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‘Come, Follow Me’ for Dec. 25-31: What have Church leaders and scholars said about Revelation 15-22?

This week’s study guide concludes the apostle John’s prophecies about the latter days

This week’s “Come, Follow Me” study guide covers Revelation 15-22, which concludes the apostle John’s prophecies about the latter days.

Church News recently searched the archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to learn what leaders and scholars have said about these chapters.

Revelation 17-21: The Vision from the Wilderness

“In this vision, John views scenes of the Earth’s end. The scenes are arranged in a chiastic pattern:

“The pivotal point [Revelation 19:11-21] is the marvelous appearance of the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings as He prevails over His enemies. These two titles represent Christ’s spiritual power as the Head of His church and His political power as the Supreme Ruler on Earth.”

— Victor L. Ludlow, former Brigham Young University professor of ancient scripture, in the December 1991 Ensign article “John: The Once and Future Witness”

Revelation 21-22: Vision from a Mountain and epilogue

“John next sees the New Jerusalem descending from heaven filled with the glory of Christ’s presence (Revelation 21:9-27). This is the Jerusalem of the eternities, where those who have faithfully followed Jesus and received celestial bodies can enjoy the highest blessings of spiritual life and glory. John also describes a river and tree of life surrounded by the light of Christ’s radiance (Revelation  22:1-5). He concludes with various angelic and messianic witnesses, inviting all to the waters of life (Revelation 22:6-17).

“John concludes the book of Revelation (Revelation 22:18-21) by warning scribes not to change any of his prophecies. He testifies of Christ’s coming and gives his apostolic blessing.”

— Victor L. Ludlow, former Brigham Young University professor of ancient scripture, in the December 1991 Ensign article “John: The Once and Future Witness”

Revelation 19

“A testimony is a most precious possession because it is not acquired by logic or reason alone, it cannot be purchased with earthly possessions, and it cannot be given as a present or inherited from our ancestors. We cannot depend on the testimonies of other people. We need to know for ourselves. …

“The source of this sure knowledge and firm conviction is divine revelation, ‘for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’ (Revelation 19:10).

“We receive this testimony when the Holy Spirit speaks to the spirit within us. We will receive a calm and unwavering certainty that will be the source of our testimony and conviction irrespective of our culture, race, language or socioeconomic background. These promptings of the Spirit, rather than human logic alone, will be the true foundation upon which our testimony will be built.”

— Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2006 general conference, “The Power of a Personal Testimony”

“The Lord’s kingdom encompasses not only Church and family but also the hearts and minds of His people. … If we truly desire to contribute to the great latter-day work, our eyes will be single to the glory of God, our minds enlightened by ‘the testimony of Jesus’ (Revelation 19:10), our hearts pure and consecrated. Personal prayer, study and pondering are vital to the building up of the kingdom within our own souls. It is in quiet moments of contemplation and communion with the Almighty that we come to know and love Him as our Father.”

— Elder Bruce D. Porter, April 2001 general conference, “Building the Kingdom”

“John the Revelator makes a very interesting statement: ‘The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’ (Revelation 19:10). As much so as any man in the world, each of you has the opportunity and the responsibility to develop a testimony of Jesus as the Savior of mankind. That testimony is the ‘spirit of prophecy.’ It is a gift that may be yours.”

— President Gordon B. Hinckley, October 1985 general conference, “Ten Gifts from the Lord”

“The Last Judgement” is by John Scott and depicts Christ in a white robe with people walking toward Him. In the right corner, some people despair in darkness.
“The Last Judgement” is by John Scott. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Revelation 20

“John the Revelator concludes the account of his vision of the resurrection, to occur at the beginning of the Millennium — which is not far ahead now — by saying:

“‘And they lived [those who came forth in the resurrection preceding the Millennium — they lived] and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

“‘But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished’ (Revelation 20:4-5).

“At which time he added:

“‘And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; …

“‘And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them’ (Revelation 20:12-13). …

“Great is the debt we owe to our Redeemer for our resurrection. But this is not the final goal. Attaining to immortality is a prerequisite to, but it is not necessarily the same as, attaining eternal life. Immortality denotes length of life — deathless. Eternal life denotes quality of life — the quality of life God enjoys.”

— President Marion G. Romney, April 1975 general conference, “Easter Thoughts”

“Yes, there is the ever expectancy of death, but in reality there is no death — no permanent parting. The resurrection is a reality. The scriptures are replete with evidence. …

“The apostle John on the Isle of Patmos ‘saw the dead, small and great, stand before God’ (Revelation 20:12.) And so we may quote on and on from holy writ, ancient and modern.

“The spirit world is not far away. Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us.”

— Then-Elder Ezra Taft Benson, April 1971 general conference, “Life Is Eternal”

Revelation 21

“The adversary would like to confuse us and divert our attention from what matters most. But we are blessed, for we know that faith and family matter most. The women who have touched my heart and motivated me to lead a better life are those who put the Lord and family first … beckoning me to come unto Christ, who proclaimed, ‘I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely’ (Revelation 21:6).”

— Sister Virginia U. Jensen, former first counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, October 2000 general conference, “Ripples”

“Eternal life brings to us, brothers and sisters, the full bestowal of all the specific promises made in connection with all the temple’s holy ordinances. John declared that the ‘called, and chosen, and faithful’ shall ‘inherit all things’ (Revelation 21:7). … ‘All’. You and I cannot even imagine such bounteous blessings.

“Meanwhile, with spiritual endurance there can be felicity amid poverty, gratitude without plentitude. There can even be meekness amid injustice. One never sees the ‘root of bitterness springing up’ in the enduring meek (Hebrews 12:15).”

— Elder Neal A. Maxwell, April 1990 general conference, “‘Endure It Well’”

“Earlier, the angel had showed [John the Revelator] the dead, small and great, standing before God, and the books were opened, and every man was judged according to the things written in the books, according to their works. Death and hell delivered up the dead that were in them. (See Revelation 20:12-13.) Then the angel said, ‘Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God … and shall reign with him a thousand years’ (Revelation 20:6.) Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing, to be worthy to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection?

“But the angel didn’t leave it there. He said, ‘But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished’ (Revelation 20:5). Is there any clear thinking man who would want to gamble on being left in his grave a thousand years when the Son of Man shall come in the clouds of heaven with all the holy angels, and those who have died in Him shall be brought forth from the grave, and those who are living in Him shall be caught up in the air and changed in the twinkling of an eye? I like the statement of the philosopher Cicero. He said he was much more interested in the long hereafter than he was in the brief present.

“Today in our natural, routine patterns of life, our children go to school as we did for 12 to 20 years, to learn how to have a richer life here in mortality, to earn a better living and enjoy the cultural and refined things of life. If it is worth spending 12 to 20 years to prepare for a life of 75 to 100 years, what is it worth to prepare for a life that never ends?”

— Elder LeGrand Richards, October 1981 general conference, “‘Be Ye Prepared’”

“We have two great challenges, you and I, and the challenge never ends as long as breath lasts: to choose Him and to love each other. Then we may be sure we will know Him in this world and at last in that kingdom which is not of this world, where ‘God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

“‘And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away’ (Revelation 21:3-4).

“God bless us that we may meet the test.”

— Elder Marion D. Hanks, April 1980 general conference, “Willing to Receive”

“Among the last words spoken unto the beloved apostle John, while in vision on the Isle of Patmos, are these: ‘He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son’ (Revelation 21:7).

“The fusing of ritual and commandment with everyday living calls for the best that is in us, that by our agency we may feel the affected condition by choosing good rather than evil, thus not only glorifying ourselves but glorifying Him who has made all things possible.”

— Elder Alvin R. Dyer, October 1971 general conference, “The Nobility of Man in Choosing Good over Evil”

A man sits cross-legged on the ground while reading the scriptures.
“Come, Follow Me” for Dec. 35-31 concludes the apostle John’s prophecies about the latter days. | Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Revelation 22

“One of the arguments often used in any defense of a closed canon is the New Testament passage recorded in Revelation 22:18: ‘For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of … this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.’ However, there is now overwhelming consensus among virtually all biblical scholars that this verse applies only to the book of Revelation, not the whole Bible. Those scholars of our day acknowledge a number of New Testament ‘books’ that were almost certainly written after John’s revelation on the Isle of Patmos was received. Included in this category are at least the books of Jude, the three Epistles of John, and probably the entire Gospel of John itself. Perhaps there are even more than these.

“But there is a simpler answer as to why that passage in the final book of the current New Testament cannot apply to the whole Bible. That is because the whole Bible as we know it — one collection of texts bound in a single volume — did not exist when that verse was written. For centuries after John produced his writing, the individual books of the New Testament were in circulation singly or perhaps in combinations with a few other texts but almost never as a complete collection. Of the entire corpus of 5,366 known Greek New Testament manuscripts, only 35 contain the whole New Testament as we now know it, and 34 of those were compiled after A.D. 1000.

“The fact of the matter is that virtually every prophet of the Old and New Testament has added scripture to that received by his predecessors. ...

“Continuing revelation does not demean or discredit existing revelation. The Old Testament does not lose its value in our eyes when we are introduced to the New Testament, and the New Testament is only enhanced when we read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. In considering the additional scripture accepted by Latter-day Saints, we might ask: Were those early Christians who for decades had access only to the primitive Gospel of Mark (generally considered the first of the New Testament Gospels to be written) — were they offended to receive the more detailed accounts set forth later by Matthew and Luke, to say nothing of the unprecedented passages and revelatory emphasis offered later yet by John? Surely they must have rejoiced that ever more convincing evidence of the divinity of Christ kept coming. And so do we rejoice.”

— Then-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, April 2008 general conference, “‘My Words … Never Cease’”

“The world is full of people who are willing to tell us, ‘Do as I say.’ Surely we have no lack of advice givers on about every subject. But we have so few who are prepared to say, ‘Do as I do.’ And, of course, only One in human history could rightfully and properly make that declaration. History provides many examples of good men and women, but even the best of mortals are flawed in some way or another. None could serve as a perfect model nor as an infallible pattern to follow, however well-intentioned they might be.

“Only Christ can be our ideal, our ‘bright and morning star’ (Revelation 22:16).”

— President Howard W. Hunter, April 1994 general conference, “‘What Manner of Men Ought Ye to Be?’”

Elder Mikaele Saipa’ia, from Tonga, highlights scriptures while studying at the New Zealand Missionary Training Center in Auckland, New Zealand, on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022.
“Come, Follow Me” for Dec. 35-31 concludes the apostle John’s prophecies about the latter days. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
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