Do you remember what you thought about the book of Revelation when you were a kid? Did it seem like a giant mystery? Like it held all the answers about the end of the world … if only you could crack the code?
If you were like me, Revelation was a book you wanted to understand but weren’t about to sit down and read.
It’s a safe bet that kids today aren’t much different. If they’ve grown up in church—and even if they haven’t—they probably know just enough about the last book of the Bible to be curiously confused and intimidated.
So how do we teach kids about the book of Revelation?
A Place to Start
Explaining the word revelation is a great start. It simply means that God is showing people something. We can help kids think of this word in everyday terms. When a child makes a present for her mom, she reveals it when she’s ready to show it to her.
God gave us the book of Revelation because He had something that He wanted to show us.
Older kids may have heard the word apocalypse. The Greek name of the last book of the Bible is apokalupsis. This is a type of literature that focuses on the history of the world in light of its final outcome.
So, God had something to reveal to people, and it had something to do with the end of the world.
God made this revelation by giving a vision to a man named John. Kids may wonder if this is the same John who wrote the other books of the Bible. Great question!
While many Bible scholars say “yes” and support the long-held church tradition that the “beloved” disciple wrote Revelation, no one knows for sure if this was the same John or not. What we know about this John from his letter is that he was an apostle and a prophet.
But John wanted his audience to know that this wasn’t his letter. Its real author was Jesus. John was more like a scribe, writing down what he saw and what Jesus told him to share with others. So, what was the big revelation?
There’s a lot to it, of course, but here are some key points to focus on as we teach kids about the book of Revelation:
1. God is watching His church, and He has expectations for His people.
Compared to the rest of the book, the first three chapters of Revelation are easier to explain to kids.
Jesus talks about seven different churches and gives what we might call a “performance review” of each one. For most of them, He points out the things that are good and the things that are bad in the church. What we want kids to see is that God cares what His church is doing on earth.
This is a great time to be sure kids understand that the church is not a building or one specific gathering of believers. The church is made up of everyone on the earth who follows Jesus.
God sees us. He sees how we worship, the things we care about, and how we take care of one another. And He wants us to live in a way that honors Him and follows His instructions in the Bible. Kids may be tempted to think God is too big or too busy to notice them. He’s not!
This should be reassuring, not scary.
These first three chapters also talk a lot about people who conquer. That’s a fancy word that means win. Jesus has already won, and He helps us win over the sin and struggles of this life.
Jesus promises some awesome things to those who conquer with Him: our names forever in the book of life, our names confessed before God and angels, and to sit on Jesus’s throne with Him, among other things.
We can help kids view these promises with excitement. These are incredible rewards for those who conquer in Christ Jesus!
2. Jesus is the lion and the lamb.
In Revelation 5, Jesus is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah, a reference that goes all the way back to Genesis 49:8-10. Kids tend to like lions a lot and will be able to talk about qualities associated with a lion: fierceness, power, might, royalty, worthy of respect and awe.
But while Jesus is described as a lion, what John sees when Jesus comes forward is a lamb. And not just any lamb, but a slain lamb. Talk about some of the qualities a lamb represents: gentleness, humility, purity, innocence, and defenseless.
Ironically, all of heaven was singing out, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” Those are pretty strange things to ascribe to a slain lamb.
Help the kids see that this praise was for Jesus, the conquering lion who was also the perfect lamb, sacrificed for all of us to save us from our sins. We can point back to Exodus 12 and the instructions God gave about using a Passover lamb “without defect” (12:5).
Jesus, perfect and sinless, was the lamb slain once for all time to pay the cost of sin.
In much of Revelation, Jesus is the fierce, triumphant, mighty lion. But help kids see that, at the same time, He’s also the lamb that was slain.
3. We all get to choose whose side we’re on.
There is a lot of symbolism in Revelation. There’s a dragon and beasts and a pregnant woman and a lot of talk about Babylon. Instead of breaking all of these down, stick to the bigger picture of what the symbols tell us: we have a choice about who we’re going to follow.
We can put our hope and trust in “Babylon”—the nations and rulers of this world—but none of them will last. Helps kids think about all the nations that have come and gone since Revelation was written.
Rome was a big deal 2,000 years ago, but now, not so much.
We get to choose if we’ll align with the lamb who was slain, whose power never ends, or the temporary powers of this world. And just to be sure we make the right decision, God reveals the final outcome.
There is one side we want to be on at the end of the world. It’s like going into the Super Bowl and getting to choose which team you’re on, except you already know who’s going to win.
When we follow Jesus, we are choosing the winning side.
4. Jesus is returning, and we want to be ready.
There’s a natural curiosity in all of us—kids and adults alike—to know if this world’s going to end and how it’s going to end. A lot of us would also like to know when it’s going to end. For many centuries, people have looked to the book of Revelation to find these answers. What they find, instead, is confusion.
What does it all mean?
We can help kids by teaching them that the book of Revelation does not give a clear, step-by-step of the end of the world. It doesn’t tell us when or how it’s all going to go down. But, like all of God’s Word, it tells us what we need to know.
Jesus is coming back! That’s the great big good news of Revelation. He’s coming back, and He will set things straight.
Talk with kids about how the world doesn’t run the way God intended it to. There’s sickness and death and injustice and conflict between people and nations. But Jesus will come and put things in order. He will put an end to sin and an end to death. God will dwell with His people.
To help kids grasp what this means, read Revelation 21:3-4 together: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Encourage kids to imagine what that will be like. What is a world like with no death, sadness, crying, or pain? What will it be like to walk with God, just like Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden?
How can we be a part of this?
The Bible tells us in Romans 10:9 that to be God’s people, all we have to do is confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead. Then God saves us. God made it so simple that even young kids can understand it!
When we’re teaching kids about the book of Revelation, we can point them to the greatest invitation of their lives. It comes from Jesus, who says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20).
In a book full of mystery and symbolism, it doesn’t get any clearer than that.
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