Context: The authorship of this tremendous and often bewildering vision is uncertain. The writer's name was John, and he has been variously identified as John the Apostle, John the Presbyter, and John of Patmos. The name may even be a pseudonym. It is likely that he was a Jew from Palestine who had been with the Christians at Ephesus and was exiled, as many Christians were, to labor in the penal settlement at Patmos. His literary style makes it most unlikely that he wrote either the first and second epistles of John or the fourth Gospel. Revelation elaborates a series of divinely inspired letters written to seven of the early churches in Asia. The time of its composition was one of great difficulty for Christianity; its principal purpose is to bolster the faith of Christians. Nero had confined his persecutions to Christians in Rome, but Domitian hated all Christians and rigidly enforced the practice of Caesar-worship throughout the empire. The result was a reign of terror lasting until his death in A.D. 96. John had a wide and searching knowledge of the Old Testament and makes frequent references to the apocalyptic visions therein. In likening the voice of God to the mighty surges of the sea, he harks back to Psalm 93, fourth verse: "The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea." John's own visions are transcendent in nature and often extremely difficult for him to describe, so that he frequently employs allegory and symbolism. His purpose is to show that spiritual forces triumph over material, and that God's cause on earth is not lost. A vision of heaven follows, in which the book of fate is opened, and John sees the glory of Christ's kingdom. Certain great woes, or catastrophes, will descend upon earth. An angel gives him a little book to eat and tells him to prophesy. He does so, saying that the third and greatest woe will usher in the coming of Christ. This calamity will be the temporary reign of Anti-Christ on earth. In Chapter 14 John gives his vision of the church triumphant.
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.These are they which were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: . . .