Revelation As A War Manual Outline

By Phillip G. Kayser · Revelation 1-22B · 2018-11-4

Revelation as a War Manual for Christians

One of the many purposes of Revelation is to give God’s people a manual for spiritual warfare. Though there are clear examples of resistance to humans, ultimately this book shows that our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with Satan and his hosts. Satan seeks to capture churches (2:9; 3:9) and territories (2:13). He is the one who moves Herod (12), Nero (13:2), Israel (13:11) and local authorities (2:10) to persecute Christians. He resists everything God stands for, sometimes with frontal asaults (2:10,13; etc.) and sometimes with deceit (2:20; 13:14; 20:8,10; etc.). He especially seeks to destroy the impact of God’s Word (1:9; 3:8; 6:9) through heresy (2:14,15,20), immorality (2:20-22), idolatry (2:14,20), materialism (2:14; 3:17-18), lukewarmness (3:14-22), etc. Satan imitates God by seeking worship (9:20; 13:4,8,12,15; 14:9,11; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4), raising up false prophets (2:20; 16:13; 19:20; 20:10), performing signs, wonders and miracles (13:13,14; 16:14; 19:20) and seeking sacrifices (2:14,20). Satan’s work in the world is sometimes obvious - as in the case of sorcery (9:21; 18:23; 21:8; 22:15) and sometimes is not so obvious - as in the cases of church or government opposition (Rev. 3:9-10,13,20-24; 12). But Revelation is written to encourage us that Satan is a defeated enemy (12:10-11) and that over time he and all his demons will be bound (20:2,7 with 9:1-21). The chief tools in opposing the demonic world are the blood of Christ (1:5; 5:9; 7:14; 12:11; 20:4), the Word of God (12:11; 19:13) and the name of Christ (2:17; 3:12; 14:1; 19:13,16; 22:4). The power of these weapons is unleashed through prayer (5:8; 6:9-11; 8:3,4; etc.), through praise and worship (4:8,11; etc.) and through our testimony or verbal use of the Word (1:9; 6:9; 11:7; 12:11,17; 17:6; 19:10; 20:4; etc.).
A brief word about the method of this outline. It is clear that Christ functions as a prophet, priest and king throughout the book. We will save our discussion of Christ’s work for our verse by verse exposition. However, this outline is designed to show how we share in everything Christ does in this book because we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies. His warfare is also our warfare. Christ has chosen to advance His cause through His people. Thus we will look at our strategies under the headings of prophet, priest and king. The details of our strategies for spiritual warfare will be filled in during the lectures.

Our kingly activities

Because Christ rules (1:5; 2:27; 3:14; 11:15,17; 12:5; 19:15; 20:6), those who are united with Christ are also called kings (1:6; 5:10), have been given kingly “authority” over the nations (2:26-28), reign with Him (2:26-27; 5:10; 20:4,6; 22:5) and wear crowns (2:10; 3:11; cf. 4:4). Throughout the book there are many characteristics of God’s people such as self-control, perseverance, boldness, patience, overcoming, etc that are associated with their kingship (cf. 2:2-3,7,10,11,17,26-28; 3:5,7,9,10,11,12,21; 4:4; 13:10; 21:7)

Representing Christ's kingship with the state

The 144,000 Jewish remnant (7:1-8) were "overcomers" (12:10-12) engaging in a tactical flight in order to regroup (12:13-17) and conquer the nations with the Gospel (14:1-5,14-16). At every point they obeyed Christ even when it came into conflict with man.

From AD 70-73 the Christians that refused to be tattooed with the mark of the beast and refused to worship His image (13:15-17)

“overcome” state resistance to the gospel (17:14; 2:13,17; 15:2)

flee from a state’s oversight (12:6,14)

distinguish between a state functioning as a “minister of God” and a state that acts like a “beast” in character (11:7; 13:1,2,3,4,5,8,11,23, 14,15,17,18; 14:9,11;15:2; 16:2,10,13; 17:3,7,8,11,12,13,16,17; 19:19; 19:20; 20:4; 20:10). Because we have the Word, we have that authority.

Trust that God is in control of whether we are captured and killed or whether we are protected (6:9-11; 7:1-8; etc.). We are invincible until it is God’s purpose for us to go.

But this book resists anarchy as much as it does tyranny (8-11)

Representing Christ's kingship in the church

a responsibility to test those in the church claiming to be apostles (2:2)

a refusal to bear with those in the church who are evil (2:2); opposition to immorality in the church (2:6,14-15,20-23)

a willingness to name apostate churches and oppose them (2:9; 3:9)

Refusing to tolerate or “allow” false prophets or prophetesses (2:14-15,20)

Standing boldly for the truth even with the threat of imprisonment (2:10) or death (2:13).

Leaving false churches (11:1; 18:4; 2:9; 3:7-9)

Being unmoved by excommunication from an apostate church (3:7-12)

Representing Christ's kingship and authority over Satan/demons

Taking on the strongholds of Satan (2:13) by means of spiritual warare (9; 12:7-17)

Confidence in our power over demons (9:4)

Conquering with the power of the blood of Christ and the Scripture on our lips (12:11)

Casting demons into pit (20:1-3,7-10)

Our priestly activities (1:6)

Because Christ is a priest who cleanses us (1:5-6; 7:14) and brings healing waters to the nations (22:1-2,17), those who are united to Him also have a priestly ministry (1:6; 5:10; 20:6) by offering living waters (22:1-2,17), the cleansing of Christ’s priestly ministry (1:5-6; 7;14) and fellowship with the One who walks in the midst of the candlesticks (1:12-2:1).

Worship and singing (both worship songs and war songs) have a powerful connection to our ability to battle (4-5; 5:9-14; 7:9-17; 8:1-6; 11:15-19; 14:1-5,7; 15:3-5; 16:5-7; 18:20; 19:1-10; 22:9). Over and over God’s judgments are unleashed as a direct result of worship, singing or prayer. (Dealt with last week)

Prayer’s importance to battle can be clearly seen (3:3,18,20; 5:8; 6:9-11; 7:14-15; 8:1-6). God takes our prayers and casts judgments to the earth (8:1-6). (Adequately dealt with in chapter 8)

Access to the Lord’s Supper (2:7,17; 3:20; 22:14,17) and church discipline (1:18; 2:6,9,14-16,20-23; 2:20-25; 3:4,7-9) are also key ingredients in the priestly aspect of spiritual warfare.

Membership in a church (2:1-3:22; 2:17; 3:5,7-9,12; 7:2-8; 9:4) with godly leaders (1:16 stars = pastors: cf. 1:20; 2:1,8,12,18; 3:1,7,14) is important for our covenantal protection and resources. Likewise membership in unfaithful churches is detrimental and thus the command to flee from them (18:4 with 2:5,9,14-16,20-23; 3:9,15; 11:1). We must remember that the blessing of the church is shared by the members (1:9; 2-3) and God judges entire churches because of the sins it tolerates in its midst (2:4-5,14-16,20-23,2-3,15-20).

Without holy living we can have no hope for victory (1:3; 2:5-7,10-11,16-17,19-28; 3:2-5,8,10-12,15-19; 12:17; 14:12)

Our prophetic activities

Because Christ is Prophet (“true witness” 1:5; 3:14), who bears the sword of the Word in His mouth (1:16; 2:12,16), the church is called to witness (2:13; 11:3; 12:11) to the final Scriptures (22:18-19). The power of God’s Word in our battle can be seen by such verses as 1:16; 2:12,16; 5:1-8:6; 10:8-11; 19:15,21)

Prophetic testimony against the state

calling the state “beast”: educating people in the lawlessness of states who act like the kingdoms of Daniel 7 (11:7; 13:1,2,3,4,5,8,11,23, 14,15,17,18; 14:9,11;15:2; 16:2,10,13; 17:3,7,8,11,12,13,16,17; 19:19; 19:20; 20:4; 20:10)

bringing prophetic testimonies against all tyranny and all unlimited government (cf. Luke 3:19; Rev. 10:11; 11:1-13; 12:11; the book of Revelation as a whole)

Prophetic testimony against the church

a responsibility to test those in the church claiming to be apostles (2:2) since false teaching in the church brings God’s judgment upon the whole church (2:14-17)

a refusal to bear with those in the church who are evil (2:2); opposition to immorality in the church (2:6,14-15,20-23)

Based on John's characterization of what an apostate church looked like (2:9; 3:9), believers were expected to make similar judgments and leave apostate churches (11:1; 18:4; 2:9; 3:7-9)

The Holy Spirit's Work in this War Manual

The unity of the three Persons of the Godhead (1:4-5; 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22; 5:6; etc.)

The Holy Spirit inspires Scripture (1:10; 4:2; 14:13; 17:3; 19:10; 21:10 with 10:7; 11:1-7; 22:6,9) and gives believers illumination to understand and apply the Scriptures (2:7,11,17; 2:29; 3:6,13,22)

The Spirit is our source of grace and peace (1:4; 22:17,21)

The Seven-fold Spirit (1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6) represents His fullness in Christ's kingdom

The Spirit brings conviction and power to evangelism (5:6; 22:1-2, 17)

The Father's Work

Elective plan from before foundation of the world (3:5; 7:10; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12,15; 21:27; 22:19)

All the authority for victory that is needed has been granted (1:6; 2:27; 3:21; 14:1)

His holiness guarantees that He will do something about man’s rebellion (4:8; 6:10; 15:4; etc.)

His providence is arrayed against humanism and on behalf of His kingdom (5-6; 7:1-4; 12:16; 15:3-4; 16:7; 17:17; etc.)

His judgments promote the victory of the church (8:1-6; 16:14; 14:7; etc.)

His reign can never be successfully challenged (19:6; etc.)

His union with us promotes the causes (3:12,21; 21:3,22; etc.)

His sovereignty (4:1-11; 6:10; 19:6; etc.) gives hope and enthusiasm to God’s people.

His rewards (2:7; 11:18; etc.) motivate us to battle.

His wrath (14:10,19; 15:1,7; 16:1; 19:15; etc.) keeps us holy and ensures that humanism will not get away with its rebellion.

His justice (6:10; 8:1-9:21; 18:5,20; 19:11; etc.) is not only seen in eternity, but in time.

His power (18:8; 19:1; etc.) cannot be resisted.

His protection of His people (9:4; 12:6; 21-22; etc.) gives them boldness and perseverance in the fight.


Support Kayser Commentary - donate to Biblical Blueprints today! It allows us to publish more books, blog posts, and cool works like the Revelation Project.

Sign up for the Biblical Blueprints email list to learn about new resources as we release them.