Revelation, a vision by John, is a book in two distinct parts. The first part, consisting of seven letters, concerns the progress and condition of believers. These letters are both practical and prophetic. When compared with the seven kingdom parables in Matthew, they lay out the course of the church from the crucifixion to the return of Messiah. The second part of Revelation in contrast describes the course of the world from the ascension to the end of the age. Both parts of the book are designed to be understood by believers and they are to provide a basis for action.
This study takes the perspective that the book is literal, linear and understandable. All of the symbols and metaphors in Revelation are defined elsewhere in Scripture so there is no particular difficulty understanding what they mean. Similarly, the sequencing of the events from chapter 4 on is obviously linear and consistent with prophecy in the rest of the Bible.