Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation (formal title The Revelation of St. John the Divine, also called The Revelation to John, The Apocalypse of John, or simply Revelation) is the final book of the Christian Bible (The New Testament). It records a series of visions received by the John the Divine while he was imprisoned on the island of Patmos. In ancient writings as going back as early as Justin Martyr, it was held that John the divine was John the Apostle. The visions describe the end times and the second coming of Jesus Christ. (Preterists disagree, believing the book describing events fulfilled at other points in history.)
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Revelation first describes the arrival of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death. However, the Bible itself only directly names one horseman, "death".
There is wide agreement concerning the identity of the first horseman, which many interpret to represent the Antichrist. Some equate it to worldwide gospel preaching, as many postmillennialists believe.
The four horsemen are synonymous to the first four seals, and there is a direct correlation between the events of the seals and the list of events found in the Olivet Discourse, as found in Matthew 24. According to this view, the first four seals are usually perceived as being the beginning of birth pangs (Matthew 24:4-8).
Mark of the Beast
Revelation describes a time in which the a mark consisting of the Number of the Beast will be required on all people in order to buy or sell.
Twenty-one judgements are pronounced on the earth: the seven Seal Judgements, the seven Trumpet Judgements, and the seven Bowl Judgements. The sequence of the order of these plagues are disputed among prophecy teachers. The concurrent or overlapping interpretation postulates that the judgements overlap each other while the 7 Seals are the longest in duration, while the Trumpet plagues are shorter, and while the Bowl plagues are the shortest. The consecutive or crescendo interpretation teaches that the next set of plagues occur after the previous set of plagues. Therefore the 7 Seals occur first, the 7 Trumpets next, and the 7 Bowls afterwards.
There is much modern emphasis that Revelation prophesizes the future and the end times. These views usually consider the end times to be relatively close to being fulfilled. Other views postulate that the writing describes a period of persecution in the early church either during the reign of Nero (54 - 68) or Domitian (81 - 96).
The Book of Revelation was one of the last books to be fully accepted into the New Testament Canon largely due to its difficulty in being understood.
- The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Press, 1985, Pg. 1923