Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "REVELATION"


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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible


Key thought: "Christ the Coming Victor"
Key to structure of book: 1:19

  1. "The things that thou hast seen": The Patmos Vision 1:1-19
    1. Introduction 1-3
    2. The salutation and setting 4-9
    3. 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.
  2. "The things which are": The Letters to the Seven Churches 1:20-3:22
    1. Explanation of vision and relation to the churches ("MYSTERY") 1:20
    2. The seven churches--viewed historically, morally, and prophetically 2:1-3:22
      All these letters follow the following format, with significant omissions to be noted:
Format of Letters (Omissions)
Commendation (Sardis, Laodicea)
Rebuke (Smyrna, Philadelphia)


CHURCH Literal meaning Period of Church History
EPHESUS "Desirable" The Church in apostolic days 2:1-7
SMYRNA "Myrrh" The Church under imperial persecution 2:8-11
PERGAMUM "Elevation" or "True marriage" (i.e., thoro-union) Church wedded to state by Constantine 2:12-17
THYATIRA "Bruised incense or continual sacrifice" (?) Romish apostasy with believing remnant within; 7th into 16th century 2:18-29
SARDIS "Those escaping" (i.e., remnant) Reformation state churches
PHILADELPHIA "Brotherly love" Great revival and missionary movements, starting 18th century 3:7-13
LAODICEA "Just-people" or "Rights of people" The liberalized church, starting later part of 19th century 3:14-22


  1. "Things which shall be AFTER THESE THINGS" 4-22
      "A DOOR opened in (into) Heaven" (4:1)
      1. The heavenly vision 4-5
        1. The Creator worshipped for His Wisdom and power
        2. 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 (Weymouth).

          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. Phil. 2:9-11).
      2. 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 (Mt. 24:4-10).
        1. 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
        2. Bloody warfare 3-4 (cp. Mt. 24:6-7) Red horse
        3. 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.
        4. 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").
        5. 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).
        6. 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. 13).

          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 (v.3).
      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).

      1. The seventh seal is composed of seven trumpets: First six trumpets 8-9
        1. 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.
        2. Six trumpets 8:7-9:21
          1. Destruction of vegetation 8:7
          2. Destruction of sea life and ships 8:8-9
          3. Contamination of fountains of water 8:10-11 (cp. radioactivity)
          4. Celestial signs: announcement of three woes 8:12-13
          5. First woe: apostasies sent from pit by Satan to torture men 9:1-12
          6. 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.)
            1. 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).
            2. Jerusalem soon to be delivered, but rejects two witnesses 11:1-12
              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; 24:4).

              The two witnesses are resurrected and ascension to show heaven's approbation given the honor of a special of them (vv.11-13).
            3. Second woe: judgment on city for slaying the two witnesses 11:13-14
      2. 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.
    2. Review with many added details affecting Israel 11:19-22:5
      1. "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 (Christ).
        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 expositor.

        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.
        1. a. The seven great actors for good and evil in the Tribulation 11:19-13:18
          1. The Pained Woman: Israel (in historical retrospect) 11:19-12:2
          2. The Red Dragon: Satan 12:3-4
          3. The Man-Child: Christ 12:5-6
          4. The Archangel: Michael 12:7-12
          5. The Pursued Woman: Israel (in prophetic prospect) 12:13-17
          6. The Beast out of the sea (of nations): Roman political ruler 13:1-10
          7. 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?
        2. PARENTHESIS: A vision to hearten suffering Jewish remnant 14:1-15:4
          1. Prophetic announcement that the 144,000 will .share millennial blessing with the Lamb 14:1-5
          2. The everlasting gospel: "Bow to creation's God!" 14:6-7
            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.
          3. Pre-announcement of Babylon's fall (cp. 16:19; 17 & 18) 14:8
          4. Doom is coming on remnant's persecutors (beast worshippers) 14:9-11
          5. 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.
          6. The harvest: Discriminating judgment (Mt. 13:36-43) 14:14-16
          7. The vintage: Unsparing wrath on apostate Israel 14:17-20
          8. Martyred remnant's praise for righteous judgments about to begin 15:1-4
      2. "Temple of the tabernacle of the testimony OPENED" 15:5-1
        But judgment--not grace--proceeds from the Holy of Holies
        1. 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. (1) Agony of beast worshippers 2
          2. (2) Destruction of sea life and sailors 3
          3. (3) Contamination of fountains of water 4-7
          4. (4) Celestial signs S-9
          5. (5) Moral darkness and despairing, yet unrepentant, anguish 10-11
          6. (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. (7) Tremendous final judgment--especially on "Babylon" (Rome) 17-21

        PARENTHESIS: The final career and fall of "Babylon" (Rome) 17:1-19:10
        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 Los Angeles.)

        1. The FALSE bride's career and doom 17-18
          1. The harlot described 17:1-6
          2. The mystery of "Babylon" and "Beast" explained 17:7-18
          3. Dirge over mystical "Babylon's" destruction 18
        2. The TRUE bride's praise for righteous judgment
        3. The TRUE bride's exaltation in marriage to
      3. "Heaven OPENED" -- Christ's return and subsequent events 19:11-21:8
        1. Coming of the King of kings in power and great glory! 19:11-16
        2. Armageddon ("hill of slaughter"). Beasts and allies overthrown 19:17-19
        3. Beast and false prophet cast alive into Lake of Fire 19:20
        4. Kings and armies slain: "The great supper of God" 19:21
        5. Satan bound: Kept in abyss during 1000 year kingdom reign 20:1-3
        6. Completion of first resurrection: OT and tribulation saints 20:4-6 (Church has been raised at Rapture or Translation.)
        7. Judgments preparatory to the kingdom reign 20:4
          These are not specified but they would include:
          1. OT saints who are resurrected
          2. Tribulation saints who are resurrected
          3. Living Israel (rebels purged out, righteous enter kingdom)
          4. Living Gentiles ("sheep" admitted to kingdom; "goats "-wicked-slain and excluded; Mt. 25:31-45)
        8. The reign of the redeemed with Christ during 1000 years 20:4-6
          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.
        9. 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.
        10. 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).
        11. The purgation (by fire) of the present earth and heavens 20:11 With the provision of new heavens and earth (2 Pet. 2:12-13;
          Rev. 21:1;Isa. 65:17; 66:22).
        12. Second (final) resurrection 20:11,13
          These are the wicked dead of all ages, raised after the 1000 years (20:5).
        13. Great White Throne Judgment: Verdict—the second death 20:11-14
        14. Eternal state of the lost: Lake of Fire 20:15
        15. Eternal state of the saved: New heavens and earth 21:1-8
      4. 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:
        1. 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).
        2. "Kings of the earth bring their glory into" the New Jerusalem (21:24).
          There is entrance and exit, going back and forth between the New Jerusalem and earth (21:24-27).
        3. "The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations" (22:2).
          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).
    3. Epilogue 22:6-21
      1. The angel delivers the LAST message from Jesus to John 22:6-19
        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 ... "
      2. The LAST promise of the Bible 22:20a
      3. The LAST prayer of the Bible 22:20b
      4. The LAST provision of the Bible 22:21


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