The Book of Revelation is one of the most interesting, complex, and debated books in the Bible. Our purpose for this lesson is not to handle it theologically, but rather as a story. We will cover what happened to John, what he saw and what he wrote rather than the interpretation of those events.
Revelation was written by John. This is the same John who was a fisherman before Jesus called him to be one of his 12 disciples. He was the "beloved one" who wrote the Gospel of John. We don't know a lot about what he did in the early churches, but he was obviously active, having written three letters to believers (1 John, 2 John, 3 John). He was apparently exiled on the island of Patmos as a result of persecution for his ministry.
Introduction | Revelation 1
John opens the book with a greeting. He tells the reader that he saw a vision. There is no better description of this vision than what is written in Revelation 1:10-20.
"So write down what you have seen. Write about what is happening now and what will happen later." Revelation 1:19. Based on this verse, this lesson will be broken into two parts:
Letters to the 7 Churches | Revelation 2-3
Similar to the letters that Paul wrote to the churches he helped establish, John was given instructions to give to seven churches. One of them (Ephesus) was actually the same church. Of course we believe the letters written by Paul were inspired by God. But there is something special about these letters because they were given directly by Jesus himself in a vision to John. It seems like these instructions would be very important to those churches! Here is a summary of those instructions:
|Ephesus||Good job working hard, not putting up with sin, and being faithful. But you are not acting out of love for God anymore.|
|Smyrna||Even though you are poor and are suffering, you will be rewarded at the end.|
|Pergamum||You are living in a very wicked place where people love to sin, and you are mostly faithful. But you have followed some of their sinful practices, and you must stop!|
|Thyatira||Good job being faithful. You don't give up! But, you are putting up with an evil woman in your church who is leading others astray. She will be punished for her sins and so will those who follow her!|
|Sardis||It might look to others like you are doing everything you need to do, but you are really dead inside. You need to obey what you have been taught.|
|Philadelphia||Good job being faithful!|
|Laodicea||Because you are so rich, you have become complacent. You neither hot nor cold - you are lukewarm! I want to spit you out of my mouth! But I'm here waiting for you to return to me.|
John's Vision of the End Times | Revelation 4-22
It is nearly impossible to summarize in just a few paragraphs all that is written in the book of Revelation. The Egermeier's Bible Story Book does a very nice job of summarizing this, though, and we highly recommend using this version of the story. Here are the highlights that are covered in the Egermeier's summary:
get your kids talking and engaged
Have you ever eaten anything that tasted so bad, you spit it out of your mouth? What was it?
Today, we're going to learn about a vision that John had. He recorded it in the book of Revelation. Jesus told one of the churches that he was going to spit them out of his mouth!
teach a holistic story
We strongly recommend you teach this lesson from the Egermeier's Bible Story Book (beginning on page 565).
give them basic Bible skills
Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Revelation 1:9-20; Revelation 21:1-5
make sure they understand the story
First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?
help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
hide God's Word in their heartHe has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 (ESV)