I want to post an overview of each chapter of the Book of Revelation because I think this will help you understand the flow of Revelation as you read through it. This amazing overview was developed by the late Dr. Jack VanImpe who dedicated over 30 years of his life to understanding Revelation. Revelation is for this generation–what a shame most will never read it…

REVELATION 1—An Introduction of the Book of Revelation. Common theme: GOD WAS—GOD IS—GOD WILL BE…

REVELATION 2—Chapters 2 and 3 contain seven letters to the seven literal, local churches mentioned in chapter 1, verse 11. These letters have a number of applications. First, they are seven actual letters to seven actual churches. And, they are messages applicable to all churches in all ages, for the seven churches picture seven periods or stages of church history. In each period, the LORD speaks to the churches in a judgmental way, portraying their failures, then He calls them to repentance and zealousness.
Ephesus: 33 AD to 100 AD: the birth of the church at Pentecost
Smyrna: 100 AD to 312 AD: Probably the most martyred Christians in the world through Roman persecution
Pergamos: 312 AD to 606 AD: Pergamos stems from root from bigamy/polygamy a time when Babylonian religion established headquarters in Pergamos and infiltrated Christianity
Thyatira: 606 AD to 1520 AD: The church constantly rejects the wooing of the HOLY SPIRIT—some believe this church is still in existence today

REVELATION 3—The fifth letter written to the local church in Sardis, is also from the Savior, for Christ has the seven stars in His Right Hand in Chapter 1, V. 16. Again, the Savior begins by commending Sardis for her works—Revelation 3 is an extension of Revelation 2.
Sardis: 1520 AD to Tribulation period: this time period covers Reformation with dead lukewarm churches because entire countries became Protestant but by name and not true sold out faith—extends into period of Laodicea
Philadelphia: 1750 AD to Rapture: although small this church has staying power.
Laodicea: 1900 AD to Tribulation hour: the lukewarm neither hot or cold church

REVELATION 4: Chapter 4 begins the prophetical FUTURE. Remember chapter 1, V. 19: Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter. We see the rapture of the church take place. That text presents three tenses and informed us that the Book of Revelation is written in chronological order: the past—chapter 1: the present—chapters 2 and 3 (the history of the seven churches to the present time); and the future—chapters 4 through 22.

REVELATION 5: Here is an important statement to consider: Bible chapters and verses came into existence 500 years ago. They are not inspired, but greatly assist one in finding texts. Sometimes, however they break the continuity of a study. Such is the case at this point. Because John continues describing the heavenly scene, there should not have been a break between chapters 4 and 5.

REVELATION 6: Chapter six introduces the tribulation hour upon the earth, a word of explanation is in order concerning the placement of signs. Some Christians say, “Matthew 24:14 states that the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all the nations and then shall the end come. Since there are some tribes who have not yet heard, then Jesus Christ cannot return. Such people have their signs in the wrong place, because the rapture is a sign-less, time-less event. What relationship exists between the rapture and prophetic signs? NONE. All the signs are pointing to the Second coming, a different event altogether. Opening of First through Sixth Seals.

REVELATION 7: The Seventh Seal is discussed in Chapter 8. However, before we get there, God has a parenthesis for us in this chapter. Chapter 7 may be divided into two portions dealing with two groups: verses 1-8—the 144,000 Israelites, and verses 9-17—the multitudinous Gentiles. This chapter also portrays God as compassionate, merciful, and loving.

REVELATION 8: This takes us to the opening of the seventh seal. This seal INCLUDES the seven trumpet judgements. They are so terrifying that as they are opened, all the heavenly host becomes silent. Trumpets 1 through 4 are introduced.

REVELATION 9: Chapter 9 contains the lengthy portion of scripture covering the trumpet judgments five and six (remember originally part of the seventh seal).

REVELATION 10: In Chapter 10, we again discover a parenthesis similar to the one in chapter 7. Between the sixth and seventh seal judgments there was a lull before the storm. Now we experience a break between the sixth and seventh trumpet blasts. The study of this parenthetical period continues through Chapter 11, V. 14.

REVELATION 11: Chapter 11 deals with the spiritual life of Israel, while Chapter 12 describes her persecution. Since one needs a place for communication with God, we see that a Temple has been erected. Chapter 11 discusses the two witnesses also. We also find the Seventh Trumpet here.

REVELATION 12: As previously, Chapters 12 through 19 constitute a re-run of the Tribulation hour as presented in Chapters 6 through 11. Thus, at this point we come once again to the “middle of Tribulation”—and to the worst wave of anti-Semitism the world has ever observed. This is truly what Jeremiah had in mind in Chapter 30, V 7. When he said: Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble. Jacob, as one discovers in Roman 11:26, is Israel. A number of great signs and occurrences are witnessed in this chapter: each having to do with the horrendous judgment that is enveloping the earth, including the persecution being directed against Israel. These include a great wonder V 1, a great red dragon V 3, great wrath V 12, and two wings of a great eagle V 14.

REVELATION 13: This Chapter introduces us to two beasts: the first one, commonly known as the Antichrist, is unveiled in V 1 through 10, while the second beast, known as the false prophet is revealed in V 11 through 18. The first beast is political; the second beast is religious. Both, however, are energized by the power of Satan, and thus constitute an unholy trinity—the devil, the Antichrist, and the false prophet. Remember Satan is the great imitator. The incarnation of himself in these two villains is his final attempt to wreak havoc upon the earth. Knowing that his has but a short time left, he makes an all-out effort move to usurp God’s position and authority through his two allies—the beasts.

REVELATION 14: Chapter 14 deals with the seven visions: each complete in itself. They are not presented in chronological order sequence of events, but rather panoramically with details following later. Let me illustrate this point. The pronouncement of doom upon Babylon, for instance, is uttered in V 8. However, the details are presented in Chapter 16, V. 17-21.

REVELATION 15: Chapter 15 is a preparatory portion of scripture. Its eight verses serve as an introduction to the Seven Vial or Bowl judgements described in Chapter 16.

REVELATION 16: Chapter 16’s 21 verses describe the final seven judgements of the Tribulation hour. First through seventh Bowl/Vial judgements are discussed here.

REVELATION 17: Chapter 17 and 18 form another parenthesis. They are expositions of two verses previously discussed. Chapter 17 explains Revelation 14:8 and Chapter 18 expounds Revelation 16:19. In Revelation 14:8 we read: And there followed another angel, saying Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. Likewise in Chapter 16 just concluded we learned that great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath V. 19. As we have already discussed, the Babylon of Chapter 14 is a religious system, whereas the Babylon of Chapter 16 is political. The chapter before us then is the story of the rise and fall of the ecumenical world church.

REVELATION 18: Chapter 18 witnesses the destruction of political Babylon. This Babylon is different from the one discussed already. Chapter 17 concerned religious Babylon, whereas Chapter 18 pictures political or commercial Babylon. Religious Babylon as called “Mystery Babylon” but political Babylon is referred to a “Babylon the Great”. Religious Babylon was presented as a woman or a mother symbolically while commercial Babylon is portrayed symbolically as a city—a great city, a mighty city and eventually a burning city. Religious Babylon was situated on seven hills whereas political Babylon is visible from the sea—see V 17, 18, 21. Religious Babylon is destroyed by the kings of the earth (17:16) but political Babylon will be destroyed by horrendous judgements from the Hand of God. When religious Babylon was destroyed, Kings rejoiced. When political Babylon is demolished, however the Kings and merchants of the earth lament and weep for her Chapter 18:9, 15….

REVELATION 19: Chapter 19 is exhilarating because it begins with a heavenly host singing an alleluia chorus and this is a Hebrew word meaning “praise Jehovah” or “praise the Lord”. Chapter 19 contains the only mention of the term in the NT. Why the celebration?: evil has run its course; the tribulation hour is concluding; Christ is preparing to return with His saints; the armies of the world are about to be demolished; swords will be made into plowshares and spears into pruninghooks (Isa. 2:4) and Christ will soon establish His millennial kingdom upon the earth.

REVELATION 20: Chapter 20 introduces the most beautiful peaceful and rewarding age this world will ever know: the Millennium or the one thousand year reign of the LORD JESUS CHRIST (Isa. 9:6-7)

REVELATION 21: The final two chapters of the Book of Revelation present the glorious future which awaits every believer of all dispensations and ages. The eternal state of both the saved and lost is described in the first eight verses in this chapter. In addition, verses 9 through 27 present a glowing description of the New Jerusalem. The view is absolutely breathtaking. The New Jerusalem is where the Bride is taken to reside at the time of the rapture seen in Chapter 4. We also discuss the passing away of the first heaven and earth occurring at the conclusion of the Great White Throne Judgment that leads to the everlasting lake of fire for the lost.

REVELATION 22: This closing chapter of the Book of Revelation continues our thrilling sightseeing tour of the New Jerusalem and reaffirms the fact that only those who possess the righteousness of Christ are granted admittance and residence. Come LORD Jesus. Maranatha.