McGee J. Vernon McGee Notes and Outlines

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The Book of Revelation
Writer:  John the apostle

Date:  About A.D. 95

Theories of Interpretation

There have been many approaches to this book, but these can be divided into four major systems (Broadus lists seven theories of interpretation; Tragelles lists 3):

  1. Preterist Theory:  All of Revelation has been fulfilled in the past. It had to do with local references in John's day. It had to do with the days of either Nero or Domitian. The view was held by Renan and most German scholars, also by Elliott.

  2. Historical Theory:  Fulfillment of Revelation is going on in history, and Revelation is the prophetic history of the church, according to this theory.

  3. Historical-Spiritual Theory:  This theory is a refinement of the historical theory and was advanced by Sir William Ramsay. It states that the two beasts are Imperial and Provincial Rome. The point of the book is to encourage Christians. According to this theory, Revelation has been largely fulfilled and there are spiritual lessons for the church today. Amillennialism, for the most part, has adopted this view. It dissipates and defeats the purpose of the book.

  4. Futurist Theory:  This theory holds that the Book of Revelation is primarily prophetic and yet future, especially from Revelation 4 on to the end of the book. This is the view of all premillennialists and is the view which we accept and present.

Striking Features

Key Verse:

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell [hades] and of death. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.  (Revelation 1:18-19)


  1. The PERSON of Jesus Christ--Christ in glory, Chapter 1
    1. Title of the Book, v. 1
    2. Method of revelation, v. 2
    3. Beatitude of Bible study, v. 3
    4. Greetings from John the writer, and from Jesus Christ in heaven, vv. 4-8
    5. The post-incarnate Christ in a glorified body, judging His church (the great High Priest in the Holy of Holies), vv. 9-18
    6. Time division of the contents of the apocalypse, v. 19
    7. Interpretation of the seven stars and seven lampstands, v. 20

  2. The POSSESSION of Jesus Christ--the church in the world, Chapters 2-3
    1. Letter of Christ to the church in Ephesus, 2:1-7
    2. Letter of Christ to the church in Smyrna, 2:8-11
    3. Letter of Christ to the church in Pergamum, 2:12-17
    4. Letter of Christ to the church in Thyatira, 2:18-29
    5. Letter of Christ to the church in Sardis, 3:1-6
    6. Letter of Christ to the church in Philadelphia, 3:7-13
    7. Letter of Christ to the church in Laodicea, 3:14-22

  3. The PROGRAM of Jesus Christ--the scene in heaven, Chapters 4-22
    1. The church in heaven with Christ, Chapters 4-5
      ( . . . I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:3)
      1. Throne of God, 4:1-3
      2. Twenty-four elders, 4:4-5
      3. Four living creatures, 4:6-11
      4. Book with seven seals, 5:1-4
      5. Christ: the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Lamb which has been slain, 5:5-10
      6. A myriad of angels of heaven joins the song of praise and redemption, 5:11-12
      7. Universal worship of the Savior and Sovereign of the universe, 5:13-14
    2. The Great Tribulation in the world, Chapters 6-18
      1. Opening of the seven-sealed book, Chapters 6-8:1
        1. Opening of the first seal, 6:1-2
          (Rider on a white horse)
        2. Opening of the second seal, 6:3-4
          (Rider on a red horse)
        3. Opening of the third seal, 6:5-6
          (Rider on a black horse)
        4. Opening of the fourth seal, 6:7-8
          (Rider on a pale horse)
        5. Opening of the fifth seal, 6:9-11
          (Prayer of the martyred remnant)
        6. Opening of the sixth seal, 6:12-17
          (The Day of Wrath has come--beginning of the last half of the Great Tribulation)
        7. Interlude, Chapter 7
          • Reason for the interlude between the 6th and 7th seals, vv. 1-3
          • Remnant of Israel sealed, vv. 4-8
          • Redeemed multitude of Gentiles, vv. 9-17
        8. Opening of the seventh seal, v. 8:1
          (Introduction of seven trumpets)
      2. Blowing of the seven trumpets, Chapters 8:2-11:19
        1. Angel at the altar with censer of incense, 8:2-6
        2. First trumpet--trees burnt, 8:7
        3. Second trumpet--seas become blood, 8:8-9
        4. Third trumpet--fresh water becomes bitter, 8:10-11
        5. Fourth trumpet--sun, moon, stars smitten, 8:12-13
        6. Fifth trumpet--fallen star and plague of locusts, 9:1-12
        7. Sixth trumpet--angels loosed at river Euphrates, 9:13-21
        8. Interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets, 10:1-11:14
          • The strong angel with the little book, 10:1-7
          • John eats the little book, 10:8-11
          • Date for the ending of "the times of the Gentiles," 11:1-2
          • Duration of the prophesying of the two witnesses, 11:3-12
          • Doom of the second woe--great earthquake, 11:13-14
        9. Seventh trumpet--end of Great Tribulation and opening of temple in heaven, 11:15-19
      3. Seven performers during the Great Tribulation, Chapters 12-13
        1. The woman--Israel, 12:1-2
        2. The red dragon--Satan, 12:3-4
        3. The child of the woman--Jesus Christ, 12:5-6
        4. Michael, the archangel, wars with the dragon, 12:7-12
        5. The dragon persecutes the woman, 12:13-16
        6. Remnant of Israel, 12:17
        7. Wild beast out of the sea--a political power and a person, 13:1-10
          • Wild beast, description, vv. 1-2
          • Wild beast, death-dealing stroke, v. 3
          • Wild beast, deity assumed, vv. 4-5
          • Wild beast, defying God, vv. 6-8
          • Wild beast, defiance denied to anyone, vv. 9-10
        8. Wild beast out of the earth--a religious leader, 13:11-18
          • Wild beast, description, v. 11
          • Wild beast, delegated authority, vv. 12-14
          • Wild beast, delusion perpetrated on the world, vv. 15-17
          • Wild beast, designation, v. 18
      4. Looking to the end of the Great Tribulation, Chapter 14
        1. Picture of the lamb with the 144,000, vv. 1-5
        2. Proclamation of the everlasting gospel, vv. 6-7
        3. Pronouncement of judgment on Babylon, v. 8
        4. Pronouncement of judgment on those who received mark of the beast, vv. 9-12
        5. Praise for those who die in the Lord, v. 13
        6. Preview of Armageddon, vv. 14-20
      5. Pouring out of the seven mixing bowls of wrath, Chapters 15-16
        1. Preparation for final judgment of the Great Tribulation, 15:1-16:1
          • Tribulation saints in heaven worship God because He is holy and just, 15:1-4
          • Temple of the tabernacle opened in heaven that seven angels, having seven golden bowls, might proceed forth, 15:5-16:1
        2. Pouring out of the first bowl, 16:2
        3. Pouring out of the second bowl, 16:3
        4. Pouring out of the third bowl, 16:4-7
        5. Pouring out of the fourth bowl, 16:8-9
        6. Pouring out of the fifth bowl, 16:10-11
        7. Pouring out of the sixth bowl, 16:12
        8. Interlude: kings of inhabited earth proceed to Har-Magedon, 16:13-16
        9. Pouring out of the seventh bowl, 16:17-21
      6. The two Babylons judged, Chapters 17-18
        1. The apostate church in the Great Tribulation, Chapter 17
          • Great harlot riding the wild beast, vv. 1-7
          • Wild beast destroys the great harlot, vv. 8-18
        2. Political and commercial Babylon judged, Chapter 18
          • Announcement of fall of commercial and political Babylon, vv. 1-8
          • Anguish in the world because of Babylon's judgment, vv. 9-19
          • Anticipation of joy in heaven because of judgment on Babylon, vv. 20-24
    3. Marriage of the Lamb and return of Christ in judgment, Chapter 19
      1. Four hallelujahs, vv. 1-6
      2. Bride of the Lamb and marriage supper, vv. 7-10
      3. Return of Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, vv. 11-16
      4. War of Armageddon, vv. 17-18
      5. Hell opened, vv. 19-21
    4. Millennium, Chapter 20
      1. Satan bound 1000 years, vv. 1-3
      2. Saints of the Great Tribulation reign with Christ 1000 years, vv. 4-6
      3. Satan loosed after 1000 years, vv. 7-9
      4. Satan cast into lake of fire and brimstone, v. 10
      5. Setting of Great White Throne where lost are judged and follow Satan into lake of fire and brimstone, vv. 11-15
    5. Entrance into eternity; eternity unveiled, Chapters 21-22
      1. New heaven, new earth, New Jerusalem, 21:1-2
      2. New era, 21:3-8
      3. New Jerusalem, description of the eternal abode of the bride, 21:9-21
      4. New relationship--God dwelling with man, 21:22-23
      5. New center of the new creation, 21:24-27
      6. River of the water of life and tree of life, 22:1-5
      7. Promise of return of Christ, 22:6-16
      8. Final invitation and warning, 22:17-19
      9. Final promise and prayer, 22:20-21

A special thanks to Thru the Bible Radio Network for permission to create and post this version of Dr. J. Vernon McGee's Notes and Outlines. Visit Thru the Bible on the Web at

Chapter 1:DarbyGenevaGillJamieson Faussett BrownJohnson Matthew HenryMatthew Henry ConciseMcGeeWesleyIndexRead The Book of Revelation |

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