Book of Revelation

From Anthroposophy

The Book of Revelation - also referred to as 'the Apocalyps of St. John' is a book in the Bible written by John the Evangelist (see Individuality of Christian Rosenkreutz and Mystery of John).

It describes the future evolution of humanity and the Earth (see also PDF file The great journey of humanity) in symbolic language and imagery or pictures from clairvoyant vision. Rudolf Steiner states that John, the writer of Gospel of John, was the first and only human being to be initiated by the Christ (re raising of Lazarus-John), and had the highest degree of clairvoyance called 'intuition' or vision into the higher spirit world (see Stages of clairvoyance).

In different lecture cycles between 1904 and 1924 and some 60 lectures in total, Rudolf Steiner provided in depth explanations about the images and meaning of the Book of Revelation from his own clairvoyant vision, mapping it to the 'modern' spiritual scientific evolutionary framework as used in theosophy and anthroposophy (see Schema FMC00.258 below).


  • the Book of Revelation is an inexhaustible source of ever deeper study, that leads one into 'believing' (or shraddha). Once one has one meaning, one should not cling to it but leave that behind, and so on (1904-10-24-GA090A).
    • see also the Gospel of John as an initiation document, and the quote from Steiner's 1903-12-24-GA088 letter below: "[these images are] living sentences that germinate during meditation, and sprouts of knowledge grow from them".
    • the way to study Revelation is 1) take in every word in a kind of naieve but true belief, 2) look for allegoric meaning by contemplation and meditation 3) take everything literal (1904-11-14-GA090A)
    • the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse is the 'revelation of the divine will of the Father', and as the value of a book comes only from when it is understood, in this case this means that when one 'lives in Christo' (leads life in devotion to Christ, and studies the Gospels and the Book of Revelation) this will give Man the powers that are to be developed
  • the Father impulse and spiritualization
  • key concepts appearing in the imagery are ao:
    • seven of each: letters to the churches, seals, trumpets, bowls or vials of wrath
    • Babylon and Old/New Jerusalem
    • Eagle, Lion, Bull and Man
    • 4 horses (white, red, black, pale) and horsemen
    • the Mystical Lamb
    • numerical keys:
    • furthermore:
      • two witnesses (referenced in a GA090AB lecture as the Sun and the Moon as witnesses of the path of humanity's development)
      • three beasts, mapping to the Luciferic, Ahrimanic, and Soratic counterforces (see Schema FMC00.426 and Sorat)
      • images from the apocalyptic seal: eg the fifth: woman with sun (see Reunion of Sun)
  • the different Letters are directed to communities (geographies, races) that develop one of Man's bodily principles, eg Ephesus physical body, Perganomians astral body. (see 1907-05-15-GA104A on Human races)
  • seven seals: refers to the seven 'unspeakable' secrets for the seven epochs and root races of humanity, see Note [2] in the Discussion area
  • for the seven apocalyptic seals, see the topic page Apocalyptic seals
  • for reference, on the evolution of humanity and the Earth
    • The PDF file The great journey of humanity provides an introductory overview with a selection of Schemas from the site, and zooms into the pivotal phases of the four epochs between the third and sixth epoch on Earth, and the crucial period of the next 3000 years which is pivotal in the transition of humanity between the current fifth and sixth epochs.


Schema FMC00.258 links the spiritual scientific phases of evolution to the structure and chapters of the Book of Revelation


Schema FMC00.426 provides an overview of the three beasts that appears in the Book of Revelation, corresponding to the three faces of Evil.

Schema FMC00.461 is taken from James Morgan Pryce's 'The apocalypse unsealed' (1910), and shows - on the left - the gnostic chart concealed in the Book of Revelation, with - on the right - the numbers of the names. On the left is depicted the pathway to the arousal of the kundalini force or dormant serpent power, see more on the topic page Kundalini. The three pathways correspond to ida and pingala and the middle sushumna.

Whereas mostly all interpreters and commentaries of the Book of Revelation describe the contents as visions for the future evolution of mankind, Pryce discovered that the writer also embedded or hid a 'coded' manual for initiation and spiritual development, leading to enlightenment. The correspondences and deep esoteric knowledge appear to make an 'hinein-interpretierung' (fitting something to one's own interpretation) very unlikely to nearly impossible. Pryce's book thereby provides a unique complementary 'reading' of the contents, with well documented explanations and an extensive commentary. Note Rudolf Steiner pointed to the fact that the Book of Revelation is an inexhaustible source of ever deeper study which has not just one but several or many meanings (oa 1904-10-24-GA090A).

Schema FMC00.491 is an one example of the thousands of illustrations that were made over the centuries to depict the structure and imagery described in the Book of Revelation. The example below is by Clarence Larkin (1850–1924).

Other examples on this site are eg FMC00.390 and FMC00.374B (from the Beatus, copies of 9th to 14th century), or the Apocalyptic seals.

It should be noted that the Book of Revelation has symbolic meaning that can be read on many different levels, and can therefore not be forced into a single unique structure or intellectual mould. This is not dissimilar of the variant Schemas FMC00.196x on Overview of solar system evolution. People use the two graphical dimensions to try and provide some support structure in the form of a kind of logical map that depicts, albeit oversimplified, some of the manifold dimensions of the reality they reference (re 'the map vs the territory' in NLP).

Such maps can be useful as a means of support and introductory overview to not get lost. However there are pros and cons, as Rudolf Steiner points out, see ao the references under FMC enrichment#Introduction: on the importance of illustrations.


Schema FMC00.491 is a colour version of the illustration by Clarence Larkin (1850–1924), produced by Ray N. Tharp (1936-2021).


Lecture coverage and references


The main coverage by Rudolf Steiner consists of the 60 lectures in the five cycles below:

  • 1904-GA090A: 8 lectures
  • 1905-GA090B: 6 lectures
  • 1907/1909-GA104A: 16 lectures (4 in Munich 1907 and 12 in Christiana 1909)
    • 1907-07-27-GA096 - during the timeframe of a main lecture cycle on this topic, the Book of Revelation sometimes also received important coverage in lectures published in other cycles, this is one such example
  • 1908-GA104: 12 lectures
  • 1924-GA346: 18 lectures

.. from which appears consistency of an allmost annual cycle in the period 1904-1909; besides this he also gave an annual cycle on the Gospel of John in 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910 (for a total of about 50 lectures).


Book of Revelation

Chapter 4

See: Seven creative spirits

The 'Beatus' or Beatus of Liébana's 'Commentary on the Apocalypse'

or 'Commentaria in Apocalypsin' by Beatus of Liébana (730-785), illustrated manuscript of the 8th century of which some 27 copies still exist.

See eg Schema FMC00.374B and Schema FMC00.390

Rudolf Steiner's coverage of the Book of Revelation

1902-03-22-GA087 and 1902-03-xx-GA087

(p287, 301)






see also here for an EN copy


see also here for an EN copy


see also here for an EN copy






Man had to go through four group-souls until he attained individual consciousness and thereby perfected four kinds of bodily members: four heads corresponding to the four parts of the body: the horns, densifications of the etheric system of force. After the I-man receives the Christ-principle no more animal heads are formed. Man has become man-like and appears in white raiment. The seven heads and ten horns which are brought over from Atlantean times are overthrown. One who rejects Christ would bring the old form to view: the beast with the seven heads as at the time of the seals, so now in the time when the vials of wrath are poured out and the Earth divides into two parts.


The form-conditions also pass through seven stages and give race- or culture-conditions. We live in the fifth; the sixth is indicated in the Apocalypse through the seven seals, the seventh through the seven trumpets. Then the physical passes over into the astral.

1908-06-29-GA104 and 1908-06-30 -GA104

describe Future Jupiter as 'the New Jerusalem'


The hardening of matter is shown to the Apocalyptist in the Great Babylon


discusses Satan as an Ahrimanic influence and power, yet also talks about 666


See also: Discussion page D00.004 - Book of Revelation (under development)

[1] - Challenges in timeline mapping

Schema FMC00.258 provides a first overview. However this requires further study because confusion can easily arise:

  • as in the GA90A/B cycles a different mapping of Revelation imagery to anthroposophical evolutionary stages is given
  • events such as the reunion of Sun will happen during the Earth stage, but in the context of Revelation and the explanations of evil and 666 (that takes us all the way to Future Venus), Rudolf Steiner at times also talks about the reunion of Sun and Earth during Future Jupiter stage

See also Cosmic fractal for the multiple meanings to be read into numbers (at different levels of evolution)

[2] -Seven seals

2.1 - On the seven secrets references in these seven seals

Blavatsky, in the Secret Doctrine

as referenced by Steiner in his letter to Wagner (see below)

Of the seven truths or revelations only four have been handed out, since we are only in the fourth round

To our knowledge lecture 1903-09-01-GA088 is unique in its coverage, on this topic and GA088 groups it with the other reference below.


covers 'Secrets and secrecy' in a dedicated lecture, that also appears in the more recent GA090C which is based on typoscript642 Ib whereas the GA088 version published before was typoscript642 Ia.

Reference is made to Luzifer September 1903 issue (now in GA034).

Every race is given one of the seven great secrets. For of these have already been delivered. The fourth was delivered to the fourth root race. The fifth secret is the one into which we are growing; the sixth and seventh will be delivered in the sixth and seventh root races.

Not all people of a root race are initiated into such secrets. The fundamental secret was until now always the posession of adepts. Thy were the leaders of the race [epoch] in question through the possession of the secret. Until now that has been the case in the fifth epoch. Only at the end of the fifth epoch will a large number of people become aware of this and understand it.

In the earlier epochs it was the case the only a few received these secrets. During our epoch the ability to understand, the intellect, has been developed. But the deepest depths are closed off to the understanding; nevertheless, some of the external aspects of these secrets can be guessed using the intellect.


At the start of this lecture reference is again made to these seven secrets, specifically to the one of birth and death.


At the start of this lecture reference is again made to these seven 'unspeakable' secrets, the fact humanity will now be handed the fourth, and that the spiritual scientific movement is nothing but the preparation for this. Only a very small part of this may be communicated in lectures, referring to Saint Paul who said that 'to speak of certain things with words is sinful'.

The lecture (and the previous one on the same subject) continues on the process of reincarnation, and hence contains clues to be discovered between the lines.


(SWCC) a speech was given to the first annual meeting of the German section of the Theosophical Society, this was reported by Rudolf Steiner in Luzifer of November 1903.

A secret is handed out to each human race: we are in the fifth and have arrived at the fifth secret, which cannot yet be spoken. But we are currently involved in gradually living into that secret.

The apostle Paul, who was an initiate, already pointed to it; it will be announced in the course of development in this epoch. ...

[continues on the danger of guessing, examples in Theosophical society]

Humanity must be prepared for the great truth .. a kernel of humanity is to be formed that understands this truth when it one days comes unveiled. It is to be a kernel dat truly grasps the significance of this secret and uses it not to curse but to bless humanity.

Earlier races were formed from existing suitable individuals or families, they were then led by Manu to a suitable landscape that was empty of people. With traffic and commerce extending all over the globe today, this way of proceeding is no longer viable or necessary. In its place today the education takes place through the cosmopolitan, international movement which forms this kernel [editor: the text says: 'Theosophical Society' instead of 'movement', but this has been replaced taking into account the nuances made by Rudolf Steiner more than 20 years later regarding the anthroposophical movement versus society]

1903-12-24-GA088 letter

is the reference for a letter by Rudolf Steiner in answer to a follow up letter Günther Wagner after the lecture (letter dated 1903-11-14), who kindly asked, with reference to The Secret Doctrine, if Rudolf Steiner wanted to give the four riddles that the four previous races have apparently solved, alongside any references in Blavatsky's writings.

Here only a short extract follows:

I would like to respond to your question as well as I can. At the present the situation is as follows: the four partial truths form sentences for meditation for those aspiring to the mysteries. Nothing further can be given than these (symbolic) sentences. For those meditating on the esoteric path, there is much higher content that will come from these meditative sentences.

[four sentences or short paragraphs follow]

... If the meditations are fruitful, the fifth secret will follow from the first four. ...

[and at the end of the letter he does give a hint, referencing a letter by Master KH published in the German edition of 'Occult World' p 126-127. Note: see A.P. Sinnett: 'Occult World' (1881)]

.. "When science will have learned the lesson of how impressions of leaves originally arose on stones .. "

In this sentence lies almost the entire fifth secret hidden in occult way.


The four sentences above are what one calls living sentences, that is: they germinate during meditation, and sprouts of knowledge grow from them.

2.2 - On the seven seals

[3] - The letters to the churches

  • The seven communities are the seven representative brother lodges for the seven cultural ages, they are the seven lights or leaders of the subraces or cultural ages. When a group of men is selflessly united (the image of selfless organs that make up Man is given), a higher entity or being can incorporate, so they can be the light to lead through this age. (1904-11-14-GA090A)
  • The seven communities have their mission, but stick stubbornly to their tasks, and have to surrender and hand them over to humanity, they pave the road by getting the old teachings out of the way (1905-01-16-GA090B)

[4] - The four horses

4 horses (white, red, black, pale) and horsemen

[5] - Earthquake references in the Book of Revelation

James Morgan Pryce (1859-1942) interprets the symbolic imagery in his book 'The apocalypse unsealed' (1910)

see also Kundalini

.. the manifestation of the kundalini .. this sixth centre is especially violent, and so John describes the opening of the sixth seal (which is identical with the sixth Society) as being accompanied by a 'great earthquake'.

Ch 6: 12-17

I saw when he opened the sixth seal ; and, Be­hold! there came to be a great earthquake; the sun became dark as a sack [woven of camel's] hair; the moon became as blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig-tree drops her first-crop figs when shaken by a violent wind. The sky was re­moved like a scroll being rolled up ; and every mountain and island—they were moved from their places! The rulers of the earth, the very great, the commanders, the rich, and the mighty, and every slave and freeman, hid themselves in the caves and among the crags of the mountains; and they kept saying to the mountains and the crags :

"Fall on us and hide us from the face of the [God] seated on the throne and from the passion of the Lamb! For the great day of his passion has come, and who can stand firm ?"


This sixth seal is the muladhara chakra, which lies at the base of the spinal cord and is the starting-point of the central current, the sushumna, the re­generative force, here called the orge ( fecundating energy) of the "Lamb," the Nous. Upon the out­pouring of this fiery electric force into the brain, the mind becomes blank and the novice is conscious

only of blind terror; this is allegorized as the dark­ening of the sun (the mind) , the falling of the stars (the thoughts) , the vanishing of the sky (the con­cept of space) , and the panic of the earth-dwellers (the lower forces and faculties).

Related pages

References and further reading

  • James Morgan Pryce (1859-1942): 'The apocalypse unsealed' (1910)
    • subtitle: being an esoteric interpretation of the initiation of Ioannes, commonly called The relevant of (St.) John, with a new translation
    • this book is unique in its kind, it describes a totally different reading or interpretation of the Book of Revelation , whereby the symbolic language and meaning of the numbers describes the esoteric knowledge of the human being and initiation.
    • to assess this work, research also the person of Pryce (eg starting from the info on Sources of spiritual science#1870 onwards) and his other works eg on the Gospel of Saint John.
  • Emil Bock: 'The Apocalyps of Saint John' (original in DE: 'Apokalypse. Betrachtungen über die Offenbarung des Johannes' (1951); in EN a.o. 1957, 1986, 2012)
  • Fred Poeppig: 'Die Apocalypse des Johannes als Schulungsbuch' (1970, 1985)
  • Arthur Schult: 'Weltenwerden und Johannes-Apokalypse' (1976)
  • Alfred Heidenreich: 'The Book of Revelation' (1977)
  • Erich Zimmer (1924-1976): 'Im Geiste an des Herren Tag' (1986)
  • Charles Kovacs: 'The Apocalyps in Rudolf Steiner's lecture series' (2013 in EN, in 2011 in DE as: 'Betrachtungen zur Apokalypse, Ein Kommentar zum Nurnburger Zyklus von Rudolf Steiner')
  • Ludwig Neidhart: 'Die Offenbarung des Johannes' (first version 1994, last version 2019) (freely downloadable in PDF)
  • Hergen Noordendorp: 'Die Offenbarung des Johannes - eine okkulte Zahlenlehre (2004)
  • Edward Reaugh Smith:
    • Terms & Phrases Vol 1. (The Burning Bush), (1997, 2001) p. 393-400 in 2001 edition on 'Trumpets'
    • Terms & Phrases Vol 2. (David's Question What is Man?), (2001) p. 54-67, essay on 'Revelation'
    • 'Revelation: a cosmic perspective' (2015)
  • Kees Zoeteman:
  • various authors (a.o. Wolf-Ulrich Klünker, Peter Selg, Christiane Haid, Virginia Sease, Jaap Sijmons): 'Apocalypse im Ich' (2017)
  • Judith von Halle: 'Die Apokalypse des Johannes, Bindeglied zwischen judische Mystik und christlich-anthroposophischer Geisteswissenschaft' (2018)

The Book of Revelation in art

  • Frederik van der Meer: 'Apocalypse: Visions from the Book of Revelation in western art' (1978)
  • Nancy Grubb: 'Revelations: Art of the Apocalypse' (1997)
  • Natasha and Anthony O'Hear: 'Picturing the Apocalypse: The Book of Revelation in the Arts over Two Millennia' (2015)
  • The Apocalypse in the Middle Ages (1993) (editors: Richard K. Emmerson and Bernard McGinn)
  • Nigel J. Morgan: 'Illuminating the End of Time: The Getty Apocalypse Manuscript (2012)

Various unqualified

  • Edgar Cayce:
    • A Commentary on the Book of Revelation Based on a Study of 24 Psychic Discourses by Edgar Cayce (1969)
    • The Book of the Revelation: A Commentary Based on a Study of Twenty-Three Psychic Discourses by Edgar Cayce (1995)
    • John Van Auken: Edgar Cayce on the Revelation (2000)