Michael (Jude v. 9) is the only archangel identified by name in Scripture. In the book of Daniel, he is the guardian of God’s people (Dan. 10:13, 21; 12:1). He also leads the heavenly army in the fight against the dragon in Rev. 12:7.
Patmos (Rev. 1:9) is a tiny, volcanic island in the Aegean Sea, 40 miles (64 km) off the coat of Asia Minor. The Roman Empire sent its political prisoners there to live in exile.
Pergamum was an important city in western Asia Minor. Between 150,000 and 200,000 lived there. Located atop a high hill overlooking the Caicus River, it boasted a theater, an impressive library, many temples, and a race track.
Sardis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia and the place where coin minting was invented. After being taken over by Rome, it functioned as the capital of its province and continued to exist until the fifteenth century.
The sea of glass (Rev. 4:6) is the transparent pavement surrounding God’s throne. Separating heaven above from the earth below, its transparent tranquility shows heaven’s peace in contrast to earthly turmoil.
“Do not harm the oil and wine” suggests that during this time of famine these two basic essentials are still available, although grain is scarce and prices are greatly inflated (Rev. 6:6). Such a situation would necessarily hurt the poor more than the rich.
Kings authenticated documents and marked ownership of an item with their royal signet ring. Similarly, the seal of the living God proves God’s ownership and protection of his people (Rev. 7:2; see 14:1). It is the opposite of the mark of the beast (Rev. 13:16).
In OT times, the altar of incense (Rev. 8:3–4) stood in the Holy Place of the tabernacle and the temple next to the veil concealing the Most Holy Place. Each morning and evening, the high priest burned incense on the altar (Ex. 30:1–10).
About a dozen varieties of scorpions exist in Israel. The Lord protected Israel from scorpions during their time in the wilderness (Deut. 8:15). Revelation 9:1–6 compares the demons tormenting the people of earth with scorpions.
When a lion roars, it can mean that it has caught, or is about to catch, its prey. In Rev. 10:3, the lion’s roar probably symbolizes God’s judgment against the wicked (see Amos 3:8).
The OT in Revelation. Roughly one-seventh of the book of Revelation consists of quotations from the OT. It is a reminder of just how important it is to read and understand the OT as foundational for the New.
A call for endurance. The churches were facing many threats, including persecution, false teaching, and idolatry, as is true today around the world. Revelation urges believers to continue (or persevere) in the faith despite difficulties. Christ’s victory is secure, and God will richly reward those who suffer for his sake.
The vision of the fifth bowl (Rev. 16:10–11) shows that even the very throne of the beast is not immune to God’s just wrath. It is appropriate that a regime founded on deceit should be plunged into darkness (see Rev. 13:13–14).
Symbolism is very important in Revelation. Instead of portraying characters and events directly, the author often uses symbols. For example, Jesus is portrayed as a lamb, churches are portrayed as lamps on lampstands, and Satan is portrayed as a dragon with seven heads and ten horns.
In the Bible, Babylon symbolizes humanity’s ambition to dethrone God and rule the earth. “Babel,” the Hebrew word for Babylon, first appears in the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). Chapters 17–18 of Revelation describe Babylon’s final defeat.
The rider on the white horse. Because the color white was associated with victory, military or political leaders often chose white horses. In Rev. 19:11, the victorious Jesus rides a white horse.
Revelation contains seven benedictions, or blessings. Some other memorable benedictions include Aaron’s blessing on Israel (Num. 6:24–26), 2 Corinthians 13:14, and Jude 24–25. These and other blessings are often used in Christian worship.
Revelation refers to the church as the Bride of Christ (Rev. 19:7; 21:2, 9; 22:17). Similarly, Paul uses the relationship between Christ and the church as an example of how husbands and wives should treat each other (Eph. 5:25–27).