John the Apostle


Revelation was likely the last book of the New Testament to be written, and was placed last in the New Testament. It was probably written in the 80s or 90s AD by the Apostle John while he was exiled on the Island of Patmos.

The apocalyptic imagery in Revelation makes the book difficult to understand and open to a wide variety of interpretations. Some believe the book describes events of John’s time, others believe it describes portions of the history of the Roman empire, while others believe it describes events that still have yet to occur. Many others think it describes portions of those three times along with other events, while others think it is entirely symbolic or allegorical.

The book opens as the revelation of Jesus is communicated to John, who is instructed to write down all he hears and sees. A brief description of Jesus is given. All of this happens in Chapter One.

Chapters Two and Three describe messages from Jesus to seven churches in the province of Asia. These messages include greetings, compliments, warnings, punishments, and rewards.

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Two Heavens

A great challenge in interpreting Revelation is deciding what is meant to be literal, what is meant to be symbolic, and what is both. This episode is based on a literal interpretation of Revelation 21:1 to the extent that one heaven exists, and that it will pass away and be replaced with another heaven.

The heaven described in Revelation 4 is the first of those two heavens. God resides in this heaven, and it appears to be the same heaven described in the Old Testament by people such as Isaiah and Ezekiel. Everything in this heaven is centered around worshiping God.

The second heaven is described in Revelation 21 and 22. It seems as if this second heaven is the one people often imagine when they think about the afterlife.

With these assumptions in place, it is not always clear to which of the two (or both?) heavens Jesus refers in His messages, or to which the prophets refer.

There is no doubt that going to heaven is the primary goal of many Christians. So it comes as a startling reality that the Bible doesn’t say all that much about heaven, and what it does say is often couched in terms that are challenging to comprehend.

No matter the difficulty in understanding, one thing is absolutely clear from the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament writers: you should be willing to do whatever it takes to go to heaven. The rewards of being with God for eternity are invaluable. Some of these rewards are shown in Revelation 21 and 22. Imagine: being with God every moment, forever!

Here is a little teaser to think about: who gets to be in heaven? According to one authority, this answer is revealed in the last chapter of Revelation. Three times it is shown who gets to be in the second heaven.

Primary Scriptures:
Revelation 4, 21, 22; 2 Peter 3:10-13
Story Summary:
Two heavens described in Revelation
Roman Empire, Island of Patmos
AD 30 Jesus crucified and resurrected; Pentecost; Holy Spirit arrives AD 48 Paul’s “famine visit” to Jerusalem; First Missionary Journey starts AD 50 Council at Jerusalem; Start of Second Missionary Journey. AD 53 Start of Third Missionary Journey AD 67/68 Paul probably killed in Rome AD 85-95 John writes Revelation