Crowns

The dragon is identified in Revelation 12:9 as Satan, the devil. The heads represent his knowledge, the horns represent his power, and the crowns represent his rule or control over those who allow themselves to be overcome by him. Notice that according to verse 4 he “drew the third part of the stars of heaven.” Modern revelation helps us understand this represents those who followed him in the premortal life and were not permitted to obtain a body and continue their eternal progression (see D&C 29:36–38; Abraham 3:23–28).

Revelation 12:7–11—“War in Heaven”

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The contention in heaven was—Jesus said there would be certain souls that would not be saved; and the devil said he would save them all, and laid his plans before the grand council, who gave their vote in favor of Jesus Christ. So the devil rose up in rebellion against God, and was cast down, with all who put up their heads for him” (History of the Church, 6:314; see also Moses 4:1–4; Abraham 3:23–28).

The war between good and evil was not over after Satan’s defeat in the premortal life. Revelation 12:17 tells us that he continues to war against the Saints of God (see also D&C 76:28–29). President Ezra Taft Benson said, “We live in that day which John the Revelator foresaw. . . . Satan is waging war against the members of the Church who have testimonies and are trying to keep the commandments” (“The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 79).

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study Revelation 12.

Activity A iconWhat’s in a Name?

List the five different names or titles referring to Lucifer in Revelation 12:1–10 and explain what each teaches us about him so that we may be warned about him and avoid his influence. You may want to use the Bible Dictionary for help.

Activity B iconReading About Yourself in the Scriptures

  1. Revelation 12:7–11 tells about the war in heaven in the premortal life. How could you reasonably assume that you are one of the people referred to in verse 11? (see Abraham 3:23–28).

  2. Write a paragraph that explains what you learn about yourself from Revelation 12:11 and how what you did then could help you now.

  3. How can you apply these teachings and principles in your life today?

Activity C iconFind Examples

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “all beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 181). He also stated, “Wicked spirits have their bounds, limits, and laws by which they are governed” (History of the Church, 4:576). President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, testified that there is “an ample shield against the power of Lucifer and his hosts” (“Serving the Lord and Resisting the Devil,” Ensign, Sept. 1995, 7).

Find examples in Revelation 12 that show the truth of what the Prophet Joseph Smith and President Faust said.

Revelation 13
Beasts That Represent Evil

In Revelation 13 John symbolically described his continuing vision of the battle between good and evil. This chapter portrays the evil that Satan promotes on earth as a powerful beast that goes against all that the kingdom of God stands for, and it seeks to enforce its ways with threats and violence. The beast also represents Satan’s efforts before the Second Coming of Christ, telling how wounding the beast does not stop it (see Revelation 13:3). In other words, even though one effort of Satan might be stopped, he continues others or starts new ones.

Many people have tried to explain the meaning of “the number of the beast” (666; v. 18). Modern prophets have not given an interpretation on this passage of scripture, and members should be careful not to teach or promote the theories of men that do not agree with the doctrine of the Church and are not taught by the prophets.

Revelation 14
Harvest Time on Earth

man sowing   woman reaping

While Revelation 13 tells about the power and growth of the kingdoms of Satan, in Revelation 14 we read about the Restoration and the growth of the kingdom of God on the earth in the latter days. This period was (and is) compared to the harvest time, when all the good crops are gathered in and stored, while all things that are not useful are destroyed—cut down, plowed under, and burned. One purpose of the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth in the latter days is to warn the people of the earth of this harvest time, or day of judgment, that will occur at the Second Coming of Christ. If we are warned, we can be prepared by producing good fruit, or godly works, that allow us to be safely gathered to God.

Understanding the Scriptures

Revelation 14

Redeemed (vv. 3–4)—Saved (the literal meaning is to be purchased from slavery or bondage)

Defiled (v. 4)—Unchaste

Virgins (v. 4)—Sexually pure

Guile (v. 5)—Dishonesty of any kind, deception

Wrath (vv. 8, 10, 19)—Judgment

Fornication (v. 8)—The worship of idols

Indignation (v. 10)—Terrible judgments

Sickle (vv. 14–19)—A curved, sharp blade used for cutting down stalks of grain

sickle
Sickle

Reap (v. 15)—To cut down a crop at harvest time

Winepress (vv. 19–20)—A place where juice was removed from fruit by stomping on it

winepress
Winepress
Revelation 14:1—Having the Father’s Name Written in Your Forehead

See “Understanding the Scriptures” for Revelation 7:3–8 (p. 168).

Revelation 14:1–5—The “Firstfruits unto God”

In ancient Israel the people brought their first and best crops to the temple as an offering to God. By giving up these “firstfruits,” Israelites demonstrated to the Lord that He was most important in their life. The 144,000 men described in Revelation 14:1–5 had done with their lives what ancient Israelites did with their crops—they gave the Lord the first and the best of their obedience (as described in verses 4–5). Thus they were the “firstfruits” of the Lord’s people on earth.

Revelation 14:6–7—“I Saw Another Angel  . . . , Having the Everlasting Gospel to Preach unto Them That Dwell on the Earth”

President Gordon B. Hinckley quoted part of Revelation 14:6 and said, “That angel has come. His name is Moroni. His is a voice speaking from the dust, bringing another witness of the living reality of the Lord Jesus Christ” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 93; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 70). His purpose is to prepare people for the coming of the Lord (see D&C 133:17–19).

statue of Moroni

In the context of John’s vision, Moroni first visited the Prophet Joseph Smith at the beginning of the harvest season in the place where Joseph lived and told him about a book that would be, as President Ezra Taft Benson said, “the instrument that God designed to ‘sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out [His] elect’ (Moses 7:62)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1988, 3; or Ensign, Nov. 1988, 4) in preparation for the coming of the Lord.

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A and two of the other activities (B–D) as you study Revelation 14.

Activity A Scripture Mastery iconScripture Mastery—Revelation 14:6–7

  1. Read the “Understanding the Scriptures” section above for Revelation 14:6–7. You may want to mark or write something in or by these two verses based on what you read.

  2. Using Revelation 14:6–7, write what you would tell someone who asked who and what the figure on the top of our temples represents.

Activity B iconExplain the Symbolism

Imagine someone investigating Christianity asking you to explain the meaning of Revelation 14:1–5. They especially want to know if there are any members of the Church with Heavenly Father’s name written on their foreheads. Write what you would say to them about what it really means to take on the name of God and what the forehead might symbolize. Include something about how the 144,000 men demonstrated that they truly had taken on the Father’s name (see vv. 4–5).

Activity C iconImportant Assignments

  1. There are six different angels spoken of in Revelation 14. Each seems to have a specific assignment. Write in your notebook the verses in which the assignment of each angel is described. Then describe what that angel is supposed to do. (Each of those angels might represent a whole group of angels, or heavenly ministrants.)

  2. Choose any two of those angelic assignments and describe how you would feel if they had been given to you. Explain why you would feel that way.

  3. Read Doctrine and Covenants 11:1–4, 27 and write in your notebook which angelic assignments are most like the one the Lord has given you.

Activity D iconThrust in Your Sickle

Revelation 14 speaks about a harvest prior to the Second Coming of Christ. Read each of the following scripture references and write what they teach you about what will happen in the harvest and the purpose of the harvest: Revelation 14:14–19; Alma 26:5–7; Doctrine and Covenants 12:1–4; 29:7–12; 33:2–7; 45:1–5; 86:1–7; 88:84–85, 94.

Revelation 15
A Vision of the Celestial World

Although Revelation 4–22 is considered one vision, the vision changes scenes from time to time. Revelation 15 marks a new scene in the vision. In it, John saw “a sea of glass mingled with fire” (v. 2) where those who overcame “the beast” (referred to in Revelation 13) lived. Doctrine and Covenants 130:6–7 tells us that globes that are “like a sea of glass and fire” are “in the presence of God.” President Brigham Young said, “This earth will become a celestial body—be like a sea of glass” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1941], 101). John saw those who dwelt there singing songs of praise to God. He also saw a temple there that was filled with the glory of God. Out of the temple came seven angels, clothed in white. Their assignment is described in Revelation 16.

Studying the Scriptures

Do the following activity as you study Revelation 15.

Activity A iconA Good Question

  1. John recorded in Revelation 15 the words to a song he heard sung in the celestial world. How would you answer the question asked in verse 4, considering what is said after the question?

  2. If the answer is as obvious as the song seems to indicate, why do so many people struggle in honoring and glorifying the Lord in their lives?

  3. When are you most likely to feel like those singers felt? What could you do to keep that feeling and perspective in your life more often?

Revelation 16
Seven Angels “Pour Out” God’s Judgments

Revelation 15 tells how John saw seven angels come out of the temple in the presence of God. Each was given a vial, or container, “full of the wrath of God” (Revelation 15:7). Revelation 16 describes each of the angels pouring out his vial upon the earth, bringing the judgments, or punishments of God upon the wicked.

Some of what is found in Revelation 16 is like what we read in Revelation 8–9. Remember that in Revelation 12 John’s vision went back in time and showed him things leading up to what he saw in Revelation 8–11. Consequently, Revelation 16 might repeat some of the things he saw earlier, but this time they are shown for different purposes. For example, in Revelation 16 John saw the role the beast, Satan, played in these latter-day judgments.

In Revelation 9 are several verses about the warfare after the sixth angel sounded his trump. In Revelation 16, after the sixth angel poured out his vial, John saw that the beast gathered people to Armageddon (see vv. 14–16), which is the place of a last great battle before the Second Coming of Christ. The next thing that happened in Revelation 16 was the seventh angel, like the seventh angel in Revelation 11, announcing that “it is done” (Revelation 16:17), or that the time of the Second Coming had come. This was a most terrible time for those who refused to repent through the previous judgments, but a glorious time for the righteous.

In Revelation 16 John saw that the final event as the Savior came was the destruction of Babylon, which represents the kingdoms of the devil. The destruction of the kingdoms of the devil was the great victory of good in the battle against evil that has been a theme since Revelation 12. The destruction is described in Revelation 17–18.

Revelation 17–18
The Destruction of Babylon, the Harlot

destruction at Second Coming

Revelation 14 tells how John heard an angel declare that Babylon would be destroyed (see v. 8). Revelation 16:19 begins the account of that destruction, and Revelation 17–18 continues the account in greater detail. As in other parts of Revelation, the destruction of Babylon is described using symbolic language.

Babylon was the capital city of ancient Babylonia, but in the scriptures the name often referred to the whole nation. In the Old Testament we read that the Babylonians conquered the kingdom of Judah, taking many Israelites captive to Babylon. The city of Babylon was very large and the people of the city were very wealthy, displaying their riches with fancy buildings, clothing, and leisure activities. They also worshiped idols. Because of the worldliness of Babylon, and because it was a place where the children of Israel were captive, the Lord often used the name Babylon in the scriptures to represent sin, worldliness, the influence of the devil on the earth, and the spiritual captivity that comes from these things (see D&C 1:16; 133:5, 7, 14). Babylon is the opposite of Zion, as are its values (see Moses 7:18).

Understanding the Scriptures

Revelation 17

Whore (vv. 1, 15–16)—A person who accepts money to commit immoral acts; in this case it is symbolic of Babylon or the world

Fornication (vv. 2, 4)—Immoral acts; also the worship of idols

Blasphemy (v. 3)—Sayings and actions that insult or show disrespect for God and all He represents

Arrayed (v. 4)—Clothed

Abominations (vv. 4–5)—A foul or detestable thing, obscene and offensive

Harlots (v. 5)—A person who accepts money to commit immoral acts

Perdition (vv. 8, 11)—Destruction or ruin (see D&C 76:31–38)

Desolate (v. 16)—Destroyed

Revelation 17:8—The Beast That “Was, and Is Not, and Yet Is”

This confusing phrase seems to refer to the devil, or someone who entirely turned himself over to the service of the devil, and sounds like the opposite of what John learned about Jesus Christ in Revelation 1:4, 8. Although the devil may live forever, he is inconsistent, unstable, and completely untrustworthy (see Alma 30:60). Jesus Christ, however, is God “yesterday, today, and forever” (Mormon 9:9) and is not only powerful, but is consistent and can always be trusted. Consequently, we can center our faith in Him.

Revelation 18

Habitation (v. 2)—House, place where people live

Abundance of her delicacies (v. 3)—Great number of her (Babylon’s) luxuries, or worldly things

Plagues (vv. 4, 8)—Troubles, miseries, bad things that happen

Deliciously (v. 7)—Wickedly, seeking worldly pleasures

Bewail her, and lament for her (v. 9)—Be very sad for her, mourn

Nought (v. 17)—Nothing

Cast dust on their heads (v. 19)—A sign of sadness and mourning in Bible times

Avenged (v. 20)—To take revenge, gave what they deserved for their wickedness against others

Sorceries (v. 23)—Magic

Studying the Scriptures

Do the following activity as you study Revelation 17–18.

Activity A iconFinding the Meaning of the Scriptures

Sometimes, the interpretation of a symbol or confusing passage of scripture can be understood by searching for clues in verses before or after it.

  1. Compare Revelation 17:1–2, 6, 18 with Revelation 18:2–3, 24 and write a statement in your notebook about who the “whore” or woman in Revelation 17 symbolizes.

  2. What does Revelation 17:15 help you understand about Revelation 17:1?

  3. Revelation 17:3 speaks of a beast with seven heads and ten horns. According to Revelation 17:12, what are the horns?

On other occasions, you may need to turn to other books of scripture for help in understanding or for additional information. After you learn an interpretation (as you should in steps 1–5), you may want to mark your scriptures in a way that leads you to that interpretation the next time you study these chapters. For example, you may want to highlight the helpful reference in your footnotes or write the cross-reference in the margin next to the verse.

  1. To help you understand Revelation 17, read 1 Nephi 14:9–17. Write what you learn about the meaning of the beast and what the woman did before the time period spoken of in Revelation 17.

  2. How does Doctrine and Covenants 133:14 help you understand what it means to follow the Lord’s command in Revelation 18:4?

There are times when it is difficult to find additional help in the scriptures. The meaning has to come through the Spirit as you take time to ponder. A helpful way to ponder over symbolic language is to take time to picture in your mind the symbols, and then write down a description of them. Ask yourself questions like: What are the most significant features of the symbol? What feeling or message do those features create? What is the spiritual message? These simple ideas often encourage pondering that invites a spirit of insight and understanding. Try using them in completing steps 6–7.

  1. What does the description of the woman in Revelation 17:4 teach you about what Babylon represents?

  2. Considering what you have learned, why is a harlot an appropriate symbol for Babylon? (You may want to consider information given in the introduction and the “Understanding the Scriptures” section.)

Revelation 19
The Second Coming of Christ

The final event that occurs in the destruction of Babylon and all it stands for is the coming of the “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16), who is Jesus Christ, to take the beast and cast him out. An account of this event is found in Revelation 19. John first began recording this event in Revelation 11:15–19, but then was shown greater detail concerning the events leading up to it and the significance of the judgments on and destruction of the wicked at the time of Jesus Christ’s coming. From Revelation 19 through the end of the book, John recorded events at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and afterward.

Understanding the Scriptures

Revelation 19

Alleluia (vv. 1, 3–4, 6)—Praise to God!

Omnipotent (v. 6)—All powerful

Arrayed (v. 8)—Clothed

Linen (vv. 8, 14)—Smooth cloth made from flax

Vesture (vv. 13, 16)—Robe

Treadeth the winepress (v. 15)—See the help and drawing in “Understanding the Scriptures” for Revelation 14 (p. 172)

Remnant (v. 21)—The ones left over, the remaining ones

Revelation 19:7–9—The Marriage and Marriage Supper of the Lamb

In Revelation 12 we read that the Church is symbolized by a woman. On more than one occasion Jesus referred to Himself as the groom who marries the woman (see Isaiah 54:5; Matthew 22:2–14; Luke 5:34). This symbolic marriage reminds us that we have a covenant relationship with the Lord and that He cares for the Church as a perfect husband in whom we can rely and trust (see Ephesians 5:25).

The marriage supper is a feast celebrating the marriage. The image of a feast reminds us that the gospel of Jesus Christ satisfies the spiritual, emotional, social, and physical hunger, or needs, of the entire posterity of Adam and Eve. Inviting others and preparing for this great supper is an important message of the latter days (see D&C 27:5–14; 58:8–12; 65:2–3).

Revelation 19:9, 17–21—Two Suppers

Two suppers are spoken of in Revelation 19. They are not the same, although they occur at a similar time in the history of the earth. The first, the marriage supper of the Lamb, is referred to in the preceding section. The other supper, “the supper of the great God” (v. 17), is a symbol that reminds us of the destruction of the wicked. Furthermore, it reminds us that if we put our trust in the things of this world and refuse to believe in life after death, the only future we will look forward to is the same as all other living things on earth—we will die, begin to rot, and birds of prey will eat our flesh. In contrast, the gospel proclaims victory from the grave and the opportunity for eternal happiness.

Revelation 19:15, 21—“Out of His Mouth Goeth a Sharp Sword, . . . and He Shall Rule Them with a Rod of Iron”

The sword and the rod of iron both refer to the word of God (see Hebrews 4:12; 1 Nephi 15:23–24). Although it may sound harsh, the rule of Jesus is not harsh, but firm, powerful, and cuts to the center of man to help him permanently change or to perfectly know his guilt (see 1 Nephi 16:2; Alma 31:5; 3 Nephi 11:3).

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study Revelation 19.

Activity A iconDesign an Invitation

  1. In your notebook, draw or write an invitation that invites someone to the events described in Revelation 19:7–9. Include every important detail, including what will occur, what they should wear, and what they need in order to get in. Read and use Matthew 22:2–14; 2 Nephi 9:50–51; Doctrine and Covenants 27:5–14; and 58:8–9 as you determine the details of the invitation.

  2. According to Doctrine and Covenants 65:1–5, who delivers the invitation to these great events spoken of in Revelation 19:7–9?

Activity B iconUse a Scripture to Answer Questions

  1. One of your Christian friends who is not a member of the Church does not believe in prophets today and wonders how we can say there are prophets in the Church. Use Revelation 19:10 in your explanation about our belief in prophets (see also Numbers 11:29).

  2. Use Revelation 19:10 to explain the source of a true testimony (also consider 1 Corinthians 2:11; Alma 5:45–46).

Activity C iconWhy Red?

  1. John described Jesus wearing red at the time of His Second Coming (see Revelation 19:13). Read Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19 and 133:46–51, and then explain what His red clothing symbolizes.

  2. What color is the clothing of those who come with Jesus at His coming? What does this color represent? (see Revelation 19:8, 14).

Revelation 20
The Millennium

lion and lamb

When Jesus Christ comes in glory and Babylon is destroyed, it will begin a period in Heavenly Father’s plan for this earth called the Millennium, which is a word meaning “a thousand-year period of time.” Although the word millennium does not appear in Revelation 20, what John wrote clearly describes it.

Understanding the Scriptures

Revelation 20

Bottomless pit (vv. 1, 3)—Outer darkness, the future dwelling place of Satan and the sons of perdition (see D&C 76:31–38)

Expired (v. 7)—Over

Breadth (v. 9)—This refers to a great part of the world

Compassed (v. 9)—Surrounded

Revelation 20:4—Who Sits on the Thrones in Judgment?

This likely refers to the Lord’s servants who He said would sit in judgment with Him at the last day (see 1 Nephi 12:9–10; 3 Nephi 27:27).

Revelation 20:4–6—The First Resurrection

For more information on who takes part in the First Resurrection, see Mosiah 15:21–26; Doctrine and Covenants 76:64, 70; and 88:95–98.

Revelation 20:7–10—Gog and Magog

The names Gog and Magog are first used in Ezekiel 38–39. They refer to nations that fight against the Lord before His Second Coming. It is used in Revelation 20 to refer to those who follow Satan at the end of the Millennium and who fight against the Lord.

Studying the Scriptures

Do the following two activities (A–B) as you study Revelation 20.

Activity A iconWhat Does It Say?

  1. In Revelation there are nearly fifteen chapters describing the last days before the Second Coming of Christ, but only one chapter, chapter 20, describing the Millennium (see the chart “Emphasis in the Book of Revelation,” p. 169). And John’s description of the Millennium does not tell us how the people would live or what they would do. Explain why you think there was so much written about what would take place before the Millennium, but almost nothing about the happenings or activities during the Millennium.

  2. Even though we do not learn much in the book of Revelation about the activities of people during the Millennium, we do learn some very important doctrines regarding this significant era in the earth’s history. List all of the truths relating to the Millennium that you find in Revelation 20. Write them in complete sentences and note the verses in which each truth is stated.

Activity B Scripture Mastery iconScripture Mastery—Revelation 20:12–13

  1. List truths from Revelation 20:12–13 you think every person on the earth would want to know before he or she died. Explain why you think one would want to know those things.

  2. What further understanding does 2 Nephi 9:10–16 give us about what happens when the books are opened, as described in Revelation 20:12–13?

  3. Use what you have learned in this activity by choosing one of the following statements and writing what you would say to a person who said it:

Revelation 21–22
The Earth Becomes a Celestial World

John sees the Holy City

In these final two chapters of the book of Revelation we read what John saw concerning the future of the earth after the Millennium, when it will become a celestial world for those who live on it. He also left us his testimony that the things he saw are true. As you read what John wrote about the celestial kingdom and how wonderful it would be to dwell there, think about what is required to live there. Would obtaining such a glory be worth meeting those requirements?

President Brigham Young gave us a way to think about what is written in Revelation 21–22 when he said, “We talk about our trials and troubles here in this life: but suppose that you could see yourselves thousands and millions of years after you have proved faithful to your religion during the few short years in this time, and have obtained eternal salvation and a crown of glory in the presence of God; then look back upon your lives here, and see the losses, crosses, and disappointments, the sorrows . . . , you would be constrained to exclaim, ‘But what of all that? Those things were but for a moment, and we are now here. We have been faithful during a few moments in our mortality, and now we enjoy eternal life and glory, with power to progress in all the boundless knowledge and through the countless stages of progression, enjoying the smiles and approbation [favor] of our Father and God, and of Jesus Christ’” (in Journal of Discourses, 7:275).

Understanding the Scriptures

Revelation 21

Adorned (v. 2)—Made beautiful, dressed up

Tabernacle (v. 3)—Dwelling place

Foursquare (v. 16)—In the shape of a square

Defileth (v. 27)—To make unclean or unholy

Revelation 21:2—New Jerusalem

The New Jerusalem spoken of in Revelation 21 is not the same city that is to be built on the American continent as part of the last days and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (see Articles of Faith 1:10). It refers to the celestial kingdom.

Revelation 21:11–25—The Description of the City of God

If you took the time to figure out the measurements John gave of the city of God, you would understand that he was describing a city whose size was larger than anything man had ever created. Furthermore, the description of precious metals and stones communicates a beauty beyond description. But the most glorious part is the very presence of God, which eliminates the need for a temple or even for light (see vv. 22–23).

Revelation 22

Curse (v. 3)—Refers to the effects of the Fall of Adam and Eve

Without (v. 15)—Outside

Root and the offspring of David (v. 16)—A descendant of David and rightful king of Israel; Jesus Christ

Plagues (v. 18)—Curses, calamities

Revelation 22:2, 14—The Tree of Life

After the Fall of Adam and Eve, the way to the tree of life was closed so that they would have a time to repent, be tested, and in all ways prepare themselves to partake of this great blessing (see Alma 12:22–26; 42:2–5; Moses 4:31). John saw that the fruit of the tree of life was available to all in the celestial world. Having the tree of life available shows that all of the effects of the Fall have been overcome in this place.

Revelation 22:17—“Come”

As stated in the introduction to this book (see p. 164), the main purpose of the book of Revelation is to invite us to come unto Christ. The closing of the book—Revelation 22:17 in particular—again emphasizes that invitation.

Revelation 22:18–19—Do Not Add to or Take away from These Things

Some people have used Revelation 22:18–19 to defend the idea that there can be no more revelation or scripture after the Bible because that would be adding to the Bible. In this way they try to discredit the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

Moses, however, wrote the same about his books (see Deuteronomy 4:2). If those words of Moses were interpreted in the same way some have interpreted what John wrote, then there would be no Bible after the first five books. John, like Moses, was simply referring to what God had directed him to write—the book of Revelation.

Anyone can find out the truthfulness of modern revelation and these latter-day scriptures by asking God Himself if they are true (see Matthew 7:7–11; James 1:4–5).

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–D) as you read Revelation 21–22.

Activity A iconDesign a Poster

Choose a verse from Revelation 21–22 that you think would make a good poster to display and remind you to stay true to the Lord and His teachings. Explain why that verse would inspire you, and make a small sketch of how you would want the poster to look.

Activity B iconWho Are These People?

  1. Read and compare Revelation 7:9, 13–17 with Revelation 21:1–4 and tell who is a part of the holy city John saw. (You may also want to read Revelation 22:11–14.)

  2. According to Revelation 21:8 and 22:15, who will not be in the Holy City? (Make sure you understand what all of the words in these verses mean.)

gate to the Holy City

Activity C iconMost Impressive

Speaking of the book of Revelation, Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Nowhere in any scripture now had among men are there such pointed and persuasive explanations as to why we must overcome the world, and the attendant blessings that flow therefrom. . . . Truly the teachings of this inspired work are some of the greatest incentives [motivations] to personal righteousness now found in holy writ” (“Understanding the Book of Revelation,” Ensign, Sept. 1975, 89).

In support of what Elder McConkie said, write about two or more of the most impressive things you learned from the book of Revelation that inspire and motivate you to live righteously.

Activity D icon“Come, Lord Jesus”

Read Revelation 22:20. Think of what you have learned during your study of the New Testament and write your testimony of Jesus. Include why you would join in John’s prayer for Jesus to come.