Think for a moment about your favorite symphony. Now think about its final movement. What is it that makes the final movement of a symphony into a grand finale? Three simple answers come to my mind.

First, it appears at the end of the symphony. There is no more music to come. Accordingly, this is the composer’s last opportunity to sum up his message and get it across to his audience with a final burst of artistic power and panache.

Secondly, it reprises the themes that the composer gave us in the previous movements. When it does, however, it does so “grandly.” Here the composer skillfully weaves together all his earlier motifs, so that we not only hear them again, but also hear them afresh, with fresh power. We hear them in new, startling, and beautiful relations with one another. We hear them in such a way that the whole symphony is somehow poured into the last part of the symphony.

Finally, precisely because it is a grand finale, it does not typically introduce any new musical themes. Instead, the composer devotes himself more or less exclusively to a fresh, inspiring, and majestic recapitulation of the old.

All three of these observations apply to the Revelation, and in a way that helps us understand it to its depths.

Like a grand finale, the Revelation appears at the end of the great symphony of biblical revelation. By God’s wise decree, it is the last book of the Bible. What’s more, its contents positively cry out that it should be the last book, since it is so thoroughly taken up with the last things: the Last Days, the Last Battle, the (last) Resurrection, and the (last) Judgment, the last two of which occur at the last Coming of the Last Man (1 Cor. 15:45). The claims of Church History’s false prophets notwithstanding, Spirit-taught Christians find it unthinkable that God, having given us a book like this, would give us any more. And indeed, this is the testimony of the Revelation itself (21:18-19). The Revelation is the Book of the End; therefore it rightly appears at the end of the Book (1:8; 2:26; 21:6; 22:13).

Like a grand finale, the Revelation also incorporates various biblical texts, historical references, theological doctrines, and images and numbers drawn from the preceding movements of Holy Scripture, both Old Testament and New. The allusions super-abound. There are references to the Garden of Eden, Moses, the Exodus, Elijah, Mount Zion, the Temple, the birth of Jesus, the murderous cruelty of Herod, the preaching of the disciples two by two, and Christ’s resurrection, ascension, session, heavenly reign, and Parousia.

These only scratch the surface. Westcott and Hort, Bible translators and commentators, counted nearly 400 references to the OT in the Revelation. Some say there are more. In Revelation 12 alone we find quotes from—or allusions to—Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, Daniel, Zechariah, Matthew, Luke, John, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, 1 Peter, 1 John, and Jude. Clearly, the Revelation is not simply historical narrative, law, poetry, gospel, or epistle. Rather, it is something completely new under the biblical sun. It is a final prophetic word to the universal Church, clothed in raiment woven together from all that has gone before it. As such, it is not only prophetic scripture, but also the Grand Finale of All Scripture.

If so, the implications are important. For if the Revelation really is the Grand Finale of All Scripture, then we should not expect it to introduce new themes (i.e., doctrines). It is not the purpose of a grand finale to introduce new themes; its purpose is to creatively recapitulate the old.

And when we examine the Revelation, we find that this is indeed the case. Here there is nothing new, nothing other than what Christ and the apostles have already taught us in the New Testament. There is nothing new about the trinity, the creation, the fall, the eternal covenant, the nature and structure of the Kingdom of God, or the Consummation at Christ’s return. Rather, we simply find the Holy Spirit speaking to us over and again about these old and well-established truths. However, when he does, he does so in new and astonishing ways: in beautiful, powerful, and supremely inspiring visions and symbols. Here he weaves together all that has gone before in Holy Scripture, even as he celebrates—one final time—the exaltation of the One who is the grand theme of Holy Scripture: the High King of heaven and earth.

All evangelical Christians are aware of the great debate surrounding biblical eschatology, and most realize that the nub of the controversy centers around the proper interpretation of Revelation 20. Therefore, please let this convinced amillennarian close with a few questions.

If, as I have suggested, the Revelation really is the Grand Finale of All Scripture, then does not this simple fact greatly help us to resolve the debate?  For is it likely that just a few measures prior to its end (i.e., in chapter 20), God would suddenly introduce a completely new eschatological theme (i.e., a future 1000-year earthly reign of Christ)? Moreover, what if that theme had not been mentioned in any other part of the Revelation? What if it was never mentioned in the rest of the New Testament? What if it was never mentioned in the Old Testament? What if it could not be harmonized with the eschatology of the Revelation, the OT, or the NT? And finally, what if embracing it threatened to destroy the eschatological harmony that previously existed between them all?

Yes, the Grand Finale of All Scripture has much to teach the contestants in the great end time debate. My prayer is that we all may hear it, thrill to it, come together, and come home.


  1. Speaking as a “former” amillennialist now quasi-post-millennialist, is it your contention that the millennial reign IS represented in earlier passages? If so, where? I’m genuinely curious, because I see Armageddon happening before the reign, and Gog and Magog (re: Ezekiel 38-39) happening after, but I’m hard-pressed to understand what happens in the middle with the reign. I question whether or not the vision of Christ in Rev 19 is actually the parousia, because He is still in heaven throughout the vision.

    1. Hi Michael, and thanks for posting.

      Yes, I do believe the millennial reign is represented in earlier passages, but obviously not under the imagery of 1000 years. In fact, I see it in all six cycles found in chapters 6-20: 6-7, 8-11, 12-14, 15-16, 17-19, and 20. For my thoughts on this, and on the structure of the book, please read my short Introduction and Overview of the Revelation.

      Also, if you will send me your email address, I’ll send you a digital copy of my book, The Great End Time Debate. In addition to making the case for traditional amillennialism, I offer a fairly substantial critique of postmillennialism.

      My website also has helpful articles on Ezek. 38-39 and other important OT texts.

      Thanks for writing!

      I’m at

  2. A very good article. It may be just a matter if semantics, but there definitely is a revealing taking place. I suppose it is true what you say that nothing new will be coming forth as the End Times play out, but to say that a replaying of earlier biblical concepts as Revelation plays out is all that will happen is simply not correct.

    I was filled with the Holy Spirit and a brand new understanding of Daniel 2 was revealed through me.

    So, there is a new understanding of what is written in Daniel 2, and if one doesn’t just dismiss it outright, it is pretty apparent that this new understanding impacts the way that the entire Book of Daniel, and even the entire Bible must now be approached.

    It astonishes me that those that consider themselves scholarly actually think that they have the mystery and wonder that is the plan of Jesus Christ. completely figured out. I see that as being akin to being full of pride before the fall.

    Before it is all said and done, we all are going to come to see and understand that through the power of the Holy Spirit a completely brand-new understanding of the Bible is going to be revealed.

    As I stated earlier in this note, perhaps what you stated and what I just stated is more or less the same thing; perhaps it is just a matter of semantics.

    Then again, perhaps your understanding, which is derived from a mountain of past scholars, is vastly different than my understanding, which is derived completely from the Holy Spirit.

    May God bless you and shelter you always.

    1. Hi James, thank you for posting.

      I hope that nothing in my article gave the impression that the Revelation is MERELY a recapitulation of other themes sounded in the Bible. As I wrote, it is something completely new under the biblical sun: a masterpiece of apocalyptic literature that, unlike OT apocalyptic, is completely OPEN to all who are grounded in NT truth previously revealed in the gospels and epistles. We explain the former by means of the latter, but the latter, because of its dramatic imagery, reaches into our hearts (and our sermons) in extraordinarily powerful and memorable ways.

      Dear brother, let me caution you against “completely brand-new understandings” of the Bible. A properly biblical humility will recognize that God, over the centuries, does indeed give fresh light on the Scriptures, but incrementally, slowly but surely, with with one generation benefiting from the insights or previous generations, even as it gets a bit of fresh illumination to take us still further into the truth. It seems to me this is the thrust of Ephesians 4, which depicts the Church as being on a kind of pilgrimage to the truth, so that only in the end will we finally attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God; to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

      We stand on the shoulders of our forefathers. If we love and respect their accomplishments, God may grant that we see a tiny bit further than they did.

      Blessings to you and yours.

  3. Hi Dean, I’ve been following you since you published High King of Heaven. I’ve been a convinced Realized Millennialist (Amillennialist) since the 1970’s when I was first introduced to it by William Cox’s books.
    This is a great article and I can hardly wait for your new book to come out.
    I’m curious if you have an estimated date this will be released?
    Lord richly bless you brother,
    Gary Mitchell

    1. Hey Gary, thanks so much for your kind remarks.

      If by “new book” you mean my overview of the Revelation (from which this article is taken), we’re probably looking at about six months. But you should know that the book is largeloy a collection of my previous writing on the Revelation. So, you will have the essence of the book if you read the articles on the Revelation posted on my website, or the chapters on Revelation found in The Great End Time Debate. I’d be happy to send you a digital copy of the latter if you will just email me.

      God bless!

  4. Good morning,
    I am new to you and your writings and came upon your Revelation is the Grand Finale through your article Title in the Liberty Daily Website. I enjoyed your Singular take on Revelation and your thoughts as a whole in the article. You explained well the totality of the Entire Bible and it’s basis for and in the “Last Chapter”.
    Matt Ney

    1. Hey Matt,

      TY for your kind remarks. I hope you will explore the website a little. There are some further articles on the Revelation–and on eschatology in general–that may be of interest to you. Also, if you would like a digital copy of The Great End Time Debate, just request one by email. Onward! d

  5. Hi! It is my understanding that Bishop Westcott believed the Gospel of John to be the latest dated book in the NT. Not sure that impacts the Grand Finale aspect (even if he is correct) but I have often noticed a lack of “Holy Spiritness” in Revelation, in the sense of it would seem that we should be left remembering that the Counselor and Paraclete etc is with us today. Anyway, looking forward to visiting your site more. Thanks!

    1. Hi David,

      Yes, I seem to recall hearing about Westcott’s view years ago. I can’t see any way of ruling it out, though such an order of events would seem pretty anti-climactic to me (despite the true greatness of the gospel of John).

      As for the Holy Spirit, you make an interesting point. One thought is that is that John gives us so much about the Spirit in his gospel, that further reinforcement is not needed in the Revelation. References to the seven spirits of God or the water of life or the hidden manna or the fiery unction of the Two Witnesses all seem to presuppose an understanding of the work of the Spirit, who, in the Revelation, seems content to remain in the background so that the High King may be glorified.

      Thanks for visiting! d

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