Amid the plagues and darkness and curses, the seven beatitudes of Revelation shine with hope. What can we learn from these seven blessings?
From beginning to end, the Bible is a book of blessings and curses.
Genesis starts with God blessing the animals and the first humans (Genesis 1:22, 28), quickly followed by man’s disobedience bringing on curses (3:17-19).
Revelation marks the fullness of humanity’s rebellion, with the resulting curses being channeled into end-time plagues designed to bring humanity to repentance and back to God and His blessings.
In the midst of the plagues of Revelation, seven blessings mark the path toward a time when there will be no more curse (Revelation 22:3). These blessings are sometimes called the seven beatitudes of Revelation.
Blessings and curses in the Bible
The blessings in Revelation and throughout the Bible reflect God’s love. They are ensured by living in a way that fulfills God’s will and is pleasing to Him.
The curses result from disobedience to God—from breaking through the guardrails that God lovingly gave to protect us and our happiness. Even the curses can serve to alert us to the need to change. They can have the good result of repentance and conversion. (Study more in our article “Why Is Our Modern World Under Ancient Curses?”)
What are beatitudes?
Beatitude is a fancy way of saying blessed, based on the Latin word. The most well-known beatitudes are the ones Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount, starting with, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3; see our article “Beatitudes: Keys to Real Happiness” and the related articles about each beatitude).
Scattered through Revelation are seven blessings that give hope and remind us that God’s way brings blessings and that, in the end, God wins.The Greek word makarios, which is translated blessed, means “blessed, possessing the favor of God, that state of being marked by fullness from God. It indicates the state of the believer in Christ (Matt 5:3-11, ‘Blessed . . . for my sake’; Luke 6:20-22, ‘Blessed . . for the Son of man’s sake’), said of one who becomes a partaker of God’s nature through faith in Christ (2 Pet 1:4)” (Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament).
Makarios is a rich word whose meaning connotes someone who is well-off and fortunate. It even includes the meaning of happiness, but in the sense of above and beyond a mere emotion of happiness.
God’s blessings are not a result of luck. God gives a joy that no one and nothing can take from us (John 16:22).
The seven beatitudes of Revelation
The book of Revelation is often, and understandably, remembered as a book warning of end-time plagues and punishments on a sinful world. But scattered through Revelation are seven blessings that give hope and remind us that God’s way brings blessings and that, in the end, God wins.
The number seven appears repeatedly in the book of Revelation as a number of completeness. Though the seven beatitudes are not numbered in the book, it seems God inspired that number of blessings to express the completeness of His plan to bless His people.
The seven beatitudes of Revelation are found in Revelation 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; and 22:7 and 14, from the first chapter to the last. Thus they make up an important part of the structure of the book.
“A comparison of the Prologue (1:1-3) with the Epilogue (22:7-21) shows that John has followed throughout Revelation a deliberate literary pattern” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Abridged Edition, note on Revelation 1:3).
The first beatitude, Revelation 1:3
- “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”
Studying God’s inspired words brings blessings. Those who read and hear it should also keep it—respond and do what God says to do.
The book of Revelation stresses the nearness of the time—the urgency of the message. Though to humans, the nearly 2,000 years since John wrote seem long, to God, these sure prophetic events are near, and God’s timing is perfect.
The second beatitude, Revelation 14:13
- “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’”
This section of Revelation contrasts the destiny of those who worship the evil beast and receive the mark of the beast (verse 9), with God’s loving plan for those who “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (verse 12).
Those who worship the beast will experience the wrath of God.
Those who obey God will be blessed, even if they die.
This has always been true, as the psalmist noted: “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15). Whether we die of natural causes or through persecution, God’s plan to resurrect the “dead in Christ” should be a comfort to all of His people (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
Thinking about martyrdom is never pleasant, but God reframes it as rest from the troubles and persecution. The saints—all Christians who have been set apart through baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit—are promised a special blessing and rest.
The third beatitude, Revelation 16:15
- “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”
As the armies of the world gather at Armageddon to battle the returning Jesus Christ, Jesus Himself gives us a reminder and a blessing. People will be unaware of Christ’s coming unless they watch.
Together, the seven beatitudes of Revelation sum up many of the greatest promises and themes of the Bible, providing hope and direction for those who will worship God through the dark days of the end times.This reflects Jesus’ Olivet Prophecy. There He warned:
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.
“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-36; study more about this in our article “Watch and Pray”).
Putting on proper spiritual garments and avoiding spiritual nakedness are addressed several times in Revelation. For example, see more in the message to Laodicea (Revelation 3:17-18).
The fourth beatitude, Revelation 19:9
- “Then he said to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true sayings of God.’”
Revelation 19 moves on to the momentous events surrounding the return of Jesus Christ. Just before this fourth blessing, John heard the sound of mighty thunderings announcing:
“‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’
“And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:6-8).
The Bride of Christ is the Church of God, dressed in the “fine linen” of doing what is right in God’s eyes. Study more about this in our articles “Who Is the Bride of Christ?” and “Marriage Supper of the Lamb.”
The fifth beatitude, Revelation 20:6
- “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
At Christ’s return, the dead in Christ will be resurrected to eternal life to serve with Christ in the Kingdom. This resurrection before the Millennium is called the first resurrection because the “rest of the dead” will not be resurrected back to physical life for judgment until after the 1,000 years (verse 5). Those in the first resurrection will be safe from the second death, an eternal death from which there is no resurrection.
The sixth beatitude, Revelation 22:7
- “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
Here in the last chapter of Revelation Jesus Christ circles back to the message of the first beatitude. Along with the reminder of urgency comes a reminder to hold fast to the prophecies. Christians must heed the warnings and be strengthened by the promises.
The seventh beatitude, Revelation 22:14
- “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.”
From the beginning, God has sought those who would obey Him, thus avoiding the forbidden fruit that produces eternal death and seeking the tree of life that brings the blessing of eternal life. The end of the book not only takes us back to Eden, but forward to the incomparably glorious New Jerusalem. (Learn more about this in our article “New Jerusalem.)
Together, the seven beatitudes of Revelation sum up many of the greatest promises and themes of the Bible, providing hope and direction for those who will worship God through the dark days of the end times.
For a deeper look at the message of this important book, download our free booklet The Book of Revelation: The Storm Before the Calm.