New Testament Survey: Acts-Revelation - Lesson 31

Revelation (Part 3)

Main ideas in Revelation chapters 6-13.

Thomas Schreiner
New Testament Survey: Acts-Revelation
Lesson 31
Watching Now
Revelation (Part 3)

IV. The Seven Seals 6:1-8:5 (cont)

V. The Seven Trumpets 8:6-11:19

VI. Signs in heaven and earth 12:1-14:20

  • Acts is a continuation of the gospel of Luke, which is a historical account of the life and ministry of Jesus. Acts begins with the 40 days that Jesus was on earth after his resurrection, and continues with his ascension and the work of the Holy Spirit in the early church.

  • Dr. Schreiner was not able to record this lecture for the class, but he provided a transcript that we were able to read to create an audio recording. 

    Acts Chapter 1 is an account of Pentecost and the first times the apostles proclaim gospel publicly.

  • The kerygma is the proclamation of the gospel to nonbelievers. The first presentations were made to people who were familiar with the teachings of the Old Testament. (Begins on page 6 of the outline)

  • The kerygma is the proclamation of the gospel to nonbelievers. The first presentations were made to people who were familiar with the teachings of the Old Testament. Steven’s speech and Paul’s conversion are significant events.  (Begins on page 6 of the outline under Acts: Outline Summary, point I, F.) (43:40)

  • Description of the expansion of the gospel to the gentiles.

  • Beginning in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, Paul calls us to watch for the second coming of Jesus by being aware that there will be a great falling away from the faith in the body of Christ and the Lawless One will appear. When God calls us, his calling creates life. (43:16)

  • God chose not the wise, powerful or noble, but the foolish, weak and despised so that we would know that our relationship with God is based on what Christ did, not what we do. Paul boasts in the power of God, not the wisdom or eloquence of his arguments. The only way we know about God is when the Spirit reveals him to us.

  • The core problem of the Corinthians is pride. God turns everything for our benefit, even things that cause pain or death. The fight of faith is to believe this, even when circumstances are difficult. Only God can judge a person’s relationship to God. (43:36)

  • It’s better to be cheated than to take a fellow believer to court. If you are a fully devoted follower of Christ, your behavior will show it. (44:35)

  • Paul believes in cultural flexibility and contextualization. Paul uses the example of a race as a picture of be motivated to live well. He is saved and needs to live in a way to be saved. Whether or not to eat meat offered to idols is still a significant issue in some cultures. (41:23)


  • Audio content is missing at this time for 1 Corinthians chapters 12-16, 2 Corinthians and Romans chapter 1.

    However, a transcription and outline for this material is provided.  

  • The first of a three-part overview of Paul's epistle to the Romans.
  • Romans 4 tells us what kind of faith Abraham had that was saving faith. You are not saved by working for God, but by believing in God. Hope is confident, sure expectation. Paul’s main rhetorical question is, “Can the law transform us?” His implied answer is "no!" (43:03)

  • The law doesn’t give life because commands don’t transform us. Romans 8 says we need the Spirit to transform us. The witness of the Spirit that we are his children is a mystical sense and evidence of our obedience. Paul says all the promises for relationship to God are for the gentiles as well as the Jews. God is in charge of everything. (44:25)

  • Christ is the very image of the invisible God. He partakes of his essence. Jesus is preeminent, because he’s God and he’s the reconciler of all things. Jesus is Lord of Creation and Lord of the Church. Paul calls the Philippians to unity. (46:43)

  • Summary of main themes in Ephesians. The first three chapters communicate who and what we are in Christ. Chapters 4-6 is the practical outworking. Paul equates maturity with doctrinal purity and stability, not being swayed by every idea. The Christian life isn’t mathematical because it’s a relationship with the Spirit. (43:54)

  • Your view of authorship of biblical documents and how you translate those documents depends quite a bit on your presuppositions. Some people think that because of the vocabulary and the way some subjects are addressed in the Pastoral epistles that Paul did not write them. However, others are convinced that Paul wrote them and offer responses to objections that others have raised. (42:24) This lecture was given by a teaching assistant of Dr. Schreiner's because he had planned to be out of town.

  • God wants to work in our hearts so we are full of love for him and others. Paul gives his testimony as an example that anyone can be saved. God desires to save all, and he elects some. Elders are described as people of character who lead and teach. In Titus, the ethical exhortations are anchored in the gospel. In 2 Timothy, Paul calls on Timothy to suffer for the gospel.

  • We should think of Hebrews as a sermon. The warning passages are exhortations following theological teaching. It was probably not written by Paul. The book was written to Hebrew Christians to warn them against committing apostasy.

  • Christ is more important than Moses. Warning passages encourage us not to drift away or harden our hearts. Since Jesus was fully human, he experienced the full range of temptation, but never gave in. (43:55)

  • The main points in the book of Hebrews beginning with chapter 6. Jesus was a priest in the order of Melchizedek because he was superior to the Levites. Christ’s sacrifice is better than the animal sacrifices because it is once for all. The sacrifices are good because they are a shadow and an image of what is coming, but the sacrifices are temporary and imperfect. (43:55)

  • The author of Hebrews concludes by exhorting people to put into practice the theological truths he has just explained.

  • Defining questions about the content and origin of the epistle of James. (43:01)

  • Summary of the teaching of James on justification and wisdom. (41:58)

  • Peter’s call to look forward to our future inheritance and live as God’s people. (42:35)

  • Flow assignment 1 Peter 2:18-25

    Peter calls followers of Jesus to persevere by responding to suffering in a godly way. (44:48)

  • Concluding verses in 1 Peter and the epistle of 1 John. The purpose of John’s epistles is to give people assurance of their faith.

  • God has given us everything we need for life and godliness.

  • The purpose of Revelation is to encourage suffering saints. (44:47)

  • This lecture was cut short because of technical difficulties during the recording. The audio covers point III. Visions of God, points A and B, beginning with Revelation chapter 4. The next lecture begins at point IV. The Seven Seals, point D.

  • Main ideas in Revelation chapters 6-13.

  • Summary of the last days of judgment and then the creation of the new heavens and new earth. The time for this lecture was shortened to give students time to complete an in-class evaluation. (30:15)

A study of the Acts to Revelation in the framework of the history of the early church. We are missing a few lectures that we hope to record the next time Dr. Schreiner teaches the class. These include lecture numbers 2 and 11, the lecture covering Acts chapters 16-22 and 1 Thessalonians, and the lecture covering Revelation chapter 6.

You may download Dr. Schreiner's complete course outline By clicking on the Resource link and then the Class Outline link. An outline for each lecture displays when you click on the Outline tab on each lecture page.

Dr. Schreiner has developed a system for exegesis. The "Flow and Tracing" handout gives you some information about how he does it. Some lectures include audio of Dr. Schreiner applying this method to specific passages. Dr. Schreiner recommends that you read the chapter in his book, "Interpreting the Pauline Epistles" along with this handout before you try this process.

Dr. Thomas Schreiner
New Testament Survey: Acts-Revelation
Revelation (Part 3)
Lesson Transcript


This is the 31st lecture in the online series of lectures on New Testament Survey by Dr Thomas Schreiner. Recommended Reading includes: Article on Divorce and Remarriage – Craig Blomberg, Trinity Journal, 1990; The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross by Leon Morris; Are there Two Will in God by John Piper; Two views on Women in Ministry by James Beck and Craig Blomberg; Word Bible Commentary: Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46, by William D. Mounce and Recovering Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood, by Wayne Gudem and John Piper (article by Vern Poythress entitled, ‘The Church as a Family’)

IV. The Seven Seals 6:1-8:5 (continued)

We are in the middle of chapter 7. I ended the last lecture by saying that I think the 144,000 was the church throughout history; those who were sealed and spared from the wrath of the Lamp. They are protected by God himself. I think this refers to all of us. Then in verses 9-14 of chapter 7, we see this great multitude. This multitude and the 144,000 are the same entity in my view. It is the same group being from every tribe and nation and people and tongue. They are standing before the throne and before the lamp in heaven I believe in this vision. They are in God’s presence and clothed in white robes because they stand before God. They have palm branches in their hands because they are rejoicing and they are crying out, ‘salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ This is another statement about the deity of Christ. Salvation belongs to our God and to our lamp and so this is the deity of Christ. The angels, the four living creatures and the elders are together; maybe another hint that those elders are angels because they have the multitude, angels, living creatures and the elders there. They are worshiping God which is what Revelation is all about. They are saying, ‘Amen! Blessings and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever!’

Will we be praising God is heaven? Yes, I believe we will. This will not be boring; it will be beautiful and lovely to stand before God in praise forever. In verse 13, one of the elders addressed John asking those who were clothed in white robes and where did they come from. They came out of the great tribulation and I believe this relates to the situation in John’s day. I don’t just take this to refer to the end of history. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; this is the Gospel in Revelation. This is the centrality of the Cross of Christ. It is due to the cleansing blood of the Lamb that people are allowed in the throne room of God. Verse 15, therefore they are before the throne of God in heaven. These verses are apocalyptic language in regards to a temple in heaven. Remember now that in chapter 21, we are told that there is no temple in heaven. They are in God’s presence. This matches what we will see in Revelation 21 when we talk about the New Heavens and New Earth. They will neither hunger nor thirst anymore, nor will they suffer from the heat. Verse 17, ‘For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ This is what is going to happen in heaven. So those who are sealed by God will be able to stand at the end times. Their destiny is to stand in the presence of God.

We now come to chapter 8 and the unleashing of the 7th seal. I would argue that this is a literary device; this unleashing. John could have ended the book at this point because the saints are in heaven and it seems to be all finished. The literary device is saying that he wants to tell us more; the introduction to the seven trumpets. As he opens the seal, there is a silence in heaven. When there is silence in heaven, it is usually before a great judgement. The seven trumpets are given to the angels and they are standing at the altar of incense which is a representation of the prayers of the saints. The judgement that will be poured out on earth is the answer to God’s people praying. God’s people have been praying all through history for God to bring in his kingdom. Of course God has been answering those prayers throughout history but there will be a consummation. So when the angel takes the censor in verse 5 and throws it on the earth resulting in thunder and lightning and earthquakes; God will answer to his people. Now the Trumpets are blown.

V. The Seven Trumpets 8:6-11:19

So what are the first four trumpets? For the first trumpet, a third of the earth was burned and a third of the trees were burned along with the grass. Then for the second trumpet a third of the sea becomes blood. For the third trumpets a third of the living creatures in the sea die along with a third of the ships. Finally, for the fourth trumpet, the sun, moon and stars were darkened. In everyone, it is a third. These are interpreted in different ways and you have to look at the commentaries and different interpretive views to see what other people think. My own opinion is that these judgements don’t refer to a seven year tribulation period at the end of history, however most likely most evangelicals do. I understand that these are the kind of judgements that are typical of world history. So throughout world history there are significant judgements taking place on the earth. I don’t take these thirds as literal. Some of these points are a way of describing different kinds of devastation. As I have mentioned, I take Revelation to be apocalyptic literature.

In regards to chapter 9 and the fifth trumpet, a star falls to earth and a key is given to the bottomless pit which is opened with smoke coming out of it. The Old Testament background for this is Joel 1 and 2 for these locusts which are different beings, like scorpions going after people that don’t have the seal of God on their foreheads. Their tails provide them with power to hurt people who are tortured for five months so much so that they want to die. These locusts were like horses prepared for battle with heads like golden crowns and human faces with hair like a women and teeth like a lion. They had breastplates like iron and their wings made a noise like that of chariots and horses rushing into battle. Their king was Apollyon. I believe that these things are symbolic, not literal. Their king is demonic and thus this is a way of talking about demonic forces. I don’t believe the five months to be literal either. If you take Revelation literally, your interpretation will be very different than what I believe it to be. So I understand this to relate to demonic influence on earth and I think this is a psychological torment of godless people. Life is so miserable that they wish they were dead. But I have to say that it is difficult to interpret apocalyptic literature. There are clues that indicate that it isn’t a literal fulfillment.

For the sixth trumpet there is a voice commanding the release of the four angels who are bound up at the great river Euphrates. These are released to kill a third of mankind. I don’t think that this is the army of China as some would believe. I think that these are unusual creatures that will kill many using demonic powers. The twentieth century fits into this but then again perhaps all of history fits into this. Even today, huge amounts of people are being slain around the world surly through demonic rulers. We have seen Stalin, Hitler, Polpot and it continues in the Middle East, Africa, etc. The people that have been killed are staggering and beyond our ability to grasp. I have no problem in saying that this has been taking place all through history. Of course believers see this and it should open the eyes of nonbelievers. Many unbelievers are spared but the remaining people did not repent but continued in worshipping demons and idols and murdering and sexual immorality and thefts. Seeing this, we see that there is a judgement and consequence for sin.

So we want to look now at the significance of chapters 10 and 11. It seems to be an interlude. So there is a mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud. He has a rainbow over his head and his face is like the sun and his legs are like pillars of fire. He has a scroll in his hand placing his right foot on the sea and left foot on the land. He dominates the world so to speak. He is like a lion roaring and then the seven thunders sounded. He was told not to write it down so it seems there are things that are about to happen that will be hidden from us and will be revealed as it happens. So the angel says when that seventh trumpet sounds, history finishes. Meanwhile, John is to eat this scroll which reminds us of Ezekiel where Ezekiel is told to eat a scroll in chapters 2 and 3. Being the Word of God, it is sweet but being judgement, it is bitter.

Chapter 11 is like much of the rest of Revelation, a controversial chapter. I have changed my mind over the years of what it might mean. So he was given a measuring rod and was told to rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there. I don’t believe that this refers to a literal temple but many do think it to mean a literal temple. I believe the temple refers to the church here as per usual New Testament teaching. Measuring means that they will be protected by God but they will be persecuted by unbelievers during these forty two months. So God will protect his people but that doesn’t mean that they will not be mistreated. Many people take this to refer to the last three and a half years of the tribulation where persecution gets so intense. With seven being the perfect number, three and a half is not the perfect number. I think this might refer to the cross to the resurrection. So in my estimation, we are living in those forty two months now and will have been since the Cross. So since the Cross and Resurrection, the church has been persecuted. So this relates as well to the first readers and it does today. So we see that God is protecting us but Christians are being persecuted and it’s tough to be a Christian and we may be put to death because of who we are as have previous martyrs. So now we have the two witnesses who are to prophesy during this time. There have been guesses as to who these two witnesses are and I think this refers to the Church. We are the two witnesses. The background is from Zechariah chapter 4 with the King and the Priest of which we have become kings and priests. Again, this is symbolic language he is using. So the church will be witnessing between the Cross and the second coming. We will be proclaiming God’s Word to the world.

In verse 7, when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt where their Lord was crucified. The beast in John’s day was the Roman Empire and it was killing the saints, the witnesses and unbelievers are happy about this and are sending gifts to one another. But for today, I don’t think we can point to any particular country or empire but there are and have been governments that fit the spirit of the anti-Christ, clearly Stalinists Russia and Maoist China and many Islamic countries. Unbelievers hate the people of God and we know there is a great war going on in our own country and even this country could turn out to be the anti-Christ.

Ultimately the church will be vindicated and raised from the dead. So the church is bearing witness during this time from the Cross and the second coming. In verse 15, we have the seventh trumpet with sound of voices in heaven. The twenty four elders fell on their faces and worshiped God. So it is over and the kingdoms of the world have become the kingdom of God. We could end the Book of Revelation right here. But Revelation is not in chronological order; it seems to recapitulate over and over again. I think he is seeing what he tells us he saw.

VI. Signs in Heaven and Earth 12:1-14:20

In chapter 12 through 14, we have these signs in heaven and on earth. The woman gives birth to this child and I believe that the woman represents God’s people but there is a lot of debate over this point. The child is Jesus and is also an opponent, a dragon. And of course everyone says that the dragon is symbolic, representing the devil. The seven heads and ten horns with seven diadems is a symbolic description. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. I can only guest that this means Satan’s domination of earthly powers. The dragon wants to destroy the woman’s son. He wants to destroy the Messiah for he knows that this is the person that can destroy him. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to this throne. So the devil lost as Jesus was caught up to God and his throne. The woman is related to Israel by some but I think that this again refers to God’s protection of his people where it says that she was to be nourished for three and a half years.

We see that there was war in heaven in verse 7. This is where Michael and his angels are fighting the dragon and his angels, and we see that the dragon was defeated and then thrown down along with his angels to earth. Was this a pre-fall battle? I understand that it happened at the Cross of Christ because the central point of history is the Cross. So Michael won the battle because of Jesus Christ and the Cross. So he was defeated and now on earth he goes after the woman who is the church. The woman and the seed are the same entity. The wings of an eagle that the woman uses to escape refer back to Exodus and God’s protection of his people and she is to be nourished for three and a half years which again represents the time from the Cross to the second coming. It would really be difficult to take these verses literally. Again, I think this is saying that Satan will try to destroy the church during this time, but God will protect the church however there will be persecution. Satan will do and is doing everything he can to destroy the church. This is what he is saying to suffering believers; God is with you.

Satan then calls up out of the sea a beast in chapter 13. Now remember, I don’t think this is chorological; it is apocalyptic. This is a way of looking at the battle; Satan is going to get help now. The ten horns and seven heads and diadems, I believe to be the Roman Empire. These are countries and institutions that want to restrict the preaching of the Gospel, then and now. Most countries around the world are putting more and more restrictions on preaching the Gospel: Islamic countries, China, Russia, Europe, Israel, even America. This comes from the spirit of the beast. We see again from Daniel 7 speaking of these empires as beasts with these kingdoms having these different animal characteristics. So the beast here is the fourth beast of Daniel 7 with its feet like a bear, its mouth like a lion; but with an image of a leopard. These animals are ravishing and ferocious and destructive. I am not sure about the head with the wound, but the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. This point is very unclear. People worship the dragon and that is what Satan wants. They worship the empire sort of speaking and what it represents. The beast is blasphemous against God and those in heaven and he is killing the saints and persecuting believers. Now is verse 8, the earth dwellers (non-Christians) worshipped the beast. This represented everyone whose name is not written in the book of life of the Lamb. In verse 10, we are to be ready; we need to endure and have faith in God. We will not necessarily be delivered from the persecution and you may even be put to death. You are not to be surprised by this.

Then there is the false prophet who has two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. He does signs and miracles and wonders to get people to worship the beast. And if you don’t worship the beast you will be economically persecuted. So what about the 666? There have been so many guesses as to what this is all about. I just think it means that this kingdom is demonic; it is not the perfect number. I don’t see any more than that in it.