With deep affection I dedicate this volume to three of my faithful co-laborers:
First-my wife, who has spent countless hours reading and re-reading this manuscript, ascertaining that the doctrine I have preached through the years of my ministry is set forth in these pages.
Then, Jane Conley has spent numerous hours taking these messages from dictatape. She certainly has done a magnificent job, laboring untiringly - many times after hours.
Finally, Georgia Horne set these 543 pages In Vari-Type, preparing them for the press - a task requiring many faithful and painstaking hours.
My sincere thanks to these dear ladies, without whose faithful and untiring labor of love this book could not have become a reality.
Evangelist Oliver B. Greene
The principle upon which this verse-by-verse study of Revelation proceeds, is that the contents of the book are, in the main, yet future and that the fulfillment of the greater part of Revelation cannot take place as long as the Church remains here on earth. When the Lord JESUS comes in the Rapture, and the Church is caught up to meet Him in the air, then the events in Revelation from chapter four through chapter twenty-two will occur. The New Testament Church - CHRIST's body and His bride - is now in the process of being called out and will be completed when the Rapture occurs. This is known as the Church Age - or the Dispensation of Grace. During this dispensation, both Jews and Gentiles are being saved and they all become members of the same body (I Corinthians 12:12-13). The New Testament Church is not a subject of prophecy, but is a New Testament revelation (Matthew 16:16-17, Ephesians 3).
Before our very eyes in this day, political and religious events are taking place which point to the end of this age of grace. But after the Rapture the seventieth week of Daniel's prophecy (Daniel 9:27) will bring about startling changes here on this earth. The entire political system will be rearranged under Satan's prime minister - the Beast of Revelation. A gigantic confederation of ten powers will rule. The old Roman Empire in all of its power and glory will appear under new conditions. It will be guided and controlled by the "Little Horn" of Daniel 7, known in the New Testament as the Beast. His partner in murder and crime is the Antichrist, who will be the religious dictator and the head of the world church which is now in the making. What the Beast does politically, the Antichrist will do religiously. The two will control all political and religious activity here on earth. Bear in mind that this takes place after the Rapture of the church (Revelation 3:10; I Thessalonians 5:9).
Just before the King of Kings overthrows the Beast and the Man of Sin, everything that is vile religiously will head up under the leadership of the whore (the mystical Babylon). Mystical Babylon will be overthrown by the ten kings (Revelation 17:16) who at first were with her and upheld her in all of her vileness, but who later turn to destroy her. The ruin of "the great whore" is lamented by the kings, the merchants, and the people outside the Roman Empire (Revelation 18:9-18). The final destruction and annihilation of the great whore will be by Almighty God Himself (Revelation 18:2, 21-24). This will take place shortly before the destruction of the Beast. The Beast will be destroyed by the Lord in person when He comes in mighty power (read Revelation 19). The destruction of mystical Babylon and the destruction of the Beast are separate events. The destruction of mystical Babylon precedes the destruction of the Beast.
The events recorded in Revelation chapters four and following cannot take place as long as the Church is here on earth. Evil at the present is actively at work, and the mystery of iniquity is already working. But the mystery of iniquity is restrained, kept in check, by the Holy Spirit (II Thessalonians 2:6, 7). The presence of the New Testament Church and the presence of the HOLY GHOST restrain the development of the "mystery of iniquity!"
The church of the Antichrist cannot be revealed and "the faith" cannot be totally annihilated from the visible Church until the church at Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7) is raptured to meet the Lord in the air, and until the Laodiceans are spued out and remain here on the earth. However, the principles are at work which are surely and rapidly undermining the moral foundations of the professing church and of society in general. The stage is set and the higher critics are doing all in their power to undermine the faith.
The gates of hell, however, will never prevail against the Church - but the gates of hell will prevail against the visible local assembly. The true believers in the assembly will be taken out. The false professors will be left. The Rapture is imminent, and immediately after the Rapture the false messiah will come upon the scene of action. He will promise a Utopia . . . peace on earth; and for the space of three and a half years he will fulfill his promise.
And then - all hell will break loose, and "except those days were shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (Matthew 24:22).
The book we are about to study is The Revelation of Jesus Christ, given to Him by GOD the Father, and revealed by the Lord JESUS to John the Beloved on the Isle of Patmos. "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly" (Revelation 22:20).
Let me join John the Beloved and say, "AMEN! Even so, come Lord Jesus!"
Oliver B. Greene
Revelation means "the veil rolled aside."
The visions recorded in the book of Revelation were seen by John the beloved disciple in the Isle of Patmos and the book was written about the year of our Lord 96.
It has three divisions.
This threefold division is found in Chapter One, verse 19. This verse is the key that unlocks the interpretation and the understanding of Revelation. Verse 19 speaks of the past, the present, and the future.
There are sixty-six books in the Bible and every book has a key verse. Sometimes the key is hanging at the very entrance of the book, and this is true of Revelation.
1. "Write . . . the things which thou hast seen." What John had just seen is recorded in verses 10 through 18. CHRIST in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks (or lampstands) is the central object of these verses, and this is past tense.
2. Write the things . . . "which are." These things are recorded in chapters two and three. In these chapters the professing church is traced throughout its stay upon this earth from Pentecost to the Rapture. This is present tense and has been in progress since the Day of Pentecost.
3. Write the things . . . "which shall be hereafter." The word "hereafter" literally means, "after these things," or "the things which will happen after the church age." This third division begins with chapter four and continues through chapter twenty-two, verse five. It is essentially the prophetic part of the book of Revelation. The third division is all future. The seals, the trumpets, the vials, Babylon, the marriage of the Lamb, the reign of the Antichrist, the battle of Armageddon, the one thousand year reign of CHRIST (the Millennium), Satan's imprisonment in the pit for that period of time . . . all these are future. Everything from Revelation 4:1 throughout the rest of the book is yet to be fulfilled.
At this present hour, we are living between Revelation 3:7 and Revelation 3:20. There are members of the church of Philadelphia (the true church) on earth today.
Also present with us are the Laodiceans - the lukewarm professors who profess but do not possess the love of GOD and a genuine experience with the Lord JESUS CHRIST.
We are living in the closing hours of the Dispensation of Grace. The next outstanding event in store for the Church is the Rapture, and this can take place at any moment. No man "knows the day or the hour" (Matthew 24:36) - but we are not ignorant concerning the times and the seasons (I Thessalonians 5:1, 7). Those of us who are spiritually minded and who search the Scriptures, can see that the coming of the Lord is certainly very, very near.
There are twelve distinct sections in the book of Revelation. A study of these sections will help in a definite way to better understand the book:
1. Chapter 1:1-9: Introduction.
2. Chapter 1:10-18: We see CHRIST in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks (or lampstands) which represent the churches of Asia.
3. Chapters 2 and 3: We see the Church - GOD's witness on earth - growing in its departure from truth and its first love, moving farther and farther from GOD until the Laodiceans are spewed out of His mouth and the true believers at Philadelphia are caught out to meet the Lord in the air.
4. Chapters 4 and 5: We see the saints enthroned and glorified. Also read I Thessalonians 4:15-18 in connection with this division.
5. Chapters 6:1 through 8:1: We learn of the seven seals opened by the Lamb . . . the only One worthy to remove the seals from the Book. (The seventh chapter is parenthetical and very important. We will study it carefully when we reach that point in this series.)
6. Chapters 8 and 9, chapter 11:15-19: We see the seven trumpets which are sounded by seven angels.
7. Chapters 12 through 14: We see two actors (in chapter 13) and the seven outstanding results of their actions.
8. Chapters 15 and 16: We will study the seven vials of wrath poured out upon the earth. These vials are filled with the wrath of GOD in His dealings with Israel and this earth.
9. Chapters 17 and 18: This section has to do with Babylon . . . the mystical Babylon in her political and ecclesiastical affairs in the closing days of time. We will see her utter destruction - both political and ecclesiastical.
10. Chapters 19:1 through 21:8: This section has to do with events from the fall of Babylon until the eternal state begins. It opens with rejoicing in Heaven . . . Hallelujahs that sound like "many waters," and closes with the terrible picture of eternal misery in the lake of fire.
11. Chapters 21:9 through 22:5: We will study the Bride of the Lamb (the New Testament Church). We will see the Bride and Bridegroom in the Millennium in all of its splendor.
12. Chapter 22:6-21: In these solemn verses we find warnings, threatenings, encouragements . . . and the last prayer recorded in God's Holy Word.
In chapters two and three, we study the moral history of the church here on earth in the successive periods of its history from the close of the first century of Christianity to the final rejection of the Laodiceans, and the Rapture.
Chapters four and five move from the earth in to Heaven, and we see the saints removed to their heavenly home.
The Rapture takes place between the last verse in chapter three and the first verse in chapter four. (Although Revelation does not mention the Rapture, it certainly teaches it.) The Lord GOD Almighty saw fit to reveal the Rapture to the Apostle Paul. John does not speak of it in the same language used by Paul as the HOLY SPIRIT dictated this tremendous truth to him, but certainly the Rapture of the saints takes place immediately following the close of Revelation chapter three. Chapter four and following is future tense, after the Church age.
The following portions in Revelation are parenthetical:
1. Chapter 7, between the sixth and seventh seals.
2. Chapter 10 and chapter 11:1-13, between the sixth and seventh trumpets.
3. Chapter 14:1-4, between the sounding of the seventh trumpet and the pouring out of the vials of the wrath of GOD.
4. Chapter 16:13-16: These verses record what John saw between the sixth and seventh vials.
5. Chapter 19:1-10: This records what John saw between the pouring out of the seventh vial and the personal return of the Lord JESUS in power and glory, immediately following the destruction of Babylon.
6. Chapters 21:9 through 22:5: There may be some who will not agree that this section is parenthetical. but if you will follow me closely I believe you will agree. John was taken into a great high mountain in the Spirit, and there he saw the Lamb's wife - the New Jerusalem.
As we study Revelation, we will clearly see seven chief actors or persons in the coming crises, the coming judgments, and the glorious reign of righteousness in this earth:
1. The Lord JESUS CHRIST, the Lamb of GOD slain from the foundation of the world, who is worthy to reign because He purchased the Church (His bride) at the tremendous price of His own blood (Acts 20:28, Revelation 5:12).
2. The great dragon, the old serpent, Satan, the devil (Revelation 12:7-9; 13:7; 20:10). In his last evil mission . . . his last gigantic drive here on earth . . . Satan will be supported by his two distinguished ministers - the Beast and the False Prophet.
3. The two Beasts - one religious, the other political (Revelation 11:7, chapters 12 and 13, 14:9, 16:7, 19:19-20, 20:10).
4. The Antichrist, who will be the false messiah.
(Please read John 5:43.) Paul calls him the "man of sin . . . the son of perdition . . . the lawless one . . . the wicked." (Read II Thessalonians chapter two.) This man is also known as "the false prophet" (Revelation 16:13, Revelation 19:20, Revelation 20:10). He is referred to as "another beast" (Revelation 13:11-17). Daniel refers to him as "the king" (Daniel 11:36-39). Isaiah mentions him in Isaiah 30:33.
5. The King of the North (Daniel 11, Dan.11;23-25.
Read also Isaiah chapters 10, 14, 25, 28 and 31:1-8).
6. The King of the South (Daniel 11).
7. Gog - the last dictator of Russia, is the last actor in this great drama of the ending of the ages and the beginning of the never-ending eternity. Gog will be the head of the great northern army which will sweep down upon Israel when she is safely dwelling in her own land. Study carefully Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 and you will learn much about Gog (the ruled), and Magog (the land), and the allies of Gog who will attack Israel and be defeated on the mountains of Israel.
These characters who will ally with Satan in his last drive against Israel are of all different nationalities. Gog and the King of the North will act together in the political oppression against Israel. The King of the North (Russia), is much, much more distinguished and powerful than the King of the South (Egypt). The Beast and the False Prophet are confederates. They will work together perfectly. The former will have to do with the Civil power, while the latter will be the Religious authority . . . a dictator energized by Satan.
The King of the South (Egypt), will play a very small part in this last battle, as compared with his powerful brother from the North (Russia). The five persons referred to in this portion of Scripture are actual men. They are not systems, nor spirit-beings - but real live men such as we. They will have their various roles assigned to them by Satan, and they will be energized by him for their ungodly activity in the end-time.
But JESUS, the Lamb, will destroy them all in the final battle. They will fight against the Jews (read Psalm 83 and Zechariah 14). They will also fight against the Lord JESUS CHRIST. (Read Revelation 19.) The Lord JESUS will be victorious in this final battle. Righteousness will conquer unrighteousness, good will overrun evil, light will wipe out all darkness, and in the sweet bye-and-bye all things will be made new. There will be a new Heaven, a new Earth, a new Jerusalem . . . new nations; ALL things will be made new. I join with John the beloved disciple and pray, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"
The only way to understand Revelation is to read it. Let it say exactly what it says, and look to the Spirit (I John 2:27) to reveal the deep truths He would have us know. No one will ever understand all of Revelation.
May God bless you richly as you "read and hear the words of this prophecy."