Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "REVELATION"
THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST
BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST (1:1)
Key thought: "Christ the Coming Victor"
Key to structure of book: 1:19
- "The things that thou hast seen": The Patmos Vision
- Introduction 1-3
- The salutation and setting 4-9
- The vision: • Christ glorified -- "in the midst" of His
Church 10-19 Not local or geographical, but spiritual and pervasive, equally
present in His Church in all parts of the world.
- "The things which are": The Letters to the Seven
- Explanation of vision and relation to the churches
- The seven churches--viewed historically, morally, and
All these letters follow the following format, with significant omissions to
|Format of Letters
||Period of Church History
The Church in apostolic
The Church under imperial
"Elevation" or "True
marriage" (i.e., thoro-union)
Church wedded to state by
"Bruised incense or
continual sacrifice" (?)
Romish apostasy with
believing remnant within; 7th into 16th century 2:18-29
"Those escaping" (i.e.,
Reformation state churches
Great revival and
missionary movements, starting 18th century 3:7-13
"Just-people" or "Rights of
The liberalized church,
starting later part of 19th century 3:14-22
- "Things which shall be AFTER THESE THINGS" 4-22
- FROM THE RAPTURE TO ULTIMATE VICTORY OF JESUS CHRIST
"A DOOR opened in (into) Heaven" (4:1)
- The heavenly vision 4-5
- The Creator worshipped for His Wisdom and power
- The Divine Kinsman-Redeemer worshipped for His love
and power 5
Here in chapter 5 we have a tremendous scene (cp. Dan. 7:9-10, 13-14).
The scroll (v. 1) represents the title-deed to earth. A legal document
could have seals broken only by its legal owner. Next, there is the
challenge (v.2) and the strategic pause (vv. 3-4).
Our Lord does not feverishly rush forward to seize the title-deed, as
though fearful someone else might claim it. He deliberately pauses, that
all in heaven, on earth, and in the infernal regions might eliminate
themselves by default.
But this shocks John to tears (v. 4). Has he been confidently
proclaiming a lie? Is his Lord not the rightful heir to earth? Is He not
coming back to earth and take the throne In accordance with the Davidic
Covenant and be vindicated here on earth? For 60 years (plus) he had
been preaching this. No wonder he weeps! He longs to see his Lord, last
seen on a cross, vindicated.
But, when all possible claimants have eliminated themselves, an angel
tells John to dry his tears. "We have found the Worthy One!" As John's
eyes get adjusted to the bright glory of the throne (v. 6), the one
announced as the Lion of Judah turns out to be a Lamb in the midst of
the throne, looking as though it had been freshly offered in sacrifice
He then confidently takes the Sitter on the throne (cp. Dan. 7:13-14)
and all heaven joins in praise, both angels and men (redeemed, vv.
8-12). The ultimate end of all this is seen in prospective fashion when
even the infernal regions (v. 13) bow the knee to Jesus' authority (cp.
- Six seals severed by the Lamb 6
The scroll is sealed at the top in such a way that when the first seal is
broken, the scroll can be read through that point up to the second seal
but no further. So, with the breaking of each seal, a further revelation
can be seen. The first four seals, pictured as riders on horses, have
classically been called "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." Note also
how the seals parallel exactly our Lord's prophecy on the Mount of Olives
- Satan's mock millennium 1-2 (cp. Mt. 24:4-5)
The white horse's rider must not be confused with Christ (19:11,16). He
is a deceiver, an enemy, a bogus Christ, as Jesus Himself warned would
come prior to His return (Mt. 24:11, 23-26, 29-30). He appears to bring
peace, but he has a bow, which soon leads to
- Bloody warfare 3-4 (cp. Mt. 24:6-7) Red horse
- World-Wide famine 5-6 (cp. Mt. 24:7b)
Wars reduce manpower and ability to produce and transport food. Also,
prices rise. These circumstances require rationing (v.5) and price
fixing (v.6); only the rich ("oil and wine") are still escaping
privation. This is the black horse.
- World-Wide pestilence 7-8 (cp. Mt. 24:7c)
Malnutrition, caused by famine, is an invitation to pestilence and
death. The color of this (pale) horse has been described by one
authority as that of a decaying corpse (lit., "green chrome").
- Martyred remnant's prayer for vengeance 9-11 (cp. Mt.
24:9-10) Note, there' is no Scriptural warrant to pray FOR the dead, but
this passage would give some warrant to the thesis that the dead (as to
the body) may pray for the living (cp. also Lk. 16:23, 27-28). These are
martyred tribulation believers (not the church) appropriately praying
imprecatory prayers against those wicked men of Satan who are slaying
believers on the earth (cp. the Imprecatory Psalms).
- Complete breakup up of society as presently
constituted: anarchy 12-17 (cp. Mt. 24:9-10)
If this 6th seal be interpreted as the literal destruction of the
heavens (v. 14), with stars of heaven demolishing earth (v. 13), there
would be no locale for the rest of the events of the book, i.e., the
tribulation and 1000 years kingdom, yet to take place. With Scofield, I
therefore conclude this is anarchy, the breaking up of all that has been
considered stable in government (mountains) and society. This scene of
sheer despair makes plausible the Beast's bid for rule over men (Ch.
PARENTHESIS: The 144,000 Jews and great multitude of Gentiles 7
There are two visions here, retrospective and prospective.
RETROSPECTIVE VISION: 12, 000 from
The 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each tribe (except Dan) 1-8
The vision looks back retrospectively to the
beginning of the tribulation before a single seal i judgments to fall
broken permitting This vision is not saying only 144, 000 Jews will be
saved in the tribulation, but it says that 144, 000 are sealed so that
they will be spared from death. Perhaps millions of Jews may be
"saved; many will be martyred for their faith (Mt. 24:9, 22), but the
sealing assures that there will be a continuing witness throughout the
whole period. Of course, many Jews will apostatize and follow Satan's
Man of Sin (Mt. 24:24).
PROSPECTIVE VISION: The great multitude of Gentiles 9-17
This vision looks forward to the end of the period, when the
multitude comes out of the Great Tribulation (v. 14). In a period
which features judgment, there is to be a great evangelistic victory.
When the Devil's power is at its zenith, we are encouraged to see God
outwitting the Devil and saving masses of Gentiles "which no man can
number" (v.9). Thus, living Jewish and Gentile believers enter the
millennium in large numbers. It is well to remark that this is not a
scene in heaven but upon the earth. The idea that this is heaven is
due to our faulty conception of how wonderful things will be on earth
when Jesus brings in earth's golden age. Tears will be wiped away on
earth, etc. (vv. 16-17).
- The seventh seal is composed of seven trumpets:
First six trumpets 8-9
- Introductory: the prayers of saints are One is
reminded of Paul's comment about "heaping coals of fire" on the heads of
the unrepentant wicked (Rom. 12:19-20). This altar is the one we saw
associated of the saints (Rev. 5:8). These prayer here seen to be
beginning to be answered.
- Six trumpets 8:7-9:21
- Destruction of vegetation 8:7
- Destruction of sea life and ships 8:8-9
- Contamination of fountains of water 8:10-11 (cp.
- Celestial signs: announcement of three woes 8:12-13
- First woe: apostasies sent from pit by Satan to
torture men 9:1-12
- The invasion from the East 9:13-21 Army of 200,
000, 000 men! (cp. Rev. 16:12; Dan. ll:44a)
PARENTHESIS: (between 6th and 7th trumpet) 10:1-11:14
Note the format of the book: six, parenthesis, seventh-six seals
(ch.6), parenthesis (ch.7), seventh seal (ch.8). Now this seventh seal
is composed of seven trumpets and breaks up into: six trumpets
(chs.8-9), parenthesis (10:1-11:14), seventh trumpet (11:15-18). (See
Thiessen's chart in the Introduction, IX, D, p. 7.)
- The mighty angel (Christ) commands John to
prophesy again 10
There is "time (or delay) no longer" when the 7th trumpet sounds
(v.6). This is our basis for saying that by 11:18 we have completed
the survey of events to and into the eternal state. The "mystery of
God is finished" (v.7). We understand that 5:1 teaches that the
scroll has writing on both front and back sides.
After finishing the one side at 11:18, he turns the scroll over at
11:19. In 10:11, John was told he "must prophesy again concerning
many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings." Thus, beginning with
11:19, there is a review of end-time events, particularly from the
middle of the 70th week (12:7-9), but these are retold in relation
to the people who have been associated historically with "the ark of
the covenant" (11:19, i.e., Israel).
- Jerusalem soon to be delivered, but rejects two
The identity of the two witnesses is debated. Some say we cannot
identify them and we should not try. However, Malachi 3:5-6 and
Matthew 17:11 establish that Elijah must come before Christ returns
and he is easily recognized by the description in 11:6a: "power to
shut heavens that it rain not." The other witness has power to do
what Moses alone did in the OT ("turn water to blood ... smite earth
with plagues, " v.6).
The objection of Hebrews 9:27 to Moses ("men ... appointed once to
die") is a misconception. Every rule has its exception. A whole
generation of Church believers will have by this time already been
raptured without death. Further, the strange incident of Michael
fighting with Satan over the body of Moses (Jude 1:9) would take on
meaning in this perspective.
Enoch is urged by some, but Enoch did nothing by which verses 5-6
would suggest or identify him.
Moses and Elijah represent "the law and the prophets" (i.e., the
whole OT witness), and we already have the precedent of their
presence on the Mount of Transfiguration, which Peter declares was a
miniature of His second coming (2 Pet. 1:16-17; Mk. 9:1). Some
expositors believe they were the 'two men" seen in Jesus' tomb, in
addition to the angels, and the two who announced our Lord's return
at His ascension were men, not angels (Acts 1:10-11; cp. Lk. 9:30;
The two witnesses are resurrected and ascension to show heaven's
approbation given the honor of a special of them (vv.11-13).
- Second woe: judgment on city for slaying the two
- Seventh trumpet: third woe. Christ's triumphant
coming and reign 11:15-18
Christ is here pictured as having judged and crushed and all enemies,
having rewarded His own, having already reigned ("hast reigned") for the
1000 years (Rev. 20:6). The statement is in retrospect, as though already
concluded, and takes us into the eternal state. ("time" has been completed
as per Rev. 10:6) The vision is in kaleidoscope style.
- Review with many added details affecting Israel
- "The TEMPLE of God opened" 11:19-15:4
The perspective of this section has already been discussed under chapter
10 [Parenthesis, a.]. Let it be added that Israel's great time of
trouble, envisioned by the language of 11:19, and referring to the Great
Tribulation, is preluded by a quick survey of Israel's history.
There can be no debate that Israel (v.2) gave birth to the manchild
The manchild could be none other than Christ ("rule ... with rod of iron,"
v.5). Ironside has well said that any expositor who flubs here by
suggesting that the woman is the Church eliminates himself as a dependable
Presumptively the Church age is skipped, except as the manchild's
ascension (v.5) becomes illustrative of the supernatural catching up of
the Church at the end of the age, prior to the first 1260 days (v. 6 is
evidently the first 3 1/2 years). The middle of the 70th week is plainly
emphasized in verses 7-12. Satan comes down with great fury and attempts
to destroy the remnant of repentant Israel (vv. 12-17) during the last 3
1/2 years (v. 14, "time, times, half a time"). The dragon seeks to
accomplish this (v. 17), chiefly through bringing into power and
prominence the "two beasts" of Rev. 13.
- a. The seven great actors for good and evil in the
- The Pained Woman: Israel (in historical retrospect)
- The Red Dragon: Satan 12:3-4
- The Man-Child: Christ 12:5-6
- The Archangel: Michael 12:7-12
- The Pursued Woman: Israel (in prophetic prospect)
- The Beast out of the sea (of nations): Roman
political ruler 13:1-10
- The Beast out of the earth (land of Israel): Jewish
religious leader 13:11-18
The identity of the so-called Anti-Christ has been long and too often
fiercely debated. The reformation fathers, just escaped from the Roman
Church, unhesitatingly said he was the Pope. But premillennialists
have rejected this (e.g., in Ch. 17 the woman rides the beast, and is
thus distinct from the beast). Many hold the personal Anti-Christ is
the first beast (Roman), while others insist it is the second (Jewish)
beast (of Rev. 13).
It might be appropriate right here to ask if it is Scriptural and
hence necessary to identify only one man as Anti-Christ. Our Lore
emphasized plurality ("many false Christs, " Mt. 24:24). Why could not
both beasts be Anti-Christs, each in his own way?
For a number of reasons, this teacher is satisfied that, if we must
particularly designate one as especially THE Anti-Christ, it should be
the second beast (vv. 11-18). Among other things, he looks like a lamb
(i .e., like Christ -- e.g., 5:6; 6:16; 7:17;12:11; 14:1; 19:7; 21:22,
27), but speaks like the dragon (Satan). How better could he be
described as being an imitation of Christ?
- PARENTHESIS: A vision to hearten suffering Jewish
- Prophetic announcement that the 144,000 will .share
millennial blessing with the Lamb 14:1-5
- The everlasting gospel: "Bow to creation's God!"
Those not touched by preachers of the gospel of the kingdom ("The king
is coming! Repent!") are reached super naturally, so that all have
opportunity to repent.
- Pre-announcement of Babylon's fall (cp. 16:19; 17 &
- Doom is coming on remnant's persecutors (beast
- The blessedness of those who die in the Lord
HENCEFORTH 14:12-13 To die and miss the horror of the days toward the
close of the 70th week will be a great relief. These dead will equally
share in the kingdom blessing (20:4-6); hence they are "blessed" by
missing terrible suffering.
- The harvest: Discriminating judgment (Mt. 13:36-43)
- The vintage: Unsparing wrath on apostate Israel
- Martyred remnant's praise for righteous judgments
about to begin 15:1-4
- "Temple of the tabernacle of the testimony OPENED"
But judgment--not grace--proceeds from the Holy of Holies
- Introductory: Seven angels with golden bowls
15:5-16:1 b. Seven vials or bowls of wrath poured out 16:2-21
Note how these "bowls of wrath" exactly parallel the trumpets of
8:7-9:21. They are reviews of the same judgments in point of time.
See note on 11:19 at B, 1.
- (1) Agony of beast worshippers 2
- (2) Destruction of sea life and sailors 3
- (3) Contamination of fountains of water 4-7
- (4) Celestial signs S-9
- (5) Moral darkness and despairing, yet unrepentant,
- (6) Way prepared for eastern kings' invasion of
Palestine and resulting battle of Armageddon 13-16 Parenthesis:
Warning to remnant to watch for Christ's sudden coming 15
- (7) Tremendous final judgment--especially on
"Babylon" (Rome) 17-21
PARENTHESIS: The final career and fall of "Babylon"
Chapter 17 seems to prophesy concerning papal Rome (woman) riding
political Rome (the beast) until unseated and absorbed (w. 16-17). It is a
system associated with a city (v. 18) and a political power group (vv.
12-14). Let it be remembered that apostate Protestantism and the cults are
also to be merged with the Roman Church, so that the resultant group is
flavored and characterized by the Roman Church, but not composed totally
of Roman Catholics, nor ultimately like the church of Rome we now know.
The locale ("city," v. 18) is undoubtedly the famous seven-hilled city on
the Tiber (v.9).
Chapter 18 would seem to emphasize the ultimate (Pagan Rome's civil,
commercial, and industrial aspects are emphasized. Mussolini had plans for
large canals to bring sea-going vessels right up to Rome, making it a port
city (although the analogy of Los Angeles indicates this is not an
essential). The weeping is over the commercial loss occasioned by the
judgment of God on the city itself (v. 19). (Rome has grown tremendously
in recent years, as we would expect if it is to be an important commercial
center. It now numbers around 2 million and is growing almost as fast as
- The FALSE bride's career and doom 17-18
- The harlot described 17:1-6
- The mystery of "Babylon" and "Beast" explained
- Dirge over mystical "Babylon's" destruction 18
- The TRUE bride's praise for righteous judgment
- The TRUE bride's exaltation in marriage to
- "Heaven OPENED" -- Christ's return and subsequent
- Coming of the King of kings in power and great glory!
- Armageddon ("hill of slaughter"). Beasts and allies
- Beast and false prophet cast alive into Lake of Fire
- Kings and armies slain: "The great supper of God"
- Satan bound: Kept in abyss during 1000 year kingdom
- Completion of first resurrection: OT and tribulation
saints 20:4-6 (Church has been raised at Rapture or Translation.)
- Judgments preparatory to the kingdom reign 20:4
These are not specified but they would include:
- OT saints who are resurrected
- Tribulation saints who are resurrected
- Living Israel (rebels purged out, righteous enter
- Living Gentiles ("sheep" admitted to kingdom;
"goats "-wicked-slain and excluded; Mt. 25:31-45)
- The reign of the redeemed with Christ during 1000
Presumptively the Church as Bride of Christ has highest position; Israel
next; Gentiles last. Those living Jews and Gentiles who go into kingdom
will have children by normal generation. (Resurrected ones will not.)
Those born during the period, even in a perfect environment, will sin
(because they have Adamic natures). They will need to be saved just as
people in other ages. Outbroken sin will be immediately judged ("rod of
iron"). But some will submit only because of fear and their unchanged
condition will be made apparent by event i below, which follows next.
- Satan loosed for a little season 20:3i-), 7-9
In Psalm 18:44, the Revised Version margin reads "yield feigned
obedience" (Heb., "lie") for "submit themselves. " So, during the 1000
years many who will pose us though they are obedient, but do not believe
and follow Christ, truly, will follow Satan in his rebellion. These will
be in great numbers and are called Gog and Magog. They attack Jerusalem.
Fire comes down from heaven and slays them.
- Satan's eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire 20:10
Observe the beast and false prophet are still there after 1000 years.
There is no completion of punishment nor annihilation (cp. 19:10).
- The purgation (by fire) of the present earth and
heavens 20:11 With the provision of new heavens and earth (2 Pet.
Rev. 21:1;Isa. 65:17; 66:22).
- Second (final) resurrection 20:11,13
These are the wicked dead of all ages, raised after the 1000 years
- Great White Throne Judgment: Verdict—the second death
- Eternal state of the lost: Lake of Fire 20:15
- Eternal state of the saved: New heavens and earth
- PARENTHESIS: Supplementary details about New
Jerusalem during Millennium 21:9-22:5
Here we have the same principle as before; a sequence of events is gone
through; then supplementary details are added (e.g., 14:8; 16:19; then
chapters 17-18 give details).
That this is the new Jerusalem during millennial times, not in later
eternal conditions, is evident from:
- Its relation to the earth
It hangs like a gigantic chandelier over the earth "walk in the light of
it" (21:24). Earth is very close to heaven. Men can look up to see the
heavenly Jerusalem (Dt. 11:21).
- "Kings of the earth bring their glory into" the New
There is entrance and exit, going back and forth between the New
Jerusalem and earth (21:24-27).
- "The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the
This would not be needed in eternity, but will be in time.
Evidently long life will be restored, and Death will presumptively be
the result of judgment for outbroken sin (Isa. 65:20).
- Epilogue 22:6-21
- The angel delivers the LAST message from Jesus to
Note particularly two important textual changes:
v. 14 - "Blessed are they that wash their robes ... "
(for "do his commandments")
v. 19 - "God shall take away his part out of the tree of life ... "
- The LAST promise of the Bible 22:20a
- The LAST prayer of the Bible 22:20b
- The LAST provision of the Bible 22:21
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