List of Symbols in Revelation

Revelation is a book of Symbols. These symbols should be interpreted through a biblical lens rather than through our own presuppositions. Use this list as a help while you read John’s apocalyptic book.

Download the devotional commentary on the book of Revelation.

Repeated Symbols in John’s Revelation:

SymbolInterpretation
2Valid testimony (Deuteronomy 19:15)
3Holiness or importance (Implied Throughout)
3 1/2Halfway there (Daniel 7:25)
4Totality (Only in Revelation, Implied from Temple Structure)
5Half of fullness, not the whole thing (half of 10)
6Sin, imperfection, incompleteness—humanity (Genesis 1:26-31)
7Perfection, completeness, rest—God (Genesis 2:1-3)
8Circumcision, resurrection (Genesis 17:12)
10Fullness (Implied)
12Complete people of God—12 tribes, apostles
40Sufficiency (Implied)
14412×12; The completed complete people of God
100010x10x10; Far beyond fullness, way more than necessary
“In the Spirit”Indicates a symbolic vision, not literal description (Revelation 1:10, 4:2)
Trumpeting VoiceChrist’s declaration to and through His church (Revelation 1:10)
7 SpiritsHoly Spirit (Isaiah 11:2; Zechariah 4:1-10)
7 golden lampstands7 Churches (local and whole); Revelation 1:20
Man in robe with golden sashJesus as the only able deliverer (Daniel 10:5)
Head and hair like white wool or snowGod, the Father (Daniel 7:9)
Fire eyes and bronze feetGod, the Son (Daniel 10:6)
Voice like rushing waterVoice of the Almighty (Ezekiel 1:24)
Seven starsThe angels, messengers, of the 7 churches (local and whole); Revelation 1:20
Mouth swordMessiah’s word (Isaiah 11:4; 49:2)
Sun faceMessiah as the only capable warrior (Daniel 10 with Judges 5:31)
Tree of LifeEverlasting life (Genesis 2:9; 3:22)
CrownReward, life (Revelation 2:10)
MannaGod’s sustenance, Christ’s broken body, means of giving life/eternal life (Exodus 16:33; John 6:51)
White stoneMemorial brick, God memorializing someone or something (Isaiah 56:5)
New nameSanctification, a removal of the old self and putting on of Christ (Isaiah 56:5; 62:2; 65:15)
Morning starAuthority (Revelation 2:26-28)
Coming like a thief in the night (not really an apocalyptic symbol but a Biblical idiom)Judgment (Genesis 11:5; 18:21; Exodus 3:8; Matthew 24:44; 1 Thessalonians 5:2).
White GarmentPurity, Eternal Life (Rev. 3:5)
Keys of David, open and no one can shut and shut and no one can openAbsolute authority over the kingdom and access to the king’s treasury (Isaiah 22:22).
New JerusalemPeople of God Bearing Christ’s Name, Christian (Rev. 3:12)
ThronePower, dominion
Rainbow, bowGod’s faithfulness to His own word (Genesis 9:12-17)
Precious stonesBrilliance, awe-inspiration, glory
Flashes of lightning and peels thunderGod’s decree, Mosaic Law (Exodus 19:16-17)
7 lamps/menorahs7 Spirit’s of God, the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2, Zechariah 4:1-10)
Four living creatures full of eyesCherubim, angels (Ezekiel 1; 10:20-22)
Book or scrollList of indictments or record of judgment (Ezekiel 2:9-10)
SealsAuthority, ownership (Isaiah 8:16; 29:11-12; Ezekiel 9:4)
7 eyes and hornsHoly Spirit (Revelation 5:6)
Bowls of incensePrayers of the saints (Revelation 5:8)
Lion of Judah, Root of David, Lamb of GodJesus (Revelation 5; Genesis 22:13; 49:9; Isaiah 11:1-10)
Four horsemenThe patrol that perpetually reports the earth’s condition (Zecheriah 1:7-10; 6:1-10).
ScalesMarkets, financial transactions, economy (Revelation 6:6)
AltarJustification (Old Testament Sacrificial System)
Palm branchesCelebration, victory (John 12:12-19; Matthew 21:1-21)
StarsMessage or messenger from heaven to earth
Locusts Demons
Fire, smoke, and brimstoneFatal judgment (Genesis 19:24, 28; Deuteronomy 29:23; 2 Samuel 22:9; Isaiah 34:9-10; Ezekiel 38:22)
SackclothMourning
Two WitnessesThe church empowered by the Holy Spirit (Revelation 1:20; 4:5)
DragonSatan (Revelation 12:9)
Woman and childIsrael and Jesus (Revelation 12:5-6)
Beast from the Sea; BabylonRome, Babylon, Nations of the earth (Daniel 7:1-8)
Beast from the earthImperial Cult, state religion—formal or informal (Imperial Cult Practices)
HailGod’s wrath (Revelation 8:7; 11:19; 16:20)

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