John assumed his readers would be familiar with the Old Testament. In fact, Revelation is a distinctly Jewish book. In it we find all kinds of Jewish symbolism, two Jewish witnesses, 144,000 Jewish evangelists, and the world’s attention centered on Israel and Jerusalem in the end times. In Revelation’s 404 verses there are more than 800 references or allusions to the Old Testament!

The symbolism in Revelation is solved either by reading the immediate context in which it appears, or by cross-referencing passages from the Old Testament. Many Bible expositors teach what is known as “the law of first mention.” To understand the doctrines or symbols used in Revelation, you must find the first place in Scripture that doctrine or symbol was mentioned.

The first instance of a teaching or symbol in Scripture often provides tremendous insight into how it is to be understood later in Scripture. Cross-referencing all uses of a key word or term will help you to build upon the doctrine or symbol’s first mention.

This approach helps us interpret Scripture with Scripture, instead of interpreting Scripture based on outside sources or our own thoughts and ideas. If God is the author of the Bible, we should expect to find a cohesiveness in this regard—and we do. The law of first mention, and the principle of interpreting Scripture with Scripture, both bear out a divine unity in Scripture as it relates to numbers, symbols, doctrines, names, places, and many other details. Using the law of first mention—and interpreting Scripture with Scripture—when studying Revelation helps to bring great clarity to most of its symbolism.


To learn more about the book of Revelation and how it impacts you today, purchase your copy of The Non-Prophet’s Guide™ to the Book of Revelation at your favorite online bookstore, OR VISIT: for more information.

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