Gorman does not attempt a verse-by-verse interpretation of the next several chapters of the Revelation. Rather, he works his way through the text to demonstrate the meaning of key symbolic “actors” in the vision seen by John.
He first outlines the book in very broad terms.
Act 1: Satan is on the Move
Satan is directing the powerful, idolatrous culture of death, which has seduced both nations and individuals, including some in the churches of Asia. In his employ are two key figures, the beast from the land and the beast from the sea (ch. 13). The former claims godlike power and prerogatives over all the earth, while the latter urges people to worship it. This unholy trinity constantly pursues the faithful people of God, seeking to win their allegiance and worship. The faithful are being seduced, and some are caving in.
Gorman, Michael J. (2011-01-01). Reading Revelation Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Witness: Following the Lamb into the New Creation (Kindle Locations 2870-2873). Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Act 2: The Prophet Speaks
In the midst of increasing pressure and the threat of an imminent outbreak of serious persecution, John calls the churches back to faithfulness to God (chs. 1–3). … Together with his resurrection/ascension, [Jesus’ resurrection] was also a divine act of cosmic warfare, the decisive victory over the unholy triumvirate and its power of oppression and death. John reminds the churches that all who believe this good news, faithfully worshiping God and the Lamb in liturgy and life, are liberated from their sins and from both the power and the fate of Babylon.
Despite the seductive power of Babylon, the churches who heed the voice of the prophetic Spirit bear faithful witness to God and the Lamb, becoming a partial and proleptic (anticipatory) embodiment of the coming city of God.
(Kindle Locations 2875-2882).
Act 3: God Judges
The powerful, idolatrous culture of death, Babylon, is under divine judgment and doomed to fall (chs. 17–18). God and the Lamb begin that judgment now (much of chs. 6–20), resulting in the swift and certain demise of the unholy trinity. This is the longest act in Revelation, consisting of multiple scenes and comprising the bulk of the narrative, but it can be summarized in just a few words: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great” (18:2). Not only does God defeat the unholy trinity, but God defeats death itself (20:14), the ultimate instrument of idolatrous power and the ultimate enemy of the human race.
(Kindle Locations 2883-2888).
Act 4: God Renews
Babylon, the city of oppression and death, is replaced by the new Jerusalem, the new heaven and earth, the new culture of wholeness and life (chs. 21–22). It is a place where pain and sorrow are absent, a time when oppression and death are gone. The healing of the nations begins, and humanity is restored to God’s original intentions for worship, communion, and harmony. God and the Lamb come to dwell permanently with a renewed humanity.
(Kindle Locations 2889-2892).
So that’s pretty much the whole book. Right? It’s not complicated, but it is rich in detail and allusions to OT prophecies and all sorts of other cool things. We’re not done yet.
Gorman next addresses the presence of true Divinity in the Holy Trinity, and shows how the monsters — the dragon and beasts — are a parody of the Trinity. And so we start with the heroes of the story — the members of the Godhead.
God the Father and Jesus, God the Son, are the main characters, although God the Holy Spirit is not left out by any means. There is, in fact, a fairly comprehensive Christology to be found in the Revelation, that is, there is a theologically rich and thoughtful reflection on the nature of Jesus as the Messiah and his role in our salvation.
God the Father
But John’s understanding of Jesus is found in his understanding of the Father —
God of Revelation stands in continuity with the God of Israel’s Scriptures. This is the God who indicts domination systems, delivers his people (as in the exodus), vindicates the faithful, rules the cosmos, promises final shalom, and exhibits extraordinary patience with rebellious humanity—though not forever. This God alone is worthy of worship and ultimate allegiance.
All of this theology proper (doctrine of God), however, must be understood in connection to and in light of Christ the Lamb, as we saw in the previous chapter. The God of Revelation is not a violent and capricious deity on the warpath, but the Holy One of Israel who has, above all, brought salvation in Christ.
(Kindle Locations 2917-2923).
God the Son
Of several important images of Jesus in Revelation, we should especially note the two that are most prominent early in Revelation: Lamb and faithful witness. The image of the slaughtered Lamb centers our attention on Christ’s death. It is a sacrifice, but it is also much more. The Lamb imagery highlights Christ’s vulnerability in faithful witness. Those liberated by the death of the Faithful Witness (1:5) are shaped into his image as faithful witnesses as well.
No less important than these images, however, is the fact that Jesus is so fully identified with the One on the throne, as we noted in the previous chapter. He too is the Alpha and Omega (1:17; 22:13), he also is worthy of worship (chapter 4), he too is the coming one (1:7; 22:12, 20), and more. “What Christ does, God does” and vice versa. But also—and this is critical— how Christ does is how God does. We see in the slaughtered Lamb of God both that God is ultimately victorious over sin and death and how God is victorious over sin and death. The divine status of Christ does not make him aloof from the churches, however. He is present among them in their trials (1:13), and the Lamb is destined, ironically, to be his people’s shepherd (7:17), a pastoral role he exercises even now.
(Kindle Locations 2933-2944).
God the Holy Spirit
The Spirit functions primarily as the prophetic voice of God and the Lamb, speaking to the churches, but also bringing them into the presence of God for worship and enlarging their vision, forming them into faithful witnesses to the Faithful Witness (Jesus), and comforting them in times of tribulation and grief. John may be on Patmos, but he is in the Spirit (1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10).
The nomenclature for the Spirit in Revelation is unusual but appropriate: “the seven spirits of God” (1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6), the fullness of God’s Spirit. As such, the Spirit is closely connected to both God and the Lamb. The seven spirits are before God’s throne (1:4; 4:5), signifying their relationship to God. When Jesus speaks to the churches, at the end of each address he instructs them to “listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). The voice of the Spirit, that is, is the voice of Jesus. The Spirit prophetically calls the churches to play their appropriate role in the unfolding drama: to abandon idolatry and be faithful to God, especially during tribulation.
… Finally, acting as the Comforter, the Spirit reassures the church that faithful witness will result in ultimate rest and reward, not defeat (14:13).
(Kindle Locations 2950-2958, 2064).
The seven spirits
We’re a little surprised to see references throughout the Revelation to “seven spirits,” which seem to be references to the Holy Spirit. How can this be?
On the whole it seems most probable that we should see seven as signifying perfection or the like, and the whole expression as pointing to the Holy Spirit. The number may derive from Isaiah 11:2–3, and be meant to remind us of the seven modes of operation of the Spirit.
Leon Morris, Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale NTC 20; IVP/Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 54.
The wording is likely a figurative designation of the Holy Spirit, expressing the diversity of God’s work in the church and the world. The expression “seven spirits” is part of a paraphrased allusion to Zech. 4:2–7 (as is evident from 4:5; 5:6), which identified the “seven lamps” as God’s one Spirit, whose role was to bring about God’s grace (cf. Zech. 4:7: “Grace, grace to it”) in Israel through the successful completion of the rebuilding of the temple (see commentary on Rev. 1:12; 4:5; 5:6 below). It is possible that Isa. 11:2–10 LXX is included along with Zechariah in the background of the “seven spirits,” since this text is alluded to in 5:5–6 (cf. the “root” of Isa. 11:1 in 5:5, and the mention of “the seven spirits of God” in 5:6 [see Farrer 1964: 61]; note also the use of Isa. 11:4 in 1:16 [for agreement about the presence of both OT influences, see Skrinjar 1935: 114–36]).
G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007), 1089.
(Zech. 4:2-6 ESV) 2 And he said to me, “What do you see?” I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it. 3 And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.” 4 And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5 Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.” 6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.
(Isa. 11:1-2 ESV) There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 2 And  the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,  the Spirit of wisdom and  understanding, the  Spirit of counsel and  might, the  Spirit of knowledge and  the fear of the LORD.