The book of Revelation, written more than 1,900 years ago in a foreign land, with symbolic language that depends on knowledge of the prophetic literature that went before, can seem mysterious and concealed. But the following brief plot summary and cast of characters can begin to reveal its meaning. It’s a book that has great significance for your life today!
Revelation plot summary
The Lamb (Jesus Christ) fulfills His promise to return to the earth and free the deceived and enslaved human race from its hidden ruler, the dragon (Satan) and his coconspirators, especially the Beast and False Prophet.
The battle plan unfolds in a series of seven-part events. First, seven sections of a scroll or book that had been sealed shut are opened, section by section. The first four seals open to reveal four horsemen, earlier interpreted by Christ: white horse = false religion; red horse = war; black horse = famine; pale horse = widespread death through disease epidemics and natural disasters. These events have been occurring for many years but intensify at the time of the end of man’s rule. The fifth seal is martyrdom and the Great Tribulation, which begins 3 ½ years before Christ’s return. The sixth seal opens to reveal heavenly signs, signaling the beginning of the Day of the Lord, “the great day of His wrath” (Revelation 6:17 Revelation 6:17For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
American King James Version×), which seems to be the last year of the 3 ½ -year period.
The seventh seal includes seven plagues announced by seven angels with trumpets. The seventh trumpet includes seven last plagues and Christ’s triumphant return to banish Satan and save the world from total destruction.
That’s a whirlwind tour, but one person summarized the message for God’s people in even fewer words: “I’ve read the end of the book, and we win!”
For more information about the mysterious symbols and events revealed in the book of Revelation, download or request a free copy of The Book of Revelation Unveiled. Other helpful booklets include You Can Understand Bible Prophecy and Are We Living in the Time of the End? VT
The Cast of Character s in Revelation
CHARACTER — The Lamb (5:8-13)
A.K.A. — Jesus Christ (1:1), Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End (1:8), Son of Man (1:12-16), Lion of the tribe of Judah, Root of David (5:5), Bridegroom (19:7-9), King of Kings and Lord of Lords (19:16)
IDENTITY — Jesus Christ
CHARACTER — The Seven Churches (chapters 2 and 3)
A.K.A. — The Lamb’s wife (19:7), kings and priests (1:6), overcomers (2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21), saints (8:3-4), the woman who fled to the wilderness (12:6)
IDENTITY —The Church of God (Acts 20:28 Acts 20:28Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he has purchased with his own blood.
American King James Version×; 1 Corinthians 10:32 1 Corinthians 10:32Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
American King James Version×)
CHARACTER — 144,000 (7:3-8)
A.K.A. — 144,000 Israelites, sealed by God and protected during the Day of the Lord
IDENTITY — 12,000 Christians of each of the 12 tribes of Israel
CHARACTER — Great Multitude (7:9)
A.K.A. — “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation” (7:14)
IDENTITY — People converted during the Great Tribulation
CHARACTER — Two Witnesses (11:3-6)
A.K.A. — The two olive trees and the two lampstands (11:4; allusion to Zechariah 4:3 Zechariah 4:3And two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl, and the other on the left side thereof.
American King James Version×, 14), God’s servants who will prophesy and perform miracles for 3 1⁄2 years in Jerusalem
IDENTITY — Two servants of God whose identities are not known at present
CHARACTER — Four Horsemen (6:1-8)
A.K.A. — The beginning of sorrows (Matthew 24:4-8 Matthew 24:4-8 4 And Jesus answered and said to them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6 And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
American King James Version×): white horse = false religion; red = war; black = famine; pale = plagues
IDENTITY — False religion, war, famine and death by disease and disaster
CHARACTER — Seven Angels Who Blow the Seven Trumpets (chapters 8 and 9; 11:15)
A.K.A. — Angels given the job of bringing plagues as punishment during the Day of the Lord; the first four blow on the earth, trees, seas, rivers and sun, moon and stars, while the fifth (destruction caused by the European Beast power), sixth (army of 200 million that kills a third of mankind) and seventh (seven last plagues) are called the three woes (8:13; 9:12)
IDENTITY — Seven angels
CHARACTER — The Dragon (12:3)
A.K.A. — That serpent of old, called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world (12:9); accuser of the brethren (12:10)
IDENTITY — Satan the devil
CHARACTER — The Beast (13:4)
A.K.A. — The Beast from the sea with seven heads and 10 horns (13:1) [combination of the empires pictured by the beasts of Daniel 7 with leopard, bear and lion], the king of the North (Daniel 11:40-45 Daniel 11:40-45 40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. 41 He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. 42 He shall stretch forth his hand also on the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps. 44 But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. 45 And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.
American King James Version×)
IDENTITY — Leader of a group of 10 national rulers; resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire in Europe
CHARACTER — The False Prophet (16:13)
A.K.A. — Great harlot who rides the Beast (17:1); another beast with two horns like a lamb who spoke like a dragon (13:11), working miracles, exercising the authority of the first Beast; Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth (17:5); man of sin, the lawless one (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
American King James Version×, 8-10)
IDENTITY — Leader of a great false religion based in Rome
CHARACTER — 200 Million-Man Army (9:16)
A.K.A. — Army that crosses the Euphrates River to attack the Beast power; news from the east and the north that troubles the king of the North (Daniel 11:44 Daniel 11:44But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.
American King James Version×)
IDENTITY — Eurasian army that comes against the European Beast
*A.K.A (also known as)