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Studies in the Book of Revelation Bible Study Series Index

Learn more about CFT’s Reta’s Reflections Bible Study blog.

Reta Halteman Finger began her Bible study blog, Reta’s Reflections, with a study of 1 Corinthians. Since then she has completed studies of the Gospel of John, the Book of Jonah, a series on Hermeneutics, and a brief series on Philemon. Her sixth series focuses on Revelation, a New Testament book that Reta says “may be the most misunderstood book in our entire canon.”

This is an index of posts in that series.

(Posts are in reverse order on this page, with the first of the series at the bottom.)

Appendix: Do Revelation and Christian Zionism Mix?

Lesson 38 - “It’s important to keep in mind that these visions are shaped by the biblical allusions and symbols from the Hebrew Bible and the first-century Mediterranean world. Only then can we make thoughtful connections to contemporary life.”

Epilogue: Promises and Warnings—Revelation 22:6-21

Lesson 37 - “The entire scroll of Revelation would likely have been read aloud in the Sunday worship service in each of John’s seven churches in Asia Minor. . . . As John closes, he must bring his listeners back into their real world as nonconformists within their cultural context with its worship of the emperor and multiple deities, including power and wealth.”

Descending to Earth: Jerusalem as City and Bride—Revelation 21:9-22:5

Lesson 36: “John’s vision of the New Age is quite different from conventional pictures of heaven, where disembodied spirits float around praising God and enjoying family reunions. It challenges the dispensational view of believers in a heaven beyond the natural laws of the universe—and after every unbeliever has been sent to hell.”

New Heaven, New Earth: The Final Vision: Revelation 21:1–22:5

Lesson 35: “The city is also the people, gathered from all over the world, collectively to become the wife of the Lamb. And a tender, motherly God says, ‘I will be their God and they will be my children’ (Rev. 21:7). No wonder this passage is so often read at funerals!”

Revelation 20:11-15—On Judgment Day, the Books Are Opened

Lesson 34 - “All this is to say that human beings are not God, and human greed will continue to thwart justice in the world, no matter how advanced civilization becomes. We are in no danger of outgrowing our need for a God who will judge the deeds of humanity in perfect righteousness and justice.”

Revelation 20:1-10—A Controversial Millennium

Lesson 33 - “Though mentioned only here in Revelation, the concept of the millennium has dominated the eschatology of some Jewish and Christian groups. Some readers recognize this term in recent popular books like The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey and the Left Behind novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.”

Revelation 19:17-21—A Gruesome Picture of Judgment

Lesson 32 - "As pictures of both victory and judgment repeat themselves from former visions in Revelation or from apocalyptic passages in Ezekiel or Daniel, remember that they are visions and not concrete events. They symbolize the ultimate victory of good over evil, justice over injustice."

The Rider on the White Horse— Revelation 19:11-16

Lesson 31 - “A white horse stands for conquering and victory, as we’ve seen in 6:2 with the Parthian archer, the enemy Rome feared most. But the rider on this horse comes in ‘righteousness’ (justice) to judge and make war, and his name is ‘Faithful and True.’”

Revelation 19:1-10—Heavenly Rejoicing

Lesson 30 - "John is so overcome by what he has heard and seen that he bows to worship the angel. 'You must not do that!' insists the angel. 'I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony to Jesus. Worship God!'"

The Economics of Idolatry—Revelation 17-18

Lesson 29 - “John portrays Rome’s economic activity in terms of exploitation. Though Rome offers other nations the benefit of Pax Romana, in John’s view this promise of peace and prosperity is just propaganda. In fact, she deceives these nations by her sorcery (Rev. 18:23). . . ."

The Woman Seated on the Beast—Revelation 17

Lesson 28 - “Since I am intentionally presenting these Bible studies from a feminist point of view, we shall examine in some detail John’s image of the woman as a ‘great whore who is seated on many waters’ . . . . Feminists are rightly wary of women being called prostitutes.”

Armageddon—In and Out of Context

Lesson 27 - “Throughout this series of lessons, I make an effort to interpret Revelation in light of its overall identity as an apocalypse, its use of first-century imagery and symbols, and its internal, cohesive structure. I do not believe it predicts specific political events that will take place in our future.”

An Exodus Theme in Revelation 15 and 16

Lesson 26 - “Then one of the four living creatures gives 'the seven angels seven golden bowls, full of the wrath of God' (15:7). . . . The text never uses the term 'punishment' for the content of the bowls; rather, they are the justice of God on those who oppress other nations and persecute those who refuse to wear the mark of the beast.”

Revelation 14:6-20—Seven Angels and Two Harvests

Lesson 25 - "The second angel announces the fall of “Babylon the great” (verse 8). First mentioned here, Babylon symbolizes for readers not only Rome, but every imperial empire that has oppressed people throughout history."

Revelation 14:1-5: “All Saints’ Day” in Zion

Lesson 24 - “In these lessons, we are coming to see how John’s other-worldly vision is shaped by his personal experience and deep knowledge of his scriptures. Like all the biblical authors, the author of Revelation is not immune to the patriarchal cast of his culture.”

Revelation 13—Two Beasts and a Dragon: The Counterfeit Trinity

Lesson 23 - “Revelation 13:11-17 explains how the land beast, like a publicity manager, spreads the fame of the first beast and compels worship. It is also a hybrid creature, but its 'two horns like a lamb’ (verse 11) make it hard for followers to distinguish good from evil.”

Revelation 12:1-17—Part Two: Female Imagery in Revelation

Lesson 22 - “The heavenly woman of Revelation 12:1-17 calls for more attention, just as great literature often demands more than one reading before we can fully absorb it. While researching and writing the first draft of this lesson, I realized that our extraordinary woman was not the lone female in the story.”

Revelation 12:1-17—The Woman and the Dragon

Lesson 21 - “Chapter 12 signals a major shift in the narrative. Until now, seven letters have been read, seven seals opened, and seven trumpets blown—and the kingdom has arrived in Rev. 11:15-18! So how do the woman and the dragon relate to what came before?”

An Interlude:  Revelation Meets Harvey and Irma

Lesson 20 - "So many disagreements among Christians result from different assumptions about how to interpret the Bible. . . . When we read God’s Word as literal words straight from the mouth of God for all times and places, we get many things wrong. In the ancient Middle East, it was natural for Israelites to connect natural disasters with God’s judgment for sin."

Prophetic Witness before the Seventh Trumpet — Revelation 11:3-19

Lesson 19 - “As the seventh angel blows his trumpet,. . . voices in heaven announce the divine takeover of the kingdom of this world. John does not mean that this is happening in his first-century time, or in our time today, but it is happening in his vision. It portrays God’s spiritual protection even through death and God’s vindication of faithful witness.”

Revelation 10:1–11:2 — An Interlude before the End

Lesson 18 - “As we read Revelation, we must remind ourselves that John is seeing a vision, and the objects and events are not physically real. Bruce Metzger puts it this way in Breaking the Code: ‘The descriptions are not descriptions of real occurrences. The intention is to fix the reader’s thought, not upon the symbol, but upon the idea that the symbolic language is designed to convey.’”

Revelation 9:1-21 —The Woes of Trumpets Five and Six

Lesson 17 - "If an emperor like Augustus Caesar is deified, all people must worship him and his value system. . . . By John’s use of comparable imagery to portray allegiance to God and the slaughtered Lamb, he sets before his churches a choice. Whom do you worship? An emperor who controls by the sword, or the slaughtered Lamb standing before the throne of God?"

Revelation 8:1-13—Silence before the Trumpets

Lesson 16 - “Think of the pause just before the majestic ending of Handel’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus.’ Notice that Revelation 8:1-13 begins with just such a dramatic pause... Imagine yourself standing in silence after this heavenly song was read aloud or chanted at your church in Asia Minor. "

Every Nation, Tribe, People, and Language— Revelation 7:9-17

Lesson 15 - “In 7:9-17 the scene shifts from earth to heaven. Here, the church that has been militantly, though non-violently, confronting evil on earth is now pictured after the battle is over. John sees a multitude of people so great no one can count them. All Israelite categories are gone; this crowd is actually from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (7:9).”

A New Use for a Seal—Revelation 7:1-8

Lesson 14 - “The same signet ring seal with which God sealed up the scroll of human history is now stamped on the foreheads of God’s followers. The purpose here is to protect them, in life or death, from “the great ordeal” (7:14) which is to come. Here John draws from Ezekiel 9:4, where those who had lamented the evil around them are sealed to protect them from judgment.”

Horses, Martyrs, and Meteors—Revelation 6:1-17

Lesson 13 - "Church members in western Asia Minor did not need a university education to understand this cycle of conquest, war, famine, and death. In the ancient world where Rome ruled, it was always happening somewhere. These four broken seals revealed horrors they understood."

Broken Seals: Getting our Bearings in Revelation 6–11

Lesson 12 - "The actions of both seals and trumpets take place on the earth but with occasional glimpses of heavenly worship. The majestic songs in 11:15-18 sound like the final triumph of God and the Lamb. Except it’s not the end. The apocalypse goes on for another eleven chapters!"

The Scroll, the Lion, and the Lamb—Revelation 5

Lesson 11 - What follows next is pure worship. Imagine Handel’s “Messiah,” sung first by the four living creatures and the 24 elders, then by thousands upon thousands of angels, then by “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea”! But instead of the Hallelujah Chorus, this is a “new song .."

An Open Door in the Sky: Revelation 4:1–5:4

Lesson 10 - "It is one thing to have Jesus visit you and walk among your earthly churches in Asia Minor in the Roman Empire. It is quite another to peek through an open door and look into heaven itself!”

Conflict and Crisis in Asia Minor—Revelation 2 and 3

Lesson 9 - "The churches in Sardis and Laodicea, by yielding to the materialism around them, represent commercial accommodation; while some in the churches at Pergamum and Thyatira practice eating foods sacrificed to idols or tolerate those who do, reflecting their adaptation to Roman civil religion."

How Cities Influence Churches—Revelation 2:1-3:22

Lesson 8 - “We’ll especially pay attention to the allusions John makes to the distinctive character of each of the cities where the churches were located. More important for John’s purposes, however, is the character of the churches themselves amidst the dangers that surround them from pagan influence, as well as from what John perceives as false teaching from rival religious groups.”

Jesus among the Seven Lampstands—Revelation 2-3

Lesson 7 - We can make one more observation: each church will hear not only its own message but will learn about the problems and promises of the other six as well. Since no church can thus hide its failings (or strengths), none can lord it over the others. If they take John’s vision seriously, they will instead be in a position to support each other.

John and His Vision of the Risen Jesus—Revelation 1:9-20

Lesson 6 - "At first, Christians had been considered a sect within Judaism, but by late first century it was clear that they were becoming a separate religion, which included many non-Jews as well. Things got worse during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian (81-96 CE)."

Structure and Symbol in Revelation

Lesson 5 - "If we take symbols literally, we miss the point. Jesus appears awkward with a two-edged sword coming out of his mouth (1:16), but it merely symbolizes his word of judgment. On the other hand, if we interpret these symbols to make sense in our world today, we’ll get it wrong, since the intended audience knew nothing of our culture and time."

Starry Skies in the Ancient Near East

Lesson 4 - "Like shamans in some cultures today, John had the gift of ASC—‘altered states of consciousness.’ While ‘in the spirit,’ he could journey to the sky or perceive spiritual reality in the otherwise invisible air. These ecstatic experiences sometimes produced grammatical errors in his Greek, but they also provided readers with colorful word-pictures and glowing poetry that nevertheless needed to be interpreted within the context of first-century symbols and metaphors.”

Is the New Testament Apocalyptic?

Lesson 3 - “Even though Revelation is the only apocalypse in the New Testament, every other book presupposes an apocalyptic worldview. Beyond the natural, ordinary world that we live in and perceive with our senses, there exists an unseen reality: the one God has a host of good angels who are doing battle with Satan and his demonic followers.

An Apocalyptic Worldview

Lesson 2 - “The title, ‘Revelation,” is translated from the Greek word, ‘apocalypse.’ It refers to something previously hidden that is now being revealed. ‘Apocalypse’ is a distinct literary genre which uses symbolic language and imagery and is usually written under an assumed name. But dragons and beasts and other symbols reveal little to modern readers, so [lessons in this series] will provide a social context for interpretation.”

Revelation—Whom Will You Worship?

Lesson 1 - “This may be the most misunderstood book in our entire canon. Some Christians ignore it entirely because of its bizarre imagery, while others pore over it attempting to unlock a chronological key to the future. [In this series], we will challenge some current end-time predictions and schemes based in part on Revelation, as well as seek to understand its genre, its cultural context, and what it might say to Christians in the 21st century.”

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