Study Guide

Book of Revelation Themes

  • Awe and Amazement

    Revelation is full of astonished, awestruck folks. First, there's John who can't believe he's meeting Jesus live and in person—not to mention God, the angels, the armies of Heaven, a seven-headed Dragon… well, you get the idea. Then there's everyone else who head over heels admires and reveres God and his every holy move. Though it's clear that everyone is totally in love with the Big Guy, there's also probably a little good old fashioned awe-inspiring fear in there. Hey, you watch a deity unleash plagues of destruction and tell us you wouldn't be shaking in your boots.

    Questions About Awe and Amazement

    1. Why does God inspire such awe?
    2. How does the humble life of Jesus (poor son of a carpenter) contrast with his glorious heavenly appearance? Why do the two seem so different?
    3. Why are the creatures and characters in Heaven in awe of God? Aren't they with the guy all day?
    4. Are the bad guys amazing in their own right? How does the kind of awe they inspire compare to what God's got going?
  • Good vs. Evil

    At its heart, Revelation is really just an old fashioned epic of good vs. evil. On one side, you've got the bad guys, complete with multiple heads and bad intentions. On the other side, God himself and all his homies. It's clear from the beginning that good is going to win this one—after all, that's the whole point of an apocalypse. But evil is still going to give it a go. Sorry, guys. Nice try. Enjoy your consolation prize—an eternity in the Lake of Fire.

    Questions About Good vs. Evil

    1. How do the good guys look different from the bad guys? What does this say about them?
    2. Why is evil so gosh-darn appealing? Is the fact that people follow the Beast kind of understandable?
    3. The Dragon gives the beasts authority, but who gave the Dragon authority?
    4. Evil hardly even makes a dent in the forces of good. Did they ever even have a chance?
  • Judgment

    Judge not… unless of course you're the Creator of the Universe. Then, by all means, judge away. According to Revelation, only God has the power to decide whose actions are righteous and who's are damnable. Don't worry, though. He gives everyone a fighting chance. Survive a few plagues, repent, and you might avoid an eternity in the Lake of Fire. But act now, because destruction is coming soon.

    Questions About Judgment

    1. Does the idea of a judgmental God jive with the idea of a loving God? How are the two compatible and incompatible? 
    2. Why does only God have the right to judge? How about Jesus? And why aren't the angels able to get in on any of this action?
    3. Why do the non-believers refuse to repent, even after seeing God's awesome destructive power? What does that say about the nature of evil? Does God think it's better to be feared than loved?
    4. Imagine you're God—how would you punish evildoers? Bonus points for striking fear into the hearts of your creation.
  • Revenge

    "Vengeance is mine; I will repay," saith the Lord (Romans 12:19). And, boy, he was not kidding. Revelation is pretty much one big long revenge fantasy. John really wants to get back at Rome and its people for the evils they've perpetrated on God and his people. In a way, it's totally understandable why people who were members of an oppressed minority would crave some payback. On the other hand, to forgive is divine, guys. You might want to try it sometime.

    Questions About Revenge

    1. How are the various revenges in Revelation ironic or symbolic?
    2. Is a desire for vengeance a natural reaction to persecution and oppression?
    3. Revelation talks a lot about vengeance, but not at all about forgiveness. What's the deal with that? Is the time for forgiving past?
    4. Are some crimes unforgivable?Does God really punish people? Or do they punish themselves by rejecting him?
  • Perseverance

    In the 1st century, being Christian was like being part of a really small, really unpopular club. The social pressure to conform must have been immense, and many Christians were probably close to throwing in the towel. That's where Revelation comes in. The book wants to encourage Christians to keep going even in the face of adversity—and death, don't forget death. John's visions convey all the rewards that wait for those who make it, along with the horrors for those that don't. Gulp.

    Questions About Perseverance

    1. How does the fact that John has been persecuted help his case? Does it make him more relatable? More authoritative? 
    2. Is Revelations encouraging? Why do you think it helped Christians keep the faith?
    3. Do you think the martyrs were brave or foolish to refuse to worship Roman gods?
  • Violence

    The horror! The horror!

    Revelation sure is a blood and gore fest. So why all the violence? Well, there's the revenge angle—the punishment has to fit the crime, after all. And these crimes against God and his people are pretty bad. God also tends not to do things halfway. Would the Lake of Fire have had half as much impact if its inhabitants were simply shuttled there by bus and then dropped off to burn for all eternity? We don't think so.

    Questions About Violence

    1. Are the violent punishments necessary? Why must God punish non-believers so harshly?
    2. If you made a movie of Revelation how violent would it be? Like Reservoir Dogs level? 300? Kill Bill
    3. Jesus has a sword coming out of his mouth. Is this a violent image? Or does it have another meaning?
    4. Does the violence take away from the story or add interest?