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The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Revelation: In Christ You Are an Overcomer

The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Revelation: In Christ You Are an Overcomer

by Warren W. Wiersbe

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The book of Revelation is one of the most intriguing books of the Bible. It’s also one of the most mysterious. Filled with vivid imagery, rich themes, and deep spiritual insights, it can be challenging to read and understand. Yet woven throughout Revelation’s sweeping tapestry is a unifying message: The victory found in Jesus Christ. This Bible study takes


The book of Revelation is one of the most intriguing books of the Bible. It’s also one of the most mysterious. Filled with vivid imagery, rich themes, and deep spiritual insights, it can be challenging to read and understand. Yet woven throughout Revelation’s sweeping tapestry is a unifying message: The victory found in Jesus Christ. This Bible study takes an in-depth, yet practical, look at the book of Revelation, and shares how we can experience a victorious life. The Wiersbe Bible Studies Series explores timeless wisdom found in God’s word. Based on Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe’s popular “BE” series, each study provides topical, relevant insights from selected books of the Bible. Designed for small groups, this eight-week study features selected commentaries from BE Victorious, engaging questions, and practical applications, all designed to help you connect God’s word with your life.   

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David C Cook
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In Christ You Are an Overcomer

By Warren W. Wiersbe

David C. Cook

Copyright © 2011 Warren W. Wiersbe
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4347-0231-9


Lesson 1



Before you begin ...

• Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.

• Read Revelation 1. This lesson references chapter 1 in Be Victorious. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.

Getting Started

From the Commentary

While the book of Revelation was originally sent to seven actual local churches in Asia Minor, John makes it clear that any believer may read and profit from it (Rev. 1:3). In fact, God promised a special blessing to the one who would read the book and obey its message. (The verb read means "to read out loud." Revelation was first read aloud in local church meetings.) The apostle Paul had sent letters to seven churches—Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, and Thessalonica—and now John sent one book to seven different churches. Early in the book, he had a special message from Christ to each church.

Be Victorious, pages 20–21

1. Based on your initial reaction to Revelation, what was the purpose of John's book? What are some ways it might have been speaking to immediate circumstances? To future concerns? What are some of the key themes in Revelation?

More to Consider: It is worth noting that there are seven "beatitudes" in Revelation: 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14. What is significant about the number seven in this instance and elsewhere in Scripture?

2. Choose one verse or phrase from Revelation 1 that stands out to you. This could be something you're intrigued by, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here.

Going Deeper

From the Commentary

"If you don't stop writing books," a friend said to me, "you will run out of people to dedicate them to!" I appreciated the compliment, but I did not agree with the sentiment. John had no problem knowing to whom his book should be dedicated! But before he wrote the dedication, he reminded his readers that it was the Triune God who had saved them and would keep them as they faced the fiery trials of suffering.

God the Father is described as the Eternal One (see Rev. 1:8; 4:8). All history is part of His eternal plan, including the world's persecution of the church. Next, the Holy Spirit is seen in His fullness, for there are not seven spirits, but one. The reference here is probably to Isaiah 11:2.

Finally, Jesus Christ is seen in His threefold office as Prophet (faithful Witness), Priest (First-begotten from the dead), and King (Prince of the kings of the earth). First-begotten does not mean "the first one raised from the dead," but "the highest of those raised from the dead." Firstborn is a title of honor (see Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15, 18).

But of the three Persons of the Trinity, it is to Jesus Christ alone that this book is dedicated.

Be Victorious, pages 22–23

3. Why would John choose to dedicate this book to Jesus? What significance might this have to the intended audience?

What significance might this have for believers today?

From the Commentary

The overriding theme of the book of Revelation is the return of Jesus Christ to defeat all evil and to establish His reign. It is definitely a book of victory and His people are seen as "overcomers" (see Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 12:11; 15:2; 21:7). In his first epistle, John also called God's people "overcomers" (1 John 2:13–14; 4:4; 5:4–5). Through eyes of unbelief, Jesus Christ and His church are defeated in this world, but through eyes of faith, He and His people are the true victors. As Peter Marshall once said, "It is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail."

Be Victorious, page 23

4. Why was a book of "victory" so important to the early Christians who were suffering persecution? How is this message applicable today? In what ways were God's people "overcomers" during the time of the early church? How are God's people overcomers today?

From the Commentary

The titles given to God in Revelation 1:8 make it clear that He is certainly able to work out His divine purposes in human history. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet; so, God is at the beginning of all things and also at their end. He is the eternal God (see Rev. 1:4), unlimited by time. He is also the Almighty, able to do anything. Almighty is a key name for God in Revelation (Rev. 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22).

God the Father is called "Alpha and Omega" in Revelation 1:8 and 21:6, but the name also is applied to His Son (Rev. 1:11; 22:13).

Be Victorious, pages 24–25

5. Why were the names given to God so important to the early Christians? How does applying the name "Alpha and Omega" (Rev. 1:8; 21:6) to Jesus support the argument for the deity of Christ? (See also Isa. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12–13.) Why is establishing the deity of Christ important to John?

From the Commentary

This book was born out of John's profound spiritual experience while exiled on Patmos....

On the Lord's Day, John heard a trumpetlike voice behind him (Rev. 1:9–11). It was Jesus Christ speaking! As far as we know, the apostle had not heard his Lord's voice since Christ had returned to heaven more than sixty years before. The Lord commissioned John to write this book and to send it to the seven churches He had selected....

John saw a vision of the glorified Christ (vv. 12–16). Revelation 1:20 makes it clear that we must not interpret this vision literally, for it is made up of symbols. The seven lampstands represent the seven churches that would receive the book....

What John did (vv. 17–18) was predictable. He fell at the Lord's feet as though he were dead! And this is the apostle who leaned on Jesus' breast (John 13:23)! A vision of the exalted Christ can only produce awe and fear (Dan. 10:7–9).

Be Victorious, pages 25–26

6. What does it mean in Revelation 1:10 that John was "in the Spirit"? What's the significance of the voice being compared to a trumpet? Why do you think John recorded his reaction to hearing Jesus? What purpose does his reaction serve for readers then and now?

From the Commentary

John was told not to seal the book (Rev. 22:10) because God's people need the message it contains. Revelation can be understood, despite the fact that it contains mysteries that may never be comprehended until we meet at the throne of God. John sent the book to the seven churches of Asia Minor with the expectation that, when it was read aloud by the messengers, the listening saints would understand enough of its truths so as to be greatly encouraged in their own difficult situations.

Be Victorious, page 28

7. Why is Revelation such a misunderstood (and perhaps misinterpreted) book? Is it possible to step into the shoes of the early churches that were the originally intended audience for this message? How does that help us understand what God's message was for them? For us today?

From the Commentary

Revelation is a book filled with symbols. Biblical symbols are timeless in their message and limitless in their content. For instance, the symbol of "Babylon" originates in Genesis 10—11, and its meaning grows as you trace it through Scripture, climaxing with Revelation 17—18. The same is true of the symbols of "the Lamb" and "the bride." It is exciting to seek to penetrate deeper into the rich meanings that are conveyed by these symbols.

Be Victorious, page 28

8. Why would God choose to speak to His people through symbols instead of clear, certain language? What is the benefit of symbolic teaching? What are the challenges in understanding it? What are some other symbolic messages in Scripture that can easily be misunderstood? How does struggling to understand difficult messages move us closer to God?

More to Consider: What John wrote about would "shortly come to pass" (Rev. 1:1 KJV) because "the time is at hand" (v. 3 KJV). (Note also Rev. 22:7, 10, 12, 20.) The word shortly does not mean "soon" or "immediately," but "quickly, swiftly." Why would this message of "quickly, swiftly" be significant to Christians suffering persecution? How might it comfort them? What are the dangers of interpreting this as "soon"? How do we know God didn't mean "soon" when He gave John this message? (See 2 Peter 3.)

From the Commentary

Revelation is a book of prophecy. This is definitely stated in Revelation 1:3; 22:7, 10, 18–19; note also 10:11. The letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor dealt with immediate needs in those assemblies, needs that are still with us in churches today, but the rest of the book is devoted almost entirely to prophetic revelations. It was by seeing the victorious Christ presented that the persecuted Christians found encouragement for their difficult task of witnessing. When you have assurance for the future, you have stability in the present. John himself was suffering under the hand of Rome (Rev. 1:9), so the book was born out of affliction.

Be Victorious, page 28

9. How does knowing that Revelation is a prophetic book help us to understand its message for today? What kind of encouragement did these prophecies give to the early church? What encouragement does the book offer to us today?

From the Commentary

Revelation is the climax of the Bible. All that began in Genesis will be completed and fulfilled in keeping with God's sovereign will. He is "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending" (Rev. 1:8). What God starts, He finishes!

But before visiting the throne room of heaven, we must pause to listen to "the Man among the lampstands" as He reveals the personal needs in our churches and in our own hearts. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29)!

Be Victorious, page 29

10. Why is Revelation a fitting "last book" for the Bible? How does the revelation given to John help to tie up the larger story of God's redemption of man? What implications does this book have for today's Christians and how they work out their salvation?

Looking Inward

Take a moment to reflect on all that you've explored thus far in this study of Revelation 1. Review your notes and answers and think about how each of these things matters in your life today.

Tips for Small Groups: To get the most out of this section, form pairs or trios and have group members take turns answering these questions. Be honest and as open as you can in this discussion, but most of all, be encouraging and supportive of others. Be sensitive to those who are going through particularly difficult times and don't press for people to speak if they're uncomfortable doing so.

11. What's your first thought when you hear that someone is going to be teaching from the book of Revelation? How do you typically respond to Scripture passages you don't fully understand? What role does faith play in your study of this book?

12. The main theme of Revelation is Jesus' role as "overcomer." How is this message applicable to your life today? What are some of the evils in this world that you can't wait for Jesus to defeat? How important is it to you that you fully understand how this is going to happen?

13. What do you like best about the Bible's use of symbols? What frustrates you about them? What are some of the symbols you have the hardest time with? How can you benefit from the struggle to understand those symbols?

Going Forward

14. Think of one or two things that you have learned that you'd like to work on in the coming week. Remember that this is all about quality, not quantity. It's better to work on one specific area of life and do it well than to work on many and do poorly (or to be so overwhelmed that you simply don't try).

Do you want to better understand the meaning of the symbols in Revelation? Do you want to learn how to trust Jesus' role as "overcomer"? Be specific. Go back through Revelation 1 and put a star next to the phrase or verse that is most encouraging to you. Consider memorizing this verse.

Real-Life Application Ideas: Revelation speaks about Jesus' ultimate victory over evil. But we are also compelled by faith to be God's hands and feet to fight evil while we're still here on earth. Think about some of the evils you know that affect your family, your church, or your community. Then make a plan of attack for fighting those evils in practical ways.

Seeking Help

15. Write a prayer below (or simply pray one in silence), inviting God to work on your mind and heart in those areas you've previously noted. Be honest about your desires and fears.

Notes for Small Groups:

• Look for ways to put into practice the things you wrote in the Going Forward section. Talk with other group members about your ideas and commit to being accountable to one another.

• During the coming week, ask the Holy Spirit to continue to reveal truth to you from what you've read and studied.

• Before you start the next lesson, read Revelation 2—3. For more in-depth lesson preparation, read chapters 2 and 3, "Christ and the Churches—Parts I and II," in Be Victorious.


Lesson 2

The Churches


Before you begin ...

• Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.

• Read Revelation 2—3. This lesson references chapters 2 and 3 in Be Victorious. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.

Getting Started

From the Commentary

If you have ever moved to a new community and had to select a new church home, you know how difficult it is to examine and evaluate a church and its ministry. Imposing buildings may house dying or dead congregations, while modest structures might belong to virile assemblies on the march for the Lord. The church we think is "rich" may turn out to be poor in God's sight (Rev. 3:17), while the "poor" church is actually rich (Rev. 2:9).

Only the Head of the church, Jesus Christ, can accurately inspect each church and know its true condition, because He sees the internals, not only the externals (Rev. 2:23b). In these special messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor, the Lord gave each assembly an "X-ray" of its condition. But He intended for all the churches to read these messages and benefit from them. (Note the plural "churches" in Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22.)

Be Victorious, page 33

1. Chapters 2 and 3 in Revelation address specific churches. What are some of the messages God gave these churches? In what ways are these messages also applicable to individuals?

2. Choose one verse or phrase from Revelation 2—3 that stands out to you. This could be something you're intrigued by, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here.

More to Consider: John was a pastor at heart. What can you learn about his "pastor's heart" in the way he tries to encourage these churches in difficult times? What can today's pastors learn from the way John reached out?

Going Deeper

From the Commentary

The Ephesian assembly had enjoyed some "stellar" leadership—Paul, Timothy, and the apostle John himself—but the Lord reminded them that He was in control of the ministry, placing the "stars" where He pleased. How easy it is for a church to become proud and forget that pastors and teachers are God's gifts (Eph. 4:11) who may be taken away at any time. Some churches need to be cautioned to worship the Lord and not their pastor!

Be Victorious, page 34

3. What does "you have forsaken your first love" mean (Rev. 2:4)? Why do churches forsake their first love? What warnings does this message to the Ephesian church have for us today? (See 2:1–7.)

From the Commentary

The church at Smyrna was not having an easy time of it! The members were persecuted, probably because they refused to compromise and say, "Caesar is Lord." Smyrna was an important center of the Roman imperial cult, and anyone refusing to acknowledge Caesar as Lord would certainly be excluded from the guilds. This would mean unemployment and poverty. The word used here for poverty means "abject poverty, possessing absolutely nothing."

A large Jewish community also thrived in Smyrna. The Jews, of course, did not have to patronize the imperial cult since their religion was accepted by Rome, but they certainly would not cooperate with the Christian faith. So, from both Jews and Gentiles, the Christians in Smyrna received slander and suffering.

But they were rich! They lived for eternal values that would never change, riches that could never be taken away. "As poor, yet making many rich" (2 Cor. 6:10; 8:9). In fact, their suffering for Christ only increased their riches.

Our struggles are not with flesh and blood, but with the enemy, Satan, who uses people to accomplish his purposes. The Jewish synagogue was actually a synagogue of Satan. A true Jew is not one physically or racially, but spiritually (Rom. 2:17–29).

Be Victorious, pages 37–38

4. How might the message "be faithful, even to the point of death" have been received by the church in Smyrna? How would the promise of the "crown of life" have encouraged those who were suffering (Rev. 2:10)? What does it mean that our struggles are not with flesh and blood?

From the Commentary

Despite their courageous stand against persecution, the believers in Pergamos were not faultless before the Lord. Satan had not been able to destroy them by coming as the roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8), but he was making inroads as the deceiving serpent. A group of compromising people had infiltrated the church fellowship, and Jesus Christ hated their doctrines and their practices.

These infiltrators are called "Nicolaitans," whom we met already at Ephesus (Rev. 2:6). The name means "to rule the people." What they taught is called "the doctrine of Balaam" (Rev. 2:14). The Hebrew name Balaam also means "lord of the people" and is probably synonymous with Nicolaitans. Sadly, this group of professed believers "lorded it over" the people and led them astray.

Be Victorious, page 39

5. Review the story of Balaam (Num. 22—24). Who was Balaam? How does this help us understand the false doctrine that the church in Pergamos was facing? What message does John give these Christians?

From the Commentary

The longest message was sent to the church in the smallest city! Thyatira was a military town as well as a commercial center with many trade guilds. Wherever guilds were found, idolatry and immorality—the two great enemies of the early church—were almost always present too.

The city boasted a special temple to Apollo, the "sun god," which explains why the Lord introduced Himself as "the Son of God" (the only time in Revelation this title is used). John had to deliver a message of severe warning and judgment to this congregation, which explains the description of the Lord's eyes and feet.

Be Victorious, pages 41–42


Excerpted from The Wiersbe BIBLE STUDY SERIES: REVELATION by Warren W. Wiersbe. Copyright © 2011 Warren W. Wiersbe. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago. For ten years he was associated with the Back to the Bible radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 160 books, including the popular “BE” series of Bible commentaries, which has sold more than four million copies. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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