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The Four Time Stages of Revelation

Deidre has a Masters in applied linguistics and translation for her 20 years overseas. She's worked as a certified provider of the MBTI®.

There are four stages of time in the book of Revelation. These are represented in the following charts, which include a summary line of the content in each chapter. Christ is the revealer from the outset throughout the book. Once he reveals himself to John, he speaks to the seven churches and opens the scroll to disclose it contents.

Merrill C. Tenney suggests in Interpreting Revelation that Christ also has a particular role in Revelation in four areas:

  1. The church, chapters 1-3
  2. The cosmos, chapters 4-18
  3. In conquest, chapters 19-20
  4. In consummation, chapters 21-22

The simplest way to start a survey of this last book in the New Testament is to not only look at these four areas, but also use the four different ages of time found in the book.

The four basic parts of Revelation


1 – 3

Message for the Church


4 – 19


3.5 - 7 years


Kingdom reign

1,000 years

21 – 22

Eternal state


Church Age Stage

John wrote down these visions near the end of the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian (A.D. 81-96). Emperor Domitian proclaimed himself god and built a magnificently a temple to himself in Ephesus, Asia Minor.

Churches in that area under such an emperor were faced with vicious persecutions and also an onslaught of false teachers, spiritual apathy and immoral living. It was during this time that the emperor had banished John to Patmos Island, 35 miles out in the Aegean Sea.

Chapters 1-3



Christ, the revealer, risen Lord and judge

Prologue & Vision of Christ


The Lord speaks to His church

Message to the Churches

Christ as Lord evaluates His church, in chapters 2-3. The church as a whole, represented by these seven, is given a message from Christ in the form of a letter.

His message addresses the following issues of each church; much of the terms as suggested in this book by Mark Hitchcock.

The seven churches were representative of …The Lord’s message address their …

• Ephesus—lost love

• Commission

• Smyrna—suffering

• Character

• Pergamum—compromising

• Commendation

• Thyatira—permissiveness and tolerance

• Condemnation

• Sardis—spiritual deadness

• Correction

• Philadelphia—faithfulness

• Call

• Laodicea—uselessness

• Commitment

Earth is Harvested – Why do I have HARVESTED in ALL CAPS in the below chart of the overall framework? I look at this in a sequel hub article.

Tribulation Stage

Using the biblical style, John first gives an outline, or overview, and then follows with the details, which eventually come back around to the time-line.

The seals, trumpets and vials, including the central point and details of the Tribulation section, are in the following chapters. (The Outline titles in the right column refer to the chapters of that row and following rows.)

Chapters 4 - 19



God’s throne of judgment

4-5 Preparation


Lamb is worthy to now break the seals



Six seals – Birth pangs and great tribulation

6-11 Worldwide Tribulation (Isaiah 13)


144,000 and the multitude of saints saved



7th seal and trumpets 1-4 – “Day” of Wrath begins



5th and 6th trumpets



Warning: Next is Day of Judgment vision



Jesus’ witnesses martyred, 7th trumpet



Wicked Babylon

12-19 Destruction of Babylon





7 vials – God's full anger



Judgment of Babylon and the Islamic Beast


Seals, Trumpets and Vials

Author Eve Clarity in Seals, Trumpets and Vials Fulfillment Update explains that John describes these revealed events “in an orderly fashion, but some [events] are coupled to others, and some [events] overlap or coincide.” To us it looks like a cyclical writing style, but he used the writing style of Bible.

I at first tried to consider this author's suggestion that the Trumpets and Vials occur in tandem. However, after further study, I have concluded that Revelation makes more sense when the Vials are considered to occur after the Trumpets. I have adjusted my hub articles accordingly.

Four stages of time

Scroll to Continue

Kingdom Reign Stage

God’s victory ushers in His reign on earth as Almighty King through the now married Lamb. (The Lamb’s wife, we who are the bride of Christ, are the victors and in chapter 19 can now wear the pure linen of righteousness.)

This stage of the Kingdom reign is covered in a single chapter—chapter 20. Satan is bound and imprisoned in the bottomless pit for 1,000 years. The saints reign with Christ during this time over His kingdom. Then Satan’s team is judged and thrown into the eternal lake of fire, and the books are opened to judge the dead before a great white throne.

Chapter 20



Satan’s team bound then burns, God’s team wins

Christ’s Kingdom Reign

The imagery of a wedding or honeymoon chamber used in traditional Jewish weddings is discussed in another hub, The Jewish Marriage Analogy in Revelation.

Eternal State Stage

There is a new heaven and earth seen by John, and then one of the angels (who had poured out one of the vials) shows John the bride, the new wife of the Lamb—the holy city, Jerusalem. A new radiant Jerusalem descends from the new heaven, in a way reminiscent of the wedding chamber of a newly married Jewish couple.

The new Jerusalem is about one half the size of the moon and emanates light from within. Eve Clarity in Awake, Bride points out that the size of its base would take up half or even more of any continent. Chapter 21 does not say how far it actually comes down. It says the nations walk by its light, but not that it rests on earth—sounding more like is suspended emanating light.

Chapters 21-22



Heaven, earth and Jerusalem made new

God Renews Everything!


Servants to see God’s face & Christ’s soon coming

Eternal Hope

© 2011 Deidre Shelden


Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on January 24, 2015:

So good to hear from you! Yes, much more has since been and is being revealed. I've been away too, just to keep up with it. Appreciate your encouragement that this hub is still relevant for others.

skye2day from Rocky Mountains on January 23, 2015:

Ms dee Hello precious sista. I have been away from the hubs for a time. I hope to get back soon. I was led to read your hub again. More has been revealed. We have been chosen for a time as this. We are royal priesthood. May God so bring in the souls to read your works for Him. Glory to God. Love you sista. Sending a hug your way. Skye

LosectinWinders on January 22, 2015:

Glory to God the Holy Spirit will reveal more to us. Amen. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. I will visit your other hubs Ms Dee

Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on April 05, 2014:

skye2day, Yes, all things are possible in God! You describe what I still feel. Once I grasp another piece of the puzzle, then there is more to seek understanding of. God and His purposes are so deep and wide, I think there will always be more He will reveal for us to understand. Yes, so many interpretations! You are so right. My hubs are part of my seeking to understand more. Don't hesitate to ask me about anything in them; I may have learned more since and may even see some things differently now.

skye2day from Rocky Mountains on April 05, 2014:

Ms. Dee. Not quite getting it but not to say I am suppose to at the moment in time. More will be revealed to me by the Holy Spirit. Glory to Glory and Faith to Faith. Amen. The seals and vials I have never really understood. It seems I get understanding in bits and pieces.

God has revealed it all to us. He has not left anything uncovered. Seek and we shall find. I have not read any interpretation or heard of one yet that I truly understand. As you well know there are many interpretations out there. Glory to God the Holy Spirit will reveal more to us. Amen. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. I will visit your other hubs Ms Dee.

Love you in Christ Jesus, Skye

Keep going precious child of God. U Will I know it. Phil 4:13

Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on April 05, 2014:

skye2day, So glad to have your comment. Interested in any input you may have. Look forward, dear sister, to your "return". :)

skye2day from Rocky Mountains on April 04, 2014:

Ms Dee Looking over some of your work. Wow. Well done good and faithful servent. I shall return. Love you sister. Skye

Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on January 05, 2013:

Lybrah, Thanks! Hope you find it of some help.

Lybrah on January 05, 2013:

Yeah! Great job!

Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on April 17, 2012:

Yes, Hxprof! I am with you in that I, too, find no Scripture support for a pre-trib rapture. I agree, the great tribulation and the pouring out of God's full anger (Rev 14:10) are not one and the same; the latter following the former. So, what I see Scriptural support for is a pre-full-anger rapture. Ha! In chapter 14, the grain is harvested (the saints still living) and the grapes (the wicked) are gathered to then be "trampled" with the seven vials/bowls of God's full anger.

Hxprof on April 17, 2012:

Ms. Dee-the anonymous comment was written by me when I believed I was signed in. Sorry about that!

anonymous on April 17, 2012:

Well put together Ms. Dee. I too find that John goes back and forth in time describing the events of the Great Tribulation. Chapter six is especially important because, as you point out, it's a broad outline of all that will happen during the GT; this chapter takes us all the way to the begining of God's wrath, which comes just after Christ takes Christians off the earth.

Nick Lucus made an important point in referencing Math. 24, for Christ lays out, not in order, the things of which Revelation speaks. One important area that I disagree with what MOST churches are teaching today is that Christ will rapture His saints before the Day of His return. Oddly, there's no scripture to which we can refer for this pre-trib rapture; yes, there's a number of scripture used by ministers professing this early rapture, but they don't speak directly of such an event.

These scripture are used with the idea that God won't pour out His wrath upon the world while the saints are still in it - that's correct - but the error is in believing that the Great Tribulation is God's wrath; it's not. God's wrath comes after the GT.

Anyway, I'm getting off subject. I apologize. I look forward to reading more of your pieces.

Eddie-Perkins on November 10, 2011:

Very well written! Thank you ~ eddie

Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on October 01, 2011:

Hello Sueswan! Thanks for your feedback--this is good to know. :)

Sueswan on September 30, 2011:

Hi Ms Dee,

A very interesting read. I like the way you have presented the information.

Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on September 28, 2011:

Hi Deb Welch! I'm so glad you found this interesting. Yes, understanding the Bible and communicating it takes work! :)

Deb Welch on September 28, 2011:

Thumbs Up and Interesting. It is hard to read the Holy Bible and put the message into modern day events. This world is so far removed from that period of time and how they thought and saw revelations. Even a descriptive Lake of Fire could be an erupting volcano, or a satellite or space junk hitting Earth. Also where the first church has broken into so many different denominations - it's a guessing game for some today.

Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on September 27, 2011:

LOL wba! :) It certainly does seem John has the gifting that INFPs do, doesn't he! Yes, he was certainly in the Spirit. We are to listen to what the Spirit says to the churches, too, and commanded in chapters 2-3. M.C. Tenney is certainly the Bible scholar. from upstate, NY on September 27, 2011:

Hi Ms Dee- I'm not trying to brag but they say the Apostle John was the closest friend of Jesus and an INFP. One thing is for sure is that John was in the spirit when he received the visions that he wrote on in Revelations and that we need the Holy Spirit to fully understand what God is saying here.

I do believe in the value of the systematic study,that people like Merrill C. Tenney are so good at and God must use him greatly to shine light in these areas of scripture.- Regards and Blessings-WBA

Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on September 27, 2011:

Hi lifegate! Yes! We are to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. He is speaking. We need to stop a listen. :)

Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on September 27, 2011:

Hi SubRon! Good to know you like the short informative style. What version is your SS Bible, by the way? I have some suggestions of versions easier to read.

Hi Nick! It is a challenging one to understand--that's for sure! :) Yes, Matthew 24 and other parts of Scripture are the main keys to sort it out--particularly the O.T. prophesies. There are other verses, even in Matthew, that imply we *are* to understand, like Mat 24:15. (I'm not suggesting though that we can proclaim we know the exact day and year Jesus will return.)

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on September 27, 2011:

Ms Dee,

Thank for a very organized way of looking at Revelation. Unlike Nick, I do believe we can and are supposed to understand the book, and you've given light. Revelation does say many times,"He that hath an ear, let him hear!"

Nick Lucas on September 27, 2011:

Revelations is a difficult “book” to understand and I compliment you for writing on it. When it comes to Revelations and the end times I find Mathew 24 to be the easiest to understand. Mathew 24 contains the part when the Disciples question Jesus directly about the end times. My take is that we can not and are not suppose to understand. With that said, Revelations has always fascinated me. Good Job! Voted up!

James W. Nelson from eastern North Dakota on September 27, 2011:

Very interesting hub, Ms. Dee. I like reading short informational pieces about religion and the Bible. I've attempted reading the Bible that my Sunday School gave me, way back when, a couple times, but I have to read most verses over and over and there enters that "time" issue, so informational pieces like this I like. Thank you

lea86 on September 27, 2011:


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