What Things Must Occur

The Book of Revelation’s first paragraph declares its purpose is to show God’s servants “what things must come to pass.” And it specifies the timing of those “things” as “soon,” and, the “season is near.” The “things” referred to are detailed in John’s visions, including information about Satan’s war against Jesus and his “saints” that is being waged through his earthly agents, the “Beast,” the “False Prophet,” and “Babylon.”

Open Book Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash
[Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash]

God “
gave” the “revelation” that is now unveiled by Jesus, and he “gave” it to his angel to show “his servants” what must occur “soon.

  • (Revelation 1:1-3) – “Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him to show his servants the things which must come to pass soon, and he showed them by signs, sending through his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, whatsoever things he saw. Happy is he that reads, and they who hear, the words of the prophecy, and keep the things written in it, for the season is near.”


The book’s recipients are called the “servants” of Jesus (doulos), a term applied to his followers elsewhere in the Book. And in Revelation, they are also described as the “saints,” the “assemblies,” those who have the “testimony of Jesus,” the “brethren,” and those who “follow the Lamb wherever he goes” - (Revelation 2:20, 7:3, 12:17, 13:7).

Even more explicit is John’s salutation to his audience - “to the seven assemblies in Asia.” He is commanded to write down all that he sees, and to send this information to the churches in “Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” They are seven first-century congregations located in key cities of the Roman proconsular province of Asia.

And the “things” that must come to pass will occur “soon,” and this is from the perspective of the Book’s recipients. “Soon” is not a very precise term, but these first-century congregations certainly would not have understood it to mean twenty centuries or more in their future.


The Book concerns the “things that must come to pass soon,” and this statement summarizes its contents. The phrase alludes to a passage in the Book of Daniel where the prophet interprets the troubling dream of King Nebuchadnezzar about a “great image with a head of gold.” As Daniel proclaimed to the Babylonian ruler:

  • (Daniel 2:28) - “There is a God in heaven that reveals mysteries and made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what things must come to pass (ha dei genesthai) in later days.”

When alluding to Old Testament passages, Revelation uses the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible, and in it, the Greek clause from Daniel reads ‘ha dei genesthai,’ the exact same clause found in the Greek text of Revelation’s first verse:

  • (Revelation 1:1) - “Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what things must come to pass (ha dei genesthai) soon.”

The same phrase is reiterated at key literary junctures of the Book. For example, when John sees the glorified “Son of Man” he hears Jesus command him to write down all that he saw, the “things that are, and WHAT THINGS WILL COME TO PASS after these things.”

At the start of his second vision, John is summoned to “come up here,” where he sees “what things must come to pass after these things - (Revelation 1:19, 4:1, 17:1, 21:9).

But Revelation is not simply quoting Daniel word-for-word. What was expected by Daniel in “LATER DAYS” is changed to “SOON” in the Book of Revelation. For John and his audience, the expected time of fulfillment is at hand. This understanding is confirmed in verse 3 when it states that the “SEASON IS NEAR” - (Daniel 12:4, Revelation 1:3, 22:7-10).

Thus, what for Daniel was expected “in later days” is now imminent for the seven “assemblies of Asia.”

Similarly, Daniel was told to “seal the book until the SEASON OF THE END”; yet, in Revelation, Jesus declares a “blessing” on all who read and heed the book because the “season is at hand.” This understanding is confirmed in the book’s epilogue:

  • (Revelation 22:7) - “Seal not the words of the prophecy of this book, for the season is at hand” - (Compare - Daniel 12:4).


In the twelfth chapter of Daniel, the prophet is instructed to “seal the book until the SEASON OF THE END.” In contrast, John is instructed NOT to seal the Book because the “season” of fulfillment is imminent. Thus, what was “sealed” in Daniel is UNSEALED in the Book of Revelation.

Thus, the Book discloses “what things must come to pass soon,” and how they will impact the “servants” of Jesus, and that category certainly includes the “assemblies of Asia.” This does not mean its visions were only applicable to those seven churches in the first century, or that their experiences, both positive and negative, exhausted its predictions.

But it most certainly does mean these congregations are included in the Book’s warnings and promises, and any interpretation that makes them irrelevant to its visions and predictions goes awry.

Thus, in the visions of John, the things predicted by Daniel for a remote future and presented in veiled forms are disclosed and put into motion by Jesus on behalf of his church. In his death and resurrection, the season of fulfillment has dawned, and today, it is well underway.