Glossary of Images and Related Explanations in the Revelation:

Note:  As we go through the Book of Revelation, we will build this glossary (a collection of terms with their meanings) as the images and related explanations are revealed.  New images that are added are identified by the yellow highlight.

Glossary of Images
(alphabetic order)
Explanation of the Image Reference to Explanation
Abyss, pit or bottomless pit The exact meaning is not yet defined in the text.  The smoke from the pit came out and darkened the sun (Revelation 9:2).  The king or angel over the abyss was called Abaddon or Apollyon (meaning "the destroyer")  
Armies of the horsemen (numbered 200 million).  See horses (with heads like lions). The exact meaning of this is not given in the text.  These are mentioned in Revelation 9:16  
Babylon the Great (see prostitute)    
Beast coming out of the sea. Revelation chapter 13 describes the beast coming out of the sea.  The exact identity of the beast is not given in the text. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast.  They worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?"  And there was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies; and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.  And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is those who dwell in heaven.  And it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them; and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.

Although the beast is not specifically identified, Revelation 17:9-17 gives more clues as to the identity of the beast:  The seven heads of the beast are seven mountains and seven kings (five have already fallen, one is there now, and the seventh is coming).  The beast itself was the 8th king and also one of the 7 kings.  The ten horns on the beast are 10 kings which had not yet received power (they would receive power for a short period of time).  The beast and the ten horns will hate the harlot (see prostitute below) and will destroy her. 

Beast coming out of the earth (2nd beast of Revelation 13 -- later called the deceiver or false prophet) Revelation 13:11-17 describes a second beast.  The exact identity of this 2nd beast is not identified in the text. 
This 2nd beast has two horns like a lamb, and he speaks like a dragon.  He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.  And he performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.  And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.  And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.  And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead, and he provides that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
Book (or scroll) written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals The book or scroll is mentioned in Revelation 5:1, but the content of the scroll is not yet identified.  
Book (or scroll), little The little book or scroll is mentioned in Revelation 10:1-11.  It is possibly an image representing the Gospel or good news, but the exact explanation of the image is not for certain in the text.  
Book of Life The book containing the names of those who will receive eternal life.

Psalm 69:28 -- "May they be blotted out of the book of life, and may they not be recorded with the righteous."  (NAS)

Revelation 3:5`He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (NAS)

Bottomless pit (see abyss)    
Bowls, golden.  Full of incense. The golden bowls contained incense which represented "the prayers of the saints."

Revelation 5:8 "twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." (NAS)

Bowls (seven).  Full of the wrath of God. These were filled with the wrath of God.  The exact meaning of the bowls is not given, although they hold the plagues or wrath of God until it is poured out.  See Revelation 15:6-7.
In Revelation Chapter 16, the bowls are poured out on those who have the mark of the beast and worship his image (see Revelation 16:2 and following).  The seven plagues are described in Chapter 16.
Censer, golden.  The fire from the altar of incense was put in the censer (a censer is a vessel or container for burning incense) and thrown by an angel down to earth.  The exact meaning of the censer image is not defined in the text. Revelation 8:3.
Child (male) This child is described in Revelation chapter 12 as the one to rule the nations with a rod of iron.  The child was caught up to God and to His throne.  Although the exact identity of the male child is not given in the text, it is most likely Jesus Christ.
Clusters of grapes (see Grapes)
Dragon or serpent (red) The dragon or serpent is described in Revelation chapter 12.  He is identified as Satan or the devil. 

Revelation 12:9 -- "And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."  (NAS)

Elders (24), clothed in white garments and gold crowns on their heads The 24 elders are mentioned in Revelation 4:4, but their exact identities are not yet explained.  
Eyes (7) and horns (7) of the Lamb The lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are "the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth."

Revelation 5:6 "And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth." (NAS)

Garments, or robes of white As of result of our sins being washed away, we are spiritually white as snow, clothed with Christ, clothed in white (purity). For those who remain faithful until death, they will receive eternal life (the final white robe).  In Revelation 7:14, their robes were washed in the blood of the Lamb and made white.

Isaiah 1:18 "Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool."  (NAS)

Ephesians 5:25-26 -- "...just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word..."  (NAS)

"For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."  Galatians 3:26-27  (NAS)

Grapes or clusters of grapes or harvest. This is mentioned in Revelation 14:15-20.  Those that are reaped from the earth.  The harvest usually refers to the Lord gathering the good and bad from the earth for judgment (see Matthew 13:30-40).  The precise people in this harvest are not identified.  The grapes are gathered into the wine press of the wrath of God (Revelation 14:19-20)  
Harlot (see prostitute)    
Harps, and sound of harps The sound of those singing before the throne of God and the Lamb. First referred to in Revelation 5:8 but no explanation given until Revelation 14:2-3.

Revelation 14:2-3 "...and the voice which I heard like of harpists playing on their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne..." NAS)

Harvest (see Grapes)    
Horns and eyes of the Lamb (see eyes of the Lamb above)    
Horses (4), one white, one red, one black and one pale-colored, each bearing separate riders The colors of the horses are mentioned in Revelation 6:2-8, but the exact meaning of the colors is not specifically identified (see Riders on Horses)  
Horses (with heads like lions and smoke and brimstone coming out of their mouths) and riders Revelation 9:16-19 describes these horses and their armies.  The exact meaning of these images is not given.   
Incense in the golden bowls (see bowls full of incense)    
Lamb The Lamb of God that was slain and purchased men with His blood.  In Revelation 17:14, it describes the Lamb as being victorious over the beast and the great harlot, because He is King of kings and Lord of lords. The Lamb as described meets all the definitions of Jesus.  In addition, John 1:29, John 1:36, Acts 8:32, and 1 Peter 1:19 describe Jesus as The Lamb or compare Jesus to a lamb.
Lamps of Fire (Seven) burning before the throne Each lamp of fire was one of the seven Spirits of God Revelation 4:5 -- "And seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God..."  (NAS)
Lampstands or Candlesticks Each lampstand represents one of the seven churches of Asia

Revelation 1:20 -- "...and the seven lampstands are the seven churches."

Lampstands (two) These are the two witnesses of Revelation 11 that stand before the Lord (see witnesses).

Revelation 11:3-4 -- "And I will grant authority to my two witnesses...These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth."  (NAS)

Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the root of David Jesus is a descendant of David (one of the kings of the Israelites) and also Judah, one of the 12 sons of Jacob (Israel).  The family groups that resulted from these 12 sons of Israel are referred to as the 12 tribes of Israel (the Israelites).

Hebrews 7:14  "For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah..."   (NAS)

"Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel..." 2Timothy 2:8 (NAS)

Living Creatures (Four) around the throne Mentioned in Revelation 4:6 but not yet explained.

Locusts The exact meaning of this symbol is not given in the text.  These locusts were part of the first plague after the first trumpet sounded in Revelation 9:3-11.   
Manna, hidden Perhaps a reference to the spiritual bread that gives life.

Deuteronomy 8:2-3 " does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD." (NAS)

John 6:31-35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst."    (NAS)

Offspring of the Woman (see also Woman clothed with the sun) The identity of the woman and her male child are not specifically stated (see "Woman clothed with the sun" below).  However the "rest of her offspring" are identified as those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Revelation 12:17 "...the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus."  (NAS)

Olive Trees (two) These are the two witnesses of Revelation 11 that stand before the Lord (see witnesses).

Revelation 11:3-4 -- "And I will grant authority to my two witnesses...These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth."  (NAS)

One Sitting on the Throne, was like a jasper stone and sardius in appearance Mentioned in Revelation 4:2-3 but not yet explained (probably God the Father)  
One Sitting on the Cloud Revelation 14:14 describes the one sitting on the cloud being like the son of man, having a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.  This One is not yet specifically identified in the text.  
Prostitute (or harlot) that sits on many waters The great harlot (prostitute) is mentioned in Revelation chapter 17.  She sat on a scarlet beast (the beast with seven heads and ten horns -- see Beast coming out of the sea above).  She was clothed with purple and scarlet and was adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls.  In her hand was a gold cup full of abominations and the unclean things of her immorality.  On her head was written "Babylon the Great, mother of harlots."  The great harlot is the Great City... Revelation 17:18  -- "And the woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth." 
Revelation 17:6  -- "And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus."
(Question:  at the time the revelation was written, which great city or power that reigned over the kings of the earth was drunk with the blood of those who followed Jesus?)
Rainbow around the Throne, like an emerald in appearance Mentioned in Revelation 4:3, but not yet explained.  
Riders on Horses (4) Revelation 6:2-8 mentions the riders of the four horses.  Each of the riders was given different things: 
  1. The rider of the white horse was given a crown and he rode out to win the victory.
  2. The 2nd rider (of the red horse) was given the power to take away peace and to kill...and was given a big sword.
  3. The 3rd rider (of the black horse) was given a pair of scales in his hands.
  4. The 4th rider (of the pale-colored horse) is the only rider identified specifically -- this rider was "death."  Hades was following close behind "death" and they were given the power to kill people by various means.
Revelation 6:2-8
Riders on Horses (see horses with heads like lions above)    
Robes of white - see Garments above.    
Scroll (see book)    
Sea of Glass Like Crystal Mentioned in Revelation 4:6, but not yet explained. Mentioned again in Revelation 15:2 what appears to be the same sea of glass is also mentioned, but this time the sea of glass is mixed with fire.  The victorious of God are standing on the sea of glass that is before the throne.  
Seal of the living God, written on the foreheads of the bond-servants of God The instrument that was used to make a mark on the foreheads of the bond-servants of God.  The seal is mentioned in Revelation 7:2-3.  The actual mark on the forehead (whether it was a word or words or a symbol) is not explained at this point.  
Seals (Seven) These are seals that kept the book or scroll closed and, as a result, did not allow the contents of the book to be revealed.  The seals are first mentioned in Revelation 5:1, but their exact meaning is not yet identified.  
Serpent (see Dragon)    
Sickle This is used to represent the reaping or gathering of people from the a farmer would gather grapes or crops from the field using the sharp bladed tool called a sickle.  See Grapes above.

Revelation 14:19-20: And the angel swung his sickle to the earth, and gathered {the clusters from} the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. 20 And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses' bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles. (NAS)

Springs of the water of life According to Revelation 7:14-17, the great multitude (who came out of the tribulation and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb) would be led by the Lamb to these springs.  No further explanation is given at the point.   
Star, morning star A reference to the light that brings light (truth) to a world of darkness.

2 Peter 1:19 And we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. (NAS)

Revelation 22:16 Jesus Himself is described as "the bright and morning star."

Star (one called Wormwood or bitter) The meaning of the star is not defined.  In the vision in Revelation 8:10-11, the star fell from heaven, burning like a torch and when it fell on the springs of water, they became bitter, killing many men.  
Stars Each star represents one of the angels (or messengers) of the seven churches.

Revelation 1:20 -- "As for the mystery of the seven stars...the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches..."  (NAS)

Stone, white The little white stone is not explained in the text.  Each person that received the stone had a new name written on the stone (only the person receiving the stone knew this new name). 

Referred to, but not explained at Revelation 2:16-17.

Souls under the altar, given the robes of white. These were the souls of those people who had been killed because they were faithful to God's message and to the truth they had received. Revelation 6:9
Sword, two-edged There was a two-edged sword in the mouth of the One who was like the son of man.

Ephesians 6:17 -- "...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God..." (NAS) 

Hebrews 4:12 -- "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

Thrones (one for the One sitting on the Throne, and 24 for each of the 24 elders) The place where the One and the elders sit Revelation 4:2,4
Tree of Life Tree in heaven, near the river of life.  Fruit of tree gives eternal life.  Leaves are for the healing of the nations. In the midst of the Paradise of God.

Genesis 3:22  "...lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"-- (NAS)

Revelation 22:2 "...And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." (NAS)

Trees, Olive (see Olive Trees above)    
Trumpets (Seven) Commonly used in battle as a signaling device.  In the book of Revelation, these were blown to announce the coming of the seven plagues. Revelation 8:2,6
Washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb See Garments of White above or click here for more information.  
Waters (upon which the great prostitute or harlot sits) The waters are described as peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.  The great harlot sat upon these peoples (see prostitute above). Revelation 17:15  "The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues."
Wine Press of the Wrath of God (see Grapes)  
Witnesses (two) -- (see Olive Trees and Lampstands (2) above The exact identification of these two witnesses is not given in the text.  They are first mentioned in Revelation 11:3-13.  They are symbolized by two olive trees and two lampstands standing before the throne.  
Woman, clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet and a crown of 12 stars. The exact identity of the woman is not given in the text.  Revelation chapter 12 describes her as being clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet and a crown of 12 stars on her head which might indicate she is a symbol representing the people of God.  Her offspring are followers of Jesus (see Offspring of the woman above).  

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