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 Christian Rosenkreutz and Mystery of John).

It describes the future evolution of humanity and the Earth 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 literall (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:
      • 12, 12.000, 144.000
      • 666 (the number of the 'beast') - see Schema FMC00.425 and FMC00.425A on Evil
    • 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


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.

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
  • 1907-9-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

Related pages

References and further reading

  • 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)