A Super Nerdy List of Old Testament References in Revelation

It’s a fact widely acknowledged that the book of Revelation contains more references to the Old Testament than any other New Testament book. Indeed, some scholars have found as many as 635 echoes and allusions in John’s apocalypse. 

As a Jew who was thoroughly versed in the ancient Scriptures, it seems that John couldn’t help but make associations with God’s previous revelations as he himself was given the climactic vision of God’s redemptive plan. Granted, sometimes those associations seem to be less of a conscious action on John’s part, and simply reflect the way his mind was furnished so entirely by Israel’s sacred texts. But sometimes his allusions do reflect a conscious parallel, calling on an OT passage in order to say “This is that!” in some way or another.

Whether conscious or unconscious, however, John’s many echoes and allusions constitute our single greatest aid in understanding the way that he, the seer, understood his own vision. If we want to see things through John’s eyes and understand his vision the way he understood it, therefore, we should pay close attention to the many references he has left for us.

I compiled the following list of OT references in Revelation by combing through G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson’s Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, a fantastic resource that really should be in every Bible student’s library.  

Revelation 1

1:1 alludes to Dan 2:28-30, 45-47

1:4a echoes Exod 3:14; Deut 32:39; Isa 41:4; 43:10; 44:6; 48:12

1:4b is a paraphrased allusion to Zech 4:2-7 and perhaps Isa 11:2-10

1:5 draws on Psalm 89:27, 37 (cf. Isa 55:4)

1:6 echoes Exod 19:6

1:7 is a composite of Dan 7:13 and Zech 12:10

1:8 is perhaps based on similar clauses in Isa 41-48 (cf. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12)

1:10-11 carries the language of Ezekiel’s repeated experiences in the Spirit (cf. Ezek 2:2; 3:12; etc) and also evokes Exod 19:16, 19-20

1:12 draws from Zech 4:2, 10 (cf. Exod 25; 37; Num 8)

1:13-16 draws predominantly from Dan 7; 10, but is apparently pulling from Isa 11:4; 49:2; Zech 4:3, 11-14; Ezek 1:24, 27; 43:2 as well

1:17 follows the pattern of Dan 10:8-20 and echoes Isa 41:4; 44:6; 48:12

1:19 is composed, like 1:1a, with terminology from Dan 2

1:20 uses the expression “mystery” in the same sense as Daniel, the only OT book where it occurs

Revelation 2

2:7a is based on virtually the same wording found in the Synoptics, which itself alludes to Isa 6:9-11

2:7b alludes to Gen 2-3

2:10 contains an allusion to Dan 1:12-15

2:14 references the events of Num 22:5-25:3; 31:8, 16

2:14-15 continues the parallel with Balaam (cf. Num 22:23, 31)

2:17 references Exod 16:31-36; Num 11:7

2:20 references the events of 1 Kings 16:31-32; 21:25-26; 2 Kings 8:18; 9:22

2:23 alludes to Jer 17:10 (cf. Ps 7:9; 28:4; 62:11; Prov 24:12; Jer 11:20) 

2:26-27 quotes Ps 2:9

2:28 alludes to Num 24:17

Revelation 3

3:4-5 points to Dan 11-12 with the imagery of “white robes” and the “book of life”

3:7-8 alludes to Isa 22:22 and 45:1

3:9 contains a collective allusion to Isa 45:14; 49:23; 60:14 and Ps 86:9

3:10 may be alluding to Dan 12:1, 10

3:12 evokes Isa 56:3-5 (cf. 62:2; 65:15) with the promise of being a pillar in the temple. Also, “the name of the city of my God” recalls Ezek 48:35

3:14 likely points to Isa 65:15-17 with the Divine title “the Amen, the faithful and true” as well as the concluding “the beginning of the creation of God”

Revelation 4

The whole structure of the throne room vision of chapters 4 and 5 corresponds to that of Dan 7:9-28. 

4:3 combines references from Ezek 1:26, 28; 10:1 and 28:13 (cf. Exod 24:10; 28:17-20)

4:5 is patterned after Zech 4:2-3, 10

4:6a has Ezek 1:22 in the background

4:6b-8a continues to draw from Ezek 1 (1:5-21; cf. 10:12-15, 20-22)

4:8b echoes Isa 6:3

4:9b echoes Dan 12:7

Revelation 5

5:1b evokes the imagery of Ezek 2:9b-10, perhaps also merging Dan 21:1, 4, 9 with Isa 29:11

5:2 may contain further inspiration from Dan 12:1-13 (cf. Isa 29)

5:5 recalls Gen 49:9; Isa 11:1, 10

5:6 broadly refers to the OT Passover lamb while perhaps carrying specific reference to Isa 53:7

5:6 also references Zech 3:4 (cf. 3:9; 4:2, 10) 

5:7 echoes Dan 7:13

5:10 echoes Isa 19:6 and perhaps Dan 7:22b, 27a

5:11 borrows language from Dan 7:10

5:12 combines 1 Chron 29:11-12 and Dan 2:20

5:13 may be a collective reflection of Exod 20:11; Neh 9:6; Ps 146:6 (cf. Dan 2:38; 4:37 LXX)

Revelation 6

6:1-8 may have Zech 6:1-8 as its main OT background (cf. 1:8-15)

6:7-8 directly alludes to Ezek 14:19-21 and possibly echoes Hos 13:8

6:10 alludes to Ps 89:5, 10

6:12-14 is heavily influenced by Isa 13:10-13; 24:1-6, 19-23; 34:4; Ezek 32:6-8; Joel 2:10, 30-31; 3:15-16; Hab 3:6-11 (cf., secondarily, Ps 68:7-8; Jer 4:23-28; Amos 8:8-9)

6:15 quotes Isa 34:12 LXX (cf. Ps 2:2)

6:16 alludes to Hos 10:8 (cf. 10:1-3; 11:2)

6:17 alludes to Joel 2:10-11

Revelation 7

7:2-3 holds Ezek 9 in the background

7:9 evokes the promise to Abraham and Jacob that God would multiply their descendants, “which shall not be numbered for multitude” (e.g. Gen 16:10; 32:12)

7:14 owes Dan 12:1 for the phrase “the great tribulation”

7:15 echoes Ezek 37:26-28 (LXX)

7:16-17 alludes to Isa 49:9-10 (cf. Isa 25:8)

Revelation 8

8:3-5 is modeled to a great extent after Ezek 10:1-7 

8:4 refers to prayer metaphorically as Ps 141:2

8:5 may have Exod 19:16-18 in mind

8:7 is patterned after Exod 9:23-25 (LXX)

8:8-9 alludes to Exod 7:15-24

8:10 may extend the allusion to Exod 7 from vv. 8-9 (cf. Ps 78:44)

8:11 may allude to Deut 29:17-18

8:13 may allude to Hos 8:1 (cf. Jer 4:13)

Revelation 9

9:2 may have Exod 10:15 in view, where the locust plague is so great that it darkens the land (cf. Joel 2:2, 10)

9:4 may be an intentional contrast with Exod 10:15 (cf. Ps 105:33-35)

9:7-9 is based on the locust plague of Joel 1-2

9:8 quotes Joel 1:6

9:9 may make a partial allusion to Job 39:19-25 (LXX)

9:14 may contain echoes of Jer 46

9:19 echoes Job’s portrait of the sea dragon, the symbol of cosmic evil (Job 40-41)

Revelation 10

10:1 may reflect Exod 19:9-19 and Ezek 1:26-28, but the portrait of chapter 10 is based mostly on Daniel 10-12

10:3a may allude to Amos 3:8

10:3b may be based on Ps 29

10:5-7 is a direct allusion to Dan 12:7, which is a development of Deut 32:40 

10:7 may also allude to Amos 3:7

10:9-10 is dependant on Ezek 2:8-3:3

Revelation 11

11:1 may allude to the measuring of the temple in Ezek 40-48

11:2 quotes Dan 8:13 (cf. Isa 63:18), combining it with Dan 12:7

11:3 may assume the law of Num 35:30 (cf. Deut 17:6; 19:15)

11:4 is dependant on Zech 4:14 (cf. 4:2-3, 11-14)

11:5 may echo Jer 5:14 (cf. 2 Kings 1:10)

11:6 alludes to 1 Kings 11 and Exod 7:17-25

11:7-8 carries language from Dan 7 (7:3, 8, 21)

11:11 echoes Ezek 37:5, 10

11:13 echoes Ezek 38:19

11:18 is patterned after Jeremiah’s announcement of the judgment of historical Babylon, and the contrasted blessing for the saints echoes Ps 115:13

Revelation 12

12:1 is based on Gen 37:9

12:2 carries a common OT metaphor representing Israel’s sufferings (e.g. Isa 26:17-18; 66:7-9; Mic 4:9-10; 5:3), yet these texts themselves were inspired by Gen 3:15-16

12:3 may carry an allusion to Ezek 29:3

12:4 alludes to Dan 8:10

12:7 is developed from Dan 10:13, 21 and Dan 12:1

12:8 is based on nearly the same wording from Dan 2:35

12:9-10 refers back to Gen 3:1, 14 (cf. Job 1:6-11; 2:1-6; Zech 3:1-2)

12:14 combines allusions to Exod 19:4; Deut 1:31-33; 32:10-15

12:15 may contain an allusion to Dan 9:24

12:16 echoes Exod 15:12

Revelation 13

The depiction of the two beasts in this chapter are based in part on Job 40-41, which is the only place in the OT that portrays two satanic beasts that oppose God.

13:1-2 is a creative reworking of Dan 7:1-7

13:3 reflects Gen 3:15

13:4 is based on Dan 7:6

13:5 is a collective allusion to Dan 7:6, 8, 11, 20, 25

13:6 alludes to Dan 7:25, 11:36

13:7a is based on Dan 7:8 (LXX)

13:7b-8a continues the dependence on Dan 7 by quoting 7:14 but reversing it from the “son of man” to the “beast”

13:10 is a paraphrase combining Jer 15:2 and 43:11

13:11 alludes to Dan 7:17 (LXX)

13:13 is an ironic echo of the ministry of Moses (e.g. Exod 4:17, 30; 10:2; 11:10)

13:14-15 echoes Dan 3   

Revelation 14

14:5 carries an allusion to Zeph 3:13, which itself may be an allusion to Isa 53:9

14:8 echoes Isa 21:9; Jer 25:15-16; 51:7-8

14:10 echoes Isa 51:17; Jer 25:15-18; 32:15 LXX

14:11 draws its portrait from Isa 34:9-10

14:17-20 is developed from Joel 3:13

Revelation 15

15:2 may contain an allusion to Dan 7:10

15:3a refers to the song of Moses in Exod 15:1-18 (or perhaps Deut 32)

15:3b carries language from throughout the OT, but particularly from Deut 28:59-60 LXX and Ps 110:2-4 LXX 

15:4 recalls Jer 10:7, but Ps 86:9-10 is the basis for most of the language

15:7 may derive its imagery from Isa 51:17, 22

15:8 contains a collective echo to Exod 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-11; 2 Chron 5:13; Isa 6:1, 4 LXX

Revelation 16

16:1 carries an allusion to Isa 66:6

16:2 echoes Exod 9:9-11

16:6 echoes Ps 79:3, 10, 12

16:12 echoes Exod 14:21-22 (cf. Isa 11:15; 44:27; 50:2; 51:10)

16:16 is likely evoking Ezek 38:21 and Zech 14:4, but judges 5:19 is the main referent

16:18 echoes the Sinai theophany of Exod 19, and is also influenced by Ezek 38:19-22

16:21 alludes to Exod 9:22-34 and Ezek 38:19-22

Revelation 17

17:1 echoes Jer 51:13 (28:13 LXX)

17:3a makes an allusion to Isa 21:1-2

17:4 makes an allusion to Jer 4:30; 2:34 (cf. Isa 1:15-22)

17:6 uses the same metaphor as Isa 34:5-7; 49:26; Jer 46:10

17:9b makes an allusion to Dan 7:4-7

17:12 makes an allusion to Dan 7:7-8, 20, 24

17:14a uses the same phraseology as Dan 7:21

17:15 echoes Isa 17:12-13; Jer 51:13

17:16 echoes Ezek 23:25-29, 47

Revelation 18 

18:1 alludes to Ezek 43:2

18:2 echoes the portrayal of Babylon’s fall in Isa 13:21; 34:11, 14

18:3 recalls Ezek 27:12 LXX (cf. 27:33 LXX)

18:4 is patterned after Jer 51:45 (cf. Isa 52:11)

18:5 echoes Jer 51:9

18:6 evokes Ps 136:8 (cf. Jer 27:29; 28:24)

18:7-8 echoes Isa 47:7-9

18:9 echoes Jer 51:8

18:10 is patterned after Ezek 26:16-18 LXX (cf. Ezek 27:33)

18:12-13 is based in part on Ezek 27:7-25

18:16 is patterned after Ezek 27:12-24

18:17b-19 is patterned after Ezek 27:28-33

18:20 echoes Jer 51:48

18:21 is based on Jer 51:63

18:22-23b alludes to Isa 24:8 and its context

18:23c-23d echoes Isa 23:9 LXX

Revelation 19

19:7-8 echoes Isa 61:10

19:13 contains an allusion to Isa 63:1-3

19:15 is based on Isa 49:2, and echoes Isa 11:4 and Ps 2:9

19:16 may allude to Gen 24:2, 9; 47:29

19:17-18 alludes to Ezek 39:4, 17-20 

19:19 alludes to Ps 2:2

19:21 repeats the allusion from v. 15 to Isa 49:2 and 11:4

Revelation 20

20:1-3 is based on Isa 24:21-22

20:4 is based on Dan 7:9-11

20:8-10 contains repeated allusions to Ezek 38-39

20:11 alludes to Dan 7:9; Ezek 1:26-28

20:12 combines allusions to Dan 7:10 and Dan 12:1-2

Revelation 21

21:1 echoes Isa 65:17; 66:22

21:2 echoes Isa 52:1b

21:3 echoes Ezek 43:7 and Ezek 37:26-28

21:4 alludes to Isa 25:8; 35:10; 51:11; 65:17

21:5 draws from Isa 43:19 LXX

21:6 alludes to Isa 49:10

21:7 alludes to 2 Sam 7:14 may be inspired by Isa 55:1-3

21:9-10 combines allusions to Ezek 43:5 LXX and Ezek 40:1-2 LXX

21:11 echoes Isa 58:8; 60:1-2, 19

21:12-13 echoes Ezek 40:5-6; 42:15-19; 48:31-34

21:15 alludes to Ezek 40:3-5

21:16 alludes to Ezek 45:2-3, and may also have 1 Kings 6:20 in mind

21:18-20 is based on 1 Kings 6:20-22; Exod 28:17-20; Isa 54:11-12

21:23 is based on Isa 60:19 (cf. Isa 24:23)

21:24-26 alludes to Isa 60:3, 5, 11

Revelation 22

22:1-2a combines Zech 14:8 and Ezek 47:1-9, but goes back ultimately to Gen 2:10

22:2b is based on Ezek 47:12 (cf. Isa 41:17-20; 43:18-20)

22:3 echoes Zech 14:11

22:5 alludes to Num 6:25-27

22:10 echoes Dan 12:4

22:11 echoes Dan 12:10

22:12a echoes Isa 47:11; Mal 3:1 (cf. Jer 6:26)

22:12b is an allusion to Isa 40:10; 62:11

22:14 picks up Isa 60 and Gen 3 again, and perhaps includes Ps 118:20 also

22:15 may echo Jer 8:10; Ps 101:3, 7-8; Mal 3:5

22:16-17 echoes Isa 11:1 and Isa 55:1

22:18-19 echoes Deut 4:1-2; 29:19-20