‘Come, Follow Me’ for Dec. 4-10: What have Church leaders and scholars said about Revelation 1-5?

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

This week’s “Come, Follow Me” study guide covers Revelation 1-5, which introduces 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.

John the Revelator

“Of the five books attributed to him, only Revelation actually uses the name John, identifying its author three times by that name in its opening verses (see Revelation 1:1, 4, 9). Other than identifying himself as the servant of God, the author gives no other indication of his position or calling, but most early Christian authorities believed that he was John, son of Zebedee.

“The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants confirm that the apostle John had been given a special commission to receive and write the visions that he received. A complex and heavily symbolic book, Revelation was intended to comfort and reassure Christians suffering persecution or trials in every age while at the same time revealing the role of Jesus Christ throughout history.

“Although two different dates have been proposed for when John wrote Revelation — an early date in the A.D. 60s during the reign of the emperor Nero and a later date in the A.D. 90s during that of the emperor Domitian — both would have been after the martyrdom of Peter, making John the senior apostle left living. …

“While commentators, ancient and modern, have been divided regarding the meaning of Jesus’ statement to Peter about John’s fate at the end of the Gospel (see John 21:20-23), Joseph Smith received a revelation confirming that John’s mission will continue as a translated being until the Savior’s return (see Doctrine and Covenants 7:1-6). In other words, he not only prophesied of the end times, but his mission includes helping fulfill these prophecies as well as witnessing the fulfillment of the things that were revealed to him.”

— Eric D. Huntsman, Brigham Young University professor of ancient scripture, in the January 2019 Liahona article “John, the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved”

“As one of the original Twelve Apostles, John has shared his witness of the Lord’s divinity through many long centuries of time. He was with Jesus at the beginning of His ministry and was still serving at the end of the first century A.D. In this dispensation, as a translated being, he continues his work with the tribes of Israel in preparation for the Lord’s Second Coming.

“John’s writings are also noted for their scope: his Gospel focuses on important doctrines not recorded in the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke; his three epistles proclaim the light and love of Christ; and his Revelation uniquely prophesies of events preceding the millennial era. Only Paul contributed more books to the New Testament. Without John’s writings, modern Saints would lack some of the most profound teachings in the New Testament. …

“Around A.D. 95, Roman authorities began to enforce a cult of emperor worship. Since true Christians would worship only the Lord, the emperor Domitian banished many and confiscated their property. John was sentenced to confinement on the island of Patmos, where he remained at least a year. It was here that he received the great apocalyptic visions recorded in the book of Revelation. …

“After Domitian’s death, John returned to Ephesus (“Ecclesiastical History of the Church,” 3.20), where he lived until the reign of Trajan (A.D. 98-117), when he disappeared in fulfillment of the prophecy in John 21:23-24.”

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

A man sits cross-legged while reading the scriptures.
“Come, Follow Me” for Dec. 4-10 introduces the apostle John’s prophecies about the latter days. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Revelation 1

“Throughout the scriptures, reference is made to the hand of the Lord. His divine assistance is evidenced over and over again. His powerful hands created worlds, and yet they were gentle enough to bless the little children.

“Consider John’s words describing the resurrected and glorified Savior: ‘And when I saw him, … he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; … I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore’ (Revelation 1:17-18). When He lays His hand upon us, we, like John, can be alive in Him.”

— Elder W. Craig Zwick, then a General Authority Seventy, October 2003 general conference, “The Lord Thy God Will Hold They Hand”

“Revelation is often organized into seven main parts. Symbolic numbers and images are scattered throughout the book, representing key powers, persons and events in the last days. One dominant figure is the number seven (symbolizing wholeness or completeness), which appears 52 times. …

“The introduction includes a preface, a brief greeting to the seven churches in Asia Minor and a doxology (praises to the Lord). John received these words from an angel and from Jesus (see Joseph Smith Translation, Revelation 1:5). The Joseph Smith Translation adds that the words of Revelation will bless those who understand them, for the time of the Lord’s coming is drawing near. The JST doxology also presents a more complete summary of the events that will occur at Christ’s second coming. …

“As the vision [in Revelation 1:9-20] opens, John describes the resurrected Christ with a clarity rarely found in the scriptures. He also describes Christ’s eternal power and purposes. For example, verse 8 identifies the Lord as Alpha and Omega (the beginning and the end) — a Greek phrase found only in this last book of the Bible. This verse also uses titles for the Lord from the earliest part of the Bible. One of these comes from Genesis — the Hebrew title El Shaddai, God Almighty (see Genesis 17:1; Genesis 28:3; Genesis 35:11; Genesis 49:25). Thus, imagery from the entire Bible is compacted into this one verse to identify Jesus as the Creator, the God of Israel, the resurrected Savior, the Everlasting Father of those who follow Him.”

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

Revelation 2

“A part of John’s vision was a series of letters to seven Christian centers in Asia Minor [found in [Revelation 2:1–3:22]. A four-part pattern is repeated in each epistle: The Church members in that area are addressed, usually borrowing terminology from John’s vision of Christ (Revelation 1:13-18); the works of the members are identified; a call to repentance is issued; and a blessing is promised to those who overcome evil and adversity.

“John observed that the Ephesians had rejected apostates, but in avoiding confrontation they had also lost their previous zeal. The Saints in Smyrna were commended for their faithfulness in times of poverty and were also warned of impending persecution. The members in Pergamos had endured sufferings but also harbored apostates. The Church members in Thyatira included both charitable and immoral members. The congregation in Sardis was spiritually dead, although a few Saints had maintained their worthiness. The Philadelphians had remained obedient and steadfast. The Laodiceans, however, were lukewarm and materialistic.

“We face similar challenges today. But we are also heirs to the same promises John made to the faithful in his day: the righteous will eat from the tree of life (Revelation 2:7); avoid the second death, which is spiritual death (Revelation 2:11); enjoy heavenly nourishment and receive a special white stone (Revelation 2:17); share divine authority (Revelation 2:26); wear white robes and have Jesus as their advocate (Revelation 3:5); receive new names in God’s temple (Revelation 3:12); and enjoy the presence of the Father and the Son (Revelation  3:21).”

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

“The life of the Prophet [Joseph Smith] of whom I bear testimony was an example of that which he proclaimed, having always given a clear message of his convictions and testimony.

“This kind of determination, an exemplary way of life, is not reserved for only a small minority, as some would believe, but rather it should be the constant attitude of those who desire to follow the Lord’s counsel in order to attain the promised blessings: ‘Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life’ (Revelation 2:10).”

— Elder Angel Abrea, then a General Authority Seventy, April 1984 general conference, “The Sure Sound of the Trumpet”

Two women sit outside and study the “Come, Follow Me” manual together.
“Come, Follow Me” for Dec. 4-10 introduces the apostle John’s prophecies about the latter days. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Revelation 3

“I bear my personal witness that the Father is at this moment aware of you, your feelings, and the spiritual and temporal needs of everyone around you. I bear testimony that the Father and the Son are sending the Holy Ghost to all who have that gift, ask for that blessing and seek to be worthy of it. Neither the Father, nor the Son, nor the Holy Ghost force Themselves into our lives. We are free to choose. The Lord has said to all:

“‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

“‘To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith’ (Revelation 3:20-22).”

— President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, April 2018 general conference, “His Spirit To Be With You”

“It is no wonder that over and over in the scriptures we are instructed, counseled and commanded, ‘O remember, remember.’ This repeated invitation emphasizes the important connection between our recollection of spiritual feelings in our past and our faithfulness in the present. Through John the apostle, the Lord gave this message: ‘Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard’ (Revelation 3:3).”

— Sister Susan L. Warner, then a counselor in the Primary general presidency, April 1996 general conference, “Remember How Thou Hast Received and Heard”

“Whatever your circumstances, this can be your season of strength, because one of the most compelling concepts in the gospel is that the Savior will come again. And He counsels, ‘Behold, I come quickly’ (Revelation 3:11). We must live with constant anticipation of His coming. Being ready to receive Him is the position of our greatest strength. Let this be our bulwark against temptation or slothfulness. Let it cause us to read the Savior’s words, to search our hearts and to try to live every principle of righteousness He taught. This will require us to love as He loves. Then, we are told, when He comes we shall know Him, for we shall be like Him.”

— Then-Relief Society General President Barbara A. Smith, October 1983 general conference, “A Season for Strength”

“We are either for the Church or we are against it. We either take its part or we take the consequences. We cannot survive spiritually with one foot in the Church and the other in the world. We must make the choice. It is either the Church or the world. There is no middle ground. And the Lord loves a courageous man who fights openly and boldly in His army.

“To certain members of His ancient church, He said:

“‘I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

“‘So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth’ (Revelation 3:15-16). The summer patriot and the sunshine saint retreat when the battle wages fiercely around them. Theirs is not the conqueror’s crown. They are overcome by the world.”

— Elder Bruce R. McConkie, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 1974 general conference, “Be Valiant in the Fight of Faith”

Revelation 4

“This vision [found in Revelation 4:1–16:21] highlights key events to occur immediately preceding the Millennium: conversations in the divine throne room (Revelation 4:1-5:14), the opening of seals representing seven thousand years of history (Revelation 6:1-8:1), the blowing of trumpets announcing seven catastrophes (Revelation 8:2-9:21, Revelation 11:15), a mighty angel standing on land and sea (Revelation 10:1-11:19), symbols of the great struggles between the forces of good and evil (Revelation 12:1-13:18), voices of victory announcing the Lord’s judgments (Revelation 14:1-15:8) and seven terrible plagues to be sent upon the wicked (Revelation 16:1-21).”

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

Revelation 5

“At the beginning of most dispensations, a book is given to the newly called prophet. … John the Revelator on the Isle of Patmos was shown a book with seven seals (see Revelation 5). Is it any wonder, then, that the Lord would provide a book containing the fullness of the gospel as part of the ‘restitution of all things’? The Book of Mormon has the power to draw all men and women to Christ. Its references to the Savior’s Atonement are the clearest on record with regard to its purpose and powers.”

— Elder Merrill J. Bateman, then a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, October 2005 general conference, “A Pattern for All”

“Salvation is in Christ. His is the only name given under heaven whereby this priceless gift may be won. Without Him there would be no resurrection and all men would be forever lost. Without Him there would be no eternal life, no return to the presence of a gracious Father, no celestial thrones for the saints.

“No tongue can tell, no mind can envision, no heart can conceive of all that comes to us because of Him. ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing’ (Revelation 5:12).”

— Elder Bruce R. McConkie, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 1974 general conference, “Be Valiant in the Fight of Faith”

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