Revelation and Christian Views About the End of the World

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Angels With Seven Trumpets
The Book of Revelation — also known as Revelation, the Revelation to John, or the Apocalypse of John — is a doomsday tale that describes the second coming of Christ, the End of the World and the Last Judgement with images of good people being pulled to heaven, bad people being attacked by locusts and Jesus fighting an epic battle with Satan in the sky. According to Revelation, nonbelievers would be cast into hell, while Christians would ascend to heaven during the second coming. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Seven Seals, the Beasts with the mark 666 written on their foreheads, and the Whore of Babylon all came from Revelation.

The Book of Revelation is the final chapter of the Bible. Often incorrectly referred to as Revelations, it was written during the rule of the Roman Emperor Domitian (81 A.D. to 96) when there was great deal of upheaval in the Roman empire and Christians were persecuted. Although some people have taken it literary most scholars have regarded it as a symbolic warning to early Christians in Asia Minor to avoid being seduced by the paganism of Rome. Many of the events it describes are similar to what Jews expect to happen when their Messiah arrives..

In the A.D. third century, there was a great debate among Christian leaders on whether or not Revelation should even be included in the Bible. There were concerns that it would set off waves of fanaticism. St Augustine took the position that became the position of the Catholic church that Revelation was an allegory of good and evil in the church and the world.

According to the BBC: The Book of Revelation has fascinated and puzzled Christians for centuries. With its vivid imagery of disaster and suffering - the Battle of Armageddon, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the hideous Beast whose number is 666 - many have seen it as a map to the end of the world. Some say it predicts global warming, AIDS and even the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. But Biblical scholars, having studied the text and the social and political history of the time, have a different interpretation. [Source: BBC, August 4, 2009 |::|]

Websites and Resources on Christianity BBC on Christianity ; Candida Moss at the Daily Beast Daily Beast Christian Answers ; Christian Classics Ethereal Library ; Sacred Texts website ; Internet Sourcebook ; Christian Denominations: Holy See ; Catholic Online ; Catholic Encyclopedia ; World Council of Churches, main world body for mainline Protestant churches ; Online Orthodox Catechism published by the Russian Orthodox Church

John, the Author of Revelation

According to Live Science Because someone named John wrote one of the four Gospels, it was assumed that he also wrote the Revelation to John. But according to the scholar Bart Ehrman, writing in "The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings" (Oxford University Press, 2011) the author of Revelation is now thought to be a man dubbed John of Patmos, who wrote it in about A.D. 96 after seeing or hearing about the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. [Source: Tom Metcalfe, Live Science, February 17, 2023]

John of Patmos

John of Patmos was a mysterious Christian prophet, sent to a prison for persecuted Christians on the Greek Island of Patmos after having a vision in a cave in the form of letter to seven major churches. While John was in prison, Domitan was assassinated and replaced by a more lenient emperor, Nerva, who decreed that Christians should be exiled rather than imprisoned. John was set free. According to one legend, when John went to Patmos all the inhabitants were pagans. When he left 18 months later he converted them all to Christianity.

According to the BBC: ““What scholars can say about the John of Revelation is that he was a significant figure in the early church in the Roman province of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). The text starts with a series of seven letters addressed to the Christian communities in seven important cities of the province - Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. He mentions details about these communities that indicate he knew and was known to them. Scholars conclude that John was a Jew from Palestine. His use of the Greek language indicates that he was not a native speaker but of a Semitic mother tongue, and he is very familiar with the Hebrew Bible. [Source: BBC, August 4, 2009 |::|]

“John tells us in the text that he's writing from the island of Patmos and that he's there "because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus". Christian tradition tells us that he was a prisoner of the Roman Empire, but again scholars disagree and say he may have been exiled to Patmos for being a bit troublesome or he may have gone there to preach. In any case, he was able to write (or more likely dictate to a scribe) and circulate the texts to the Christian communities. |::|

Revelation: an Expression of John’s Anger Towards Romans?

According to Live Science: The Book of Revelation describes the end of the world — the Apocalypse — with images that would have been familiar to early Christians. It also introduces the "number of the beast," likely a reference to the Roman emperor Nero, whose name can be rendered in Hebrew numerology as "666" and who was infamous for brutally persecuting Christians. [Source: Tom Metcalfe, Live Science, February 17, 2023]

The Book of Revelation certainly contains some vivid and disturbing imagery and many have called it an angry text. John's anger has traditionally been understood to be directed at the Romans. According to the BBC: “Christians were certainly persecuted in Rome and the Emperor Nero blamed them for the devastating fire that destroyed much of Rome in 64CE, but there is no evidence for a systematic persecution of Christians in Asia Minor. Rome was a society that worshipped many gods and goddesses, each with their own temples. In the first century BCE people began to worship the Roman emperors and temples were built in their honour. This was blasphemy to Jews and the early Christians, who believed there was only one God and saw worship of other gods as idolatry. [Source: BBC, August 4, 2009 |::|]

“Academics believe that the development of this Imperial Cult made John angry and the Book of Revelation is a polemic against it and a warning to the Christians not to engage with it. The imagery shows that good triumphs over evil, that faithfulness will be rewarded and justice will be done. |::|

Events in Revelation

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Durer's Dragon with Seven Heads
According to Revelation, the Old Testament prophets and some other passages in the New Testament, the end of the world begins with an event, called the Rapture, in which all faithful Christians are suddenly pulled from the world while non-believers are left behind to face a series of tribulations — including fire, hail and blood falling from the sky; swarms of human-faced locusts that emerge through smoke from a bottomless pit; beasts with six wings and covered by eyeballs; horses with fire-breathing lion’s heads; a lamb with seven horns, vengeful angels dressed in clouds and rainbows — that unfold over a seven year period.

Also during the Tribulations a red dragon with six crowned heads and ten horns chases a woman, the seas turn to blood and everything in them died; cities and nations collapse, islands flee and mountains vanish in a colossal earthquake; birds invited to a huge feast “eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men.” At one point John wrote these events “must shortly come to pass.” Faithful Christians are spared these events because they have been raptured.

During the period of tribulations the world is ruled by the Antichrist, a charismatic but evil leader who makes peace with Israel only to break his word and persecute the Jews. The persecution of the Jews brings the major world powers to the Middle East, where the horrible battle of Armageddon takes places with satanic warriors led by prince named Gog, from a land in the north called Magog.

The battle ends with the return of Jesus and a celestial clash between Jesus and the Antichrist, with Jesus ultimately defeating the forces of evil and ushering in his 1000-year reign of peace and righteousness. After the 1000-year reign, the Last Judgement occur. The faithful are welcomed to heaven, the unrepentant are condemned and “a new city, a new Jerusalem” comes “down out of heaven from God.”

Meaning of Revelation

Much of the imagery — a kingdom of God established on Earth and series of plagues and pestilence — harks back to the Old Testament and was borrowed from the Old Testament prophets Ezekial, Isaiah, Zachariah and Daniel. It also has more parallels what Jews believed would happen during the coming of the Messiah than what Jesus preached about the Kingdom of God inside of us.

Other images from Revelation are believed to be connected with fears and wishes that early Christians had about Rome. Scholars now believe that the 666 was a coded reference to the Roman Emperor Nero, who is regarded as the model for the Antichrist, and that the seven headed beast was a symbol of the first seven Roman emperors.

The word apocalypse comes from Greek word “apo” for "uncovering” or "remove” and literally means “lifting of the veil.” Much of the current scenario of the end of the world is the work, John Nelson Dardy, an evangelical preacher who cobbled together passages from Revelation, the Old Testament prophets and some other passages in the New Testament to create the series of events mentioned above.

Megiddo (five miles southwest of Nazareth in Israel) is the traditional site of Armageddon, where the final battle between good and evil, described in the Book of Revelation, is supposed to take place. It is also the traditional home of one of King Solomon’s three fortified cities. Mentioned eight times in the Bible, Megiddo was a royal city that was founded around 4000 B.C. and abandoned around the 4th century B.C. It is located in the Jezreel Valley (known as the Valley of Mageddon in Book of Zachariah in the Bible) and is believed to have been selected as the site of Armageddon because this valley was the site of many important battles because of its location on a major road between Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Revelation's Influenced Inspired by Roman Curses?

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Binding of the Beast
Tom Metcalfe wrote in Live Science: The cryptic language of the Book of Revelation is deliberately similar to language used in ancient Roman "curse tablets," according to new research. The ongoing work suggests that the Book of Revelation attempted to distinguish the budding religion from the paganism of the Roman Empire at that time by phrasing its message in a familiar form that would have reinforced its ominous message. "My research compiles the evidence of where the curse tablets explain striking features in the Revelation text better than other pre-texts," Michael Hölscher, a researcher in the biblical studies department at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, told Live Science.

Hölscher is conducting a research project into the similarities between the Book of Revelation and Roman curse tablets for Germany's national research agency (DFG). He said a key example from the Book of Revelation is that God is spoken of "binding" and "releasing" Satan. The same terminology is used in Roman curse tablets, which are also known as "defixiones" — Latin for "bindings" — because they often "bind" or compel their victim to perform a certain action. Another example is that Revelation describes enemies with all-inclusive formulas, as curse tablets do: "whether the person is male or female, free or slave … such formulations also occur in the Book of Revelation," Hölscher said. For example, the 13th chapter of Revelation prophesies that a "mark of the beast" will be imposed on "all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave…"

Hölscher said it's not only the phrasing in Revelation that is inspired by Roman curse tablets but also the actions it describes — for example, an angel casts a great stone to destroy Babylon, which is a type of curse ritual. The influence of curse tablets is also evident in verbal elements derived from the practice of curse writing, Hölscher said. For example, figures associated with deities in Revelation often have the names of those deities written on their bodies — the followers of the beast, for example, wear the beast's name or number on their hands or foreheads.

Curse tablets were widespread throughout the Roman world, although they were considered a form of black magic and forbidden by law. They consisted of a curse to harm an enemy — generally as bloodcurdling as possible — usually inscribed on a thin sheet of lead, which was then deposited in a place where only the gods might see it, such as a crack in a wall or in a pagan temple. More than 100 curse tablets have been found in a temple in the English city of Bath, which was a center of healing during the Roman period.

But the similarities between curse tablets and Revelation do not convince all experts. "The proposed links between Roman curse tablets and the phraseology of the Book of Revelation are at best tenuous," Ken Dark, an archaeologist at King's College London who wasn't involved in the study, told Live Science in an email.He noted that even Hölscher admits that no direct quotations from curse tablets have been identified in the Book of Revelation, and "the examples of parallels given so far are, to say the least, debatable."

Second Coming of Jesus

In the Gospels there are references to Christ’s imminent return. Many of his followers thought it would happen soon after hid death. Matthew 24:42-44 reads: “So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is must stand ready because the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Second Coming of Christ

Evangelical Christians today believe that when the Jesus returns he will come down off the Mount of Olives and stride through the Golden Gate into Old City of Jerusalem. Jerry Fallwell told New Yorker believes during the seven-year Tribulation period the Jewish Temple will be rebuilt, Moses and Elijah will appear and be murdered in the streets of Jerusalem before an international television audience and rise from the dead three days later, setting off a global celebration followed by a mass resurrection of the dead. Then a man will appear and say he is Christ (but actually he is the Antichrist) and he will attract many

Christian and Jewish followers, most of whom will die in the struggle between good and evil. Many evangelical Christians believe that three events need to take place for Christ to return and two of these have already occurred: the founding of Israel in 1948 and the restoration of the Jewish people to Jerusalem in 1967, which have fulfilled prophecies in the Bible that point the way to the second coming of Jesus Christ. For them the only prophecy that has not been fulfilled is the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

Some evangelical Christian groups have allied themselves with ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups because both groups want to see Muslims kicked off the Temple Mount and the Jewish Temple rebuilt as a fulfillment of their doomsday prophecies when Christians believe Jesus will return and ultra-Orthodox Jews believe the true Messiah will show up (which Christians believe is the False Messiah that will battle Jesus).

Revelation and End of World Scenarios

Some Christians see Revelation and warnings by the Old Testament prophets Ezekial, Zachariah and Daniel as predictions of the End of the wWorld. They often see certain world events as fulfillment of the prophecies and often weave in the own interpretations. Some Christians, for example, say the Antichrist will rule over a revived Roman Empire, enforce a “false” peace, create a heretical religion and declare himself God.

Doomsday Christians get excited every time a world tragedy happens, believing it’s a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, or an evil dictator comes to power because, believing him to be a possible Antichrist. Over the years Mohammed, Napoleon, Hitler, Saddam Hussein and even Gorbachev have been proposed as Antichrist candidates.

Doomsday scenarios have also been the basis of number of popular films (and many unpopular ones too) and best-selling fiction (and purported non-fiction) books. The “Left Behind” series by Tim LeHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, which describes the events of Revelation as if they were to happened today, starting with people being snatched up to heaven from a plane when the Rapture begins, has sold tens of millions of copies. According to a 2002 Time-CNN poll 59 percent of Americans believe the prophecies of Revelation will come true and 36 percent said the Bible is the word of God and this should be taken literally .

Apocalypse and Christian End of World Fever

End-of-the-world fever fueled by the predications of Revelation and the Old Testament prophets periodically grips groups of Christians. Europe was plunged into a period of end-of-the-world fervor in the 11th century after Jerusalem was captured by Christians during the Crusades. End-of-the-world fever also occurred on the eves of year 1000 and the year 2000.

The latest wave of end-of-the-world fever has been fueled by the reestablishment of Israel as a nation in 1948 and the takeover of Jerusalem by the Israelis in 1967. These events, plus the building of a new Jewish Temple in Jerusalem were predicted by the Bible as occurring before the second coming of Jesus. Some Christian cult members have been even taken insurance polices if certain people disappear during the events leading up to the Second Coming.

sign in the UK

Some evangelical Christians saw the Iraq war as the major war that would spark the end of the world. According to John in Revelation: “The sixth angel poured out his bowl in the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried to prepare the way for the kings from the East.” The kings will then move through the Euphrates Valley in Iraq to Har Megiddo (Armageddon). The Euphrates is mentioned again when the angles blow their trumpets as the Final Judgment nears. Then according to John 9:11 an army of locust is released by Abddon (Hebrew for destroyer, one of the meanings of the name Saddam).

“Millennialism, premillennialism and dispensationalism are all theories of the end of the world. Introduction According to the BBC: “Many Christian Churches are greatly concerned about the ultimate fate of everything in creation. They believe that God has a divine plan for the end of everything. The technical name for the subject of the end-times is eschatology (from the Greek word eschatos which means last). Many of the theories are inspired by the book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible. [Source: BBC |::|]

“Much of the writing and teaching about the end times is apocalyptic, frightening and threatening, and it's important to remember that many mainstream churches do not believe that these teachings should be taken literally. But you can find a popular expression of these theories in the best-selling (over 63 million copies by 2010) Left Behind series of novels, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, which bring the ideas right up to date. |::|

“Some Christians do believe that the end of everything is going to happen soon. But don't panic; throughout recorded history people have believed that the end of the world is about to happen, and it hasn't happened yet.


According to the BBC: “Millennialism is the belief that Christ will rule the earth for a period of 1,000 years (the Millennium), and that this will be a good time when people accept Christ as King. At the end of this time Christ will judge the living and the dead. Modern millennialists are not dedicated to a period of 1000 years - the important idea is that there will be a period during which God's will is actually carried out on earth. [Source: BBC |::|]

“This is a very popular idea. It suggests that the world will be turned upside down and be taken over by the meek - or at least by the good and the righteous - and that this will be a time of peace and justice. It also implies a solution to the problem of evil (i.e. why does an all-good, all-powerful God allow evil to flourish unpunished or corrected) by showing that at the end of time there will be justice for everyone. Evildoers will be punished for their behaviour on earth and the good rewarded, as God balances the scales of justice at the end of time. |::|

“Millennialism comes in different flavours: 1) premillennialism; 2) postmillennialism; 3) amillennialism; 4) dispensationalism - partly a particular form of premillennialism popularised by J N Darby, founder of the Exclusive Brethren. Dispensationalism is also a doctrine of Bible interpretation.


According to the BBC: “Premillennialism is a doctrine particularly popular among Evangelical Protestants in North America. Other premillennial groups include Jehovah's Witnesses, the Exclusive Brethren, and Seventh-day Adventists. It's often mocked as the belief that "the end of the world is nigh". [Source: BBC |::|]

“Premillennialism is a pessimistic view of the world. It says that things are getting steadily worse on earth and will go on deteriorating until God has had enough and takes action in a way that will be catastrophic for humanity. Premillennialists believe the Second Coming of Christ will happen at the start of the Millennium (the 1000 year period when Christ rules the world). Before this period will come a time of destruction, war and disaster on earth, called the tribulation, which will be ended by God defeating evil at the battle of Armageddon. |::|

“Those who follow this doctrine have a very different view of Christ to that held by other Christians. As one church leader (Bob Edgar) put it, "[Premillennialists] see a Messiah who leads an army and kills the bad guys, we see Jesus coming as a man of peace." Although premillennialism is sometimes said to be only 200 years old, it's more like 2000 years old; early Christians held very similar beliefs about the Second Coming. |::|

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons except Rapture, You Tube

Text Sources: Internet Sourcebook ; “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File); “ Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); King James Version of the Bible,; New International Version (NIV) of The Bible,; Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) , Frontline, PBS, Wikipedia, BBC, National Geographic, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Live Science,, Archaeology magazine, Reuters, Associated Press, Business Insider, AFP, Library of Congress, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated March 2024

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