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 horse appears as symbol of intelligence (first four ages of Sixth epoch): "Hence there appears again that which indicated the mere intelligence, the mere intellect; the horse appears four consecutive times. The old form of Man appears which he obtains by receiving into himself the horse nature. This form appears at the opening of the seals." (1908-06-24-GA104)
    • 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.

Inspirational quotes


.. one of our tasks is to develop this particular understanding of the Apocalypse today, namely, to be able to understand the tasks which are demanding our heartfelt attention every day. It doesn't do any good to merely interpret the Apocalypse. We must put the Apocalypse into practice in everything we do, otherwise we might just as well forget about it. A desire to interpret it in order to satisfy one's curiosity doesn't have much value.

second version

…we have today the task of developing this new understanding of the Apocalypse: to be able to understand it as a task, which presses daily upon our hearts. Today we do not need merely to interpret the Apocalypse. It is necessary that we do the Apocalypse in everything, otherwise we can simply leave it alone. The desire merely to interpret it is of  little value.


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



Schema FMC00.505 provides a synthetic overview on the sixth epoch on the basis of various commentaries by Rudolf Steiner in early lectures.

Such large reference schemas are condensed as they integrate a lot of information: they can be viewed by clicking 1-2-3 times, and printed high resolution (click once and save maximum size jpg) in large format as a study reference.


Lecture coverage and references


The main coverage by Rudolf Steiner (besides other coverage in books and lectures) 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 (also for a total of about 50-60 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-GA008 Chapter 8

Christianity as Mystical Fact - Ch 8. The Apocalypse of John

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






Thus you see how the present-day humanity will pass into the new epoch beyond the War of All against All, just as that root-race of the Atlanteans lived over into our epoch and founded our civilizations. After the great War of All against All humanity will develop in seven consecutive stages. We have already seen how that which is said concerning the opening of the seven seals in the Apocalypse of John gives us the character of the seven consecutive civilizations after the great war. Then when this civilization — which can only be seen by the initiates in the astral world and in its symbolism — has run its course, a new epoch will begin for our earth development in which again new forms will appear. And this new epoch, which will follow the one just described, is symbolized in the Apocalypse of John by the sounding of the seven trumpets. Just as the epoch after the great War of All against All [editor: sixth epoch] is characterized by the seven seals, because the seer can only see it today from the astral world, so by the sounding of the trumpets is characterized the stage of civilization which follows [editor: seventh epoch], because man can only perceive it from the true spiritual world where the tones of the spheres sound forth. In the astral world man perceives the world in pictures, in symbols, in the spirit world he perceives it in inspiring music; and in this spirit world is contained the climax, as it were, of what is revealed concerning what follows the great War of All against All.

Thus if we represent it in a diagram, we have our seven ages of civilization in the space between the letters ab, so that we have the ancient Indian civilization as the first, the ancient Persian as the second, the Assyrian-Babylonian-Chaldean-Egyptian-Jewish, the Graeco-Latin,and our own as the fifth stage of the post-Atlantean epoch. The figure IV would be the Atlantean epoch, (a) the great flood by which this comes to an end, and (b) the great War of All against All. Then follows an epoch of seven stages (VI) which is represented by the seven seals, then follows another (VII) also containing seven stages, represented by the seven trumpets. Here again lies the boundary of our physical earth development.

Now the Atlantean civilization (IV), which preceded our own, was also preceded by other stages of civilization; for that of our own (V), which follows the Atlantean, is the fifth -Stage on our earth. Four stages of civilization preceded it. But we can scarcely call the first stage a civilization culture. Everything was still etheric and spiritual, all in such a condition that if it had developed further in this way it would not have become visible at all to sense organs such as ours. The first stage developed when the sun was still bound up with our earth. There were then quite different conditions, one could not speak of anything which looked like the objects now surrounding us. Then followed a stage characterized by the sun separating. Then one characterized by the moon leaving the earth; this was the third stage, which we call the ancient Lemurian. At this point the present man appeared on our earth in his very first form, concerning which I have pointed out that they were such grotesque bodily forms that it would shock you if you were to hear them described. After the Lemurian followed the Atlantean, and finally our own.

So you see that we have on our earth seven epochs of development.

  • The first two were absolutely unlike our epoch;
  • the third partly ran its course in a region lying between the present Africa, Asia and Australia, in ancient Lemuria. In the very last Lemurian race there was again a small group of the most advanced. These were able to emigrate, and from them developed the seven races of the Atlanteans. The last Lemurian race founded the Atlantean races.
  • The fifth of the Atlantean races founded our civilizations,
  • [our civilization and current fifth epoch] .. of which the sixth will found the future civilization after the great War of All against All.
  • And the very last of those civilizations will have to found that which is indicated by the seven trumpets. [editor: the seventh epoch]

After that, what will happen?

Our earth will then have reached the goal of its physical evolution. All the objects and all the beings upon it will then have been transformed.

For if we have had to say that

  • already in the sixth epoch men will show good and evil un their faces, we shall have to say
  • all the more of the seventh that the form of man and the forms of all the other beings will be an expression of good and evil to a much higher degree than in the sixth epoch. All matter will bear the stamp of the spirit. There will be absolutely nothing in this seventh epoch that can be hidden in any way.


  • Even those belonging to the sixth epoch will be unable to hide anything from him who has the necessary vision. An evil man will express his evil, a good man will express the good that is within him; but
  • in the seventh epoch it will be quite impossible by speech to hide what is in the soul. Thought will no longer remain dumb so that it can be hidden, for when the soul thinks, its thought will ring forth outwardly. It will then be just as thought is already to the Initiates today. To them thought now rings out in Devachan.

But this Devachan will have descended into the physical world, just as the astral world will have descended into the physical world in the sixth epoch. Even now the sixth epoch can be found in the astral world and the seventh in the heavenly world.

  • The sixth epoch is the descended astral world, that is to say the images, the expressions, the manifestations of it.
  • The seventh epoch will be the descended heavenly [spirit] world, the expression of it.

And then the earth will have reached the goal of its physical evolution. The earth, together with all its beings, will then change into an astral heavenly body. Physical substance as such will disappear. The part which until then had been able to spiritualize itself, will pass over into the spirit, into astral substance. Imagine all the beings of the Earth who up to that time have been able to express what is good, noble, intellectual and beautiful in their external material form; who will bear an expression of Christ Jesus in their countenances, whose words will manifest Christ Jesus, for they will ring out as resounding thoughts — all these will have the power to dissolve what they have within them as physical matter, as warm water dissolves salt. Everything physical will pass over into an astral globe. But those who up to that time have not progressed so far as to be a material and corporeal expression of what is noble, beautiful, intellectual and good, will not have the power to dissolve matter; for them matter will remain. They will become hardened in matter; they will retain material form.

At this point in the earth's evolution there will be an ascent into the spirit of forms which will live in the astral and which will separate from themselves another material globe, a globe which will contain beings unfit for the ascent because they are unable to dissolve the material part.

In this way our earth will advance towards its future. Through the souls gradually refining matter from within, the substance of the earth will become more and more refined until it receives the power to dissolve. Then will come the time when the insoluble part will be ejected as a special planet.

In the course of seven ages that which has hardened itself in matter will be driven out, and the power which drives it out will be the opposite force to that which will have forced the good beings upward.


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

See also: Seven secrets

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)
  • Hartmut Fischer: 'Die sieben Gemeinden des Johannesoffenbarung : Reiseführer' (1996)
  • 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 more

  • John Frederick Denison Maurice (1805–1872), known as F. D. Maurice:
    • What is Revelation?: a Series of Sermons on the Epiphany (1859)
    • Sequel to the Enquiry, What is Revelation? (1860)
    • Lectures on the Apocalypse, or the Book of Revelation of St John the Divine (1861)
  • 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)