The Book of Revelation is considered the last book in the New Testament. It is filled with metaphors and mysteries related to future events. The imagery and predictions in Revelation are pretty wild – so, scholars have a wide variety of theories on what they really mean, and when they will be fulfilled.
Within the Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is a series of colorful visions, which proclaim the last days before Jesus Christ returns and ushers in a new heaven and new earth. It is a final warning that the world will surely end, and there will be a final judgment. It gives us a tiny glimpse of heaven and all of the glories awaiting Christians. It also takes us through the great tribulation, with all its woes.
The Book of Revelation is the culmination of biblical prophecies about the end times, beginning with the Hebrew Scriptures and continuing through the Gospels. It’s what we call apocalyptic literature — the same kind of ‘end of days’ language that we see in certain Old Testament books such as Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah.
Although the Book of Revelation includes mysterious language about the future that’s hard to decipher, it also contains seven letters to seven churches in Asia Province that were active at the time of John.
I, John… was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. (Revelation 1:9-15)
The 7 Churches
According to the first chapter of Revelation, the Apostle John saw Jesus Christ in a vision. Jesus was standing among seven golden lampstands – symbols of light throughout the scriptures. Later, we learn that the seven lampstands represented the seven churches of Asia Minor. In Chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation, John went on to deliver letters to these seven churches. They are listed in a purposeful order (a semi-circle of sorts) starting in Ephesus and ending in Laodicea. Remarkably, these are all places that we can still visit today.