In this article, we are going to lay out the chronology of the book of Revelation. This is easier said than done because some of the content overlaps from one chapter to the next. You might find content in one chapter actually occurring before something in a following chapter.
Revelation is similar to the book of Daniel in that it is not exactly in chronological order either (see The Chronology of Daniel). But God has given a beautiful order to the book, and we hope you see that through the charts we provide.
As always, be sure to have your Bible open as you read through our articles. While studying Revelation and striving to grasp the timing of things, let us not forget the main point of the book – The Revelation of Jesus Christ! May God bless you in the reading!
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Important Term: Interlude – An intervening period or event within the flow of the text. Can be historic, present or future.
Table of Contents
→ Revelation Timeline Overlay
→ Jesus, Lord of His Church – Revelation 1-5
→ Seals – Revelation 6:1-8:1
→ Trumpets – Revelation 8:2-11:19
→ Satan – Revelation 12
→ Beasts – Revelation 13-14
→ Bowls – Revelation 15-16
→ Babylon – Revelation 17-18
→ Jesus, Eternal King – Revelation 19-22
Revelation Timeline Overlay
There are parts of Revelation that are in chronological order. Chapters 1-5, as well as the last four chapters (19-22) are in chronological order. But the middle chapters, 6-18, are not. The middle chapters have six separate themes, each with their own timeline. You can see this in the chart below.
Though there are several different themes, each contributes to one big picture. That is, the rebellion of Satan/man, God’s sealing His own people and His final salvation in their perseverance, as well as the display of God’s glory and sovereignty in the midst of His great judgments!
Before we continue, remember that in 5 Reasons Why Revelation is Hard to Understand we discuss how Revelation:
- Uses symbols
- Includes past, present, and future events
- Can be connected to other texts, but not always
- Is a montage of events
- Is not necessarily specific as to the exact time or relative timing of all events
Revelation contains many symbols – each for the purpose of revealing truth! We must be careful to maintain each symbol and its details within their own particular context. When we piece each symbol together, we will “get” the big picture! We still may not understand every detail, and that is ok. We might not understand until they actually happen.
Jesus, Lord of His Church – Revelation 1-5
Helpful information: The ancients used Scrolls for information. They could be used as books. The Seven Seals held the book from being opened. The content of the actual Scroll is what we find in the rest of the book of Revelation. It is the destined plan and purpose of God in both salvation and judgment through Christ for time and eternity for mankind!
When Was Revelation Written?
Is the Rapture of the Church Found in Revelation 4?
Seals – Revelation 6:1-8:1
For further study of Revelation 6:1-8:1, see:
Who Are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?
Trumpets – Revelation 8:2-11:19
These trumpets are the warning signs that the “day of the Lord” (a short period of time of God’s judgments) is already present upon the earth. The day (single day) of the Lord will soon happen! The first four trumpets emphasize the beginning destructions of the planet with resulting deaths, whereas the final three (called woes) emphasize the incredible increase of pains upon mankind in relation to the judgments. But God has carefully measured out both His protection of His own as well as the extent of His judgments. He sends two witnesses who prophesy! A question arises in the text: Where is the specific statement regarding the third woe? (Can you find it?) We give what we believe to be the answer.
Satan – Revelation 12
Beasts – Revelation 13-14
Overview: This particular timeline/overlay is the first and most dramatic and specific reference we have of the connection of the book of Revelation with the Old Testament book of Daniel! The First Beast is the Central Player, the Apex, of man’s rebellion against God. This Beast is a final representative of all the beasts before it with its Seven Heads, and it also has Ten Horns. The Seventh Head (who is also an Eighth) is the Man of Lawlessness, the Antichrist. The Second Beast, the False Prophet, is the Chief Promotion and Implementation Officer of the First Beast. His workings are powerful signs to bring about allegiance to the Ten Horns via a Mark and worship of the Image and the Antichrist. God allows the Beast System to be empowered by Satan himself. However, their kingdom is short-lived from the perspective of their citizens as we get our first glimpse of those who worship the Beast meeting their death by God’s wrath. This particular aspect of the final fallen world system has a doom pronounced upon it: Fallen, Fallen is Babylon the Great! In the midst of all of this, God preserves a select remnant of His own choosing, the 144,000, and has His angels preach an eternal gospel calling people to fear God!
Bowls – Revelation 15-16
Overview: Just before God pours forth the seven bowls, there is worship of God in heaven for His righteous justice. The bowls are the climax of God’s judgments upon the earth just before the mystery of God is finished, ie. Christ’s second coming. The first six bowls are devastating events brought upon people due to their sin. Then, the world is gathered together for the Battle of Armageddon. The seventh bowl is dramatic and cataclysmic events that signal the extreme nearness of the end of the age.
For further study of Revelation 15-16, see:
What are the Trumpets and Bowls of Revelation?
Babylon – Revelation 17-18
Overview: We are shown the Great Harlot and get our second look at the First Beast of Revelation 13. She is sitting upon this Beast as the final False Corporate Religion of the fallen world system, called Babylon. Both her and the Beast have a history depicted. The Beast allows her to ride upon him until he has no further use for her. Her headquarters are identified as Rome. We are next introduced to another Woman. She is depicted as a “Queen City” from which all of the earth’s idolaters have gotten rich. She is “Sensual Babylon” and she meets her doom in a single day by the hand of God. The world observes this destruction and is in anguish because of their loss.
Jesus, Eternal King – Revelation 19-22
For More on the Book of Revelation & End Times
Five Reasons Why Revelation is Hard to Understand
When was the Book of Revelation Written?
The Beast from the Sea Part 1 – Seven Heads
The Beast from the Sea Part 2 – Ten Horns
End Time Events: A Brief Overview
War on Israel – Ezekiel 38
The Church’s New Agenda
Will Christians Know Who the Antichrist Will Be?