Glossary of Terms
The Bible is God’s way of communicating with regular people. So, when we read it, we should ask ourselves, “What would a regular person think about this passage?”
The book of Revelation can be challenging to understand, but it starts by saying that if we read and follow what it says, we will be blessed. To do that, we need to understand it. That’s why it’s important to take the prophecies literally and not try to read hidden meanings into them.
Sometimes symbolism is used, but these symbols should be interpreted in a way that makes sense in everyday life. For example, when the book talks about light, it means light, not darkness. And when it talks about a dragon, it’s not talking about a pet lizard, but a fierce and destructive creature or person.
If you watch for it, you’ll see that the same symbols are used consistently throughout the book to convey the same message.
Below we’ve included a non-exhaustive glossary of terms you might run across in your studies, so refer back here as often as needed.
So don’t be timid – dive in! After all, the entire Bible was written for you.
The ominous number of the Beast revealed in Revelation 13:17-18.
The False Prophet causes all people who want to buy or sell during the tribulation to get this number placed on their wrist or forehead. God casts the people who take this mark into the lake of fire because accepting this mark equals worshipping Satan.
An act that desecrates the temple.
The temple had to be ritually clean to worship God in the temple properly. This is a technical term for what happened historically when Antiochus Epiphanes sacrificed an unclean animal—a pig—on the temple altar in Jerusalem in 167 BC (Daniel 11:31). This past event has an ultimate parallel in the future: At the midpoint of the tribulation, the Beast (Antichrist) enters the temple and demands worship as God (Daniel 9:27; Revelation 13:4,8,12,15).
A holding cell for evil spirits.
When the angel opens the pit, demons come out, along with the smoke. The Beast also ascends out of the pit, and the angel chains Satan there during Christ’s thousand-year reign (Revelation 9:1-3; 12:7; 20:3).
Another name for the world ruler of the tribulation.
A.k.a. the (First) Beast and the man of sin (2 Thessalonians 2:9), the second member of the Satanic trinity formed during the tribulation time. The earth-dwellers during the tribulation will need his name or number on their wrist or forehead to conduct business. At the midpoint of the tribulation, he enters the Jewish temple and demands worship as God.
A writing style that reveals future truth, often through an angelic mediator.
It uses symbols to give its message. It’s also another name for the book of Revelation.
The place where the world’s armies are gathered for the last and climactic battle of the tribulation time (Revelation 16:16).
In Hebrew, it means the mountain of Megiddo (a city in Israel). When the opposing armies see Christ returning from heaven, they stop fighting each other and join forces to oppose Him. Jesus defeats them by the word of His mouth (Revelation 19:19-21).
The Bible uses the name symbolically to refer covertly to Rome, Jerusalem, or to false religions.
Babylon was a great empire that ruled the known world from 612 BC until it was defeated by the Medo-Persian empire in 539 BC. It is located on the Euphrates River. Its false religions began with Nimrod, described as “a mighty hunter before the Lord” (Genesis 10:8). It had its own creation myth and multiple gods and idols. Babylon also represents Satan’s capital city in scripture.
People who become God’s children by believing in Him for eternal salvation.
- In the Old Testament, this refers to people who believe in the Biblical God of creation; and/or the God of Abraham and Israel for deliverance from eternal torment after death. At death, angels took them to the place of blessing called Paradise (Abraham’s Bosom), and they’re eternally in God’s presence.
- In the New Testament, after Jesus’ resurrection, those who receive Jesus’ finished redemptive work on their behalf. They receive eternal life in this life the moment they believe. They are immediately in Jesus’ presence in heaven when they die.
Another name for the judgment seat of Christ.
All Christians of the Church Age, all who’ve believed in Jesus’ Name since the Day of Pentecost, will appear before Him at this judgment. All Christians already have eternal life and a heavenly destiny, but they will be judged for their faithfulness and works. And Jesus will reward them accordingly (2 Corinthians 5:10).
When people receive God/Jesus by believing in His Name, God writes their name in this book.
God judges those who’ve never believed by their works, which means they’re doomed to eternal torment apart from God’s presence (Revelation 20:11-15). The context will determine precisely what is meant when God’s books are mentioned in the Bible.
The time between Pentecost and the rapture.
The time between Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit first came to indwell believers in Jesus, and the rapture, when Jesus returns to take living believers to heaven.
The statue the prophet Daniel saw in a dream (Daniel 2:32-33).
Daniel describes this statue, which represents four successive world empires. It has a head of gold; then, as we view it in stages from its head down to its feet, it’s made of silver, then bronze, then iron, then its feet have mixed iron and clay. The progressive empires represented by the metals are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Then the feet are a future-revived Roman Empire that exists during the tribulation.
God promised David that one of his descendants would reign as King forever (2 Samuel 7:14).
Jesus was born in the line of David. He will fulfill that promise during His Millennial reign and on into eternity.
In prophecy, in general, this is any day of judgment or blessing by the Lord.
- The tribulation years are one example of the day of the Lord.
The Day of Christ—Refers to the rapture of the Church and Jesus’ judgment seat (Philippians 1:6).
- The Day of God—Refers to the beginning of the eternal state (2 Peter 3:12-13) or to the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:14).
Demons are angels who fell when Satan rebelled against God.
This rebellion happened before the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden. These fallen angels know their destiny. They will spend eternity in the lake of fire, but God hasn’t enforced their eternal sentence yet. They interfere with God’s plans and with peoples’ lives. They also advance occult practices and continue to follow their leader, Satan.
This is how God refers to unbelievers in Revelation.
It’s a derisive term from God’s perspective. God calls His believers citizens of heaven, and they have a heavenly mission. Unbelievers follow the god of this world, Satan. The Bible warns believers against being earth dwellers, i.e., settling down and making the earth their home.
Twenty-four representatives of rewarded Church Age believers.
In Revelation 4:4, after Jesus raptures the Church, twenty-four elders sit on thrones arranged around God’s throne in heaven. These are saints from the Church Age, dressed in white because they washed their robes in Jesus’ blood (believed in His Name) and wore gold crowns.
The Old Testament prophet to Israel who famously called down fire from heaven.
He’s prophesied to return before the Day of the Lord. He didn’t die; God took him to heaven in a chariot. Some think he is one of the Two Witnesses (link) during the Great Tribulation.
The settled state after the Millennium when Christ continues to reign and God brings His heavenly home to earth to live with His people.
A major river in the Mideast prominent in Bible history and prophecy.
It formed part of the border of the Promised Land God reserved for Israel. God dries up this river near the end of the tribulation years to allow the armies of the kings of the east to enter the Promised Land for the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:12).
The third member of the Satanic trinity, operational in the tribulation years.
Satan is the first member, the Beast (Antichrist) is the second, and the False Prophet (a.k.a. the Second Beast) is the third member. He causes the entire world to worship the Beast and take the number 666 of the Beast.
During the seven-year tribulation, Satan imitates God by creating a false trinity.
Satan is the first member; he imitates God the Father. The Beast (Antichrist) is the second member who imitates the work of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. And the False Prophet (the Second Beast) is the third member; he imitates the work of the Holy Spirit by promoting the First Beast.
The first resurrection is always the resurrection of the righteous.
There are various groups resurrected at separate times. This designation refers to the quality of resurrection—a resurrection to life. Unless the context demands it, it doesn’t mean the first resurrection in time.
This designation refers to the end of our earthly existence.
We’re all appointed to this death (Hebrews 9:27), and God tells believers not to fear this death. This first death contrasts with the second death when someone is cast into the lake of fire and separated from God forever.
When the first four seals are opened, they’re introduced by riders sitting on various colored horses (Revelation 6:1-8).
- The first horse is white, symbolizing conquering through a peaceful alliance.
- The second horse is red, and peace is removed from the earth.
- The third is black, which may represent famine, or the hardships caused by war.
- The fourth is a putrid green (pale), symbolizing pestilence and death to as much as one-fourth of the earth’s population).
Ezekiel uses this term for a major war during the tribulation time (Ezekiel 38-39).
Armies come from the far north to attack Israel during the seven years of tribulation. These titles are derived from a people group who descended from Magog, a grandson of Noah. They settled in the northern part of Asia and Eastern Europe. In addition, a similar army attacks Jerusalem at the end of the Millennium. Due to the similarities in the battles, the Bible also refers to the Millennial battle as Gog and Magog (Revelation 20:8).
The “Great City” in Revelation is Jerusalem.
The identification is apparent when the author says it’s the city in which the Lord was crucified (Revelation 11:8). (Though some identify this city as named in other verses in Revelation as either Rome or Babylon).
This is the final judgment of unbelievers at the end of the Millennium.
It happens immediately before the eternal state. Every unbeliever who ever lived appears at this judgment. Because they never believed, God never wrote their names in the book of life. So, they’re judged according to their works, and no one’s works are good enough to receive eternal life; they’re all cast into the lake of fire.
This means the rapture could happen at any moment.
No prophesied event must happen before Jesus returns in the air for His Church. So, Christians expectantly look and pray for Jesus’ return.
God originally created the lake of fire as a place of torment and destination for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41).
However, it also became the destiny of unbelieving humanity.
Prophecies use them to represent the overwhelming attacks of enemy armies.
Swarms of these insects were one of the plagues of Egypt. Farmers feared them because they could destroy fields of grain. The coming armies will also leave death and destruction in their wake.
A person who died for their testimony of Jesus.
Michael is the angel appointed to stand guard over Israel (Daniel 12:1-3).
He and his angels battle Satan and his angels at the midpoint of the tribulation. Michael wins the battle, casts Satan out of heaven, and throws him to the earth (Revelation 12:7-9).
The future thousand-year reign of Jesus on David’s throne on earth.
Millennium means a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-6).
This city, created by God, descends from heaven at the beginning of the eternal state.
It contrasts historic Jerusalem, which hasn’t always been faithful to God (Matthew 23:37-39).
In Revelation, this refers to a believer who perseveres under severe trials, even unto death.
God gives this person a special reward. In 1 John, the same author uses it to refer to someone who overcomes the world by simply believing in Jesus’ Name for eternal life.
The belief that Jesus returns in the air and raptures His Church before the start of the tribulation.
The Antichrist will make a peace treaty with Israel to start the seven-year tribulation.
At the start of his reign, he takes over countries peacefully. “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week (week of seven years, the tribulation)” (Daniel 9:27).
Jesus' imminent return for believers of the Church Age.
He will come down from heaven and meet His believers in the air to return with them to heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). This is the next event on the prophetic calendar. The rapture rescues them, so they won’t suffer God’s wrath during the tribulation years.
The restrainer is the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul says the lawless one (Antichrist) won’t be revealed until the restrainer is removed (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8).
God takes action to raise the dead back to life or eternal existence.
This is distinguished from resuscitation, which is returning someone to physical life, and that person will eventually die. God will resurrect everyone who ever lived (Daniel 12:2).
The highest-ranking fallen angel who rebelled against God.
He drew one-third of the angels with him in his rebellion. He accuses the believers before God, and he’s the god of this world. Jesus defeated Him at the cross, and God will sentence him to spend eternity in the lake of fire.
Jesus’ promised return to the earth to establish His Davidic Kingdom as promised by the angel when Jesus ascended to the Father (Acts 1:11).
He returns at the end of the tribulation to defeat the gathered armies who oppose his return (Revelation 19). He returns to reign for the Millennium as the Son of David and into eternity.
When God condemns unbelievers to eternal torment in the lake of fire.
The second death is after the first, the end of our physical life on earth. God tells believers not to fear the first death. But there’s no return from the second death.
The seventieth week of seven years is fulfilled during the tribulation.
Daniel received a vision of seventy weeks of years (490 years). In it, the Messiah is “cut-off” after the first sixty-nine “weeks” (483 years). The Church Age is a parenthesis between Jesus’ death on the cross and the rapture.
A future physical temple Israel builds and uses during the tribulation.
At the midpoint of the tribulation, the Beast will enter the temple, desecrate it, and demand worship as God. There will also be another future temple, known as the third temple, built for use during the millennium. The angel in Ezekiel’s vision describes it in detail in Ezekiel chapters 40-48.
This kingdom is the restored Roman Empire revealed in Daniel’s vision.
The first mention of this future ten-king federation that will exist during the tribulation was to the prophet Daniel in Daniel 7:7-8. Daniel sees “a little horn” emerge, one of the ten kings, who becomes the dominant ruler and the eventual world ruler.
1+2+.5=3.5 years, 42 months, or 1260 days, equals 3.5 years.
Daniel received a prophecy of seventy weeks (sevens) of years. The last seven years are the future tribulation time. These seven years are divided into two equal times with a precise midpoint. The author of Revelation describes the length of these halves as a time, times, and half a time.
During this time, God pours out His wrath as detailed in a three-fold series of seven judgments.
Also known as the seventieth week of Daniel, Jesus calls it a time of trouble worse than any—ever (Jeremiah 30:4-7)!
God has two special witnesses for 1260 days of the tribulation.
These witnesses will perform great miracles, bringing drought, plagues, fire, and turning water into blood. They cannot be killed until they fulfill their ministry. Then the Beast will kill them and leave their bodies lying in the streets for 3.5 days. Afterward, God breathes life into them and calls them to heaven while the earthdwellers watch (Revelation 11:3-14).
(see earth dweller) All who have not believed in God’s Name
under the Old Covenant, and all who have not believed in Jesus’ Name under the New Covenant (since Jesus’ resurrection).
The outpouring of God’s righteous anger against sin.
Because God is righteous, He must eventually judge sin (Habakkuk 1:13). Jesus satisfied God’s wrath against sin for those who believe in Jesus’ Name (1 John 2:2). Therefore, Jesus raptures the Church before the tribulation because they’ve already faced God’s wrath in the Person of Jesus, their substitute.
Living a good life contributes nothing towards receiving eternal life.
But God rewards everyone, believers, and unbelievers, according to how they live their lives, according to their works and faithfulness. But a person’s eternal destiny is not determined by their deeds; it’s determined by whether they’ve believed in God’s Name during the Old Covenant, or whether they’ve believed in Jesus’ Name under the New Covenant (since Jesus’ resurrection).