Up to this point, we have spent considerable time discussing background information in order to better prepare the reader for the verse-by-verse exposition to follow. Having read the background material, the reader should now be equipped to understand the principles behind the method of our exposition and the liabilities we believe attend competing views.Moving forward, we will place greater emphasis upon exposition than refuting alternate views, although we will continue to make mention of them at key places in the text.1See the Introduction for a discussion of various background topics related to the book of Revelation.
The first word of this book, Ἀποκάλυψις [Apokalypsis], should be kept in mind by the reader throughout the book. For it is God’s intention to reveal rather than conceal:
In the New Testament, apokalypsis always has the majestic sense of God’s unveiling of himself to his creatures, an unveiling that we call by its Latin name revelation. . . . It depicts the progressive and immediate unveiling of the otherwise unknown and unknowable God to his church throughout the ages.2
The clearness and lucidity (perspicuity) of the Scriptures is their consistent theme (Deu. 29:29; Pr. 13:13; Isa. 5:24; Isa. 45:19; Mat. 11:25; Mat. 24:15; Luke 10:21, 26; 24:25; 2Ti. 3:16; 2Pe. 1:19). Yet if Scripture is meant to be understood, why do we have such a difficult time understanding it, and especially this book? Our problem is not so much the difficulty of understanding, but our own idolatry and rebellion. We are unwilling to study to know God and to submit in obedience to that which may be known. We are more interested in other pursuits than in seeking God through His revealed words of life (John 6:63, 68). As is often the case where Scripture is concerned, our inability to understand is more a reflection of our lack of zeal than the difficulty which attends the interpretation of God’s Word. When the average person in our country spends multiple hours in front of a television set daily, but “just can’t find the time” to read God’s Word, the issue is not one of time management, but idolatry.When we come to this last book of Scripture, our lack of preparation is evidenced all the more because what God intends as revelation, we see as mystery. Yet Paul holds that revelation is the antithesis of mystery (Rom. 16:25). This book is not intended to be a veiled document full of mysterious symbols, but an unveiling and clarification of things which have heretofore not been revealed by God.3 In order to grasp the meaning of this revelation, we need a foundation in the rest of Scriptures, and especially the Old Testament. (See The Importance of the Old Testament.)There are several reasons why we believe that this book is not intended to be enigmatic. First, we believe that a chief purpose of God was the creation of language to communicate with man. If this is so, then the intellect of man and the clarity of language must be sufficient for this task:
If God is the originator of language and if the chief purpose of originating it was to convey His message to humanity, then it must follow that He, being all-wise and all-loving, originated sufficient language to convey all that was in His heart to tell mankind. Furthermore, it must also follow that He would use language and expect people to understand it in its literal, normal, and plain sense.4
Second, we have the pattern established by the rest of Scripture. “It is unthinkable to believe that God would speak with precision and clarity from Genesis to Jude, and then when it comes to the end abandon all precision and clarity.”5 It is not God’s intention to train us how to read and understand 65 books of the Bible and then “throw us a curve” in the 66th book by expecting that we adopt an entirely different approach. (See the discussion regarding The Art and Science of Interpretation.)So it is our duty here to make sense of this book, based upon what related passages reveal concerning its central themes, while reading the text in the same way as the rest of Scripture.
of Jesus Christ
The central question surrounding this phrase is whether Jesus Christ is the source of the revelation (subjective genitive) or being described by the revelation (objective genitive).Elsewhere, a very similar Greek phrase ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ [apokalypseōs Iēsou Christou] is used by Paul: “For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:12).6 It would seem that in Galatians the genitive Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ [Iēsou Christou] is subjective rather than objective, for Paul is discussing the source of his revelatory knowledge. It did not come through man, nor was it taught, but it came through the revelation of Jesus. Jesus was the source of Paul’s revelation, not man.In favor of the objective genitive (Jesus as the object being revealed), is the oft-expressed longing of the NT writers for His appearing (1Cor. 1:7; 2Th. 1:7; 1Pe. 1:7). In these passages, the appearing of Jesus is referred to as the “revelation of Jesus Christ.” Apart from the glimpses provided within this book and elsewhere in the NT, the true character and glory of Christ is yet hidden. When He appears, His glory will no longer be veiled and all men everywhere will understand that He is God.7If “context is king” in interpretation, then the next phrase would indicate we are to take this as the subjective genitive: “which God gave Him to show His servants.”8 The emphasis here is on Jesus Christ as the source of the revelation being given to John.Wallace suggests the possibility that this is a plenary genitive indicating the revelation is both from Christ and about Christ.9 However, as Thomas has observed, such an understanding violates the basic interpretive principle that the original author had only one intended meaning.10The context favors the subjective genitive (the revelation is from Jesus Christ), but we should be aware that throughout Scripture, Jesus is involved with revelation in at least three ways:
- He is the source of revelation (Gal. 1:12; 1Pe. 1:11; Rev. 1:1+).
- He is the object of revelation (Luke 24:44; 1Cor. 1:7; 2Th. 1:7; 1Pe. 1:7; Rev. 1:11-18+; 5:6-10+; 19:11-16+). “Many fail to see the centrality of Jesus Christ in this volume. . . . [Some] become preoccupied with the identification of events and persons other than our Lord. Many seem to be more interested in the Antichrist than in Jesus Christ.”11
- His incarnation is the revelation of God to man (Isa. 9:1-2; John 1:14, 18; 12:45; 14:8-9; Col. 1:15; 2:9; Heb. 1:2; 1Jn. 1:2).
Paul makes plain that the revelation he received was not the result of teaching he received from men. In other words, biblical revelation is not by human insight or instruction. It is the unveiling of that which was previously unknown and would forever remain unknown if God had not graciously granted us His self-disclosure. This is why the natural world can never be classified as the 67th book of the Bible, for the “revelation” it provides is not biblical revelation. It is subject to the finding out of man and the manner in which it is discerned is subject to the flawed interpretations and theories of fallen men. This alone tells us why Genesis takes precedence over the speculative investigation of prehistory by modern science. Scriptural revelation, the direct revelation of God, has no equal.It is for these very reasons that biblical revelation is always initiated by God and never by man. It was the Lord who opened Hagar’s eyes so that she saw water nearby (Gen. 21:19). It was the Lord who revealed the Angel of the Lord blocking Balaam’s way (Num. 22:31). The Lord opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant so that he might see the angelic host (2K. 6:17). Moses would have remained a man unknown to history if the Lord had not made His ways known to him (Ps. 103:7). Peter’s declaration of Jesus as “the Christ” would not have occurred without the direct revelation of the Father (Mat. 16:17). The disciples on the road to Emmaus would not have understood Christ in the Scriptures apart from the initiative of God (Luke 24:45). This too is the foundation of prophecy—the revealing of that which is yet future and which no man could ever plumb (Isa. 48:5-8). Hence, it is the unique signature of God alone. This revelation of God is a key ministry of the Holy Spirit Whom Jesus said would “take of what is Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:14).Biblical revelation is not confined to the head, but spans the 18 inches of wilderness from the head to the heart. It results not in a cold apprehension of facts, but in a response of faith which births the soul into newness of life. It was the Lord Who opened Lydia’s heart “to heed the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14) resulting in the first believer in Thyatira, destined to become the site of a thriving Church addressed directly by our Lord in this book (Rev. 2:18+). The mind of the unbeliever remains without revelation, blinded to the things of God. The veil over his mind is unresponsive to the efforts of man (John 1:13), but is “taken away in Christ” (2Cor. 3:14). No one can know the Father except those to whom “the Son wills to reveal Him” (Luke 10:22).Here we come away with a foundational theme of Scripture: man is wholly dependent upon God. Without God, man has no hope. It is only by God’s gracious revelation that light enters into our depraved darkness. John could write none of the Revelation if it were not for God’s initiative totally apart from John. This fact alone renders many of the discussions concerning “John’s motive for writing” null and void.
which God gave Him
Some have taken this as an indication that Jesus did not know the content of the Revelation which was provided by the Father. When Jesus came in the incarnation, He “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Php. 2:7). Between His birth of the virgin Mary and His ascension to the Father, Jesus exhibited traits of His humanity. As a child, He grew in stature and wisdom (Luke 2:40, 52). He learned by the things that He suffered (Heb. 5:8), and when speaking to His disciples concerning His Second Coming, He admitted of limitations to His earthly knowledge: “But of that Day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” [emphasis added] (Mark 13:32).Yet these characteristics of His humanity were recorded prior to His ascension and glorification (John 16:14; 17:5). It seems unlikely that Jesus, the very Source of “the Spirit of Christ” who “testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that would follow” (1Pe. 1:11) and the Agent of what is revealed to John (Rev. 1:10+), would lack the information related in this book. It seems best to understand the revelation as a gift from the Father which recognizes the role distinctions within the Trinity (John 5:20; 1Cor. 15:28).The members of the Trinity are co-equal, yet occupy different roles within the plan and purposes of God. Here, the Father gives revelation to the Son. To the unfamiliar reader, this might seem to imply an inferior position of Jesus in relation to the Father. Not so. Within the Trinity there is a beautiful harmony of perfect cooperation to affect God’s purpose. The submission of the Son to the Father is that of a perfect voluntary servanthood (Isa. 49:6; 50:10; 52:13; 53:11; Mat. 12:18; John 5:19). It is by this motivation that Jesus delivers His kingdom to God the Father (1Cor. 15:24-28). It was the love of Jesus both for mankind and to fulfill the will of the Father which caused him to make “Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Php. 2:7). This is to be the model of those who follow Him. We submit not because it is required, but out of obedience to His Word and a desire to follow His example.12
to show His servants
The Revelation is not just for John, nor just for the Seven Churches of Asia, but for all saints of all ages. “Here, then, in the Prologue are five links in the chain of authorship: God, Christ, his angel, his servant John, and those servants to whom John addressed his book [the seven churches and the saints of all ages].”13The revelation is to be shown to His servants (literally, ‘slaves’). These are they who hear His voice (John 10:3, 16, 27; Acts 22:14; Heb. 3:7, 15; 4:7) and respond in faith. Those who lack faith in the Son are unable to comprehend what is shown here:
This is why unbelievers find the book of Revelation incomprehensible; it was not intended for them. It was given by the Father to the Son to show to those who willingly serve Him. Those who refuse to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord cannot expect to comprehend this book. “A natural man,” explains Paul, “does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1Cor. 2:14).14
For more on the spiritual conditions necessary for an understanding of this book and the Scriptures in general, see Hiding or Revealing?.
The things which God has prophesied are guaranteed to transpire (Dan. 2:29, 45; Mat. 24:6; 26:54; Mark 13:7; Luke 21:9) for “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). The things which transpire here are not without Scriptural foundation and this is the very reason they must take place. See Related Passages and Themes.
Shortly is ἐν τάχει [en tachei]. Considerable discussion attends the meaning of this phrase. Three alternatives are before us:
- The phrase requires all of the events set forth in the book to have transpired within the lifetimes of John’s initial readers (the preterist interpretation).
- The phrase denotes events which may be in the distant future, but which transpire in rapid sequence once they begin.
- The phrase denotes closeness in time, but from God’s perspective.
The phrase ἐν τάχει [en tachei] (“shortly”) occurs in the following NT passages:
- “he will avenge them speedily” (Luke 18:8) God will avenge His elect who cry out day and night though he bears long with them.
- “Arise quickly” (Acts 12:7)
- “going there shortly” (Acts 25:4)
- “get out of Jerusalem quickly” (Acts 22:18)
- “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16:20)
- “I hope to come to you shortly” (1Ti. 3:14)
- “things which must shortly take place” (Rev. 22:6+) (after which Jesus says “I am coming quickly” ἔρχομαι ταχύ [erchomai tachy])
Of these uses, the majority favor an understanding of “closeness in time.” However, three of the passages utilize this phrase to describing events which are delayed for long time periods (Luke 18:8; Rom. 16:20; Rev. 22:6+). Even moderate preterists, who hold to a future bodily Second Coming of Christ, take the last passage as denoting a time period lasting at least 2,000 years:
Gentry cites Revelation 22:7-9+ as a reference to the yet future second coming. This creates a contradiction within Gentry’s brand of preterism. Since Revelation 22:6+ refers to the whole book of Revelation, it would be impossible to take tachos as a reference to A.D. 70 (as Gentry does) and at the same time hold that Revelation 22:7-9+ teaches the second coming.15
As Mills observes, it is impossible to restrict the sense of en tachei to the lifetime of John’s readers:16
The Greek noun translated ‘shortly’ is used only twice in Revelation, once in Rev. 1:1+ and again in 22:6+, thus effectively bracketing the whole book. The prophecies bracketed by these ‘shortlys’ include letters addressed to churches that existed two millennia ago (chapters 2-3), clear descriptions of Christ’s physical return to this earth (Rev. 1:7+; 19:19-27 [sic]), and a prediction of His reign on earth for one thousand years (Rev. 20:4+). Both uses of this word, then, must be understood as having the same sense and yet embrace, at the absolute minimum, a period of nearly three millennia. Therefore, only two interpretations present themselves: either, when the events start occurring they will proceed rapidly, or that the whole sweep of history is seen from a divine perspective in which one thousand years is as but a day (2Pe. 3:8). [emphasis added]17
The use of this same verb within the LXX also provides evidence for a long delay in fulfillment:
It is significant to note that the Septuagint uses tachos in passages which even by the most conservative estimations could not have fulfillments within hundreds or even thousands of years. For example, Isaiah 13:22 . . . was written around 700 B.C. and foretold the destruction of Babylon, which occurred at the earliest in 539 B.C. Similarly, Isaiah 5:26 speaks of the manner, not the time frame, by which the Assyrian invasion of Israel “will come with speed swiftly.”18
Since en tachei can span long periods of time, the question then becomes one of whether it denotes the manner in which events will transpire (rapidly) or the certainty and imminency attending the events?
It may be that the stress [in Rev. 22:20+] is on the certainty of the coming or on the immediacy of the coming. But one’s view does not hinge on the futuristic present, but on the adverb ταχύ [tachy]. The force of the sentence may then mean, “Whenever I come, I will come quickly,” in which case the stress is on the certainty of the coming (cf. Matt 28:8). Or, it may mean, “I am on my way and I intend to be there very soon.”19
Some understand the primary meaning of en tachei in this passage as denoting the manner in which the events transpire:
tachy does not mean soon but swiftly. It indicates rapidity of action, as is well seen in its accurate use in the medical compound tachycardia (tachy and kardia = the heart), which does not mean that the heart will beat soon, but that it is beating rapidly. Of course, the swift action may take place at the very same time, as in Mat. 28:7-8 . . .—G. H. Lang, The Revelation of Jesus Christ: Selected Studies (Miami Springs, FL: Conley & Schoettle Publishing Co., 1945, 1985), 387-88.20
Not only is there a preponderance of lexical support for understanding the tachos family as including the notion of “quickly” or “suddenly,” there is also the further support that all the occurrences in Revelation are adverbs of manner. These terms are not descriptive of when the events will occur and our Lord will come, but rather, descriptive of the manner in which they will take place when they occur.21
Both futurists and nonfuturists . . . agree that the idea of tachos here has to do with swiftness of execution when the prophetic events begin to take place. . . . Both certainty and rapidity of action are involved here. Whatever seeming delay there is, action is certain and it will be swift.22
Although this meaning is possible, it does not seem to be the best understanding of the meaning here because, “To say that the relief will come ‘suddenly’ offers no encouragement, but to say that it will come ‘soon’ does.”23 It seems more likely that en tachei emphasizes the certainty and imminency of the events:24
The presence of en tachei in Rev. 1:1+ shows that for the first time the events predicted by Daniel and foreseen by Christ stood in readiness to be fulfilled. Therefore, John could speak of them as imminent, but earlier prophets could not.25
Either ‘tachus’ means that when the events occur they will be rapid, or the whole sweep of history is seen from a divine perspective where one thousand years is as but a day (2Pe. 3:8). The latter must be preferred as the former leaves unresolved the tension that part of Revelation relates to churches that existed two millennia ago. This understanding readily accepts as completely honest and trustworthy the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ; expressed in human terms, then, ‘tachus’ denotes imminence and not immediacy. The irony of this situation is that those scholars who take ‘tachus’ literally end up allegorizing the text, and those scholars who take the text literally end up seeking an unusual meaning for this word! The only satisfactory position I can see is therefore to regard ‘tachus’ as being used in a technical sense—a sense understood as being within the whole biblical framework of the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ.26
Ἐσήμανεν [Esēmanen]. The same root word is used in John 12:33, σημαίνων [sēmainōn], where Jesus describes His death on the cross by indicating He will be lifted up from the earth in the same way as Moses lifted up the serpent on a pole. Elsewhere, Agabus indicated by the Spirit that there was to be a worldwide famine (Acts 11:28). The appearance of this term does not justify a departure from the Golden Rule of Interpretation when interpreting symbols as some hold. It merely indicates a way of communicating which includes symbol or analogy. Although symbols occur, they reside within a textual framework which is subject to normative interpretation with due recognition of the meaning conveyed by the symbols. “This symbolism . . . in no way gives license for a departure from the normal grammatical-historical system of hermeneutics. To clarify this point Govett proposes that esemanen be translated ‘represent.’ The revelation given to John, symbolic though it be, is to be interpreted just as one would interpret the rest of the Bible.”27 “This term evidently meant a kind of communication that is neither plain statement nor an attempt at concealment. It is figurative, symbolic, or imaginative, and is intended to convey truth by picture rather than by definition.”28The revelation has already been signified from the perspective of the reader: “John’s use of the aorist emartyresen, then, is best explained by his adoption of the perspective of his readers in regard to his composition of this book. When they received it, his testimony as recorded in its pages would be a thing of the past.”29See Interpreting Symbols.
An angelic host shows John the Revelation. One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues (Rev. 21:9+). This angel was specifically sent to show John the things which must shortly take place (Rev. 22:6+, 16+). Here, as elsewhere in Scripture, an angel serves as the intermediary by which revelation is given to man:
Angels were used for the revelation of the Law of Moses (Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19; Heb. 2:2). They were active in the presenting of the prophetic truth to Daniel (Dan. 7:16-27; 8:16-26; 9:20-27; 10:1-12:13) and to Zechariah (Zec. 1:9; 2:3; 4:1, 5; 5:5; 6:4, 5). Angels were used to announce the birth of John to Zacharias (Luke 1:11-20) and the birth of Jesus to Mary (Luke 1:26-38) and to Joseph (Mat. 1:20-21).30
Some suggest that the angel actively contributed to the train of visionary events which passed before John:
The office of the angel, as I take it, was, to form the connection between John’s senses or imagination and the things which he was to describe, making to pass in review before him what was only afterwards to take place in fact. How this was done, I cannot say: but as the devil could take Jesus to a high mountain and show him at one view “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them,” I am sure that it falls sufficiently within the sphere of angelic natures thus to picture things to man; and that when commissioned of the Lord for the purpose, no good angel is wanting in ability to be the instrument in making John see whatever visions he describes in this book.31
This seems unlikely given that John was said to be “in the Spirit” (Rev. 1:10+)—the Holy Spirit is elsewhere the agent by which such visionary events are presented.The phrase “And I saw. . .” occurs no less than forty times.32 This indicates John’s primary role as a scribe rather than an author.
3.1.2 - Revelation 1:2
An epistolary aorist, referring to the perspective of the readers of this book once it had been completed.33
who bore witness to the word of God
The phrase word of God is a signature of the Apostle John and occurs in John 1:1; 1Jn. 1:1; 2:14; 5:7 TR; Rev. 1:2+; 19:13+. This is strong evidence that John the Apostle is indeed the author of this work, as tradition holds. There are many parallels between Jesus and God’s revealed word:
Among the parallels between Jesus and Scripture are 1) their eternality; 2) their production by the Holy Spirit; 3) a divine message embodied in earthly form; 4) the accommodation of man’s limited intellect; 5) perfect—without sin; 6) having unique divine authority; 7) rejected by man; 8) victorious over foes; 9) revealed by faith; 10) bearing witness one to another; 11) the sole means of revelation of the Father; 12) called the Word of God.34
In the same way that Jesus was fully human and yet without error (divine), the written word of God was given through human vessels who were superintended by the Holy Spirit so that the result is inerrant.
There are two ways which the testimony of Jesus Christ may be understood:
- Jesus is the Subject - The testimony was provided by Jesus. He is its source (subjective genitive). Both here and in Rev. 19:10+, the grammatical evidence points toward taking this as the subjective genitive (the testimony born by Jesus Christ—which God gave Him).35
- Jesus is the Object - The testimony is about Jesus (objective genitive). He is the One revealed by the testimony. John was banished to Patmos “for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:9+). This almost certainly refers to persecution resulting from his testimony about Jesus. When the fifth seal is opened, John sees martyrs “who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held” (Rev. 6:9+). When the two witnesses finish their testimony, the beast ascends from the bottomless pit and overcomes them (Rev. 11:7+). The saints who overcome Satan do so by the (spoken) word of their testimony (Rev. 12:11+). The enraged dragon goes forth to make war against those who “have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17+). At the start of the Millennial Kingdom, John sees “the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus (μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ [martyrian Iēsou], testimony of Jesus)” (Rev. 20:4+). In these situations, Scripture records persecution as the result of holding the testimony. This cannot refer to merely receiving a testimony from Jesus. It must refer to giving that testimony forth in the face of opposition. This objective sense would also be in accord with what John records concerning the role of John the Baptist (John 1:7). Many other passages indicate that Jesus is the primary object of prophetic revelation: the “volume of the book” is written of Him (Ps. 40:7; Luke 18:31; 24:27, 44; John 5:39, 46; Acts 8:35; 10:43; Heb. 10:7).
A survey of various passages concerning the testimony of Jesus Christ indicates that Jesus is both the subject and the object of testimony. Prophetic motivation is from Jesus: “the Spirit of Christ . . . testified” (1Pe. 1:11). It is also about Jesus: “indicating . . . beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” (1Pe. 1:11). The relationship of the saints to the testimony of Jesus concerns both aspects: (1) we receive the testimony provided by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ; (2) we are charged with delivering the testimony concerning Jesus to others. The ministry of the saints can be found entirely within the phrase: Knowing Him to make Him known. If either part of this “ministry equation” is neglected, our testimony suffers.36
3.1.3 - Revelation 1:3
Blessed is he
Luther’s comments underscore the need for a consistently literal interpretation of this book: “Even if it were a blessed thing to believe what is contained in it, no man knows what that is.”37 For if different interpretive views render wholly different meanings, then what blessing could be derived and how could the prophecy be kept? How can one keep what one is not sure one has in the first place?One reason for such blessing is undoubtedly to be found in the close ties between this book and all the rest of Scripture: “The reason is easy to understand. Since so much of this book is based on the Old Testament, a proper study of it will require a study of the Old Testament, resulting in a more comprehensive knowledge of the Bible.”38 This is one of seven unique blessings found in Revelation for:
- He who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy (Rev. 1:3+).
- The dead who die in the Lord during part of the Tribulation (Rev. 14:13+).
- He who watches and keeps his garments (Rev. 16:15+).
- Those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9+).
- He who has part in the first resurrection (Rev. 20:6+).
- He who keeps the words of this prophecy (Rev. 22:7+).
- Those who do His commandments (Rev. 22:14+).
See commentary on Revelation 1:1 regarding the perspicuity of Scripture.
he who reads and those who hear
The phrase denotes a single reader who reads the letter out loud in the midst of a congregation of listeners. At the time the book was written, writing materials were expensive and scarce. Nor was there an inexpensive means for producing copies of a written document—tedious copying by hand being the means of replication. Generally, a Christian assembly might only have access to a single copy of a document so written works were often read so that their contents might be accessible to the wider assembly.39
The message of God is not conveyed by some existential and personal encounter. Rather, it is conveyed by words. God has specifically chosen normative language as the mode for communicating what He wants us to know and keep. This is the basis for the Golden Rule of Interpretation discussed in the introduction.Scripture makes plain that the Word of God is a detailed message conveyed by individual words, not mere concepts (Jos. 8:35; Jer. 26:2; Mat. 5:18; Luke 16:17; John 5:46; John 17:8; Acts 24:14; Rom. 3:2; Rom. 16:26; 1Cor. 14:37; Rev. 22:7+, 18-19+). Jesus Himself said that not one jot or one tittle will “pass from the law till all be fulfilled” (Mat. 5:18). A “jot” refers to the smallest Hebrew character: י, yod. A “tittle” is the fraction of a pen stroke which distinguishes similar Hebrew characters, for example the tiny overhang in the upper right which distinguishes a dalet ( ד ) from a resh ( ר ). This tiny pen stroke distinguishes words which appear almost identical, but with meanings as different as “to stand” ( אָמַד [ʾāmaḏ] ) and “to speak” ( אָמַר [ʾāmar] ).It has become fashionable to promote the idea that Scripture conveys information primarily at the level of concepts rather than words. But one must appreciate that the building blocks for expressing thoughts are individual words. And without the precision of individual words, both in their meaning and preservation, the thoughts and intent of the original author cannot be reliably determined. This, in part, explains the emphasis of Scripture on the very words themselves as evidenced by the reliance of Jesus on grammatical subtleties in His arguments employing the Scriptures (Mat. 22:31, 42-45; John 10:35; Gal. 3:16).The importance of the individual words of Scripture is also illustrated by the sober warning which attends those who would add or remove words from this prophecy given to John. This is the heart of the issue as to which translation is best suited for study. It is our view, and that of others knowledgeable on the subject, that the best translation is one which follows a policy of formal equivalence where the very meaning of the individual words is preserved as closely as possible. While it is an undeniable fact that all translations involve interpretation by the translators, some translations involve more interpretation than others. It is these translations, which employ thought-for-thought dynamic equivalence, which are to be avoided:
There is an Italian proverb which says, “Translators are traitors” (Traddutore, traditore; “Translators, traitors”), and it’s true. All translation loses meaning. All translators are traitors to the actual meaning. There is no such thing as a noninterpretive translation. . . . Are you going to translate words [formal equivalence] and be interpretive, or are you going to translate meaning [dynamic equivalence] and be more interpretive? [emphasis added]40
The concept is this: as a disciple of Jesus Christ, we want the minimum distance between the inspired inerrant text and our own understanding. A word-for-word (formal equivalence) translation tends to minimize the interpretive layer which separates us from the original. A thought-for-thought translation (dynamic equivalence) steps in to interpret things for us. What is particularly damaging about the latter is that ambiguity in the text—involving issues that we as students of the Word need to wrestle with and recognize involves ambiguity—is masked by the interpretive decisions of the thought-for-thought translators. In effect, they are performing both translation and interpretation. It is the latter which we seek to minimize:
Translators have to ask themselves, “What am I going to do with ambiguity?” If the Greek or Hebrew isn’t clear, when it can mean several different things, what am I going to do? The KJV, NASB, RSV, and ESV generally answer that question, “Leave it alone. If we can reproduce in English the same ambiguity that is present in the Greek, then we will leave it ambiguous. We will not make up the reader’s mind.” On the other hand, the NIV will not leave any ambiguity. They make up the reader’s mind whenever they feel it is necessary, and the NLT goes to even greater lengths than the NIV.41
One helpful rule of thumb on this matter is as follows: the only reliable translations for detailed study are those which include italicized words. These translations use formal equivalence as evidenced by the italicized words which signify phrases and conjunctions added by the translators for clarity of reading, but for which no corresponding words exist in the original language text. This also helps the careful student to know when he is standing on solid ground (words not in italics) or thin ice (italicized phrases).42Now it is certainly true that every believer is a “translation” of God’s Word and not necessarily a word-for-word representation. God uses our testimony, even though imperfect, to witness of Christ and the Bible to others around us. This is as it should be. We need not always carry a Bible with us and read from it with precision for people to hear and respond in faith. Yet, when it comes to studying God’s Word where we have a choice of which written text to study and how close we adhere to the original, this is another matter entirely. We should always opt to stay as close to the Words of the Master as possible.This is illustrated by the popular game where people sit in adjacent positions and a story is told by the person on one end of the row of chairs. Each person in line whispers the story to the next person in line. When the story reaches the opposite end of the line, it is retold to all. It is amazing to observe how the story has changed little-by-little as it goes along until significant differences have occurred between its source and its destination. The student of God’s Word ought to be concerned about how many chairs separate him from the Words of the Master. Some of those chairs might be unavoidable—perhaps the student is unable to learn the original languages of the Bible so he must depend upon a translation into his own tongue. Yet why choose to sit two or three chairs further away from the Master by using a paraphrase which allows His Word to be distorted and misunderstood?43
This book is not merely an allegory or devotional treatise extolling the eventual victory of good over evil. The events described within this book are bona fide prophecy and include the prediction of actual historical events. See Can’t God Prophesy?
and keep those things which are written
Keep is the present active participle τηροῦντες [tērountes], “while holding fast.” The saints are told to “be continually hanging on to” the things which John writes. This requires focus and energy and implies the need for watchfulness in order to avoid having them taken away.One aspect of keeping those things which are written involves a proper interpretation of their meaning. For it is possible to keep the words (Rev. 22:7+), but with their incorrect meaning. The result is that the things written herein are not properly kept for they are not properly understood. One example of such corruption of the things written would be amillennialism which holds that there is no future earthly kingdom of a thousand years (Rev. 20:4-6+), but that the kingdom period has already begun. Keeping the words in such a way as to denude them of their meaning is no preservation at all.Another aspect of keeping those things which are written is the preservation of both the content and proper interpretation of the text and passing it on to each successive generation. Jesus’ haunting words come to mind: “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8b). This is where an understanding of church history can be a great boon to the saints of any age in that they come to appreciate their position within the stream of biblical history and doctrine which flows from Genesis to the Second Coming of Christ. Without such understanding, it is unlikely that we will keep those things which are written in the way God intended.The things which are written include both prophetic revelation concerning events in history, but also important exhortations concerning the application of the message within this book. The Psalm writer admonishes the saints to keep God’s precepts (Ps. 119:4). James tells us to be doer’s of the Word and not just hearers only (Jas. 1:22). We are told to watch and keep our garments, lest we “walk naked and they see our shame” (Rev. 16:15+). Christianity is not a passive intellectual exercise, but an active application and promulgation of the message of God (Mat. 24:42-44; 25:13).We would do well to remember the response of Jesus to the woman who blessed His mother Mary:
And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27-28)
the time is near
The Greek phrase is καιρὸς ἐγγύς [kairos engys]. Kairos is a key eschatological term indicating a coming time of crisis associated with the last times.44
The word used in Revelation 1:3+ . . . is kairos. It does not speak of an era or time span, but signifies “the right time,” “the right moment,” “the opportune time.” It is used in Galatians 4:4 wherein the Bible states, “But when the fulness of the time [kairos] was come, God sent forth His son. . .” Christ came at just the right moment. The time was “ripe” for the coming of God’s Son.45
[Engus] can refer to any event predicted by the prophets, as when Mark indicates that “the time [kairos] is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand [engus]” (Mark 1:15). Something was “at hand” that has to do with kairos time. It was the Kingdom hope and aspiration of every Old Testament Jew who knew the writings of the Hebrew prophets.46
This word for “time” differs from chronos which generally refers to what we would call chronological time:
Καιρός [Kairos] (“time”) frequently has a technical sense in the NT, referring to the end times when the earthly kingdom of Israel will be instituted (cf. Acts 1:7; 3:20; 1Th. 5:1). The events of this book are thus identified with the last of the critical epoch-making periods foreordained of God. From the perspective of prophetic anticipation this period is declared to be ἐγγύς [engys] (“near”).47
Time does not translate chronos, which refers to time on a clock or calendar, but kairos, which refers to seasons, epochs, or eras. The next great era of God’s redemptive history is near.48
James makes an almost identical statement using the same Greek verb concerning the coming of the Lord for believers (not in judgment): “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand (ἤγγικεν [ēngiken])” (Jas. 5:7-8). The meaning in James is that “of approaching in time . . . [and concerns] the Lord’s return.”49 Peter uses the same term: “the end of all things is at hand” (1Pe. 4:7).As with the previous statement concerning things which must shortly take place (Rev. 1:1+), this perspective of time is that of God and concerns the last times when prophetic predictions would come to pass. “Some interval, however, is presupposed between the vision and its fulfillment, otherwise it would be futile to write the visions down, and to arrange for their circulation throughout the churches. A certain career is anticipated for the book of Revelation.”50Preterist interpreters generally argue that this phrase must denote fulfillment in the lifetime of John’s readers. Yet they are not consistent on this point when the phrase occurs elsewhere:
This creates a contradiction within [moderate] preterism. Since Rev. 22:6+ is a statement referring to the whole book of Revelation, it would be impossible to take tachos as a reference to A.D. 70 . . . and at the same time hold that Rev. 20:7-9+ teaches the Second Coming. [Moderate preterists] must either adopt a view similar to futurism, or shift to the extreme preterist view that understands the entire book of Revelation as past history, thus eliminating any future Second Coming and resurrection.51
A better way to understand the text, as in verse 1, is denoting the imminency of the events John records. See Imminency.
3.1.4 - Revelation 1:4
This simple statement identifying the writer as “John” is evidence for the traditional view of John the Apostle as author. For what other John would designate himself simply as “John” when “John the Apostle” was the most prominent “John” amongst the Asian churches during this period? If it had been another “John,” he would have clarified so. John was ideally suited to write to these churches because he had been living in Asia Minor and ministering among the churches since approximately A.D. 66.52
seven churches which are in Asia
See Seven Churches of Asia. The names of the seven churches are listed in Revelation 1:11+.Although the text to follow addresses each church in turn, the book of Revelation is addressed to all seven churches for all seven churches are to benefit from its contents and to learn from those things which are said concerning the other churches (Rev. 2:7+, 11+, 17+, 29+; 3:6+, 13+, 22+).See Seven: Perfection, Completeness.
from Him who is and who was and who is to come
This is a reference to God the Father as can be seen by the Son being mentioned in the following verse “and from Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:5+).This unusual grammatical construction is comprised of a present participle (ὁ ω῍ν [ho ōn], he who is), an imperfect verb (ὁ ἦν [ho ēn], he was) and another present participle (ὁ ἐρχόμενος [ho erchomenos], he who is coming). A more literal rendering might be, “the One who is and the He was and the coming One”.Several unusual aspects of this grammatical construction have been noted:
Another rare grammatical phenomenon of this title is the finite verb en doing duty for a participle (Simcox). It is modified by a definite article and is parallel with participles in the first and third members of the expression. The reason for this peculiarity lies in a limitation of the verb εἰμί [eimi] (“I am”), which has no participial form to express continuing action in past time. The writer wanted to describe the Father’s being by including His eternal and continuing existence prior to the present moment. The imperfect indicative was the only linguistic device for doing so.53
Regarding “who is” (nominative) following the preposition “from,” Wallace observes:
This is the first and worst grammatical solecism in Revelation, but many more are to follow. There are two broad options for how to deal with it: Either the author unintentionally erred or he intentionally violated standard syntax. If unintentional, it could be due to a heavily Semitized Greek, or merely represent the level of linguistic skill that a minimally educated man might achieve (as in the vulgar papyri). Either of these is doubtful here because (1) such a flagrant misunderstanding of the rudiments of Greek would almost surely mean that the author simply could not compose in Greek, yet the Apocalypse itself argues against this; (2) nowhere else does the Seer use a nominative immediately after a preposition (in fact, he uses ἀπό [apo] 32 times with a genitive immediately following). If intentional, the question of what the author intends. Few scholars would disagree with Charles’ assessment [R.H. Charles, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St. John]: “The Seer has deliberately violated the rules of grammar in order to preserve the divine name inviolate from the change which it would necessarily have undergone if declined. Hence the divine name is here in the nominative.” It would be like one American saying to another, “Do you believe in ‘We the People?’ ” If the question had been, “Do you believe in us the people?” the allusion to the Preamble to the Constitution would have been lost.54
The phrase is to be regarded as an indeclinable proper name55 meant to be familiar to readers of the Greek Old Testament who read of the name which God revealed to Moses at the burning bush, Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὢν [Egō eimi ho ōn], “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex. 3:14, LXX).Although the phrase denotes God’s eternality, it also emphasizes one of the themes of this book: His soon coming. “Such a means of referring to the future also heightens the focus upon the imminence of His coming: He who is already on His way may arrive at any moment.”56
It is difficult to understand how so many should assume without further question that ὁ ἐρχόμενος [ho erchomenos] [the coming one] here is==ὁ ἐσόμενος [ho esomenos] [the one who shall be], and that thus we have the eternity of God expressed here so far as it can be expressed, in forms of time: “He who was, and is, and shall be.” But how ὁ ἐρχόμενος [ho erchomenos] should ever have this significance is hard to perceive. . . . What is the key-note to this whole Book? Surely it is, “I come quickly. The world seems to have all things its own way, to kill my servants; but I come quickly.” With this announcement the Book begins, Rev. 1:7+; with this it ends, Rev. 22:7+, 12+, 20+ and this is a constantly recurring note through it all, Rev. 2:5+, 16+; 3:11+; 6:17+; 11:18+; 14:7+; 16:15+; 18:20+.57
Isaiah provides a list of qualities of the Spirit which shall rest upon the Messiah who shall come from the stem of Jesse (David’s father): “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 of the fear of the LORD” (Isa. 11:2).58 In the fourth chapter, John calls our attention to “Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God” [emphasis added] (Rev. 4:5+). These Spirits are also said to be “seven eyes, which are the Seven Spirits of God sent out unto all the earth” (Rev. 5:6+). The omniscience of the Holy Spirit is in view and His worldwide ministry, also mentioned by Zechariah (Zec. 4:6-10). One of His worldwide ministries is convicting “of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). He provides the breath of life to all the world’s creatures (Gen. 2:7; Job 34:14-15). He strives with all men to restrain sin (Gen. 6:3; 20:6; 2Th. 2:6-7).Here, the Spirits are specifically said to be Spirits of God making the connection to Isaiah 11:2 more plausible and denoting seven different aspects of the Holy Spirit Who was poured out on the Anointed One (the Mashiach or Christos).That these spirits are not angels59 is seen from their elevation on a par with the other two members of the Trinity: “The seven Spirits might conceivably refer to a group of angelic beings. But coming between references to the Father and the Son it is more probable that this is an unusual way of designating the Holy Spirit.”60The number of spirits matches the number of lampstands and would seem to represent the activity of Christ through the Holy Spirit in and to the seven churches (Zec. 4:6). The epistle to each church closes with the admonition, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:7+, 11+, 17+, 29+; 3:6+, 13+, 22+).61See Seven: Perfection, Completeness.
3.1.5 - Revelation 1:5
and from Jesus Christ
Within this simple greeting can be found a neglected doctrine of paramount importance: the Trinity. The greeting is from each member of the Trinity: from Him who is and who was and who is to come (the Father), from the seven Spirits who are before His throne (the Holy Spirit), and from Jesus Christ (the Son). Before we have even begun to plumb the depths of the amazing statements made concerning Christ in the verses to follow, His divinity is already in plain view before us.
Among the unique titles of Jesus, He is “called Faithful and True” (Rev. 19:11+). Here, we see His character as God, Who cannot lie (Num. 23:19; Rom. 3:4; Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18). Where God is involved, other witnesses are unnecessary, for God bears truthful and reliable witness of Himself (John 8:14). The witness of Christ was faithful in that He finished the work which the Father had given Him (John 17:4), manifesting the Father’s name to His disciples (John 17:6) and resisting the temptation to circumvent the cross (Luke 22:42-44). In His incarnation, Jesus provided a witness of God to man (Isa. 9:1-2; John 1:14, 18; 12:45; 14:8-9; Col. 1:15; 2:9; Heb. 1:2; 1Jn. 1:2).
He is the firstborn from the dead “that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18). He thus establishes the pattern for all His brethren who will also rise from the dead (Rom. 8:29).The term “firstborn” (πρωτότοκος [prōtotokos]), emphasizes not His generation, but His position (Ps. 89:27) [the LXX uses the same Greek term (Psalm 88:28 in the LXX)].62
The Greek term πρωτότοκο [prōtotoko] could refer either to first in order of time, such as a first born child, or it could refer to one who is preeminent in rank. M. J. Harris, Colossians and Philemon (EGGNT), 43, expresses the meaning of the word well: “The ‘firstborn’ was either the eldest child in a family or a person of preeminent rank. The use of this term to describe the Davidic king in Ps. 88:28 LXX (=Ps 89:27 EVV), ‘I will also appoint him my firstborn (πρωτότοκο [prōtotoko]), the most exalted of the kings of the earth,’ indicates that it can denote supremacy in rank as well as priority in time. But whether the proto- element in the word denotes time, rank, or both, the significance of the -tokos element as indicating birth or origin (from τίκτω [tiktō] give birth to) has been virtually lost except in reference to literal birth.” In Col. 1:15 the emphasis is on the priority of Jesus’ rank as over and above creation (cf. Col. 1:16 and the ‘for’ clause referring to Jesus as Creator).63
A connection with Psalm 2 is seen in that Christ is here firstborn from the dead (“begotten,” Ps. 2:7 cf. Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; Rom. 1:4) and ruler over the kings of the earth (Ps. 2:8). It was at His resurrection that His divine Sonship was made manifest and attested by the Father (Acts 13:33; Rom. 1:4).64Although not the first to be raised from the dead, Christ is the first to be resurrected to obtain a glorified body never to die again (1Cor. 15:35-44). “There were resurrections before His in the Old Testament (1K. 17:17-23; 2K. 4:32-36; 13:20-21), and He Himself raised others during His earthly ministry (Mat. 9:23-25; Luke 7:11-15; John 11:30-44).”65 Yet all of these who were resurrected prior to Christ continued to age and eventually died again.66
Christ is indeed “the first begotten of the dead,” notwithstanding that such raisings from the grave as that of the widow’s son, and Jairus’s daughter, and Lazarus, and his who revived at the touch of Elisha’s bones (2K. 13:21), went before. There was for them no repeal of the sentence of death, but a respite only; not to say that even during their period of respite they carried about with them a body of death. Christ first so rose from the dead, that he left death forever behind Him, did not, and could not, die any more (Rom. 6:9); in this respect was “the first-fruits of them that slept” (1Cor. 15:20, 23), the Prince of life (Acts 3:15).67
The resurrection of Christ is unique because He is the first instance of that transformation which the resurrection effects. It is more than a resuscitation of mortal flesh, such as took place in the cases of Jairus’ daughter or of Lazarus, for they underwent no essential change of the body. . . . they were restored to their friends; but there is not a hint that they were made physically immortal, or that death did not overtake them at some later date.68
ruler over the kings of the earth
The rule of Jesus over the kings of the earth is by divine right, not by the willing acceptance of the kings themselves (Ps. 2; Dan. 2:34-35, 44-45; 7:11-14, 24-27). For the world will reject the reign of God. The arrival of God’s kingdom on earth is a major theme of this prophecy given through John and culminates in the destruction of the armies of the kings of the earth at the Second Coming of Christ (Rev. 19:11-21+).While it is true that Jesus is the ruler over all men today, most do not realize this to be the case. A time is coming when the knowledge of the Lord will extend over the face of the entire earth and there will no longer be difference of opinion regarding Who is in control (Isa. 2:3; 11:9; Mic. 4:2; Zec. 14:8-11).
who loved us
“Loved,” (Ἀγαπῶντι [Agapōnti]) is a present participle, He is loving (present tense) us. The love of God for us is demonstrated in many ways, but chiefly, in the way in which He gave His Son on our behalf: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The “so” in this oft-quoted verse is not only speaking of the degree of God’s love, but the way in which it was manifested—by the giving of His Son.69 This is made clear by the context of the passage, and especially the preceding verses: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” [emphasis added] (John 3:14-15).In his epistle, John also explained the giving of Jesus on the cross as a demonstration of God’s love. “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1Jn. 4:9-10). This love of God is not restricted to the Father giving the Son, but includes the Son giving Himself (Eph. 5:2). Our love of God is not natural, but in reaction to His first having loved us (1Jn. 4:19).The degree of God’s love for us is fathomless. Yet God desires our finite minds to attempt to comprehend it as best we are able. The depth of His love is demonstrated by an ongoing study of what is said concerning the relationship between the Father and the Son (John 1:1; 17:5, 25) and the agonizing cost to God in order to redeem us (Mat. 27:46; Mark 15:34). This cost is all the more amazing when our condition as enemies of God is considered (Rom. 5:6-10).Our inability to worship God correlates with our ignorance of His Word. For it is by His Word that we come to an ever deeper understanding of the intimacy between the Father and the Son and the painful rent in that fabric necessary to secure our undeserved redemption. Emotional worship experiences in and of themselves can never substitute for a response based upon a Scriptural understanding of His love for us, as limited as it may ultimately be.
NU has “freed” (λύσαντι [lysanti]) whereas MT has “washed” (λούσαντι [lousanti]) - a difference of a single Greek letter. Scripture describes both as being true of the believer who has been set free (Mat. 20:28; Gal. 3:13; 4:5; 1Ti. 2:6; Heb. 9:12; 1Pe 1:18; Rev. 5:9+; 14:3-4+) and washed, a picture of spiritual cleansing (Ps. 51:4; Isa. 1:16-18; Eze. 36:25; Acts 22:16; Eph. 5:26; Tit. 2:14; 3:5; Heb. 1:3; 9:14; 2Pe. 1:9). The imagery of the immediate passage, in His own blood, argues for the latter as does internal evidence elsewhere in the book (Rev. 7:14+).Whereas loved us is in the present tense, washed us is in the aorist tense. The provision for our redemption, His death on the cross which washes away all our sin both past and future, is accomplished and its full merits are applied in full the moment we believe. Yet He continually loves us.
in His own blood
A bloodless gospel is an ineffectual gospel. For it is by the spilling of blood that God has chosen to atone for sin (Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22).70Why did God choose blood for this purpose? Ultimately, we may never know, for the “secret things belong to the LORD our God” (Deu. 29:29). Scripture reveals that the use of blood for atonement is related to its life-giving qualities (Gen. 9:4). The “life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11). “Life” in this verse is Hebrew נֶפֶשׁ [nep̄eš], the same term which is translated “soul” where Scripture records the once-for-all atonement made by Isaiah’s Suffering Servant: “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin” [emphasis added] (Isa. 53:10). By His blood atonement, Jesus was prophesied to “sprinkle many nations” (Isa. 52:15), thus fulfilling the many OT types pointing to Him.It was by blood sacrifice that the first man and woman were covered in response to their sin (Gen. 3:21). It was by blood sacrifice that the first men were to approach God (Gen. 4:4). It was by a blood sacrifice that God established His covenant with Abraham (Gen. 15:9-21). It was by blood placed on the door posts and lintel that the Jews were “covered” from the destroyer Who passed over Egypt taking the firstborn of each family (Ex. 12:23). It was by the sprinkling of blood that the Mosaic Law was ratified between God and the Israelites (Ex. 24:8). Ever since the bloodless offering of Cain (Gen. 4:3-5), man has attempted to approach God by some other means than that which God Himself has established. These would try to circumvent the single path which God requires: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ ” (John 14:6)This necessity of blood offering is offensive to man, and we believe intentionally so. For it is a messy business and continual reminder of man’s lack of righteousness (Rom. 3:23) and his desperate need of the “righteousness of God,” a righteousness which is freely given rather than earned (Rom. 3:21-26; 2Cor. 5:21; Php. 3:9). Yet many prefer to continue in the way of religion rather than relationship, offering up their own puny works in a vain attempt to justify themselves before a perfect and Holy God (Rom. 10:3). Religion preserves our pride, whereas relationship requires us to cast it aside.See Hide and Seek.
3.1.6 - Revelation 1:6
In both NU and MT, the Greek has appointed us a kingdom (singular), priests to God. A similar difference occurs in Revelation 5:10+. The singular form (a kingdom) would be in keeping with the original calling of Israel to be “a kingdom of priests” (Ex. 19:6). Some have noted the Jewish audience of Peter’s epistle and rightly understood 1Peter 2:9 as being a reminder to his readers of the original calling of the Jews (Ex. 19:6). Yet in this book the concept is unmistakably broadened to include all those who trust in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, from among every “tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:10+). Our priesthood is made possible by our “great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God” (Heb. 4:14), therefore we have complete and full access to the Father. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16).Whether we are to be “kings and priests” or “a kingdom [of] priests,” it is clear that believers will co-rule with Christ during His coming earthly reign (Rev. 20:4-6+). This future reign will not come to pass until after Antichrist has his time on the world stage and a judgment is made in favor of the saints (Dan. 7:18, 25-27).71Both now and in the future, our function is primarily priestly. That is, we are to minister to God. Here we run into an extremely important distinction which has not been adequately appreciated among many who lead God’s people. Our primary responsibility is to minister to God and not to men. Our focus is to be God-ward rather than man-ward. We are to “offer up spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ” (1Pe. 2:5). As we take care to minister to God, He will minister to men through us.The focus of our ministry is the New Covenant (2Cor. 3:6), not the Law of Moses, and is characterized by a series of contrasts and seeming contradictions (2Cor. 6:4-10). Our lives should evidence a consistency of living whether with the people of God or with unbelievers: “God intends the eventual abolition of all distinctions between holy and profane, sanctified and common (Zec. 14:20-21).”72In one sense, there has been and will only ever be a single “kingdom of God.” This is His universal dominion over His entire creation. Yet, in another sense, God has chosen to use men as mediators of His rule during periods of history.73The progression of the kingdom of God is revealed in stages:
The progression of the “kingdom of God” is gradually revealed. What is this kingdom in principle if it is not the sphere where God reigns? In the Scriptures we can trace for it seven distinct steps: 1. Paradise . . . (Gen. 1:31) 2. The theocracy of Israel . . . 3. The kingdom announced by the prophets . . . (1S. 7:8; Isa. 11:1-16) 4. The kingdom offered and rejected in the gospels . . . (Mat. 4:17; Luke 17:21; Luke 10:9-11) 5. The kingdom hidden in the heart . . . (John 3:3-5; Col. 1:13) 6. The thousand year reign . . . (Rev. 20:1-10+) 7. The eternal kingdom in heaven . . . (2Ti. 4:18; 2Pe. 1:10-11).74
Our rule is not contingent upon our status in the world, but upon our position in Christ:
Let men despise and contemn religion as they may, there is empire connecting with lowly discipleship, royalty with penitence, and prayers, and sublime priesthood with piety. Fishermen and taxgatherers, by listening to Jesus, presently find themselves in apostolic thrones, and ministering as priests and rulers of a dispensation, wide as the world, and lasting as time. Moses, by his faith, rises from Jethro’s sheepfold to be the prince of Israel; and Daniel, from the den of condemnation and death, to the honour and authority of empire; and Luther, from his cell, to dictate to kings and rule the ages. There is not a believer, however obscure or humble, who may not rejoice in princely blood, who does not already wield a power which the potencies of hell cannot withstand, and who is not on the way to possess eternal priesthood and dominion.75
The nearest antecedent is the Son to which glory and dominion are given, literally into the ages of the ages (εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων [eis tous aiōnas tōn aiōnōn]). Yet elsewhere it is said that God will not share His glory with another (Isa. 48:11). Clearly, Jesus is God!
3.1.7 - Revelation 1:7
He is coming
The OT Scriptures predicted a “coming one” (Deu. 18:15-18; Ps. 2; 22; 118:26; Isa. 9:6; 48:16; 53; 61:1; Jer. 23:5-8; Dan. 9:25; Mic. 5:2; Zec. 2:8-11; 6:12-15; etc.). This was the expectation of those among whom Jesus ministered (John 1:21; 1:45; 6:14; 7:40). John the Baptist knew of these predictions and sent his disciples to Jesus inquiring, “ ‘Are You the Coming One (ἐρχόμενος [erchomenos]), or do we look for another?’ ” [emphasis added] (Mat. 11:3; Luke 7:19). Peter and Stephen explained it was Jesus who fulfilled these predictions (Acts 3:22; 7:37).Yet this Coming One represented a Scriptural enigma. At times, He was said to be victorious king who would reign forever (Num. 24:17; Isa. 9:6-7). But He was also forsaken, despised, rejected, and crushed (Ps. 22; Isa. 53). How could these seeming contradictions be reconciled? Some chose to apply these passages to two different individuals, a “suffering Messiah” (Messiah ben-Joseph) and a “victorious Messiah” (Messiah ben-David).76 Others held that the fulfillments were mutually exclusive and which would eventuate depended upon the obedience of Israel.77The key which unlocks this mystery is the resurrection of Messiah (Ps. 16:10; Isa. 53:10). He would come once, die for the sins of the world, be resurrected back to life, and come a second time in judgment. His First Coming, death, and resurrection are now past. All that remains is His reappearance as described to John here and elsewhere in the NT. “It has been estimated that one out of every twenty-five verses in the New Testament refers to the Second Coming.”78
Jesus came the first time in humiliation; He will return in exaltation. He came the first time to be killed; He will return to kill His enemies. He came the first time to serve; He will return to be served. He came the first time as the suffering servant; He will return as the conquering king. The challenge the book of Revelation makes to every person is to be ready for His return.79
He is coming (present tense) and every eye will see Him (future tense). The grammar places the event on the edge between the present and the future—the futuristic present. It is ‘about to occur.’ It is imminent:
The verb form ἔρχεται [erchetai] is an example of the futuristic use of the present tense, the future connotation being provided by the word’s meaning. The idea is that Christ is already on His way, i.e., He is in the process of coming and hence will arrive. This use of the present tense enhances emphasis on the imminence of that coming (cf. ἔρχομαι [erchomai], John 14:3).80
This same verb is used directly or indirectly eleven more times in this book in reference to the return of Christ (cf. Rev. 1+;4,8+; 2:5+, 16+; 3:11+; 4:8+; 16:15+; 22:7+, 12+, 20+ [twice]), seven coming from the lips of Christ Himself (Rev. 2:5+, 16+; 3:11+; 16:15+; 22:7+, 12+, 20+). The current verse obviously is the theme verse for the whole book.81
Clouds are often associated with the glory of the Lord. Clouds were often one aspect of the visible manifestation of the Lord’s presence (Ex. 16:10; 19:9, 16; 24:15-16; 34:5; 40:34; Deu. 5:22). Clouds indicated His presence over the mercy seat where He dwelt between the cherubim (Lev. 16:2). During Solomon’s prayer dedicating the Temple, he recognized God’s habitation as the dark cloud (2Chr. 6:1). In response, the glory of the Lord filled the Temple (2Chr. 7:1), no doubt including a manifestation of clouds. The psalmist understood dark clouds to be God’s canopy (Ps. 18:11; Ps. 97:2).The manifestation of God by clouds indicates His localized presence on the earth, among men:
the Shechinah Glory is the visible manifestation of the presence of God. It is the majestic presence or manifestation of God in which He descends to dwell among men. Whenever the invisible God becomes visible, and whenever the omnipresence of God is localized, this is the Shechinah Glory. The usual title found in Scriptures for the Shechinah Glory is the glory of Jehovah, or the glory of the Lord. The Hebrew form is Kvod Adonai, which means “the glory of Jehovah” and describes what the Shechinah Glory is. The Greek title, Doxa Kurion, is translated as “the glory of the Lord.” Doxa means “brightness,” “brilliance,” or “splendor,” and it depicts how the Shechinah Glory appears. Other titles give it the sense of “dwelling,” which portrays what the Shechinah Glory does. The Hebrew word Shechinah, from the root shachan, means “to dwell.” The Greek word skeinei, which is similar in sound as the Hebrew Shechinah (Greek has no “sh” sound), means “to tabernacle” . . . In the Old Testament, most of these visible manifestations took the form of light, fire, or cloud, or a combination of these. A new form appears in the New Testament: the Incarnate Word.82
The visible manifestation of God indicating the place where he dwelt has been called the “Shekinah” glory from the Hebrew verb שָׁכַן [šāḵan] meaning “dwell, live among, inhabit, abide, stay, remain, camp, i.e., to live or reside in a place, usually for a relatively long amount of time (Gen. 9:27).”83 See The Abiding Presence of God.
The cloud is probably not to be interpreted as a vapor cloud or as a storm cloud, but as a cloud of glory betokening the presence of God. . . . The “cloud,” then, may be the cloud of the Shekinah, which led the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the desert, and which overshadowed the Tabernacle and the Temple (Ex. 13:21-22; 40:34; Num. 9:15-16; 2Chr. 7:2-3).84
When Jesus revealed His glory to Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration, the voice of the Father spoke from within a bright cloud saying, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Mat. 17:5). Jesus explained His appearance with the clouds to be the sign of His coming (Mat. 24:30) and His mention of “coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mat. 26:64) was understood by the high priest as a blasphemous claim (Mat. 26:64-65). He tore his garments in response, a clear indication of his understanding of what Jesus was claiming (Dan. 7:13).John’s mention here of Jesus coming with clouds is an allusion from the book of Daniel which records the presentation of the Son to the Father: “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.” (Dan. 7:13). This presentation of the Son is to receive His kingdom (Dan. 7:14) and does not take place until all of His enemies are made His footstool (Ps. 110:1). This includes His future enemy, Daniel’s “little horn” (Dan. 7:8, 20-21). At present, He is seated at the right hand of the Father awaiting that day. The Son began the period of sitting at the right hand and waiting for His enemies to be made His footstool at His ascension (Acts 2:32-35; Heb. 10:11-13). His earthly kingdom did not come at the time of His ascension, but occurs when He rises from His seat beside the Father and descends to take up His Davidic throne on earth (Mat. 25:31; Luke 1:32-33).85At other times, the Lord is said to ride “on a swift cloud” (Isa. 19:1). It is such a passage which provides the basis for the preterist interpretation which holds that this verse is describing a “cloud coming” in judgment upon a nation. Such a judgment in the OT was not attended by a literally visible manifestation of God. Yet here, we are explicitly told that every eye will see Him. Not just the “clouds of judgment,” but Him! This return of Jesus will be with clouds, bodily, and visible as the angels informed His disciples at the time of His ascension (Acts 1:9-11). His return is the subject of the latter portion of Revelation 19+. If this were a “judgment coming” of Christ in A.D. 70 upon the Jews of Jerusalem as the preterists claim, what relevance would that have to the seven churches of Asia who were hundreds of miles away and virtually unaffected by the event?86As our discussion regarding the Date the Revelation was written shows, the best evidence supports a late date near the end of Domitian’s reign when John had the vision (A.D. 95-96). That being the case, the “coming” described here cannot refer to the “cloud coming in judgment” to destroy Jerusalem in A.D. 70 as the Preterist Interpretation holds.
every eye will see Him
This phrase would seem to be almost intentionally aimed at undercutting the claims of various cults and aberrations of Christianity which have taught non-visible fulfillments of the coming of Jesus in history past. His future coming will be visible to every eye. This simple fact destroys the claims of preterism that this “cloud coming” occurred spiritually in 70 A.D. with the destruction of Jerusalem and the ending of the Jewish state.87While mild preterism is not a cult, it shares this aberrant teaching that the coming of Jesus here is not a visible coming. “The crucifiers would see Him coming in judgment—that is, they would understand that His coming would mean wrath on the land.”88 Notice the preterist sleight of hand. The verse states that every eye will see Him, whereas DeMar states that it is an understanding of His judgment that is being described. These are not the same thing. DeMar realizes the difference and attempts to overcome this liability: “Equating ‘seeing’ with ‘understanding’ is not Scripture twisting. It is a common biblical metaphor.”89 Yet there are fundamental differences between this passage and those DeMar offers in support of the preterist view. Here, the passage states that every eye will see. If the preterist interpretation is correct and the “seeing” is an “understanding of judgment,” then why didn’t the entire nation of Israel “understand” and turn to Christ at the destruction of Jerusalem? Apparently, the vast majority of Jews had no idea of the correlation between the destruction of Jerusalem and the “coming of Jesus” which the preterists maintain and which John states every eye would see. “Seeing” is describing literal visibility by every eye, not an abstract “understanding” by a few Jews.
A subgroup from among every eye, establishing the global nature of the manifestation of Christ.Both Jews and Gentiles are responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus (Acts 4:27-28). It was Jewish mouths (Mark 15:13; Luke 23:21; John 19:6, 14-16) together with Gentile hands (John 19:23) which crucified Jesus. Ultimately, it was the sin of all mankind which sent Jesus to the cross (Rom. 4:25). Yet this passage refers to the Jews who have a particular responsibility (Acts 3:12-15) because Jesus is their promised national Messiah (Rom. 9:4-5). The Jewish generation which witnessed the crucifixion of Messiah made the fearful mistake of pronouncing a curse upon themselves and their children: “And all the people answered and said, ‘His blood [be] on us and on our children.’ ” (Mat. 27:25). So it is Jews who will specially mourn when they realize their grave error and the historical destruction it has wrought. As Lightner observes: “You don’t put kings on crosses, you put them on thrones!”
“Pierced” is ἐξεκέντησαν [exekentēsan]. John uses this identical Greek word in John 19:37 when quoting Zechariah 12:10. These are the only two places in the entire NT where this particular verb appears—another piece of evidence that the Apostle John was the writer of both books.90The one who is coming is the one who they pierced—Jesus Christ. Yet Zechariah (Zec. 12:10) tells us that it is God who they pierced (Hebrew דָּקָרוּ [dāqārû] - “drive through, pierce, stab, run through, i.e., make physical impact with a sharp implement”91). “The weapon associated with [Hebrew] daqar is usually the sword, though a spear is the instrument in Num. 25:8.”92 Not only were spikes driven through Jesus’ hands and feet, but He was pierced with a spear (John 19:34). Comparing Zechariah 12:10 with this verse, we see once again that Jesus is identified as God! Isaiah prophesied that He would be “wounded” (“pierced,” NASB), Hebrew הָלַל [hālal].93 “John is the only one of the Evangelists who records the piercing of Christ’s side. This allusion identifies him as the author of the Apocalypse.”94Some hold that “every eye” describes all Israel whereas “even they that pierced” describes a subgroup from among the Jews who are more directly responsible for the crucifixion. But Zechariah defines those who pierced Him using terms which are synonymous with all Israel:
And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. Zec. 12:10 [emphasis added]
Here, Zechariah identifies “they who pierced” (Revelation 1:7+) as being all Israel-not a subset specifically held responsible for the crucifixion of Messiah from among a larger group of Jews.
The recipients of the spiritual blessing [identical with those who mourn] will be (1) “the house of David,” through whom the promise of the Messianic-Davidic Kingdom was made (2S. 7:8-16), and through whom it will be realized (Luke 1:31-33); and (2) “the inhabitants of Jerusalem”—the whole saved remnant of Israel, by metonymy, the capital representing the whole nation (cf. 1K. 20:34, where “Samaria,” the capital, represents the nation).95
The fact that only the inhabitants of Jerusalem are named, and not those of Judah also, is explained correctly by the commentators from the custom of regarding the capital as the representative of the whole nation. And it follows . . . from this, that in v. 8 also the expression “inhabitants of Jerusalem” is simply an individualizing epithet for the whole of the covenant nation. But just as in v. 8 the house of David is mentioned emphatically along with these was the princely family and representative of the ruling class, so is it also in v. 10, for the purpose of expressing the thought that the same salvation is to be enjoyed by the whole nation, in all its ranks, from the first to the last.96
Also, if “they who pierced” is to be understood as a subgroup from among the Jewish nation, how does one establish the precise boundary between all the Jews living at the time of Christ versus those who contributed to His crucifixion? And what does contributing to His crucifixion entail? Direct persuasion, such as manifested by the Jewish religious leaders? Does incitement by the crowd count? What about Jews who were not present at Jerusalem at the crucifixion, but opposed Jesus’ ministry? And how does such a distinction between some Jews and not others square with the generational curse pronounced by and upon the Jews in general (Mat. 27:25)?
In many places, tribes (φυλαι [phylai]) specifically denotes the Jewish tribes (e.g., Mat. 19:28; Luke 2:36; 22:30; Acts 13:21; Rom. 11:1; Heb. 7:13; Php. 3:5; Jas. 1:1; Rev. 5:5+; 7:4-9+; 21:12+). Elsewhere, especially when appearing in the phrase all the tribes, it has a more global meaning (e.g., Mat. 24:30; Rev. 1:7+) over against the twelve [Jewish] tribes (Mat. 19:28; Luke 22:30; Acts 26:7; Jas. 1:1; Rev. 21:12+). Φυλαι [Phylai] is differentiated from nation (ἔθνος [ethnos]), people (λαός [laos]), and tongue (γλῶσσα [glōssa]) in Rev. 7:9+; 11:9+; 13:7+.
of the earth
The closely-related phrase “all the families of the earth” appears in several places in the OT (Gen. 12:3; 28:14; Amos 3:2; Zec. 14:17). In all of these contexts, the phrase clearly refers to the global community (not just the tribes of Israel).97 It is through Abraham’s seed that “all the families of the earth” (Gen. 12:3; 28:14) will be blessed.98 God says to Israel, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” (Amos 3:2) Whichever “of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King” (Zec. 14:17) during the Millennium will not receive rain. These families include “the family of Egypt” (Zec. 14:18). In each of these OT passages, the Septuagint renders the phrase using the same Greek term (φυλαι [phylai]) found here.99100There is a close connection between this passage and Zechariah 12. Preterists make the same mistake in both passages of trying to limit the scope to Israel and Jerusalem. But the Zechariah passage is clearly describing a time “when all nations of the earth are gathered against [Jerusalem]” (Zec. 12:3). And the outcome of the battle is entirely different than the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70: “In that Day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem. . . I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.” (Zec. 12:8-9). But nothing of the kind happened in A.D. 70. In the preterist “fulfillment” of these related passages, a single nation (Rome), unopposed by God, attacked Jerusalem completely destroying both the city and the Temple, resulting in the death of over 1 million Jews.101
[preterists conclude] that “earth” means the land of Israel, as in Zec. 12:12 and that the “tribes” in Rev. 1:7+ must be the literal Israelite tribes, who are being judged in 70 A.D. in fulfillment of the Zechariah 12 prophecy. But there are difficulties with this perspective. First, Zechariah 12 does not prophesy Israel’s judgment but Israel’s redemption. Furthermore, the Zechariah citation is combined with Dan. 7:13, which also refers to the eschatological deliverance, not judgment of Israel.102
The global context is also evident because John has just said that Jesus is “the ruler over the kings of the earth” [emphasis added] (Rev. 1:5+). The plural kings indicates a wider area than just the land of Israel argued by preterists. There were not multiple kings over the Jews at the time of John’s vision.
The weightiest consideration of all appears to be the worldwide scope of the book. “Those who dwell on the earth” (Rev. 3:10+; 6:10+; 8:13+; 11:10+ [twice]; 13:8+, 12+, 14+ [twice]; 17:2+, 8+) are the objects of the wrath that is pictured in its pages, and evidence points to the multi-ethnic nature of this group. The scope of the judgments of the book is also worldwide, not localized (e.g., Rev. 14:6+; 15:4+). Besides this, the people on whom these judgments fall do not respond by repenting.103
Further evidence against the preterist attempt to interpret Revelation as concerning the A.D. 70 judgment of Israel is found in a comparison of Ezekiel 3 with Revelation 10+. Both prophets, Ezekiel and John, are given books to eat. Both books are sweet to the taste, but bitter once digested. Both books contain prophecy. However, one significant difference occurs between what Ezekiel and John ingest: Ezekiel eats a message intended for Israel but John eats a message for all nations. Ezekiel is told to prophesy to the “house of Israel, not to many people of unfamiliar speech” (Eze. 3:6) whereas John “must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings” (Rev. 10:11+). The message of John is about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings. What more could God say to make its global extent clearer? See commentary on Revelation 10:11.104.
The word κόψονται [kopsontai] refers to the act of beating one’s breast as an act of mourning.105 Jesus refers to this event when all the tribes of the earth will mourn (κόψονται [kopsontai], Mat. 24:30). There it is said to be in response to “The sign of the Son of Man” which will “appear in heaven.” This sign appears in heaven—visible worldwide and cannot be restricted to the region of Israel as preterists maintain.The Jews will mourn because of the awful realization of the truth of the crucifixion of their own Messiah and the subsequent record of history triggered by this most colossal mistake of all history:
Israel must, indeed, be dumb if one asks them today: Tell me, pray: How can it be that the Eternal sent the fathers out of their land into captivity in Babylon for only seventy years, on account of all the abominations and idolatry by which they for centuries defiled the Holy Land:—and now Israel has been dispersed among all peoples for over eighteen hundred years, and Jerusalem, the city of the great King, is trodden down by the nations until this day? What, then, is the great and terrible blood-guiltiness which perpetually prevents you from dwelling in peace in the land of your fathers?—But Israel is not willing to know! And yet it is precisely its sin against its Messiah that is indeed the root of Israel’s misery.106
The Gentiles too will mourn as they realize the truth of Christianity which they have steadfastly rejected, and the inescapable fact of their impending judgment. John records the astonishing hardness of heart of the “earth dwellers” at the time of the end. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence of God’s existence, sovereignty, and power, they will not repent (Rev. 16:9+, 11+, 21+). It is our belief that this is one reason Paul says, “now is the day of salvation” (2Cor. 6:2). For every day, every hour, every minute that a person continues to reject the knowledge of God makes it more likely they will never turn to accept the free offer of salvation.107
Brethren, I do not wonder that worldlings and half-Christians have no love of this doctrine, or that they hate to hear about Christ’s speedy coming. It is the death knell of their gaieties and pleasures—the turning of their confidence to consternation—the conversion of their songs to shrieks of horror and despair. There is a day coming, when “the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of man shall be made low;” [Isa. 2:11, 17]108
3.1.8 - Revelation 1:8
A trademark of the book of John which records the self-identification of Jesus using this phrase. Jesus said unless you believe “I am” (John 8:24), you will die in your sins. He said that before Abraham “I am” (John 8:58), an intentional reference to the self-existent One of Exodus (Ex. 3:6, 14) for which the Jews attempted to stone Him.109 It was before the power of this declaration of deity that those who came to arrest Jesus fell back: “Now when he said to them “I am,” they drew back and fell to the ground” (John 18:6).
the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End
This complete title is applied both to the Father (Rev. 21:6+) and to the Son (Rev. 22:13+). The phrase is also applied to the Son in two parts (Rev. 1:11+; 2:8+). It is clear that the title can apply to both Father and Son and is therefore yet another clear indication of the deity of the Son.The use of a very similar phrase by Isaiah underscores the uniqueness of God: “Besides Me there is no God” (Isa. 44:6). Alpha, being the first letter of the Greek alphabet (as our “A”) stands for the “beginning.” Omega, being the last letter of the Greek alphabet (as our “Z”) stands for the “end.” Because God existed from before all time and will exist beyond all time, there is no room for another God (Isa. 43:10). Throughout the Father’s preexistence, the Son was with Him (John 1:1-3; 8:54; Col. 1:17).
Designating someone as “Lord,” especially in John’s day, could have serious implications. It was a title which Christians did not use lightly: “ ‘Lord’ (kyrios) means that the bearer was worthy of divine recognition and honor. The apostolic writers and early believers were well aware of this meaning. Polycarp, for example, died as a martyr rather than call Caesar kyrios.”110
who is and who was and who is to come
See commentary on Revelation 1:4. Some see grammatical evidence identifying the speaker here as the Father.111 Yet the switch to the Father here after the Son has just been the subject (Rev. 1:7+) and prior to similar statements by the Son (Rev. 1:11+, 17+) seems too abrupt.112 Elsewhere we discuss the role of the Antichrist, empowered by Satan, as the Master Imitator. Pink notes the correlation between this phrase describing God’s self-existence and the phrase applied to Antichrist: “Christ is referred to as Him ‘which was, and is, and is to come’ (Rev. 4:8+); the Antichrist is referred to as him that ‘was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit’ (Rev. 17:8+).”113
Ὁ παντοκράτωρ [Ho pantokratōr] (“the Almighty”) is derived from ὁ πάντων κρατῶν [ho pantōn kratōn] (“the one who holds all”) and is rendered in the LXX for שַׁדַּי [šadday] in the book of Job and צְבָאוֹת [ṣeḇāʾôṯ] (“hosts”) elsewhere.114 It is a reference to God’s sovereignty and might, His command of powerful force.
3.1.9 - Revelation 1:9
John also refers to himself this way in Rev. 21:2+ and 22:8+, perhaps indicating an awareness of his unworthiness and inadequacy in serving as the chosen vessel for such great revelation (Rev. 22:8+). The only other writer to refer to himself in such a way was Daniel (Dan. 7:28; 9:2; 10:2).
Like Peter before him (1Pe. 5:1), John emphasizes his equality with other believers. The leadership hierarchy which now characterizes many church bodies of our day was unknown to John.115 He saw himself as a fellow believer and servant of Christ (Rev. 1:1+).
At the time of the vision, he was the only remaining apostle, and perhaps the only survivor of those with whom Christ had personally conversed. He was therefore the most interesting and exalted Christian then living upon the earth—a most reverend and venerable man. But he was as humble and meek as he was high in place.116
tribulation. . . kingdom. . . patience
Although the earthly kingdom is yet future, those who believe in Jesus have already been “conveyed . . . into the kingdom of the Son” (Col. 1:13). The same triplet occurs in Acts 14:22.Patience is better rendered “perseverance” (ὑπομονη [hypomonē]). It is through patience that the believer bears fruit (Luke 8:15). By patience those who are in the midst of tribulation are able to possess their souls (Luke 21:16-19; Rev. 13:10+; 14:9-12+). It is the perspective and position of the believer which enables him to stand through trials and situations which otherwise would be insurmountable. When cancer strikes or an unexpected automobile accident leaves a loved one paralyzed, our eternal perspective based upon the truth of the Scriptures is the remedy for utter hopelessness. When all else fails and our resources are depleted, we can and must stand upon God’s Word, being convinced of our unshakable position in Christ and the perspective that this life is not all there is. It is but a “shadow” and a “vapor” by which we are prepared for eternity to come.
A small Greek island off the coast of modern-day Turkey.
The island is one of a group of about fifty islands called the Dodecanese. Patmos is located between two other islands named Icaria and Leros. Patmos, shaped like a crescent with its horns facing eastward, was a safe place for vessels to anchor during storms and was therefore important to navigators. It was the last stopping place when traveling from Rome to Ephesus and the first stopping place on a return trip to Rome. Being a rocky and barren place, it was chosen as a penal settlement by the Romans, as were other islands in the group. Early Christian tradition says John was sent here during Domitian’s reign over Rome (A.D. 81-96) and was forced to work in the mines. Another tradition adds that when Domitian died, John was permitted to return to Ephesus.117
Less than a year ago I passed that island. It is a mere mass of barren rocks, dark in colour and cheerless in form. It lies out in the open sea, near the coast of Western Asia Minor. It has neither trees nor rivers, nor any land for cultivation, except some little nooks between the ledges of rocks. There is still a dingy grotto remaining, in which the aged Apostle is said to have lived, and in which he is said to have had this vision. A chapel covers it, hung with lamps kept burning by the monks.119
It is a frequent pattern within Scripture that great revelation was often given to those close to God while in captivity outside Israel and while Jerusalem lay in ruins. We think of Ezekiel, Daniel, and now John. Often, the greatest revelation from God occurs when least expected and in the most unusual places (e.g., Paul in Arabia, Gal. 1:15-17.)
for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ
Some have suggested the John sought out Patmos on a mission to preach the gospel to its inhabitants. But this seems highly doubtful since many more people lived in the mainland population centers in Asia and we have no record of John initiating any such trip. It is much more likely, as tradition records, that John was banished to Patmos contrary to his own desires. “According to Victorinus, John though aged, was forced to labor in the mines located at Patmos.”121 “Tacitus refers to the use of such small islands for political banishment (Annals 3.68; 4.30; 15.71). Eusebius mentions that John was banished to the island by the emperor Domitian in A.D. 95 and released eighteen months later by Nerva (Ecclesiastical History 3.20. 8-9).”122
It has been sometimes asked, When was that prophecy and promise fulfilled concerning John, that he should drink of his Lord’s cup, and be baptized with his Lord’s baptism (Mat. 20:22)? . . . Origin, however, no doubt gave the right answer long ago. . ., Now—in this his banishment to Patmos; not thereby denying that there must have been a life-long φλῖψις [phlipsis] for such a one as the Apostle John, but only affirming that the words found their most emphatic and crowning fulfilment now.123
Restricted to a small spot on earth, he is permitted to penetrate the wide realms of heaven and its secrets. Thus John drank of Christ’s cup, and was baptized with His baptism (Mat. 20:22).124
Under Domitian, history records the banishment of Christians who were considered “atheists” because they refused to pay homage to Caesar or to Roman gods:
Dio Casius records that Domitian executed the aristocrat Flavious Clemens and banished his wife Flavia Domitilla because of “atheism” (ἀθεότης [atheotēs]). . . . Dio’s full statement views “atheism” as “a charge on which many others who drifted into Jewish ways were condemned.” A similar but later statement affirms that Domitian’s persecution was explicitly two-pronged, being directed against “maiestas [treason]” or against “adopting the Jewish mode of life.” . . . With particular reference to Flavia Domitilla, inscriptions and Christian tradition affirm that she professed Christianity, which would have made her a prime candidate for a charge of “atheism” by those believing in the deity of the emperor.125
Opposition is to be the expectation for those who truly carry the uncompromising message of the cross. The testimony of Jesus which John was banished for is most naturally understood to be opposition that which he testified about Jesus (objective genitive). “The nominal Christian and the formalist the world cannot hate, for they are of it, and it will love its own; but the Johns and Pauls must go into banishment, or give their necks to the state block.”126 When we are accepted by the world, it is time for serious self-examination. See commentary on Revelation 1:2.
3.1.10 - Revelation 1:10
All prophetic revelation has its origin in the Holy Spirit (2Pe. 1:20-21) and never from man (Gal. 1:12-16; 2:2). Mysteries, things which are unknown and unknowable by man, are revealed only by the Spirit (Eph. 3:3). Often, spiritual revelation by the Holy Spirit involves a transporting of the prophet, physically or in a vision, to a different location where information is revealed (Eze. 8:3; 11:24; 37:1; Dan. 8:2; 2Cor. 12:2; Rev. 4:2+; 17:3+; 21:10+).Here, John mentions he was in the Spirit indicating that what he is about to describe involves supernatural revelation by means of a vision. This statement puts an end to all speculation as to the motives and initiative of John himself in writing the book of Revelation. For John didn’t write the book, he recorded it!Revelation from the Spirit is found both in the OT and NT.127 Being ‘in the Spirit’ in the sense John describes is not something initiated by man. It is a sovereign action initiated by God in order to impart divine instruction. As Ezekiel describes it: “the hand of the Lord was upon him” (Eze. 1:3).Luke describes the similar experience of Peter (Acts 10:10) and Paul (Acts 22:17) as an “ecstasy” (ἔκστασις [ekstasis]):
A throwing of the mind out of its normal state, alienation of mind, whether such as makes a lunatic or that of a man who by some sudden emotion is transported as it were out of himself, so that in this rapt condition, although he is awake, his mind is drawn off from all surrounding objects and wholly fixed on things divine that he sees nothing but the forms and images lying within, and thinks that he perceives with his bodily eyes and ears realities shown him by God.128
Peter, Paul, and John were passive recipients of that which God initiated. In this sense, the experience is diametrically opposed to the ecstatic frenzies associated with cultish prophets (1K. 18:28) and some modern movements wherein the person actively participates in bringing about an altered state of consciousness.
There are several views concerning the meaning of this passage. One view holds that it refers to Sunday, the first day of the week. The phrase uses the same adjective (“Lord’s”) as does Paul when describing the Lord’s Supper: “Therefore when you come together in one place, is it not to eat the Lord’s Supper (κυριακὸν δεῖπνον [kyriakon deipnon])” (1Cor. 11:20)?
Deissmann has proven (Bible Studies, p. 217f; Light, etc., p. 357ff) from inscriptions and papyri that the word (Grk: kuriakos, Strongs: G2960) was in common use for the sense “imperial” as imperial finance and imperial treasury and from papyri and ostraca that (Grk: heemera, Strongs: G2250) (Grk: Sebastee, Strongs: G4575) (Augustus Day) was the first day of each month, Emperor’s Day on which money payments were made (cf. 1Cor. 16:1f). It was easy, therefore, for the Christians to take this term, already in use, and apply it to the first day of the week in honor of the Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection on that day (Didache 14, Ignatius Magn. 9).129
Others note that Sunday, which came to be the day of Christian worship, is nowhere else referred to using this phrase, but is described instead as “the first day of the week” (Mat. 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1Cor. 16:2).It also appears that John’s use of the phrase predates its use among Christians to designate the day of Christ’s resurrection.130Another view is that the phrase does not describe the first day of the week, but denotes the eschatological “Day of the Lord”:131
However, such an interpretation is open to the objection that (1) such a meaning has no relevance to the context; (2) the term is never so applied in Scripture, where the day of Christian worship is uniformly called the “first day of the week”; (3) such an interpretation does not agree with the Patristic understanding of the verse; (4) the interpretation is a reading back into the text of a term subsequently applied to Sunday. The term “Lord’s day” is better understood as John’s way of expressing the common Hebrew term “day of the Lord,” in a manner in Greek which places the emphasis upon “Lord’s” (by placing it in an initial position) in the same manner as the Hebrew expression places emphasis upon “Lord” (by placing it in the final position) in “day of the Lord.” Supposing the expression refers to Sunday cannot account for the presence of the Greek article “the” used in the expression. When the article is lacking, there are several possible explanations to account for the fact, but when an interpretation cannot account for the presence of the Greek article, the interpretation stands self-condemned (J. B. Smith, Comm. on Revelation, Appendix 5, p. 320). The expression “on the Lord’s day” would better be translated “in the Lord’s day,” as a reference to this specific prophetic time period. The Greek preposition en is more usually rendered “in,” only once in Revelation is it translated “on,” in the expression “on the earth,” Rev. 5:13+. Everywhere else where en is followed by the word “day” it is rendered “in” (Rev. 2:13+. 9:6+. 10:7+. 11:6+. 18:8+). Understanding this term to refer to the “day of the Lord” emphasizes that the events which transpire in the third division of the book (“things which shall be hereafter”) are events which take place during the “day of the Lord,” a future time which begins at the Great Tribulation and concludes with the judgment of the Great White Throne at the end of the Millennium, and specifically ties in the prophecies of this book with the rest of Scripture relating to this coming day.132
The key that unlocks the door to the understanding of this book is, we believe, that it relates to The Day of the Lord, and not to any tradition which limits the reception of this Vision to a particular day of the week; and that day Sunday. . . . Thus did Abraham also see Christ’s Day. He saw it, and rejoiced, and was glad. It must have been “in Spirit,” whatever meaning we may put upon the expression. There was no other way of his seeing Christ’s Day; and that is the way in which it says John saw “the Lord’s Day.” . . . The majority of people, being accustomed from their infancy to hear the first day of the week called the Lord’s Day, conclude in their own minds that day is thus called in Rev. 1:9+ because that was the name of it. But the contrary is the fact: the day is so called by us because of this verse. In the New Testament this day is always called “the first day of the week.” (See Mat. 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1Cor. 16:2). Is it not strange that in this one place a different expression is thought to refer to the same day? And yet, so sure are the commentators that it means Sunday, . . . There is no evidence of any kind that “the first day of the week” was ever called “the Lord’s Day” before the Apocalypse was written. That it should be so called afterwards is easily understood, and there can be little doubt that the practice arose from the misinterpretation of these words in Rev. 1:9+.133
A difficulty with this view is the difference in wording when compared with the phrase “Day of the Lord” found elsewhere in the NT: “Some feel that John was transported into the future day of the Lord, the prophetic day of God’s great judgment and the return of Christ . . . The major objection to this is that John does not use the common expression for the eschatological ‘day of the Lord’ (hēmera kyriou).”134 “The Greek phrase translated the Lord’s day (τη κυριακη ἡμερα [tē kyriakē hēmera]) is different from the one translated ‘the Day of the Lord’ (τη ἡμερεα του κυριου [tē hēmerea tou kyriou], or ἡμερεα κυριου [hēmerea kyriou]; cf. 1Cor. 5:5; 1Th. 5:2; 2Th. 2:2; 2Pe. 3:10) and appears only here in the New Testament.”135 Proponents of the eschatological view attempt to explain this difference as one of the Hebraism’s in Revelation.136A third view is that John is describing neither a day of the week nor the “Day of the Lord,” but is referring to his condition in the Spirit:
It does not refer to a specific day of the week, such as the Sabbath (Saturday) or Sunday. Rather, it was a day in which John was enraptured by prophetic and divine ecstasy and received divine revelation. It was a day in which he fell under the control of the Holy Spirit and was given prophetic inspiration. Thus, for him, it was a “lordy day.”137
Much of what John sees or hears is new, different, or unearthly and therefore difficult to describe precisely. John frequently employs simile in which two different, but similar things are compared. Later, this same voice will beckon John to heaven saying, “come up here” (Rev. 4:1+).Elsewhere in Scripture, trumpets attend events of great importance. A trumpet announced the manifestation of God’s presence upon Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:16; 20:18). The year of jubilee when all debts were forgiven was heralded by the blast of a trumpet (Lev. 25:9). The sounding of trumpets attended the downfall of Jericho (Jos. 6:4-20). A trumpet will attend God’s overthrow of the kingdoms of the earth (Ps. 45:7) and warns that the Day of the Lord is at hand (Joel 2:1). A trumpet signals the gathering of the Church at the Rapture (1Cor. 15:42; 1Th. 4:6) and of the elect prior to the Millennial Kingdom (Mat. 24:31). Trumpets also attend significant events in this book (Rev. 8:2+, 6+, 13+; 9:14+). Here, we do not have a trumpet, but a voice as of a trumpet, signifying its power and the attention it commands.
3.1.11 - Revelation 1:11
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last
God is said to be “everlasting” (Gen. 21:33). He “inhabits eternity” (Isa. 57:15) and is without beginning and without end: “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps. 90:2). This appellation is especially reminiscent of that given by Isaiah: “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God’ ” (Isa. 44:6).Whoever said Jesus never claimed to be God need look no further. For the next verse leaves absolutely no doubt that it is the Son Who is applying to Himself titles which are reserved exclusively for God (Isa. 41:4; 48:12; Rev. 21:6+; 22:13+)! This is consistent with the OT where the promised Son is referred to as “Everlasting Father” (Isa. 9:6).God is the unique “uncaused first cause,” “Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me” (Isa. 43:10). He is self-existent and outside of the limitations of time. This is why He alone can predict the future:
Tell and bring forth your case; yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me. (Isa. 45:21)
God’s existence outside of time is a unique identifying feature of His character which God challenges any other to try and duplicate:
Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things, what they were, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare to us things to come. (Isa. 41:22)
This is but one of many reasons why we choose to trust the text of Genesis over after-the-fact and error-prone interpretation of distant history by modern science.See commentary on Revelation 1:8.
write what you see
Literally, “what you are seeing [you] write!” The verb “see” (Βλέπεις [Blepeis]) is in the present tense. John’s contribution will be as a moment-by-moment observer, recording the events and scenes which are brought before him while in the Spirit. This, no doubt, accounts in part for the lack of grammatical polish which has been observed in the Greek text. This is not a carefully crafted literary document containing sophisticated themes originating in John’s own mind. John is continually reminded to “write” as he experiences the various scenes of the Revelation (Rev. 1:11+, 19+; 2:1+, 8+, 12+, 18+; 3:1+, 7+, 12+, 14+; 10:4+; 14:13+; 19:9+; 21:5+). This would seem to support the view that John is making a moment-by-moment record of the scenes which he is being shown. As with other writers of Scripture, the Holy Spirit is superintending the process, but it seems unlikely that John is given the time or luxury of carefully analyzing and crafting that which he records.
Tradition holds that John left Jerusalem in the late sixties of the first century, prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome. He went to Asia where he became the recognized leader of the Asian churches, following in the footsteps of Paul’s earlier missionary work which directly or indirectly founded many of the churches mentioned here.
The epistolary form of address immediately distinguishes this book from all other Jewish apocalyptic works . . . None of the pseudepigraphical works contains such epistolary addresses. John writes to actual, historical churches, addressing them in the same way the NT epistles are addressed.138
(See The Genre of the book of Revelation for more on the literary genre of apocalyptic.)The seven churches are listed in the same order as their respective letters appear in Revelation 2+ and 3+. It has been suggested that their order indicates the natural route messengers would take to deliver copies of the letter to the seven churches.139See Seven Churches of Asia.
which are in Asia
This is neither Asia nor even Asia Minor, but what we would today know as the region of western Turkey.
In the New Testament, as generally in the language of men when the New Testament was written, Asia meant not what it now means for us, and had once meant for the Greeks, one namely of the three great continents of the old world. . ., nor yet even that region which geographers about the fourth century of our era began to call “Asia Minor;” but a strip of the western seaboard containing hardly a third portion of this . . . its limits being nearly identical with those of the kingdom which Attalus the Third bequeathed to the Roman people. Take “Asia” in this sense, and there will be little or no exaggeration in the words of the Ephesian silversmith, that “almost throughout all Asia” Paul had turned away much people from the service of idols (Acts 19:26; cf. ver. 10); word which must seem to exceed even the limits of an angry hyperbole to those not acquainted with this restricted use of the term.140
The “Asia” of which the Scriptures speak is not the great continent of Asia, or even of Asia Minor, but only the western part of Asia Minor, directly south of the Black Sea. The whole of it does not include a larger territory than the single state of Pennsylvania.141
3.1.12 - Revelation 1:12
I turned to see
John is about to enter into the experience of many other prophets who were given a revelation of the glory of the Lord, usually near the beginning of their prophetic ministry. We think of Moses (Ex. 33:22-23; 34:5-6), Ezekiel (Eze. 1), Isaiah (Isa. 6), Daniel (Dan. 10:5-6), and Paul (Acts 9:3; 22:6). John had been given a previous taste of God’s glory on the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter and James (Mat. 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:29).142
The symbolism of these lampstands is explained: “the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches” (Rev. 1:20+). The churches bear light, but are not the source of light (Mat. 5:14-16; John 1:4-5, 7-9; 5:32-35; Eph. 5:11-13; Php. 2:15).
The “seven candlesticks” . . . are intended to send us back, to the seven-branched candlestick, or candelabrum, which bears ever the same name of λυχνία [lychnia] in the Septuagint (Ex. 25:31 cf. Heb. 9:2); the six arms of which with the central shaft . . . made up the mystical seven, each with its several lamp (λύχνος [lychnos], Zec. 4:2).144
See Interpreting Symbols. See symbolic meaning of seven.
3.1.13 - Revelation 1:13
in the midst
The Levites, who performed the priestly duty of the OT, camped around the glory of the Lord which resided in the Tabernacle (Num. 1:50; 1Chr. 9:27). The glory of the Lord was in the “midst” of the Levitical priests. The lampstands, which represent the churches (Rev. 1:20+), made up of believers who are priests unto God (Rev. 1:6+), also have the glory of the Lord in their midst (Mat. 18:20).145Unlike other religions of the world, the Christian is not serving a famous mortal man whose body is now long moldering in the grave. Christ’s corpse is unavailable because He is risen and active among His Church as the body of Christ continues to minister on the earth in His absence.Unlike the glory of God in the OT which departed from the people of God due to their sin (1S. 16:14; Ps. 51:11; Eze. 8:6; 9:3; 10:4, 18-19; 11:22-23; Hos. 5:14), each NT believer is indwelt and permanently sealed with the Holy Spirit (John 6:27; 14:16; 2Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; 4:30).146 He is in the midst of His Church, and will remain there “for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).
the seven lampstands
In the OT, the Menorah was made of a single central shaft to which six (or eight) branches were joined, the entire assembly being a single affair. Here, we have seven individual lamps, representing the seven typical (and historical) churches which represent the witness of Christ through the church. The central shaft joining these seven lamps and providing the oil for their continued illumination is Christ Himself (John 15:5). Some have seen in the separate lampstands a reference to the dispersion of the Jews.147
In a remarkable passage in the OT “a likeness with the appearance of a man” (Eze. 1:26) is seen high above the throne. His form is clothed in brilliant radiance which Ezekiel describes as “the likeness of the glory of the LORD” (Eze. 1:27). This is the One Who was seen by Stephen just prior to his death (Acts 7:56). Consistent with the description found in Revelation 1:7, this is the One who is presented to the Ancient of Days in the book of Daniel (Dan. 7:13) and who is to receive “dominion and glory, and a kingdom” (Dan. 7:14). Jesus applied this term to Himself in the gospels (Dan. 7:13; Mat. 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 21:27). Jesus is both the “Son of God” and “Son of Man.” These two titles hint at the mystery of the incarnation, where all the fullness of God dwelt in human form (Col. 2:9). Jesus, as the “Son of God,” is divine and without sin. As the “Son of Man,” he was begotten of Mary in the line from David, Abraham, and Adam (Mat. 1:1, 6; Luke 3:31, 34, 38; Rev. 12:1-5+). His divinity and virgin birth provide the necessary perfection by which His death could atone for the sins of the world (Isa. 53:9; John 8:46; 14:30; 2Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; 9:14; 1Pe. 1:19; 2:22; 1Jn. 3:5). Although He is truly a man (Php. 2:7; Heb. 2:17), He is unique from all other men in His sinless perfection (Rom. 8:3).As the “Son of Man,” His humanity provides for His role as the judge (John 5:27) and kinsman-redeemer (Goel, 1Ti. 2:5)148 of mankind (Rev. 5:4-5+); to taste of death (Heb. 2:14); and to restore the dominion lost by the first man Adam.149One like the Son of Man appears again in Rev. 14:14+ where He reaps a harvest from the earth.
Apparently a reference to His priestly garments. “The long robe is every where in the East the garment of dignity and honour (Gen. 37:3; Mark 13:38 [sic]; Luke 15:22)—the association of dignity with it probably resting originally on the absence of the necessity of labor.”150
girded about the chest
The high priest wore a priestly “sash” around his priestly garment at the height of the breast (Ex. 28:4; 28:39; 39:29; Lev. 8:7; 16:4). But this sash was not made of gold (see below). A garment reaching to the feet was impractical for those who were laborers and came to denote a position of status. The seven angels of Rev. 15:6+ are similarly girded.
The ordinary girding for one actively engaged was at the loins (1K. 2:5; 18:46; Jer. 13:2 cf. Luke 12:35; Eph. 6:14; 1Pe. 1:13); but Josephus expressly tells us that the Levitical priests were girt higher up, about the breast . . . favouring, as this higher cincture did, a calmer, more majestic movement.151
Christ has an unchangeable priesthood because He continues forever (Heb. 7:14). “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25).
with a golden band
How similar John’s vision is to that of Daniel by the Tigris (Dan. 10:5-6). Daniel saw “a man . . . whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz” (Dan. 10:6). His visitor had eyes like torches of fire and feet like burnished bronze and spoke with a voice like the voice of a multitude. Yet it seems that Daniel’s visitor could not have been the Son of Man which John sees here, for how could the prince of Persia (an angelic being influencing the kingdom of Persia) have ever withstood the Lord of Glory (Dan. 10:13)? And when did God ever require help (Dan. 10:13)?152
3.1.14 - Revelation 1:14
In Daniel’s vision, it is the Ancient of Days (the Father) who’s “hair of His head was like pure wool” (Dan. 7:9). Here it is that of the Son of Man. John is being shown the glory of the Son, which He had with the Father “before the World was” (John 17:5).
It is evident that His ultimate glory was veiled in order to make possible a ministry to His disciples in scenes on earth. After His ascension into heaven, Christ never appeared again apart from His glory. In Acts 7:56, Stephen saw Christ standing at the right hand of the Father in the midst of the glory of God. In the appearance of Christ to Paul recorded in Acts 9:3-6, the glory of Christ was such that Paul was blinded. A similar experience befell the Apostle John in Revelation 1:12-20+ where John fell at the feet of Christ as one dead when he beheld the glory of Christ in His resurrection.153
Wool and snow also speak of His sinless purity (Isa. 1:18). A hypothetical question which might be asked (on a par with the question whether Adam and Eve had belly buttons) is whether Jesus would have had gray hair if he had not been crucified but lived? Since death is the wages of sin and Jesus knew no sin, we can infer the answer would be “no.” The hair white as wool is not a description of age or wisdom, but the incendiary brightness of His glory:
The white hairs of old age are at once the sign and the consequence of the decay of natural strength, in other words, of death commencing; . . . Being then this, how can the white hairs, the hoary head which is the sign of weakness, decay, and the approach of death, be ascribed to Him who, as He is from everlasting, so also is He to everlasting? . . . How then shall we explain this hair “white like wool”? It is a part of the transfiguration in light of the glorified person of the Redeemer; a transfiguration so complete that it reaches to the extremities, to the very hairs of the head.154
His eyes are singled out as being like a flame of fire. This evokes the image of a gaze which instantly pierces the deepest darkness to lay bear all sin. It is a reference to His omniscience, omnipresence, and judgment. There is no evil activity of men which Jesus does not see (Job 28:24; Ps. 90:8; 94:9; 139:23; Pr. 15:3). There is no den of iniquity so dark that Jesus is not there (Job 34:22; Ps. 139:7; Jer. 23:24; Amos 9:2). There is no work of man which will go unjudged by His piercing gaze (1Cor. 3:15; 2Cor. 5:10; Heb. 4:13). Truly, God is an all-consuming fire (Num. 11:1; Deu. 5:25; 9:3; 2K. 1:10; Ps. 50:3; 78:63; Isa. 33:14; Luke 9:54; Heb. 12:29; Rev. 11:5+).When speaking to the church at Thyatira, after mentioning His “eyes like a flame of fire” (Rev. 2:18+), Jesus continues, “I know your works” (Rev. 2:19+). He says to the same church, “all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works” (Rev. 2:23+).His piercing eyes are an identifying description in Rev. 19:12+. It is impossible to escape His gaze! “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13).
3.1.15 - Revelation 1:15
It would appear that His feet were unshod:
They were no doubt bare; as were the feet of the Levitical priesthood ministering in the sanctuary. We are no where indeed expressly told of these that they ministered barefoot, but every thing leads us to this conclusion. Thus while all the other parts of the priestly investiture are described with the greatest minuteness, and Moses accurately instructed how they should be made, there is no mention of any covering for the feet. Then again the analogy of such passages as Ex. 3:5; Jos. 5:15, and the fact that the moral idea of the shoe is that of defense against the defilements of the earth, of which defilements there could be none in the Holy Place, all this irresistibly points to the same conclusions.155
fine brass, refined in a furnace
The etymology of χαλκολίβανος [chalkolibanos] [fine brass] being uncertain, it may be intended to describe the resulting hardness of brass after the refining process, this being an allusion to the treading or trampling down of those who are unbelieving or unfaithful (Ps. 58:10; 68:23; Isa. 63:3; Rev. 2:18-29+; 19:15+). It is in reality an unknown metal.156
Bochart sees in χαλκολίβανος [chalkolibanos] [fine brass], a hybrid formation, the combination of a Greek word and a Hebrew, χαλκός [chalkos], and לִבֵּן [libbēn] = “albare,” to make white; brass which in the furnace has attained what we call “white head.” . . . If this be correct, the χαλκολίβανο [chalkolibano] will not be “fine brass” or the “shining,” but the “glowing brass.” This conclusion is very much strengthened by the following phrase, “as if they burned in a furnace;”157
It has often been suggested that our term was familiar to the important local guild of bronze-workers [in Thyatira, Rev. 2:18+] . . . I suggest then that an alloy of copper with metallic zinc was made in Thyatira, the zinc being obtained by distillation. This was a finer and purer brass than the rough and variable coinage-alloy. . . . The product, I suggest, was known there as χαλκολίβανος [chalkolibanos], which I conjecture to be a ‘copulative compound’, literally rendered ‘copper-zinc’, λίβανος [libanos] being an unrecorded word, perhaps peculiar to the trade, for a metal obtained by distillation, and so derived from the verb λείβω [leibō].158
Refined is πεπυρωμένης [pepyrōmenēs]: “Make red hot, cause to glow, heat thoroughly . . . By such heating precious metals are tested and refined (Job 22:25; Ps. 11:7; 65:10; Pr. 10:20).”159
voice as the sound of many waters
The phrase sound of many waters is used to describe the sound of a multitude (Isa. 17:12-13; Rev. 19:6+) or noise like the tumult of an army (Eze. 1:24). Here, as in other passages, it is the sound attributed to a single voice. Daniel heard such a voice in his vision by the Tigris (Dan. 10:6). Ezekiel also heard a similar voice in his vision of the glory of the Lord returning to the east gate of the Millennial Temple (Eze. 43:2). In Ezekiel and in Revelation 1:15+ and 14:2+, it appears to be the voice of God Himself. For reasons mentioned in Revelation 1:13, the voice Daniel heard was most likely that of a mighty angel.160
3.1.16 - Revelation 1:16
These stars are the seven angels of the churches as explained in Revelation 1:20. The picture of the stars being within His right hand (the side of favor) is of great comfort to believers for what Christ grasps in His hand cannot be snatched away (John 10:28-29). The angels and the churches they are associated with need not fear any but God Himself.
Christ, we feel sure, could not have placed Himself in the relation which He does to them, as holding in his hand the seven stars, walking among the seven golden candlesticks, these stars being the Angels of the Churches, and the candlesticks the Churches themselves, unless they ideally represented and set forth, in some way or other, the universal Church, militant here upon earth.161
See the discussion of the identity of the angels at Revelation 1:20. See Seven: Perfection, Completeness.
out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword
A heavy broadsword:
It [ῥομφαια [hromphaia], sword] is properly the long and heavy broadsword . . ., which the Thracians and other barbarous nations used; and as such to be distinguished from the μάχαιρα [machaira], the sacrificial knife, or short stabbing sword; . . . The word occurring six times in the Apocalypse, only occurs once besides in the New Testament (Luke 2:35).162
Some have obtained fanciful interpretations regarding the two-edged sword, such as representing both “the old and the new law.”163The sword goes out of His mouth in agreement with all the creative acts of God which were spoken forth by the Word of God (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26; 2Pe. 3:5). It is for this reason that Jesus is the Word (λόγος [logos]). The speaking forth of God’s will can bring creation or destruction. Isaiah informs us that the mouth of the Messiah is “like a sharp sword” (Isa. 49:2) and with His lips He will “slay the wicked” (Isa. 11:4). The Word spoken through the prophets is a weapon in the hand of God (Hos. 6:5). It is the only offensive weapon of the Christian (Eph. 6:17). Its power as a sword is seen in its ability to pierce “even to the division of soul and spirit” and discern “the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). The Word of God has already slain His enemies because it sets forth their impending doom in words “which cannot be broken” (John 10:35). That which is prophecy today, will be accomplished history tomorrow. It is in this sense that Jesus slays His enemies with the sword of His mouth (2Th. 2:8; Rev. 2:12+, 16+; 19:15+). The sword signifies His judicial power which will be in accordance with His Word (Mat. 25:31-32; John 5:22; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Rom. 2:16; 14:10; 2Cor. 5:10; 2Ti. 4:1; 1Pe. 4:5; Rev. 20:12+).
This is now the second time that John has been privileged to see the Savior’s glory shining from His face like the son (Mat. 17:2).. At the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John were given a preview of “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Mat. 16:28). This glorious vision which John beholds is some small indication of what the entire world will behold at the Second Coming of Christ.
I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen. (1Ti. 6:13-16) [emphasis added]
See Interpreting Symbols.
3.1.17 - Revelation 1:17
This is the unrehearsed response of all who have been privileged to see the glory of the Lord (Isa. 6:4; Eze. 1:28; 3:23; 43:3; 44:4; Dan. 8:17; 10:8, 16-17; Mat. 17:6; Acts 9:4). It is as much in recognition of the power and might of God as in a realization of their utter unworthiness (Jdg. 6:22; 13:22; Isa. 6:5, 7). “The beloved disciple, who had handled the Word of life, lain in his Lord’s bosom in the days of his flesh, can as little as any other endure the revelation of his majesty.”164
Daniel experienced a similar loss of all strength at the imposing presence of his visitor by the river Tigris (Dan. 10:8). He too was told not to be afraid and was touched in a similar act of restoration (Dan. 10:10). When Ezekiel was overcome by the glory of the Lord (Eze. 1:28), the Holy Spirit restored him to his feet (Eze. 2:1-2). Although years had passed, perhaps this brought to mind John’s previous experience on the Mount of Transfiguration where John had his first glimpse of the glory of Jesus and was similarly restored (Mat. 17:6-7).
do not be afraid
The unavoidable response of those who saw even a glimpse of His glory is that of fear. Yet how cavalier we are today in our attitude toward the Maker of a myriad of galaxies! We, who dare not even touch a 60-watt light bulb without wearing protective gloves, often treat Him as our “Genie on call.”165 We haven’t the slightest notion or appreciation of His holiness, even daring to think that worship is about pleasing us—expressing our dislike if the music is not to our taste or we are unable to drink coffee during the “worship service.” How much we are in need of a glimpse of His glory that we might have a Scriptural fear of the Lord!166 A lack of fear for God is the characteristic of His enemies (Ps. 36:1; Jer. 2:19; 5:24; Rom. 3:18) and “fear” is one of His titles (Gen. 31:42, 53).Yet the fear that His children are to have is not the cowering response of a creature fearing retribution. It is the healthy, reverent, fear one would have toward a human father of perfect discipline and unconditional love, if one were to exist. Coupled with the recognition of power and great might is a deep comfort in the realization that God is also our Protector. As Paul observed, “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31)? When we look into the face of the Judge of the Universe, it is our Savior’s face we will see!
I am the First and the Last
See commentary on Revelation 1:11.
3.1.18 - Revelation 1:18
I am He who lives
John calls Him ὁ ζῶν [ho zōn], “the living one” (present, active participle).“Life” is an essential attribute of God Who is consistently described as “the living one” over and against other idols and gods who are lifeless.167
Here is the fatal text for those, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, who maintain that Jesus Christ is not fully God. For when did God die except for Jesus on the cross? In this verse is a contradiction so profound that it would be the height of nonsense if it were not also the manifestation of the genius of God: that God Himself would take on the form of a man, to come in the flesh, to be oppressed by men, and nailed to a tree! The infinite and omnipotent Creator bound Himself in time and space and stooping to be abused by His finite and puny creatures (Mat. 26:67-68; Luke 22:64). “I the source of all life stooped even to taste of death”168 (Heb. 2:9). Yet such is the depth of God’s love for us that He endured such shame!
The Maker of the universe
As man to man was made a curse;
The claims of law which He had made
Unto the uttermost He paid.
His holy fingers made the bough
That grew the thorns that pierced His brow;
The nails that pierced His hands were mined
In secret places He designed.
He made the forest whence there sprung
The tree on which His body hung;
He died upon a cross of wood,
Yet made the hill on which it stood.
The throne on which He now appears
Was His from everlasting years -
But a new crown adorns His brow,
And every knee to Him shall bow.
—F. W. Pitt, Maker of the Universe
How unnatural eternal life seems to us from our current perspective. Yet this was God’s design prior to the entrance of sin:
Christ sets Himself forth here as the overcomer of death natural; which it must always be remembered is rather death unnatural; for man was made for immortality (Gen. 2:17), and death is the denial and reversal of the true law of his creation (Rom. 5:12).169
The work of Jesus makes possible the wonderful promise set forth later in this book which describes the condition of those who place their trust in Him: “There shall be no death” (Rev. 21:4+). Jesus reiterates this fact to encourage the persecuted church at Smyrna (Rev. 2:8+).When confronted with members of any non-Christian religion, here is the central issue at stake: Is Jesus God or is He not? Only orthodox Christianity will assert His full divinity. It is fruitless to engage in lengthy interaction with all such cults who deny His divinity because every other issue pales into insignificance compared to this central issue. This particular verse is of great benefit for it removes all “wiggle room” from those who would try to deny that Jesus Christ is the One here described as “the First and the Last” Who is “alive forevermore” for the same was also “dead!” Until the cult member can answer you, “When did God die?” there is little point in further discussion.
This purpose of revealing the deity of Christ is thus seen to permeate the whole book, and no unbiased reader of Revelation can reach any conclusion other than that Christ is God, with the full endorsement and approval of the Father. He has received His throne from the hand of God, unlike Satan who tried to usurp the office. Jesus Christ’s powers and attributes are all those of deity. Any doubt of His deity must be laid to rest. [emphasis added]170
behold, I am alive forevermore
Literally, Καὶ ὁ ζῶν, καὶ ἐγενόμην νεκρὸς καὶ ἰδοὺ ζῶν εἰμι εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων [Kai ho zōn, kai egenomēn nekros kai idou zōn eimi eis tous aiōnas tōn aiōnōn], “I am the living one and I was dead and behold living I am into the ages of the ages.”171The Son has eternal life and has been given authority over all flesh by the Father. For this reason, Jesus is able to give eternal life to as many as the Father has given Him (John 17:2). This is the basis for His amazing statement to Thomas. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ ” (John 14:6). Jesus is “the life.” He alone, among men, has immortality (1Ti. 6:16) and offers it to those who come to Him. The eternal life which Jesus offers is not some future promise, but is granted the instant a person believes on Him: “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ ” (John 11:25-26).During His earthly ministry, Jesus demonstrated that He was “the life,” in numerous ways. The Law of Moses stated that lepers were unclean (Lev. 13:44-45). They were to be separated from others and to cry ‘unclean! unclean!’ in order to warn others of their presence. To touch a leper or any of his clothing made one unclean and also carried the very real risk of infection. It was unthinkable to touch a leper! Yet when lepers approached Jesus for healing, Jesus did the unthinkable, He touched them! But instead of Jesus getting leprosy, the lepers got “Jesus-sy”—they were instantly healed (Mat. 8:3; Mark 1:41; Luke 5:13)! Because Jesus is “the life,” it is impossible that He could be defiled. Instead, His life-giving power went out to others in the performance of healing miracles and the restoration of the dead to life (Mark 5:41-42; Luke 7:14-15; Luke 8:54-55; John 11:43-44).The primary demonstration that Jesus is “the life” is found in His resurrection from the dead. “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up’ ” [emphasis added] (John 2:19); “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again” [emphasis added] (John 10:17). Not only would Jesus rise from the dead, but He Himself would be the agent of His resurrection!172
Then ὁ ζῶν [ho zōn] expresses not so much that he, the Speaker, “lived,” as that He was “the Living One,” the Life (John 1:4; 14:6), αὑτοζωή [hautozōē], having life in Himself, and the fountain and source of life to others. . . . To Him belongs absolute being (ὄντως εἶναι [ontōs einai]), as contrasted with the relative being of the creature, with the life which be no life, seeing that it inevitably falls under the dominion of corruption and death, so soon as it is separated from him, the source from which it was derived173
Christ says, “behold,” emphasizing that His demonstration of life beyond the grave is of paramount importance, for Christ’s resurrection bears witness that those who trust in Him will likewise rise from the dead (John 14:19; Rom. 6:8-9). If it were not for the fact of the resurrection—without the “Living One”—Christianity would be meaningless (1Cor. 15:12-17).
With rare exception, all who enter this life face the certainty of physical death. In some passages, death and Hades are personified as enemies of the living (Hos. 13:14; Rev. 6:8+), for it is by death that people enter Hades.174The reference to keys points to many passages in which the entrance to death and Hades is described as being controlled by gates (Job 38:17; Ps. 9:13; 107:18; Isa. 38:10; Mat. 16:18). Those who are held therein, are described as “prisoners” (Isa. 24:22; 1Pe. 3:19). As in real life, keys in Scripture denote the power to lock and unlock, to open and shut (Isa. 22:22; Mat. 16:19; Rev. 3:7+; Rev. 9:1+; 20:1-3+).175 The keys of Hades and of Death unlock the gates of Hades and death so that those who would previously have been held securely by death and Hades are now set free to eternal life. Whereas death holds the bodies of men, Hades holds their souls.176 Jesus’ offer of eternal life to those who accept Him overcomes the power of Hades and death (1Cor. 15:55). In this sense, death and Hades were “raided” by Jesus Who liberated man who was destined to this fate by the curse (Gen. 3:19). Jesus is the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1Cor. 15:20) and in His resurrection demonstrated dominion over death. It is because Jesus is the “living One” that He has the keys of Hades and Death. His resurrection “turned the key” in the gates of Hades and death liberating us to eternal life. Our liberation grants us freedom from the bondage of the fear of death (Heb. 2:15).
What millions have gone down beneath [the power of death], and are now held by it! Every acre of the earth is full of them, and the bottom of every sea. I have seen their grim skeletons on mountain summits, eight thousand two hundred feet above the level of the sea; and I have walked upon their ashes more than a thousand feet below that level. And from far deeper depths to still more elevated heights, on all the slopes and hillsides, and in all the fields and valleys of the earth, death’s victims lie in fetters of darkness, silence and dust. Even on the life-powers of the Son of God were these manacles made fast. But by him they were also opened: for he hath the keys of death.177
3.1.19 - Revelation 1:19
the things which you have seen
This phrase introduces the key verse for interpreting the main sections of the book. The things which you have seen includes those things revealed to John prior to addressing the seven churches (Revelation 1+).178
the things which are
The things that attend John’s present time, which are set forth in the letters to the seven churches found in Revelation 2+ and 3+.179
the things which will take place after this
The things yet future to John’s time, constituting most of the remainder of the book, from Revelation 4+ onward: “Where is the dividing line in Revelation between a symbolic view of the present and a symbolic view of the future? . . . The answer seems to be contained in Rev. 4:1+, where the voice of a trumpet summoned the seer to heaven to see ‘the things which must come to pass hereafter.’ ”180The conjunction καὶ [kai] can be translated by “and,” “even,” or “both.” The question arises as to whether there are three divisions or only two?
Does Christ give John a chronological outline as a key to the visions in the book? Many think he does. If so, are there three divisions: “seen,” “now,” and “later”? Or are there two: “seen,” i.e., “now” and “later”? In the latter case, where does the chronological break take place in the book?181
The passage may be rendered: “Write the things which thou sawest, both the things which are and the things which shall be hereafter.” Such a rendering is grammatically possible, though it is not favored by the majority of expositors. If correct, it means that Revelation relates only to the present and to the future, not to the past at all.182
The threefold division seems most natural and has been favored by most interpreters:
The advantage of this outline is that it deals in a natural way with the material rather than seizing on incidentals as some expositors have done or avoiding any outline at all, as is true of other expositors. It is not too much to claim that this outline is the only one which allows the book to speak for itself without artificial manipulation and which lays guidelines of sufficient importance so that expositors who follow this approach have been able to establish a system of interpretation of the book of Revelation, namely, the futurist school.183
See the Structural Outline given in our discussion of the Literary Structure of the book.
Literally, μετὰ ταῦτα [meta tauta], “after these [things],” plural.
3.1.20 - Revelation 1:20
As is frequently the case within Scripture, the answers to our questions are “in the back of the book” (in this case, the back of the chapter). Jesus explains the mystery of the seven stars and seven golden lampstands.184
A “mystery” in the constant language of Scripture is something which man is capable of knowing, but only when it has been revealed to him by God (Mat. 18:11; Rom. 11:25; Eph. 6:19; 1Cor. 13:2), and not through any searching of his own.185
Many of the fanciful interpretations offered for this book can be reigned in by the simple process of carefully observing what the book offers in the way of explaining the meaning of symbols: “This verse points up the fact that, when symbols are used in the book of Revelation, they are explained internally, not subject to imaginative suggestions by allegorizing expositors.”186
Due to their brightness and location in heaven, angels are often represented as stars (Job 38:7; Isa. 14:13; Rev. 9:1+). See Seven: Perfection, Completeness.There are seven stars, not twelve. The number of stars is an important aspect for differentiating this group of stars from another group of stars mentioned elsewhere (Gen. 37:9; Rev. 12:1+). These are said to be the churches of Asia Minor. The twelve stars of Revelation 12:1+ represent the twelve tribes of Israel, not the church.
angels of the churches
Here we enter upon perhaps the most difficult interpretive question in this chapter: the identity of these angels? Each of the primary views is attended with some difficulty:
|Heavenly guardian angels of the churches||The term “angel” describes heavenly beings elsewhere in the book of Revelation.187||The angels are charged, as individuals, with various sins. Elect angels do not sin.188 The complexity of communication: why would the revelation be given from God to Jesus to a heavenly angel to John (a man) to another heavenly angel (the star) and then to the church?189 Why would elect angels, known for their steadfast service and power, be said to be protected in the right hand of the Son of Man? The awards for the overcomer correspond to those promised to redeemed humans. Angels do not partake of the tree of life (Rev. 2:7+), cannot be imprisoned by men or killed (Rev. 2:10-11+), are not written in the Book of Life (Rev. 3:5+), nor will they reign over the nations (Rev. 2:26-27+; 3:21+). If the angel is a heavenly guardian angel, then almost all that is said of him must be strictly representative of the people within the church he guards.|
|Human messengers from the churches190||The term “angels” is occasionally used of human messengers.191 Human messengers may have been sent to Patmos for the purpose of meeting with John and carrying a copy of the letter back to each church.192 There are fewer problems attending this view. “The view that takes the angeloi as men who are representatives of the churches, but are without a unique leadership function appears to be the most probable choice, largely because objections to it are easier to answer than objections to the other . . . views.”193||Human messengers are never called “stars” (but see Gen. 37:9 cf. Rev. 12:1+; Dan. 12:3).194 Why would secondary human messengers be held personally responsible as individuals for the sins of the church?195|
|A Human leader of the church in each city (elder or bishop)196||The angels are individually responsible for the spiritual welfare of the churches and are protected in the right hand of the Son of Man.197||There is no precedent within Scripture or church history for referring to church leaders as “angels.”198 Even apostles with great authority, such as Peter and John, refer to themselves merely as “elder” (1Pe. 5:1; 2Jn. 1:1; 3Jn. 1:1).199 NT church leadership consists of a plurality of elders.200 The individual leader could not be personally responsible for the character of the entire church.201 Cities such as Ephesus probably had multiple house churches.202|
|Personifications of the churches203||The close identification between each “angel” and the character of the church. Christ speaks to the churches both in the singular and plural.||Lack of scriptural evidence for the personification of congregations of believers. “Stars” or “angels” are not used this way anywhere else. In assigning sin to a personification, ambiguity remains as to who is truly responsible. This view would make the stars and lampstands virtually identical.204|
In most cases, the grammar of the letters to each church implicates each individual angel. This is reflected by the preponderance of verb forms in the second-person singular. Yet the things which are said to the angel include aspects which could only be true of the wider church membership. In some cases, the grammar itself reflects a broader application. For example, in the letter to the angel of the church of Smyrna, seven of the Greek words indicate the angel is an individual (second-person singular, you). Yet three words indicate the larger church membership (second-person plural, you all).
To the angel [singular] . . . I know your [singular] works . . . but you [singular] are rich . . . You [singular] do not fear . . . those things which you [singular] are about to suffer . . . the devil is about to throw some of you [plural] into prison . . . that you [plural] may be tested, and you [plural] will have tribulation . . . You [singular] be faithful . . . and I will give you [singular] the crown of life. (Rev. 2:8-10+)
Since a number of individuals are to be thrown into prison to be tested, the promise of the crown of life cannot be strictly for the individual angel, but surely must apply to all those who remain faithful. We should take care not to make too much of the grammatical distinctions between the single angel and the plural congregation.When all these factors are considered, it would appear that the best solution is one that takes the “angels” as human messengers or leaders of the churches while recognizing that much of what Christ says to the angel as an individual is also meant for the entire church.205In our commentary on the individual letters to the seven churches, we will interpret the comments directed to each singular angel as being descriptive of the entire congregation.
1As teachers, our primary calling is to make the Scriptures known. “The best defense is a strong offense.”
2Richard Chenevix Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1989), 371.
3To be sure, many aspects of this revelation are set forth elsewhere in Scripture, but not in the completeness or sequence shown John.
4Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), 81.
5John MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), Rev. 1:1.
6In Galatians, apocalypse appears in the genitive whereas in Revelation 1:1+ it is in the nominative.
7“Some accept the words as if they were meant to express the revealment of the Revelation. This I take to be a mistake . . . It is not the Apocalypse which is the subject of the disclosure. This book is not the Apocalypse of the Apocalypse, but THE APOCALYPSE OF JESUS CHRIST. . . . If ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ’ meant nothing more than certain communications made known by Christ, I can see no significance or propriety in affixing this title to this book, rather than to any other books of holy Scripture. Are they not all alike the revelation of Jesus Christ, in this sense? Does not Peter say of the inspired writers in general, that they were moved by the Spirit of Christ which was in them? Why then single out this particular book as ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ,’ when it is no more the gift of Jesus than any other inspired book?”—J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 16. “These opening words in the book present two major ideas about Christ. First, this book is an unveiling by or from Him, that is, a revelation of the future that God gave Him to give to us through His servant. Second, the book is an unveiling concerning Jesus Christ, an unveiling in which God makes known to us the future and Christ’s role in it. The second of these seems more prominent. Though this book certainly is a revelation by Jesus Christ, it is foremost a revelation or unveiling of Him.”—Harold D. Foos, “Christology in the Book of Revelation,” in Mal Couch, ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 104.
8So [Henry Barclay Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998, 1906)], [M. R. Vincent, Vincent’s Word Studies (Escondido, CA: Ephesians Four Group, 2002)], and [A. T. Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures in Six Volumes (Escondido, CA: Ephesians Four Group, 2003)].
9“Is the revelation that which comes from Christ or is it about Christ? In Rev. 22:16+ Jesus tells John that his angel was the one proclaiming the message of the book to John. Thus, the book is certainly a revelation from Christ (hence, we may have a subjective genitive in Rev. 1:1+). But the revelation is supremely and ultimately about Christ. Thus, the genitive in Rev. 1:1+ may also be an objective genitive. The question is whether the author intended both in Rev. 1:1+. Since this is the title of his book—intended to describe the whole of the work—it may well be a plenary genitive.”—Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics - Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House and Galaxie Software, 1999, 2002), 120.
10“Wallace has fallen into the same pit as have so many others by his neglect of the basics of hermeneutics. One of his glaring errors violates the principle of single meaning. In his consideration of a category he calls the ‘Plenary Genitive,’ he labors the point that a particular passage’s construction may be at the same time both objective genitive and subjective genitive. . . . Wallace consciously rejects the wisdom of past authorities . . . His volume could have been helpful, but this feature makes it extremely dangerous.”—Robert L. Thomas, Evangelical Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2002), 158.
11Foos, Christology in the Book of Revelation, 105.
12This equality among the persons of the Trinity while fulfilling different roles well-illustrates the principle of equality of value, but difference in role so essential to the biblical family unit. The man and the women are absolutely equal in value before God, yet occupy different roles if the harmony and synergy God intended is to come to fruition in the family unit. The man is to be the leader (1Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-24; Col. 3:18) while demonstrating sacrificial love toward his wife (Eph. 5:25; Col. 3:19). This delicate balance within the family unit requires selflessness. It is selfishness which factors large in divorce.
13Alan F. Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 21.
14MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Rev. 1:1.
15Thomas Ice, “Preterist ‘Time Texts’,” in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 105.
16An exception to this statement can be made in the case of full preterism which holds that the entire book of Revelation has already been fulfilled. But this is outside of orthodox Christianity.
17Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), s.v. “Introduction.”
18Ice, Preterist “Time Texts”, 105.
19Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics - Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, 536.
20 The Conservative Theological Journal, vol. 4 no. 13 (Fort Worth, TX: Tyndale Theological Seminary, December 2000), 304-305.
21Ice, Preterist “Time Texts”, 104.
22Mal Couch, “The War Over Words,” in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 295.
23Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1992), 55.
24“ ‘Soonness’ means imminency in eschatological terms.”—Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 21.
25Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 56.
26Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John, Rev. 1:1.
27Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 56.
28Merrill C. Tenney, Interpreting Revelation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1957), 186.
29Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 59.
30Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 12.
31Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 20.
32Tenney, Interpreting Revelation, 34.
33Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures in Six Volumes.
34Rene Pache, The Inspiration & Authority of Scripture (Salem, WI: Sheffield Publishing Company, 1969), 35-40.
35 [Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 58-59], [Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures in Six Volumes].
36Most often, we are too eager to make Him known without truly knowing Him (Luke 10:38-42). When we do this, we misrepresent our Lord and present a caricature of God to a skeptical world.
37Alva J. McClain, The Greatness Of The Kingdom (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1959), 6.
38Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 13.
39Contrast this with our own day which enjoys unprecedented ability to duplicate and distribute materials worldwide, but where Christian teaching and worship music suffers at the hands of restrictive copyrights (Mat. 10:8).
40William D. Mounce, Greek for the Rest of Us (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 30.
42As a case in point, suppose we are studying the Scriptural teaching on Israel? We use a concordance or computer search to find all the occurrences of the word “Israel” in the NT. Using the NIV translation, we find Ephesians 3:6 among the verses listed: “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”. Yet in the Greek below this verse, the word “Israel” (Ισραηλ [Israēl]) never appears! This may seem like a fine point to some, especially since in this particular verse the idea captured by the NIV would seem correct. But over the long haul it is problematic to rely on a dynamic equivalency translation for study—you simply do not know when you are looking at a detail which is not there in the original. We suppose such translations may be suitable for devotional study—that is, if you don’t mind having flawed devotions.
43“The Message” is one such paraphrase which distorts God’s Word to such a degree that it undermines the very Message after which it was titled! How close must we come to violating Revelation 22:18-19+ before we realize we are doing a disservice to God’s Word?
44“One of the chief eschatological terms. ὁ καιρὸς [ho kairos] the time of crisis, the last times”—Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 394.
45Larry Spargimino, “How Preterists Misuse History to Advance their View of Prophecy,” in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 142-143.
47Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 61.
48MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, s.v. “Time does not translate .”
49Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.
51Kenneth L. Gentry and Thomas Ice, The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999), 112.
52Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 130.
54Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics - Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, 62-63.
55Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John, 5.
56Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 66.
57Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861), 6-7.
58There is some uncertainty as to whether Isaiah lists seven Spirits, or only six (in this case “Spirit of the LORD” being seen as a summary of the six which follow). It seems likely, given the use of seven throughout Scripture, that Isaiah lists these attributes to indicate the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
59“Some writers say these verses are speaking of the seven angels who are before the throne of God (Rev. 8:2+).”—Russell L. Penney, “Pneumatology in the Book of Revelation,” in Mal Couch, ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 115. “Other interpreters understand the designation as a reference to the seven archangels of Jewish tradition. In 1 Enoch 20:1-8 they are listed as Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Saraquael, Gabriel, and Remiel (cf. Tobit 12:15; Esd. 4:1; Dan. 10:13).”—Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), 69.
60Robert P. Lightner, “Theology Proper in the Book of Revelation,” in Mal Couch, ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 92.
61Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 24.
62“The verb [τικτωο [tiktōo], Strongs: G5088] which is one of the components of [πρωτότοκος [prōtotokos],Strongs: G4416) ‘first-begotten or born,’ is everywhere in the New Testament used in the sense of ‘to bear or to bring forth,’ and has nowhere the meaning ‘beget,’ unless James 1:15 be an exception.”—Vincent, Vincent’s Word Studies, s.v. “The verb [.”
63 New Electronic Translation : NET Bible, electronic edition (Dallas, TX: Biblical Studies Press, 1998), Col. 1:15.
64“I should rather put this passage in connection with Ps. 2:7, ‘Thou art my son; this day have I begotten Thee.’ It will doubtless be remembered that St. Paul (Acts 13:33; cf. Heb. 1:5) claims the fulfillment of these words not in the eternal generation before all time of the Son; still less in his human conception in the Blessed Virgin’s womb; but rather in his resurrection from the dead; ‘declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead’ (Rom. 1:4).”—Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 12.
65MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Rev. 1:5.
66“He was not the first who rose from the dead, but the first who so rose that death was thenceforth impossible for Him (Rom. 6:9).”—Vincent, Vincent’s Word Studies, Rev. 1:5. Those who were raptured, such as Enoch (Gen. 5:24) and Elijah (2K. 2:11), did not taste of death.
67Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 11.
68Tenney, Interpreting Revelation, 118.
69“The Greek adverb οὕτως [houtōs] can refer (1) to the degree to which God loved the world, that is, to such an extent or so much that he gave his own Son . . . or (2) simply to the manner in which God loved the world, i.e., by sending his own son . . . Though the term more frequently refers to the manner in which something is done, . . . the following clause . . . plus the indicative (which stresses actual, but [usually] unexpected result) emphasizes the greatness of the gift God has given. With this in mind, then, it is likely (3) that John is emphasizing both the degree to which God loved the world as well as the manner in which He chose to express that love. This is in keeping with John’s style of using double entendre or double meaning. Thus, the focus of the Greek construction here is on the nature of God’s love, addressing its mode, intensity, and extent.”—New Electronic Translation : NET Bible, John 3:16.
70The following verses may be studied for further insight into the atoning characteristics of Christ’s blood: Gen. 9:4; Ex. 12:23; 24:8; Lev. 17:11; Isa. 52:15; Zec. 9:11; Mat. 26:28; 27:4; Luke 22:20; John 19:30; Acts 20:28; Rom. 5:9; 1Cor. 10:16; Eph. 1:7; 2:13; Col. 1:14, 20; 2:14-15; Heb. 9:12, 14, 22; 10:19, 29; 11:28; 12:24; 13:12, 20; 1Pe. 1:18-19; 1Jn. 1:7; 5:8; Rev. 1:5+; 5:9+; 7:14+; 12:11+.
71Israel will have a unique place as “priests of the Lord” (Isa. 61:5-6) during the Millennial Kingdom.
72Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, Rev. 1:6.
73For more on this topic, see [McClain, The Greatness Of The Kingdom] and [George H. N. Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1978, 1884)].
74Pache, The Inspiration & Authority of Scripture, 106.
75Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 29.
76“The first messiah, ‘Messiah son of Joseph,’ who suffered in Egypt would come to suffer and die to fulfill the servant passages [Isa. 49:1-26; 53]. The second messiah, ‘Messiah son of David,’ would then come and raise the first Messiah back to life. He would then establish His Kingdom to rule and to reign.”—Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Christology (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1998), 57.
77“As described in Talmud (Sanhedrin 98a): ‘Rabbi Joseph the son of Levi objects that it is written in one place “Behold one like the son of man comes with the clouds of heaven,” but in another place it is written “lowly and riding upon an ass.” The solution is, if they be righteous he shall come with the clouds of heaven, but if they not be righteous he shall come lowly riding upon an ass.’ ’ ”—Ibid., 66.
78MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Rev. 1:7.
80Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures in Six Volumes, s.v. “The verb form .”
81Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 76.
82Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 500.
83James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament), electronic ed (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997), Rev. 1:7.
84Tenney, Interpreting Revelation, 121.
85See Revelation 3:11+ which clarifies the distinction between the throne of the Father versus the throne of the Son.
86Even preterists admit that some cloud coming passages relate to the Second Coming. “Preterists such as Gentry do see some passages that have ‘cloud language’ as referring to the Second Coming (Acts 1:9-11; 1Th. 4:13-17)”—Thomas Ice, “Hermeneutics and Bible Prophecy,” in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 79. “Another hermeneutical shortcoming of preterism relates to the limiting of the promised coming of Christ in Rev. 1:7+ to Judea [the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD]. What does a localized judgment hundreds of miles away have to do with the seven churches of Asia? John uses two long chapters in addressing those churches regarding the implications of the coming of Christ for them. For instance, the promise to shield the Philadelphian church from judgment (Rev. 3:10-11+) is meaningless if that judgment occurs far beyond the borders of that city.”—Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 225.
87An awkward reality for preterists is the reestablishment of the Jewish state in the Promised Land. If it were to have been finally destroyed in A.D. 70 by the wrath of God as preterists maintain, evidently God did an incomplete job.
88Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness (Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 1994), 162.
90“The choice of ἐκκεντέω [ekkenteō] to render the Hebrew דָּקַר [dāqar] of Zec. 12:10 in John 19:37 and Rev. 1:7+ adds strength to the case that the two books had the same author. Both uses differ from the LXX’s obviously erroneous choice of κατορχέω [katorcheō] to render the same Hebrew word.”—Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 82.
91Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament), Rev. 1:7.
92Robert Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999, c1980), s.v. “449a.”
93“In the messianic passage Isa. 53:5, ‘wounded’ (KJV margin ‘tormented’; jb ‘pierced through’) follows the divine smiting (Isa. 53:4). The Poel form used . . . is similar to that in Isa. 51:9; cf. ‘pierced by the sword’ (Pual, Eze. 32:26). The quotation in John 19:12 (‘they shall look on him whom they have pierced’) is from Zec. 12:10 but this Isa. 53:5 uses another verb (דָקַר [ḏāqar]) ‘pierced through fatally’ (usually in retribution). In Jer. 51:4 and Lam. 4:9 דָקַר [ḏāqar] is used as a synonym of הָלַל [hālal].”—Ibid., #660.
94A. R. Fausset, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 1:7.
95Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), 2040.
96Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), 10:609.
97“The problem with interpreting Revelation 1:7+ to refer to the land of Israel is that all the other uses of the exact phrase ‘all the tribes of the earth’ in the original language always has a universal nuance (Gen. 12:3; 28:14; Ps. 72:17; Zec. 14:17).”—Ice, Preterist “Time Texts”, 99.
98The distinction between Abraham’s seed and all the families of the earth makes plain that the families are a superset beyond the physical seed. Where Gen. 12:3 is cited in Acts 3:25, the word for “families” is πατριαὶ [patriai].
99“ ‘all the tribes of the earth’ refers to all nations in every one of its Septuagint occurrences (πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς [pasai hai phylai tēs gēs], Gen. 12:3; 28:14; Ps. 71:17; Zec. 14:17).”—Gregory K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 26.
100Preterists respond to this evidence from the Septuagint by noting that where the Septuagint renders “tribes” as φυλαι [phylai], the underlying Hebrew is מִשְׁפְּחֹת [mišpeḥōṯ] - a different Hebrew word from the more frequently encountered word for “tribe” which describes Israel: שֵׁבֶת [šēḇeṯ]. They claim that by rendering both שֵׁבֶת [šēḇeṯ] and מִשְׁפְּחֹת [mišpeḥōṯ] as “tribes,” the Septuagint loses the precision of the underlying Hebrew text. We agree, but what does it have to do with the evidence before us? The observation that the Septuagint renders both shebet and מִשְׁפְּחֹת [mišpeḥōṯ] by φυλαι [phylai] (“tribes”) provides further evidence against the preterist contention that φυλαι [phylai] is a technical term which always denotes Israelite tribes. This response of the preterists is simply a smoke screen, which when considered carefully, actually supports the opposite conclusion.
The fact is that the Septuagint, translated by Hebrew rabbinical scholars familiar with the use of Greek in times much nearer to the NT than our own, renders two different Hebrew words-denoting both Jewish tribes and non-Jewish tribes or families-as φυλαι [phylai] This leads us to conclude that φυλαι [phylai] is not a technical term denoting only Jewish tribes. It can have different meanings which are dependent upon the context. This is also obvious from the numerous qualifiers which appear in conjunction with φυλαι [phylai]: “tribes of the earth,” “the twelve tribes,” “every tribe,” etc. Why would these additional qualifiers be necessary if φυλαι [phylai] always referred to Israelite tribes as preterists claim?
101 [Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 638]. If one seeks evidence for how far astray interpretation can go where the meaning of a passage is entirely reversed from its intended meaning, one can do no better than the preterist interpretation of Zechariah 12 through 14.
102Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 26.
103Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 79.
104See [Tony Garland, “Revelation 1:7 - Past or Future?,” (n.p. 2004) in The Conservative Theological Journal, vol. 9 no. 27 (Fort Worth, TX: Tyndale Theological Seminary, August 2005)]
105Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.
106Erich Sauer, The Dawn of World Redemption (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1951, c1964), 118-119.
107Having personally sat with those in their dying days who continue to reject God’s free and gracious offer of salvation when they have nothing to lose and everything to gain, we have gained a genuine appreciation regarding the fearful consequences of the continual rejection of the gospel offer.
108Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 81.
109It was the Angel of the Lord who met Moses in the burning bush (Ex. 3:2) and who made claims that no ordinary angel dare make (Ex. 3:14). Indeed, it was no ordinary Angel, but the preincarnate Messiah (John 1:14, 18).
110Foos, Christology in the Book of Revelation, 107.
111Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 11.
112John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1966), 40.
113Arthur Walkington Pink, The Antichrist (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1999, 1923), s.v. “Comparisons between Christ and the Antichrist.”
114Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 81.
115See the discussion of the Nicolaitans for the view that they may have contributed to the development of church hierarchy where none was intended beyond that of elders, deacons, and the flock.
116Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 35.
117Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 87.
118Copyright © 2003 www.BiblePlaces.com. This image appears by special permission and may not be duplicated for use in derivative works.
119Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 86.
120Copyright © 2003 www.BiblePlaces.com. This image appears by special permission and may not be duplicated for use in derivative works.
121Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, 41.
122Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 28.
123Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 19.
124Fausset, The Revelation of St. John the Divine, Rev. 1:9.
125Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 6-7,9.
126Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 86.
127Gen. 26:2, 24; 46:2; Num. 12:6; 1S. 3:15; 1K. 22:19; Job 33:15; Isa. 1:1; 6:1; Eze. 1:3; 8:3; 11:24; Dan. 2:19; 7:2; 8:1, 16; 9:21; 10:1; Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17; 9:10-12; 10:3, 11; 11:5; 16:9-10; 18:9; 22:18; 23:11; 26:19; Rev. 1:10+; 4:2+; 9:17+.
128James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996), G1611.
129Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures in Six Volumes, Rev. 1:10.
130“Some have assumed from this passage that ἡμέρα κυριακή [hēmera kyriakē] was a designation of Sunday already familiar among Christians. This however, seems a mistake. The name had probably its origin here.”—Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 23.
131“Sunday belongs indeed to the Lord, but the Scriptures nowhere call it ‘the Lord’s day.’ None of the Christian writings, for 100 years after Christ, ever call it ‘the Lord’s day.’ . . . I can see no essential difference between ἡ Κυριακη ἡμερα [hē Kyriakē hēmera]—the Lord’s day,— and ἡ ἡμερα Κυριου [hē hēmera Kyriou]—the day of the Lord. They are simply the two forms for signifying the same relations of the same things. . . . And when we come to consider the actual contents of this book, we find them harmonizing exactly with this understanding of its title. It takes as its chief and unmistakable themes what other portions of the Scriptures assign to the great day of the Lord.”—Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 18.
132Jerome Smith, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), s.v. “Not Sunday.”
133E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), xvi-xvii, 9.
134Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 29.
135MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Rev. 1:10.
136“Objection has been taken to the interpretation of ‘the Lord’s Day’ here, because we have (in Rev. 1:9+) the adjective ‘Lord’s’ instead of the noun (in regimen), ‘of the Lord,’ as in the Hebrew. But what else could it be called in Hebrew? Such objectors do not seem to be aware of the fact that there is no adjective for ‘Lord’s’ in Hebrew; and therefore the only way of expressing ‘the Lord’s Day’ is by using the two nouns, ‘the day of the Lord’—which means equally ‘the Lord’s Day’ (Jehovah’s day).”—Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, 11-12.
137Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 16.
138Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 23.
139Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John, 14.
140Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 4.
141Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 56.
142Interestingly, John is the only gospel writer who does not record his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration except if John 1:14 be taken as a reference to it.
143Albrecht Durer (1471 - 1528). Image courtesy of the Connecticut College Wetmore Print Collection.
144Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 23.
145The context of Mat. 18:20 infers that Jesus will be present in any gathering of believers to grant both authority and guidance concerning matters of church discipline.
146The intended permanence of sealing may be seen in the following examples: (1) the tomb (Mat. 27:66); (2) Jesus’ testimony (John 3:33); (3) Jesus sealed by the Father (John 6:27); (4) witnessed during the Tribulation (Rev. 7:3+); (5) what the seven thunders uttered (Rev. 10:4+); (6) Satan during the Millennium (Rev. 20:3+).
147“Here, the scattered condition of the nation [of Israel] is just as distinctly indicated by the fact that the seven lamps are no longer united in one lamp-stand. The nation is no longer in the Land, for Jerusalem is not now the centre; but the people are ‘scattered’ in separate communities in various cities in Gentile lands. So that just as the one lamp-stand represents Israel in its unity, the seven lamp-stands represent Israel in its dispersion; and tells us that Jehovah is about to make Jerusalem again the centre of His dealings with the earth.”—Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, 72.
148Goel is a Hebrew term describing the person who is next of kin and his respective duties: to buy back what his poor brother has sold and cannot himself regain (Lev. 25:25-26); to avenge any wrong done to a next of kin, particularly murder (Num. 35:19-27); to purchase land belonging to one deceased who was next of kin and to marry his widow and to raise up children for the deceased (Ru. 2:20; 4:14). Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer of the book of Ruth (Ru. 4) is a type of Christ as our kinsman-redeemer.
149It is instructive to study the following parallels between Adam and Christ: 1) Adam was created in God’s image, Christ is the manifestation of God in the flesh; 2) Adam’s disobedience brought condemnation leading to death, Christ’s obedience brought justification leading to life; 3) Those who are ‘in Adam’ die, those who are ‘in Christ’ have eternal life (1Cor. 15:22); 4) Adam is the ‘son of God’ (Luke 3:38) as is Christ (both were directly created by God); 5) All men are ‘born once’ in Adam, believers are ‘born again’ in Christ; 6) The first Adam became a living being (Gen. 2:7), the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit (1Cor. 15:45); 7) Adam is from the earth—made of dust (Gen. 2:7), Christ is from heaven; 8) Adam lost dominion, Christ regained it. 9) A tree bore Adam’s downfall, a tree bore Christ’s victory. 10) Adam’s body was animated by the breath of God (Gen. 2:7), the body of Christ is animated by the breath of God (1Cor. 12:13).
150Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 31.
152Some interpreters separate Daniel 10 into two separate passages, the first part (Daniel 10:1-9) being a vision of Christ and the second part (Daniel 10:10-21) involving an angelic being who required assistance (Dan. 10:13, 21). We believe several factors favor understanding the same heavenly being as being in view throughout the chapter.
153John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Chicago, IL: Moody Bible Institute, 1969), 204-205.
154Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 33.
156Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures in Six Volumes.
157Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 37.
158Colin J. Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 111-112,116.
159Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 731.
160This return of the glory of the Lord to the Millennial Temple ends the most recent departure of God from His Temple which occurred when Jesus departed to the Mount of Olives (Mat. 23:37-39). It is for this reason that His “house” in Jerusalem has been desolate for these long ages. See The Abiding Presence of God.
161Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 27.
163Augustine in [Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia].
165The term Genie is derived from the Arabic word for demon: Jin.
166The fear of God is a major theme of Scripture: Gen. 31:42, 53; Ex. 1:17; 15:11; 20:20; Jos. 4:24; 1K. 18:3; 2Chr. 19:7, 9; Job 9:34; 23:15-16; 25:1; 28:28; Ps. 5:7; 89:7; 111:10; 115:13; 119:38, 120; 128:4; 145:19; Pr. 2:5; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 14:26; 15:16, 33; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4; 23:17; 24:21; 31:30; Ecc. 5:7; 8:12; 12:13; Isa. 8:13; 11:3; 33:5; 50:10; 57:11; 59:19; Jer. 5:22-24; Hab. 3:16; Luke 12:5; Acts 9:31; 10:2, 35; 2Cor. 5:13; 1Pe. 3:15; Rev. 19:5+.
167Ex. 3:6; Deu. 5:26; Jos. 3:10; 1S. 17:26, 36; 2K. 19:4, 16; Ps. 42:2; 84:2; Isa. 37:4, 17; Jer. 10:10; 23:36; Dan. 6:20, 26; Hos. 1:10; Mat. 16:16; 22:32; 26:63; John 6:69; Acts 14:15; Rom. 9:26; 2Cor. 3:3; 6:16; 1Ti. 3:15; 4:10; 6:17; Heb. 3:12; 9:14; 10:31; 12:22; Rev. 7:2+.
170Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John, Rev. 1:17.
171“And the living, and I became dead, and behold, I am living for evermore.”—Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 47.
172The resurrection is attributed to all three members of the Trinity. To Jesus: John 2:19; 10:17. To the Father: Acts 4:10; 10:41; Rom. 4:24; 6:4; 8:11. To the Holy Spirit: 1Pe. 3:18.
174The word death probably refers to the location of the body, whereas Hades refers to the location of the immaterial part of man—his soul. Israel My Glory, July/August 2001, 22. The former describes the state of the dead whereas the latter describes the location of the dead. [Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 112] “Hades is the unseen world where all who die reside. It includes both Paradise (Luke 23:43) and Gehenna (Luke 12:5)—Abraham’s bosom and the state of torment and anguish (Luke 16:22-28).”—Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), 433.
175“The Rabbinical proverb said: ‘There are four keys lodged in God’s hand, which He committeth neither to angel nor to seraph: the key of the rain, the key of food, the key of the tombs, and the key of a barren woman.’ ”—Vincent, Vincent’s Word Studies, Rev. 1:18.
176Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 48.
178“I favor understanding ‘the things which you have seen’ as linked to Rev. 1:2+, and thus to be the authority to write John’s Gospel . . . , though others see this as indicating chapter 1+. . . . Allowing my understanding of ‘the things which you have seen,’ then, the first chapter becomes very much part of chapters 2+-3+.”—Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John, Rev. 1:19.
179Some see this phrase as being descriptive of the things John saw in the previous phrase: “Write therefore what things thou sawest and what they are, . . . even what things are about to happen hereafter.”—Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, 159.
180Tenney, Interpreting Revelation, 39.
181Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 33.
182Tenney, Interpreting Revelation, 39.
183Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, 48.
184To study the use of “mystery” in the NT, see Mark 4:11; Rom. 11:25; 16:25; 1Cor. 2:7; 13:2; 15:51; Eph. 1:9; 3:3-4, 9; 5:32; 6:19; Col. 1:26; 2:2; 4:3; 2Th. 2:7; 1Ti. 3:9, 16; Rev. 1:20+; 10:7+; 17:7+.
185Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 51.
186Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), 45.
187Variations of the word angel occur 72 times in this book, and unless the references to these angels of the churches be excepted, all mentions are of divine beings. Angels are ministering spirits actively involved in other aspects of God’s plan. “True churches of the Lord have individual angels assigned for their guidance and watch-care. This fact is hardly surprising in view of the innumerable company of angels (Hebrews 12:22) and their assigned function as ministering spirits of those who are heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14). Individual believers have angels assigned to them (Matthew 18:10; Acts 12:15). Angels are present in the assemblies during their services (1 Corinthians 11:10) and are intensely interested in their progress (1 Corinthians 4:9; Ephesians 3:10; 1 Timothy 3:16; 5:21; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 1:12).”—Ibid.
188“How could holy Angels be charged with such delinquencies as are laid to the charge of some of the Angels here (Rev. 2:4+; 3:1+, 15+)?”—Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 52.
189“The complexity of the communication process is one thing that raises problems with it. It presumes that Christ is sending a message to heavenly beings through John, an earthly agent, so that it may reach earthly churches through angelic representatives. . . . An even more decisive consideration against the view of guardian angels lies in the sinful conduct of which these angels are accused. Most of the rebukes of [Revelation] chapters 2-3 are second person singular, messages that look first at the individual messengers and presumably through them to the churches they represent.”—Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 117.
190“This rare and difficult reference should be understood to refer to the heavenly messengers who have been entrusted by Christ with responsibility over the churches and yet who are so closely identified with them that the letters are addressed at the same time to these ‘messengers’ and to the congregation (cf. the plural form in Rev. 2:10+, 13+, 23-24+).”—Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 34.
191Αγγελος [Angelos] is occasionally used of human messengers. Examples include John the Baptist (Mat. 11:10; Mark 1:2), the messengers sent to Jesus by John the Baptist (Luke 7:24), the spies hidden by Rahab (Jas. 2:25) and possibly the leaders of the seven churches, if these are to be understood as human leaders (Rev. 2:1+, 8+, 12+, 18+; 3:1+, 7+, 14+). “In the Septuagint ἄγγελος [angelos] is used in rare instances of a human messenger of God (Mal. 2:7; 3:1; cf. 1:1, where the LXX so renders the name or title ‘Malachi’ itself). In the New Testament it twice denotes simply an emissary (Luke 9:52; Jas. 2:25). Elsewhere it is always used of a supernatural being. The idea of an angel as the guardian of the nation is found in Dan. 12:1, as guardian of the individual in . . . Mat. 18:10; Acts 12:15.”—Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting, 32.
192“Some think these men journeyed to Patmos to receive the finished book of Revelation from the hands of John, and that they returned to their respective cities and shared the message.”—Mal Couch, “Ecclesiology in the Book of Revelation,” in Mal Couch, ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 128.
193Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 118.
194“[The idea that the angel is a human messenger] is at first sight attractive, for ‘messenger’ is the primary meaning of ἄγγελος [angelos], and the book may indeed have been distributed through messengers delegated by each church to tour its district. But . . . usage favours ‘angels’ and the emissary could not be made representative of the community. Nor could he be readily symbolized by the ‘stars’ of Rev. 1:20+.”—Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting, 33.
195“But in answering a letter by a messenger, men write by him, they do not usually write to him; nor is it easy to see where is the correspondency [sic] between such messengers, subordinate officials of the Churches, and stars; or what the ‘mystery’ of the relation between them then would be; or how the Lord should set forth as an eminent prerogative of his, that He held the seven stars, that is, the seven messengers, in his right hand (Rev. 2:1+).”—Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 56-57.
196“The Angel in each Church is one; but surely none can suppose for an instant that there was only one presbyter, or other minister serving in holy things, for the whole flourishing Church of Ephesus, or of Smyrna; and that we are in this way to account for the single Angel of the several Churches. . . . What can he be but a bishop?”—Ibid., 53-54.
197“The spiritual significance is that these angels are messengers who are responsible for the spiritual welfare of these seven churches and are in the right hand of the Son of Man, indicating possession, protection, and sovereign control. As the churches were to emit light as a lampstand, the leaders of the churches were to project light as stars.”—Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, 45.
198“In early noncanonical Christian literature no historical person connected with the church is ever called an angelos.”—Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 34. “Who shall authorize us to understand the word ‘angels’ as having any connection with the Church of God? No one ever heard (until quite recent times) of such a title being given to any church officer either in Scripture, in history, or in tradition.”—Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, 161.
199“If ‘angel’ means ‘pastor’ here, it is used with this meaning here and nowhere else. If the Lord Jesus meant the pastors of the churches, why did He not say ‘pastors?’ Or why did He not say ‘elders,’ a term which is used in the New Testament as essentially synonymous with ‘pastors,’ and which is later used twelve times in Revelation?”—Morris, The Revelation Record, 45.
200Acts 11:30; 14:23; 15:2-4; 20:17, 28; 21:18; Php. 1:1; 1Th. 5:12; Tit. 1:5; Heb. 13:17; Jas. 5:14; 1Pe. 5:1-5.
201“The individual could scarcely be held responsible for the character of the church, and there is no unambiguous evidence for the idea of episcopal authority in the churches of the Revelation, though it looms large in Ignatius twenty years later.”—Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting, 33.
202“In a city the size of Ephesus, by this time, there must have been a large number of house-churches meeting separately from one another.”—Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 128.
203“Personifications of the prevailing spirit.”—Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 86.
204“This gives the required sense, but raises problems in the usage of symbolism. The ‘stars’ and the ‘lampstands’ of Rev. 1:20+ are made virtually the same thing. Some writers justify this conception by regarding the ‘angel’ as the heavenly counterpart of the earthly church.”—Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting, 33.
205Bullinger suggests an alternate view on the basis that these congregations may have exhibited customs carried over from the Judaism of the synagogue: “The Bible student is at once confronted with an overwhelming difficulty. He has read the Epistles which are addressed to the churches by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul; and, on turning to the Epistles in Rev. 2+ and 3+, he is at once conscious of a striking change. He finds himself suddenly removed from the ground of grace to the ground of works. He meets with church-officers of whom he has never before heard; and with expressions with which he is wholly unfamiliar: and he is bewildered. . . . we do meet with the word Angel in connection with the Synagogue . . . [the] ‘Angel of the Assembly,’ who was the mouthpiece of the congregation. His duty it was to offer up public prayer to God for the whole congregation. Hence his title; because, as the messenger of the assembly, he spoke to God for them. When we have these facts in our hands, why arbitrarily invent the notion that ‘angel’ is equivalent to Bishop, when there is not a particle of historical evidence for it?”—Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, 63, 66.
Copyright © 2004-2020 by Tony Garland
(Content generated on Thu Apr 30 16:37:46 2020)
Apostle John on Isle of Patmos
REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST
THE BIG PICTURE
EVENTS OF THE END TIMES
HISTORICAL SETTING OF REVELATION
Click charts to enlarge
Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Another Chart from Charles Swindoll
NOTE - These comments on Revelation 1 are separate and distinct from the main Revelation Commentary by Tony Garland.
Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,
NET Revelation 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must happen very soon. He made it clear by sending his angel to his servant John,
NLT Revelation 1:1 This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon take place. He sent an angel to present this revelation to his servant John,
ESV Revelation 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
NIV Revelation 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
GNT Revelation 1:1 Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἣν ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ ὁ θεὸς δεῖξαι τοῖς δούλοις αὐτοῦ ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι ἐν τάχει, καὶ ἐσήμανεν ἀποστείλας διὰ τοῦ ἀγγέλου αὐτοῦ τῷ δούλῳ αὐτοῦ Ἰωάννῃ,
KJV Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
ASV Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants, even the things which must shortly come to pass: and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John;
CSB Revelation 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave Him to show His slaves what must quickly take place. He sent it and signified it through His angel to His slave John,
NKJ Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants-- things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,
NRS Revelation 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
YLT Revelation 1:1 A revelation of Jesus Christ, that God gave to him, to shew to his servants what things it behoveth to come to pass quickly; and he did signify it, having sent through his messenger to his servant John,
- Revelation: Da 2:28,29 Am 3:7 Ro 16:25 Ga 1:12 Eph 3:3
- which God: Joh 3:32 8:26 12:49
- to show: Rev 22:6 Ps 25:14 Joh 15:15
- must: Rev 1:3,19 4:1 22:10, 2Pe 3:8
- and he: Rev 22:6,16 Da 8:16 9:21,23
- John: Rev 1:4,9 21:2
- Interpretative Views of Revelation
- See Also Tony Garland's Comments on Revelation 1
GOD TAKES THE LID OFF THE
FINAL CHAPTER OF PLANET EARTH
The Revelation of Jesus Christ - Note first that the title is not "The Revelations (plural)," nor is the title "The Revelation of John." The title of the last book of the Bible, the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The title speaks volumes telling this is the revelation, uncovering (exposing to view by removing the covering), unveiling or disclosure of Jesus Christ, especially of the truths about Him and His victory over all God's enemies. The book of Revelation contains truths that have been concealed, but have now been revealed and made fully known. As an aside, note that although the Revelation nowhere directly quotes the Old Testament, 278 of its 404 verses allude to Old Testament prophetic truths. Thus the Revelation in fact amplifies what was only initially suggested in the Old Testament. Isn't it amazing that a book that God says is an unveiling is one of the books most cloaked in confusion and mystery as the result of the manifold interpretations! Notice the irony in the fact that to many the revelation is not a revealing but a mystery.
Scholars debate whether the is from Jesus Christ or is about Jesus Christ (objective genitive), but taking the entire book in context, it is clear this is revelation from Jesus and about Jesus. Jesus passes on the truth from His Father that He "wins" the victory and He reclaims and restores the planet earth.
Notice that the Greek word for Revelation, apokalupsis, is the antithesis of apocrypha which is from the Greek word apokrupto meaning hide away and so in Latin "aprocrypha scripta" means "hidden writings." The Revelation of Jesus Christ, far from being "hidden words" are in fact "revealed words!"
Revelation (602)(apokalupsis from apó = from + kalúpto = cover, conceal, English = apocalypse) literally means cover from and so the idea is to remove that which conceals something and exposing to open view that which was heretofore not visible, known or disclosed. It means to make manifest or reveal a thing previously secret or unknown. It describes removing of a veil (an unveiling) or covering thus exposing to open view what was concealed. In all its uses, revelation refers to something or someone, once hidden, becoming visible and now made fully known.
It is 2020 as I write and the global pandemic with COVID19 which feels like an apocalypse and makes one think about some of the horrible plagues coming in the Revelation. As bad as it is now with Coronavirus, this is nothing compared to the the Seal, Trumpet and Bowl Judgments.
Lehman Strauss on apokalupsis - The word is used once only in the Gospel records (Luke 2:32+) where it is translated "lighten," referring to one of the purposes of the Incarnation, namely, to draw away the veil of darkness covering the Gentiles as prophesied in Isaiah 25:7. The same word appears frequently in the Epistles and is translated "manifestation" (Romans 8:19), "coming" (1 Corinthians 1:7), "revealed" (2 Thessalonians 1:7), "appearing" (1 Peter 1:7), "revelation" (1 Peter 1:13). This book is therefore all about the manifestation, the coming, the appearing of Jesus Christ. He shall come in like manner as He was seen going up into Heaven (Luke 24:50-52 cf. Acts 1:10-11). At His next "appearing" on the earth, "every eye shall see Him" (Revelation 1:7). It will be His glorious apocalypse. (Ibid)
This book is not intended to be a veiled document full of mysterious symbols,
but an unveiling and clarification of things which have heretofore not been revealed by God.
-- Tony Garland
It is sad to read comments by respected evangelical authors like Kistemaker who says that "The Book of Revelation appears not to accomplish what its title promises, confusing its readers by all the images, figures, and numbers they encounter. (NT Commentary) I strongly disagree with this well known scholar for if Kistemaker is correct, the title of the book is not accurate. God is not a God of confusion but of order. Even from a logical standpoint it would make little sense that in His final Word to man, God would not bring "order" out of the chaos of this sinful world. Indeed by definition the inspired word (not a title given by men) clearly states that this book is an unveiling of Jesus Christ. God accomplishes what He intends in the Revelation for as His servant Joshua (Joshua 23:14) said centuries earlier "not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed" and this statement is true in regard to "the Revelation of Jesus Christ".
John MacArthur also strongly refutes Kistemaker's conclusion that "the Revelation" does not accomplish what its writer promises writing that "The late British prime minister Winston Churchill once described the former Soviet Union as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”many Christians view the book of Revelation in much the same way. Bewildered by its mystifying symbolism and striking imagery, many believers (including some pastors, who never preach through Revelation) avoid serious study of the book. Even John Calvin, the greatest commentator of the Reformation, who wrote commentaries on the other books, did not attempt to write a commentary on Revelation." MacArthur goes on to explain that "Far from being the mysterious, incomprehensible book many imagine it to be, Revelation’s purpose is to reveal truth, not to obscure it. That fact is evident in its title, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev 1:1), primarily in His second coming glory. Apokalupsis (“Revelation”) could be translated “an uncovering,” “an unveiling,” or “a disclosure.”… In each case, apokalupsis describes something (or someone) that was formerly hidden, but now becomes visible. Revelation unveils truths about Jesus Christ, and makes clear features of prophetic truth only hinted at in the Old Testament and other New Testament books. This clarity is often obscured by a rejection of the principles of literal interpretation in favor of an allegorical or spiritualizing hermeneutical method (Ed note: click here for comments on Revelation commentaries). Such approaches attempt to place Revelation’s account in the past and present rather than the future. But once the plain meaning of the text is denied, an interpreter is left to his own imagination, and the truths of this book are lost in a maze of human inventions void of authenticity."… Many people are confused by the book of Revelation, viewing it as a mysterious, bizarre, indecipherable mystery. But nothing could be further from the truth. Far from hiding the truth, the book of Revelation reveals it. This is the last chapter in God’s story of redemption. It tells how it all ends. As the account of the Creation in the beginning was not vague or obscure, but clear, so God has given a detailed and lucid record of the ending. It is unthinkable to believe that God would speak with precision and clarity from Genesis to Jude, and then when it comes to the end abandon all precision and clarity. Yet, many theologians today think Revelation is not the precise record of the end in spite of what it says. They also are convinced that its mysteries are so vague that the end is left in confusion. As we shall see in this commentary, this is a serious error that strips the saga of redemption of its climax as given by God." (MacArthur, J. Revelation 1-11. Chicago: Moody Press or - this work is also highly recommended for it's lucid, literal, balanced interpretation)
W. A. Criswell, long-time pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, gave the following explanation as to why Christ must yet be revealed in glory:
The first time our Lord came into this world, He came in the veil of our flesh. His deity was covered over with His manhood. His Godhead was hidden by His humanity. Just once in a while did His deity shine through, as on the Mount of Transfiguration, or as in His miraculous works. But most of the time the glory, the majesty, the deity, the wonder and the marvel of the Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, were veiled. These attributes were covered over in flesh, in our humanity. He was born in a stable. He grew up in poverty. He knew what it was to hunger and to thirst. He was buffeted and beaten and bruised. He was crucified and raised up as a felon before the scoffing gaze of the whole earth. The last time that this world saw Jesus was when it saw Him hanging in shame, misery and anguish upon the cross. He later appeared to a few of His believing disciples, but the last time that this unbelieving world ever saw Jesus was when it saw Him die as a malefactor, as a criminal, crucified on a Roman cross. That was a part of the plan of God, a part of the immeasurable, illimitable grace and love of our Lord. “By His stripes we are healed.”
But then is that all the world is ever to see of our Saviour—dying in shame on a cross? No! It is also a part of the plan of God that some day this unbelieving, this blaspheming, this godless world shall see the Son of God in His full character, in glory, in majesty, in the full-orbed wonder and marvel of His Godhead. Then all men shall look upon Him as He really is. They shall see Him holding in His hands the title-deed to the Universe, holding in His hands the authority of all creation in the universe above us, in the universe around us, and in the universe beneath us; holding this world and its destiny in His pierced and loving hands. (Expository Sermons on Revelation [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969], 1:16–17) (Quoted by John MacArthur)
Tony Garland adds that a major source of difficulty in understanding the Revelation "is the variety of interpretations resulting from those who undertake to study the book and explain it to others. “It is doubtless true that no other book, whether in sacred or profane literature, has received in whole or in part so many different interpretations.” (Beckwith) Many of these interpretations are more enigmatic than the book itself. “The literary genius G.K. Chesterson once quipped, ‘Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creatures so wild as one of his own commentators.’ ” (Randall Price) This variety of interpretive results has been damaging to the cause of Christ and was certainly not His intention when He first gave it to His servant John.
THE PURPOSE OF
THE BOOK "TO SHOW"
Which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants - The verb show means God desires to make this truth clear by bringing it to light. His ultimate recipient (see pattern below) are those men and women who are His bond-servants. So one reason some do not understand the Revelation is because they are not His bond-servants. They are not born again. They lack the indwelling Spirit of Truth to illuminate the Word of Truth. As Garland says "who hear His voice (John 10:3, 16, 27; Acts 22:14; Heb. 3:7, 15; Heb 4:7) and respond in faith. Those who lack faith in the Son are unable to comprehend what is shown here (the he quotes MacArthur). "This is why unbelievers find the book of Revelation incomprehensible; it was not intended for them. It was given by the Father to the Son to show to those who willingly serve Him. Those who refuse to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord cannot expect to comprehend this book. “A natural man,” explains Paul, “does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1Cor. 2:14+).
In John's Gospel Jesus Himself gives us a clear clue about how we can know and understand the Revelation...
If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. (Joh 7:17ESV)
Henry Morris - Thus the first prerequisite to ascertaining God's leading in some matter, or the truth about some doctrinal question, is a genuine willingness to believe the truth and to follow God's will before they are made known, even if the answer goes against one's preference.
THOUGHT - If you are not willing to obey the truth you know, you are not likely to know the truth of the Revelation.
Lehman Strauss says "If the Revelation is a closed book to the majority of God's children, it is quite possible that for this very reason it is so. Eight times in the book we find the admonition, "He that hath an ear, let him hear" (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9). It takes the circumcised ear of a willing bondslave of Jesus Christ to hear with the understanding the truths set forth in this book (see Exodus 21:1-6 cf. Jeremiah 5:21; 6:10). It was never God's intention to hold back the meaning of the Revelation, but rather to show, to exhibit, to make known its meaning. All who willingly submit to Christ will have little difficulty with this book. (The Book of the Revelation: Outlined Studies)
of the Revelation
- Begins with God
- Gave it to Jesus Christ
- Jesus communicated to His angel
- Jesus' angel communicated it to His bond-servant John
- John wrote it down to who God's bond-servants.
Show (1166)(deiknuo) means to show and has the sense of (1) to draw attention to, to point out, to show, to make known, to exhibit something (by visual, auditory, gestural, or linguistic means) so that it can be apprehended by the senses, to cause to see (Mt 4:8, Lk 4:5, Mt 8:4) or (2) to show so as to prove something is true or to make clear by evidence or reasoning. Show in the sense of demonstrate or prove as in Jas 3:13). To exhibit or present to the view of others. To explain the meaning or significance of something by demonstration. Note the concentration of deiknuo in the most "graphic" NT book, the Revelation, or the revealing = Rev. 1:1; Rev. 4:1; Rev. 17:1; Rev. 21:9; Rev. 21:10; Rev. 22:1; Rev. 22:6; Rev. 22:8. How interesting that in the "revealing" we repeatedly encounter the verb to show, and specifically to show what God's plan is for the consummation of this age. Note that it is the bondservants who will be shown these heretofore previously unrevealed truths! Little wonder that many do not understand (and/or are frightened by the book of the Revelation, for they are not His bondservants, but in fact are "earth dwellers"!). Note especially that 5 of the 33 "showings" are related to heaven! God wants us to see this preview of coming attractions, that we might be motivated to live accordingly. Mark it down that what you are looking for will determine how you live, for this world or the next
Bondservant (Slave, servant) (1401)(doulos from deo = to bind) an individual bound to another in servitude and conveys the idea of the slave's close, binding ties with his master, belonging to him, obligated to and desiring to do his will and in a permanent relation of servitude. In sum, the will of the doulos is consumed in the will of the master. A bondservant is one who surrendered wholly to another’s will and thus devoted to another to the disregard of his own interest. Believers in Jesus Christ are not their own but had been bought with the price of the blood of Christ and are now the property of Christ, His exclusive slaves. No man can serve two masters (Mt 6:24+). Believers once were slaves of Sin (viewed an a entity, a "master" or "king") by birth in Adam's likeness (Ro 5:12), but now in covenant with Christ they have become slaves of Christ by the new birth. Bond-servants have no will of their own, no business of their own, no time of their own and to dedicated to their Master, Christ; dependent upon His Spirit to obey His will.
He had no rights
No right to a soft bed, and a well-laid table.
No right to a home of His own, a place where His own pleasure might be sought.
No right to choose pleasant, congenial companions, those who could understand Him and sympathize with Him.
No right to shrink away from filth and sin, to pull His garments closer around Him and turn aside to walk in cleaner paths.
No right to be understood and appreciated; no, not by those upon whom He had poured out a double portion of His love.
No right even never to be forsaken by His Father, the One who meant more than all to Him.
His only right was silently to endure shame, spitting, blows; to take His place as a sinner at the dock; to bear my sins in anguish on the cross.
He had no rights. And I?
A right to the “comforts” of life? No, but a right to the love of God for my pillow.
A right to physical safety? No, but a right to the security of being in His will.
A right to love and sympathy from those around me? No, but a right to the friendship of the One who understands me better than I do myself.
A right to be a leader among men? No, but the right to be led by the One to whom I have given my all, led as is a little child, with its hand in the hand of its father.
A right to a home, and dear ones? No, not necessarily, but a right to dwell in the heart of God.
A right to myself? No, but oh, I have a right to Christ.
All that He takes I will give.
ll that He gives I will take.
He, my only right!
He, the one right before which all other rights fade into nothingness.
I have full right to Him.
Oh, may He have full right to me!
A tachometer is an instrument for measuring speed, revolutions per minute (RPM) displayed on a dial. Tachometer comes from Greek táchos for "speed") and métron for "measure". In short a tachometer measures velocity, how fast a car is going. When the motor is off the tachometer is not moving. But once the motor is turned on the tachometer moves. By the same token, when the events of Revelation begin to take place, they will move speedily. The divine tachometer will be spinning fast. When the first Seal on the scroll is broken by Jesus, the events in the Revelation of Jesus Christ begin to move quickly and irrevocably toward the consummation of this present age in which we now live.
The things which must soon take place - What are the things? The prophetic passages, especially Revelation 6-19 and then Revel 22. Notice the verb must which means the events in Revelation are not maybe but must, not optional but integral to the consummation of God's redemptive plan for the ages. God said that certain things must take place, so if God said it that settles it, whether we understand these things or not! "The things which transpire here are not without Scriptural foundation and this is the very reason they must take place." (Garland)
Must (necessary, ought) (1163)(dei from deo = to bind or tie objects together, put in prison and also root of doulos, bond-servant) refers to what is not optional but needful (binding) out of intrinsic necessity or inevitability. Dei refers to inward constraint which is why it is often translated "must". Dei describes that which is under the necessity of happening or which must necessarily take place, and as stated above, conveys a sense of inevitability. To express the sense of necessity dei is translated "one ought", "one should", "one has to" or "one must". In English dictionaries must means to be obliged and expresses both physical and moral necessity or insistence. Must speaks of something that should not be overlooked or missed. In the Scriptures prophecies are often described as that which must happen indicating they are guaranteed to transpire. For example Jesus declares "You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end." (Mt 24:6+, cf Mt 16:21, Acts 1:16 - "had to be fulfilled"; 2 Cor 5:10+; 2 Pe 3:11+).
Soon (quickly)(5034)(tachos) with speed, haste, swiftness; adverbially as in Lk 18:8+ ("en tachei") means without delay, at once, speedily. Tachos is used in the first and last chapter of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, here in the first verse of the first chapter (Rev 1:1+) and then in the last chapter John recording "And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place." (Rev 22:6+) The idea of tachos is better understood as meaning swiftly. In other words, when God acts it will be swift. So once God begins to act (in the presence context of 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls) He will move fast and accomplish His purposes in a relatively short time.
Lehman Strauss says "When the things in this book come to pass, they will "speedily happen." God has borne along with men patiently, and while some ridicule the prophecies of this book, they fail to see that God is longsuffering (2 Peter 3:9+). But the end will come, and when it does it will be marked by suddenness and swiftness. The events will come to pass speedily. Thus the purpose of the Revelation is to show beforehand those things that will speedily happen."
And He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John - He refers to Jesus Who provides "an explanation for something that is enigmatic." (BDAG) That is a good description of the Revelation which explains something that is enigmatic (perplexing, ambiguous, inexpliable) to the unbelieving world and sadly still enigmatic to many believers because of the plethora of proposed interpretations! Remember that Scripture has only one literal meaning, although it can have multiple interpretations.
Communicated (made clear)(4591)(semaino from semma = a mark or sign) has a basic meaning of intentionally producing an impression and thus signaling or signifying something, to make known, to report, to communicate (Acts 25:27 = "indicate the charges", Rev 1:1 = served to communicate and give a prophecy). John uses semaino three times in describing how Jesus would die (Jn 12:33, 18:32) and how Peter would die (John 21:19). In the context of making known before it means to prophetically foretell (Jn 12:33 - Jesus predicting His death). In the Lxx of Nu 10:9 the idea is to give a public sign or signal. In the Lxx uses in Ezekiel the idea was to sound an alarm, blow a trumpet (Ezek 33:3, 33:6, cf Jer 4:5).
THOUGHT - Now think about the words used even in opening verse - revelation, show, communicated. What do these say about the God's heart regarding this last book of the Bible? Do they not reiterate that the desire of God is that we know the truths in this great book. God knows that if we know these truths, they will impact the way we live, seeking to redeem the short time left (Eph 5:16+), diligently striving to "to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world," (Php 2:15+) so that we might obey Jesus' command to "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in heaven." (Mt 5:16+)
Lehman Strauss on John - There is no question that the John mentioned in the Revelation is the son of Zebedee and Salome and the brother of James (Mark 1:19-20; 15:40). His occupation was that of a fisherman (Matthew 4:21). He heard John the Baptist preach and became a follower of Jesus Christ (John 1:35, 40). He was one of the three whom Jesus took with Him on several special occasions (Matthew 17:1; 26:37; Mark 5:37). John also was one of the two sent by Christ to prepare the Passover (Luke 22:8). He is referred to as "that disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20), and is mentioned three times in the Acts (Acts 3:1; 4:13; 8:14). He wrote five books of the New Testament, and only he uses Christ's title of "the Word" (Logos). (See John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1; 5:7; Revelation 19:13). (The Book of the Revelation: Outlined Studies)
Who wrote the book of the Revelation? Peter writes that "no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." (2 Pet 1:21+) Revelation was written by a man moved by the Spirit, a man who identifies himself as John....
I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 1:9)
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. (Revelation 22:8)
Dr Adrian Rogers answers the question "What Profit is Prophecy?"
I am always amazed by people who say we shouldn't study prophecy. Some fear we will go off into fanaticism. Others think prophecy is simply "pie in the sky by and by." Still others feel prophecy is unrelated to reality. But one-fourth of the Bible is given over to prophecy! Did the Holy Spirit make a mistake? Of course not! There is an incredible, wonderful blessing in the study of prophecy. Here are six benefits of prophecy:
(1) Prophecy Will Lead You to Praise
Revelation 1:3 says, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand." In a world that seems to be filled with random acts of violence and terrorism, we need to see that God has a plan and the God of that plan is worthy to be praised.
If you know prophecy, you can sit back and say, "I've already looked in the back of the book for the answers. The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ."
(2) Prophecy Will Help You Make Sense Out of Suffering
If you get all of your theology from your circumstances, you'll be hopelessly confused. Romans 8:18 says, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us."
Through prophecy, we understand that God is not finished yet. The tragedies of this earth will be turned into the triumphs of heaven.
(3) Prophecy Will Lead You to Rejoice in God's Justice
Paul wrote, "Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts" (1 Corinthians 4:5).
If you are a student of prophecy, you understand that things don't end here on earth with man's judgment. God will have the last word in the judgment halls of eternity.
Prophecy allows us to understand the mystery of history, make sense of our suffering, and rejoice in God's justice as prophetic events unfold.
(4) Prophecy Will Cause You to Pray
Prophecy leads to intercession. The last prayer in the Bible is Revelation 22:20: "even so, come, Lord Jesus." Jesus taught us to pray, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). When God prophecies that something is going to happen, somehow we see those events unfold as His children pray. I cannot explain how God's ultimate sovereignty works with our prayers, but I know it does from the pages of His Word.
(5) Prophecy Will Lead You to Purity
1 John 3:2-3 says, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." That is prophecy! If you really believe that Jesus Christ is coming again, you are going to live a clean life. We ought never to take our eyes off the fact that Jesus is coming.
(6) Prophecy Will Lead You to Proclamation
Revelation 19:10c says, "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." All prophecy is a witness to the truth that Jesus is coming back — that people need to be ready for His return.
What are you doing to warn people to flee from the wrath to come? Paul knew that there was an everlasting hell (see 2 Corinthians 5:10-11). It's not enough for us to sit around and try to discover the divine mysteries of prophecy. We need to bring people to Jesus Christ!
The real test of whether you believe Bible prophecy
is if you have your feet on the sidewalk of soul-winning
instead of your head in the clouds of prophecy.
If you believe Jesus is coming back,
you will have a burning passion to bring people to Him.
Jesus came as an evangelist. And He's called you to do the same. Will you pray, "Lord, lay some soul upon my heart and win that soul through me"?
Is there profit in prophecy? Praise the Lord, there is! What a wonderful thing to know that we are soon going to meet the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Revelation 1:2 who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.
NET Revelation 1:2 who then testified to everything that he saw concerning the word of God and the testimony about Jesus Christ.
NLT Revelation 1:2 who faithfully reported everything he saw. This is his report of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
ESV Revelation 1:2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.
NIV Revelation 1:2 who testifies to everything he saw--that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
GNT Revelation 1:2 ὃς ἐμαρτύρησεν τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ὅσα εἶδεν.
KJV Revelation 1:2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
ASV Revelation 1:2 who bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, even of all things that he saw.
CSB Revelation 1:2 who testified to God's word and to the testimony about Jesus Christ, in all he saw.
NKJ Revelation 1:2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.
NRS Revelation 1:2 who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.
YLT Revelation 1:2 who did testify the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, as many things also as he did see.
- bare: Rev 1:9 6:9 12:11,17 Joh 1:32 12:17 19:35 21:24 1Co 1:6 2:1 1Jn 5:7-11 3Jn 1:12
- and of all: Rev 1:19 Joh 3:11 Ac 4:20 22:15 26:16 1Jn 1:1 4:14
Who testified to the word of God - John testifies that this was His testimony not something he had heard from someone else. Revelation is a "first person account," from an eyewitness who is telling us all he saw.
Testified (witnessed, gain approval) (3140) martureo from mártus = witness = one who has information or knowledge of something and can bring to light or confirm something. English = martyr) in its most basic sense refers to a legal witness. Thus the verb martureo means to be a witness, to testify, to give evidence, to give testimony, to bear record, to affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something. The words testified related to fact, not opinion, as in a courtroom setting. Webster's 1828 says that to testify means "To make a solemn declaration, verbal or written, to establish some fact; to give testimony for the purpose of communicating to others a knowledge of something not known to them." Martureo is a used more often by John than by any other writer. - Jn. 1:7; Jn. 1:8; Jn. 1:15; Jn. 1:32; Jn. 1:34; Jn. 2:25; Jn. 3:11; Jn. 3:26; Jn. 3:28; Jn. 3:32; Jn. 4:39; Jn. 4:44; Jn. 5:31; Jn. 5:32; Jn. 5:33; Jn. 5:36; Jn. 5:37; Jn. 5:39; Jn. 7:7; Jn. 8:13; Jn. 8:14; Jn. 8:18; Jn. 10:25; Jn. 12:17; Jn. 13:21; Jn. 15:26; Jn. 15:27; Jn. 18:23; Jn. 18:37; Jn. 19:35; Jn. 21:24; 1 Jn. 1:2; 1 Jn. 4:14; 1 Jn. 5:6; 1 Jn. 5:7; 1 Jn. 5:9; 1 Jn. 5:10; 3 Jn. 1:3; 3 Jn. 1:6; 3 Jn. 1:12; Rev. 1:2; Rev. 22:16; Rev. 22:18; Rev. 22:20
and to the testimony of Jesus Christ - "John bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ. Those phrases appear together again in 1:9 (cf. 12:17), and are used synonymously, since “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (19:10). The word of God expressed in the book of Revelation is the testimony about the coming glory of Jesus Christ given to His church (cf. 22:16) and recorded by His faithful witness, John." (MacArthur)
Even to all that he saw - So at the outset we learn that the Revelation is a very "visual" book.
John MacArthur writes that "The Gospels are also about Jesus Christ, but present Him in His first coming in humiliation; the book of Revelation presents Him in His second coming in exaltation. Every vision and description of Him in Revelation is one of majesty, power, and glory." (MNTC-Rev)
Illustration of the Importance of Being a Witness - WHEN the Titanic went under, three messages had been sent that said to watch out for the icebergs. Because everything looked all right, the folks taking the message never passed it on. They never sent the warning out to people who needed to hear and, as a result, over fifteen hundred people lost their lives. The folks who knew kept quiet. Another tragedy of the Titanic was that the lifeboats, designed to carry people away from the sinking ship, were only half full. People who had made it to safety in the lifeboats didn’t want to turn around and go pick up people who were dying. They didn’t want to take the risk of panicking people flipping over their boat. So the people who were saved and safe kept on going. Fifteen hundred people didn’t have to die, but they did. The folks who were saved didn’t want to go back because it was risky. Sharing the Gospel has risks—the risk of rejection, the risk of being made fun of, the risk of being called “holier than thou,” the risk of being called “Reverend,” the risk of being avoided, the risk of being asked questions you don’t know the answer to. Yes, there are risks, but when someone is dying, offering them the gift of salvation is worth the risk. (Tony Evans)
Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
NET Revelation 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy aloud, and blessed are those who hear and obey the things written in it, because the time is near!
NLT Revelation 1:3 God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.
ESV Revelation 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
NIV Revelation 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
GNT Revelation 1:3 μακάριος ὁ ἀναγινώσκων καὶ οἱ ἀκούοντες τοὺς λόγους τῆς προφητείας καὶ τηροῦντες τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ γεγραμμένα, ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς ἐγγύς.
KJV Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
ASV Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein: for the time is at hand.
CSB Revelation 1:3 The one who reads this is blessed, and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it are blessed, because the time is near!
NKJ Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
NRS Revelation 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near.
YLT Revelation 1:3 Happy is he who is reading, and those hearing, the words of the prophecy, and keeping the things written in it -- for the time is nigh!
- Blessed: Rev 22:7 Pr 8:34 Da 12:12,13 Lu 11:28
- for: Rev 22:6,10,12,20 Ro 13:11 Jas 5:8,9 1Pe 4:7 2Pe 3:8
Blessed is he who reads - Far from "frightening" you as so many say, the Revelation of Jesus Christ will bless you if you read it. But you must read with an open mind and a willingness to be taught by the Spirit of truth. You will not understand everything John describes (no one else does either), but you will understand enough to experience blessing. However, the promise of blessing is predicated on the next two phrases. As an aside before you read a host of commentaries on the Revelation, spend time reading the words of the Revelation, asking the Spirit of truth to illuminate the truth of this book to your heart and mind and soul. Note that read, hear and heed are all in the present tense calling for these actions to be our lifestyle. Revelation should never be "one and done," but should be read again and again! And why not? Is it not encouraging to read that Jesus wins? When trials and afflictions assail us it is the sure hope that Jesus will be triumphant over all evil and evildoers which enables us to keep on keeping on! When was the last time you read the Revelation? Read it and be encouraged and filled with hope for your future!
Blessed (3107) makarios from root makar, but others say from mak = large or lengthy) means to be happy, but not in the usual sense of happiness based on positive circumstances. From the Biblical perspective Makarios describes the person who is free from daily cares and worries because his every breath and circumstance is in the hands of His Maker Who gives him such an assurance (such a "blessing"). Makarios was used to describe the kind of happiness that comes from receiving divine favor.
Makarios is used seven times in the Revelation - Seven Beatitudes in the Revelation:
- Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
- Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”
- Revelation 16:15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”)
- Revelation 19:9 Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.”
- Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
- Revelation 22:7 “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”
- Revelation 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.
And those who hear the words of the prophecy - Prophecy in this context means primarily events yet to come to pass (exception is Rev 2-3 addressed churches in John's day). In other words, John's incredible words are not just to be in one ear and out the other. It is one thing to hear with one's ears, but quite another to hear with one's heart and/or to believe what is heard! The implication is that you are to believe what you read. James says it this way "putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness (CONFESS YOUR SINS), in humility receive ( dechomai = PUT THE WELCOME MAT OUT FOR) the word implanted, which is able (HAS THE SUPERNATURAL POWER) to save your souls (James 1:21+)
Prophecy (4394)(propheteia from pró = before or forth + phemí = to tell, to speak) has the literal meaning of speaking forth, with no connotation of prediction or other supernatural or mystical significance. Propheteia can refer to either spoken or written words. Vine writes that "Though much of OT prophecy was purely predictive, see Micah 5:2, e.g., and cp. John 11:51, prophecy is not necessarily, nor even primarily, fore-telling. It is the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means, Mt 26:68, it is the forth-telling of the will of God, whether with reference to the past, the present, or the future, see Ge 20:7; Dt. 18:18; Rev 10:11; Rev 11:3."
Propheteia is used 19 times in the NT with seven uses in the Revelation
- Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
- Revelation 11:6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.
- Revelation 19:10 Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he *said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
- Revelation 22:7 “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”
- Revelation 22:10 And he *said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.
- Revelation 22:18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;
- Revelation 22:19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
And heed the things which are written in it - Again to quote James "prove (present imperative see our need to depend on the Holy Spirit to obey) yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." (James 1:22+) To heed means to be a doer of what you have heard.
Jesus said "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” (Luke 11:28+)
Heed ( observe) (5083)(tereo from teros - a guard or warden) means to keep an eye on, to keep something in view, to hold firmly, to attend carefully, or to watch over it (watchful care - Jesus' prayer to His Father for His disciples - Jn 17:11). Tereo speaks of watching over, of taking care of, of guarding something which is in one’s possession keeping it from loss or injury. It means to watch as one would some precious thing. The idea is to observe attentively, to heed, to keep watch over and to retain in custody.
Tereo with the idea of obey - Mt 19:17, Mt 23:3 (tereo = observe), Mt 28:20, Jn 8:51, 52 (one who keeps Jesus' Word = a believer = one who will never see the second death in hell), Jn 9:16 (keep = observe the Sabbath), Jn 14:15 (description of a genuine disciple - love is not just with one's lips but is validated by one's life lived in loving obedience to God), Jn 14:21, 23, 24 (no love = no obedience = not a believer - Note Jesus is not talking about legalistic obedience but Spirit enabled obedience which is the only obedience that pleases the Father!), Jn 15:10 (used twice), Jn 15:20 (used twice), Jn 17:6 (the 11 disciples), Acts 15:5, 1Ti 6:14, James 2:10, 1Jn 2:3, 4, 5, 3:22, 1Jn 3:24, 1Jn 5:2, 3, Rev 1:3 (heed), Rev 2:26, 3:3, 3:8, 3:10, 12:17, 14:12, Rev 22:7 (heeds), Rev 22:9.
All the uses of tereo in the Revelation many reiterating the importance of obedience in the last days (we are IN the last days beloved!) and even alluding to the fact that it will cost to keep/heed the Word of Truth!
- Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
- Revelation 2:26 ‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS;
- Revelation 3:3 ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.
- Revelation 3:8 ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
- Revelation 3:10 ‘Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
- Revelation 12:17 So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
- Revelation 14:12 Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
- Revelation 16:15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”)
- Revelation 22:7 “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”
- Revelation 22:9 But he *said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.”
Written (1125)(grapho from root graph- = primarily means to scratch on or engrave as on an ornament, reports, letters, etc; English = graph, graphic, etc) means to engrave or inscribe with a pen or stylus characters or letters on a surface which can be wood, wax, metal, leather, stone, parchment, dirt (John ), paper, etc. Written is in the perfect tense signifying it was written in the past and stands written, that is with ongoing, permanent authority (cf Mt 24:35).
Uses of grapho in the Revelation
- Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
- Revelation 1:11 saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
- Revelation 1:19 “Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.
- Revelation 2:1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:
- Revelation 2:8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:
- Revelation 2:12 ( “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:
- Revelation 2:17 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’
- Revelation 2:18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this:
- Revelation 3:1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
- Revelation 3:7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:
- Revelation 3:12 ‘He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.
- Revelation 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
- Revelation 5:1 I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals.
- Revelation 10:4 When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.”
- Revelation 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
- Revelation 14:1 Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.
- Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”
- Revelation 17:5 and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
- Revelation 17:8 “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.
- Revelation 19:9 Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.”
- Revelation 19:12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.
- Revelation 19:16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
- Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.
- Revelation 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
- Revelation 21:5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
- Revelation 21:27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
- Revelation 22:18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;
- Revelation 22:19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
Strauss - No book in the Bible has an introduction and a conclusion quite like this one. It commences with a promised blessing (Rev 1:3) and closes with a promised blessing (Rev 22:7). Altogether there are seven beatitudes, the word "blessed" appearing seven times. It is the same word used by our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-11). The beatitudes of the Revelation provide seven texts for an interesting study:
- The Blessed Challenge (1:3)
- The Blessed Comfort (14:13)
- The Blessed Cautiousness (16:15)
- The Blessed Calling (19:9)
- The Blessed Conquest (20:6)
- The Blessed Cherishing (22:7)
- The Blessed Conformity (22:14)
In the text before us there are three requisites necessary to receiving the promised blessing. First, "Blessed is he that readeth." The reader here is no doubt the lector, the one whose duty it was to read publicly in the synagogue or church (Luke 4:16-20; Acts 13:14, 27; 15:21; 2 Corinthians 3:15). Paul might have had this in mind when he said to Timothy, "Give attendance to reading" (1 Timothy 4:13). In the early days of the Church before the invention of the printing press, a limited number of handwritten copies necessitated a public reader to go from church to church. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that the promised blessing is to all who take up this book and read it with regularity and reverence.
Secondly, the blessing is promised to those that "hear the words of this prophecy." It is, as we have already stated, the open (or circumcised) ear that is required. This admonition is of such tremendous import, it appears at the very commencement, and again at the close of the Book (22:18).
Thirdly, the blessing is promised to all who "keep those things which are written therein." F. W. Grant said, "This 'keeping' is observing them in such a way that our practical conduct shall be governed by them." To keep is to give heed to, as of keeping our Lord's commandments (John 14:15; 15:10; 17:6; 1 John 2:3-5; 3:22-24; Revelation 2:26; 3:8, 10; 12:17; 14:12; 22:7, 9).
for (gar) - Term of explanation. John explains that there is some urgency in reading, hearing and heeding this message. It is not a message you want to discard to read at a later time. Read it today. Heed it today. Your today and your tomorrow will be blessed forever and ever.
the time is near - What time? The time of the end of this present evil age (Gal 1:4+), which will end with the triumphant return of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:11-16+). His return is always imminent, and so the time is always "near." Are you ready to meet Him? Do you know His as your Savior/Redeemer/Friend or do you know Him only as Judge? There is no middle ground -- you are either for Him or against Him and this truth will become crystal clear (every eye will see Him - Rev 1:7+, cf Php 2:10-11+) when He returns, but then it will be too late. If you know Jesus only as Judge, then today is your day of salvation, today is the acceptable time (2 Cor 6:2) and you dare not put off receiving Him as your Savior, Redeemer and Friend, Who will rescue you from the wrath to come (1 Th 1:10+).
Most of the world (including sadly many in the professing church) will continue to scoff at John's words that the time is near, even as Peter prophesied they would ask
“Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” (2 Pet. 3:4+)
Paul wrote almost 2000 years ago warning the saints at Rome regarding the shortness of time
Do this, knowing the time (kairos) that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on (aorist imperative see our need to depend on the Holy Spirit to obey) the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision (present imperative with a negative see our need to depend on the Holy Spirit to obey) for the flesh in regard to its lusts.(Ro 13:11-14+)
Time (season, opportunity, epoch) (2540)(kairos) refers not to clock time as we normally think of it (that is the Greek chronos), but refers to a season of time, a given period of time. Think of fruit on a tree. The tree only bears fruit in a certain season. The "fruit" in this context is the appearance of our Savior in His "season." And John says the "fruit tree" is ripening (so to speak) and will soon bear fruit! For some this will be a day of great joy but for most of mankind (sadly) it will be a time of dread and gloom for all who have rejected God's free gift of salvation by grace through faith. When this tree bears fruit so to speak, it will be too late to believe in Jesus! Dear honest skeptic, don't procrastinate, for your eternity hangs in the balance and you are being kept back from the flames of eternal torment by nothing but a "spider's web" of grace! And when the web of grace "breaks," it will be too late!
Kairos in the Revelation:
- Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
- Revelation 11:18 “And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came ("THE FRUIT WAS RIPE TO BE HARVESTED") for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”
- Revelation 12:12 “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.” (IN CONTEXT - 3.5 YEARS - THE GREAT TRIBULATION - 1260 DAYS - 42 MONTHS - TIME, TIMES AND HALF A TIME).
- Revelation 12:14 But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she *was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. (IN CONTEXT - 3.5 YEARS - THE GREAT TRIBULATION - 1260 DAYS - 42 MONTHS - TIME, TIMES AND HALF A TIME).
- Revelation 22:10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.
Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,
NET Revelation 1:4 From John, to the seven churches that are in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from "he who is," and who was, and who is still to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,
NLT Revelation 1:4 This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne;
ESV Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,
NIV Revelation 1:4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,
GNT Revelation 1:4 Ἰωάννης ταῖς ἑπτὰ ἐκκλησίαις ταῖς ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ· χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν ἑπτὰ πνευμάτων ἃ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου αὐτοῦ
KJV Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
ASV Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from him who is and who was and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits that are before his throne;
CSB Revelation 1:4 John: To the seven churches in Asia. Grace and peace to you from the One who is, who was, and who is coming; from the seven spirits before His throne;
NKJ Revelation 1:4 John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,
NRS Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,
YLT Revelation 1:4 John to the seven assemblies that are in Asia: Grace to you, and peace, from Him who is, and who was, and who is coming, and from the Seven Spirits that are before His throne,
- John: Rev 1:1
- to the: Rev 1:11,20 2:1,8,12,18 3:1,7,14 Ac 19:10 1Pe 1:1
- Grace: Ro 1:7 1Co 1:3 2Co 1:2 1Pe 1:2
- him: Rev 1:8 Ex 3:14 Ps 90:2 102:25-27 Isa 41:4 57:15 Mic 5:2 Joh 1:1 Heb 1:10-13 13:8 Jas 1:17
- from the: Rev 3:1 4:5 5:6 Zec 3:9 4:10 6:5 1Co 12:4-13
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,
Revelation 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood--
NET Revelation 1:5 and from Jesus Christ– the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood
NLT Revelation 1:5 and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world.All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us.
ESV Revelation 1:5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood
NIV Revelation 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
GNT Revelation 1:5 καὶ ἀπὸ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ μάρτυς, ὁ πιστός, ὁ πρωτότοκος τῶν νεκρῶν καὶ ὁ ἄρχων τῶν βασιλέων τῆς γῆς. Τῷ ἀγαπῶντι ἡμᾶς καὶ λύσαντι ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ,
KJV Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
ASV Revelation 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood;
CSB Revelation 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has set us free from our sins by His blood,
NKJ Revelation 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
NRS Revelation 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood,
YLT Revelation 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born out of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth; to him who did love us, and did bathe us from our sins in his blood,
- who is: Rev 3:14 Ps 89:36,37 Isa 55:4 Joh 3:11,32 8:14-16 18:37 1Ti 6:13 1Jn 5:7-10
- and the first: Ac 26:23 1Co 15:20-23 Col 1:18
- and the prince: Rev 11:15 17:14 19:16 Ps 72:11 89:27 Pr 8:15,16 Da 2:2 7:14 Mt 28:18 Eph 1:20-22 1Ti 6:15
- him: De 7:8 23:5 Joh 13:1,34 15:9 Ro 8:37 Ga 2:20 Eph 2:4 5:2,25-27 1Jn 4:10
- washed: Rev 7:14 Zec 13:1 Joh 13:8-10 Ac 20:28 1Co 6:11 Heb 9:14 1Pe 1:19 1Jn 1:7
and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood
Revelation 1:6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father--to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
NET Revelation 1:6 and has appointed us as a kingdom, as priests serving his God and Father– to him be the glory and the power for ever and ever! Amen.
NLT Revelation 1:6 He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
ESV Revelation 1:6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
NIV Revelation 1:6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
GNT Revelation 1:6 καὶ ἐποίησεν ἡμᾶς βασιλείαν, ἱερεῖς τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ, αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα καὶ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας [τῶν αἰώνων]· ἀμήν.
KJV Revelation 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
ASV Revelation 1:6 and he made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
CSB Revelation 1:6 and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father-- the glory and dominion are His forever and ever. Amen.
NKJ Revelation 1:6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
NRS Revelation 1:6 and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
YLT Revelation 1:6 and did make us kings and priests to his God and Father, to him is the glory and the power to the ages of the ages! Amen.
- made: Rev 5:10 20:6 Ex 19:6 Isa 61:6 Ro 12:1 1Pe 2:5-9
- to him: Rev 4:11 5:12-14 Ps 72:18,19 Da 4:34 Mt 6:13 Joh 5:23 Php 2:11 1Ti 6:16 Heb 13:21 1Pe 4:11 5:11 2Pe 3:18 Jude 1:25
and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father--to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 1:7 BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
NET Revelation 1:7 (Look! He is returning with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the tribes on the earth will mourn because of him. This will certainly come to pass! Amen.)
NLT Revelation 1:7 Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him-- even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen!
ESV Revelation 1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
NIV Revelation 1:7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
GNT Revelation 1:7 Ἰδοὺ ἔρχεται μετὰ τῶν νεφελῶν, καὶ ὄψεται αὐτὸν πᾶς ὀφθαλμὸς καὶ οἵτινες αὐτὸν ἐξεκέντησαν, καὶ κόψονται ἐπ᾽ αὐτὸν πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς. ναί, ἀμήν.
KJV Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
ASV Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him. Even so, Amen.
CSB Revelation 1:7 Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, including those who pierced Him. And all the families of the earth will mourn over Him. This is certain. Amen.
NKJ Revelation 1:7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
NRS Revelation 1:7 Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen.
YLT Revelation 1:7 Lo, he doth come with the clouds, and see him shall every eye, even those who did pierce him, and wail because of him shall all the tribes of the land. Yes! Amen!
- he cometh: Rev 14:14-16 Ps 97:2 Isa 19:1 Da 7:13 Na 1:3 Mt 24:30 26:64 Mk 13:26 14:62 Lu 21:27 Ac 1:9-11 1Th 4:17
- and every: Rev 22:4 Nu 24:17 Job 19:26,27 33:26 1Th 1:10 1Jn 3:2 Jude 1:14
- and they: Ps 22:16 Zec 12:10 Joh 19:34,37 Heb 6:6 10:29
- and all: Rev 6:15-17 18:15-19 Mt 24:30 Lu 23:28-30
- Even So: Rev 18:20 19:1-3 22:20 Jud 5:31 Ps 68:1
BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
Revelation 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
NET Revelation 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God– the one who is, and who was, and who is still to come– the All-Powerful!
NLT Revelation 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega-- the beginning and the end," says the Lord God. "I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come-- the Almighty One."
ESV Revelation 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
NIV Revelation 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."
GNT Revelation 1:8 Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ Ἄλφα καὶ τὸ Ὦ, λέγει κύριος ὁ θεός, ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος, ὁ παντοκράτωρ.
KJV Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
ASV Revelation 1:8 I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
CSB Revelation 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "the One who is, who was, and who is coming, the Almighty."
NKJ Revelation 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
NRS Revelation 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
YLT Revelation 1:8 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, beginning and end, saith the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is coming -- the Almighty.'
- Alpha: Rev 1:11,17 Rev 2:8 Rev 21:6 Rev 22:13 Isa 41:4 Isa 43:10 Isa 44:6 Isa 48:12
- which is: Rev 1:4
- the Almighty: Rev 4:8 11:17 16:14 19:15 21:22 Ge 17:1 28:3 35:11 43:14 48:3 Ge 49:25 Ex 6:3 Nu 24:4 Isa 9:6 2Co 6:18
JESUS CHRIST IS
EVERYTHING FROM "A TO Z"
Revelation 21:6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.
Revelation 22:13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God
Elmer Towns on the “Alpha and Omega.” - This is the Greek expression of a Hebrew idiom that implies completeness. The Jews took the first and last letters of their alphabet to emphasize and express the entirety of a thing. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet; omega is the last. A similar English expression is “everything from A to Z.” In a sense, this title includes all of the more than 700 names and titles of Jesus (see Appendix where the names and titles of Jesus are listed alphabetically). (The Names of Jesus)
Who is and Who was and Who is to come - NET has "the One Who is, and Who was, and Who is still to come." This description speaks of present, past and future. In effect it covers all of time. Jesus is saying He always was and will always be. He is claiming eternality. It is surprising that the designation "Eternal God" occurs only twice in the Bible - Deut 33:27 and Romans 16:26+.
Towns agrees that "There could be no more specific statement of the deity and eternality of Christ. This title of Christ parallels Moses' great affirmation of faith, “From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:2+). Jesus is eternally contemporary, the “I am” of all times. The writer of the Hebrews speaks of “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8+)".(The Names of Jesus)
Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. (Ps 90:2)
Spurgeon - God was, when nothing else was. He was God when the earth was not a world but a chaos, when mountains were not upheaved, and the generation of the heavens and the earth had not commenced. In this Eternal One there is a safe abode for the successive generations of men. If God himself were of yesterday, he would not be a suitable refuge for mortal men; if he could change and cease to be God he would be but an uncertain dwelling place for his people. The eternal existence of God is here mentioned to set forth, by contrast, the brevity of human life.
John Calvin comments - The everlastingness of which Moses speaks is to be referred not only to the essence of God, but also to his providence, by which he governs the world. He intends not merely that he is, but that he is God.
Martin Luther - Such a God (he says) have we, such a God do we worship, to such a God do we pray, at whose command all created things sprang into being. Why then should we fear if this God favours us? Why should we tremble at the anger of the whole world? If He is our dwelling place, shall we not be safe though the heavens should go to wrack? For we have a Lord greater than all the world. We have a Lord so mighty that at his word all things sprang into being. And yet we are so fainthearted that if the anger of a single prince or king, nay, even of a single neighbour, is to be borne, we tremble and droop in spirit. Yet in comparison with this King, all things beside in the whole world are but as the lightest dust which a slight breath moves from its place, and suffers not to be still. In this way this description of God is consolatory, and trembling spirits ought to look to this consolation in their temptations and dangers.
The Almighty - NET has Jesus is "the All-Powerful." NLT has "the Almighty One." This Name is Jesus' "militant" Name, the Name which assures His victory over ALL anti-God forces! In other words, this Name speaks of Jesus' final victory over the enemies of God as John describes in Rev 19:15 "From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty (pantokrator)."
Elmer Towns suggests (and I tend to agree - see my note below) that in using the Name Almighty or Pantokrator "Possibly John was thinking in the context of El Shaddai, an Old Testament title of God usually translated “God Almighty.” Are you trusting the Almighty with your problems in life?
Almighty (3841) (pantokrator from pás = all + kratos = strength or might, especially manifested power, the power to rule or control) is literally the ruler over all or the One Who controls all things and Who has power over everything. The One in total control! Pantokrator thus describes God’s sovereign, omnipotent, irresistible power. Note that Vine gives the derivation of pantokrator as from pas = all + krateo = to hold or to have strength. Tony Garland adds that "The Almighty" [ho pantokrator] is derived from ho panton kraton which means the One Who holds all. (Re 1:8-note) Krateo means to hold or cling to is derived from kratos and gives the picture of being in the grip of Him in Whose hand are all things. God is the Almighty One, the One Who has His hand in everything and on everything! If believers are in the hands of a God like that (and they are), nothing can pluck them away.
My times are in thy hand:
I’ll always trust in thee;
And, after death, at thy right hand
I shall for ever be.
In light of the fact that 9/10 NT uses of Pantokrator are in The Revelation, clearly Pantokrator is the characteristic title for God in the book which records the consummation of God's victory over sin and the evil one Satan and His awesome control over all the universe and all history. In this final chapter of God's plan of the ages, God brings to consummation His initial covenant promises made and affirmed to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as He revealed Himself to them as El Shaddai some 4000+ years earlier in the book of beginnings, Genesis (see Genesis 17:1; 28:3; 35:9; 48:3; Ex 6:3). Although, EL Shaddai - God Almighty is not translated (in the Septuagint) with Pantokrator in these 6 uses in Genesis or in Exodus 6:3+, it is nevertheless notable that the Name EL Shadda by which God first revealed Himself to the patriarchs is related to the same Name, Pantokrator, by which He brings to final fulfillment the covenant promises made to the patriarchs! God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The Names El Shaddai and Pantokrator undergird the assurance every believer should have that He is able to fulfill every one of His promises, so that "not one word of all the good words which Jehovah spoke has failed" (Joshua 23:14)
Richards adds that "Pantokrator signifies the unmatched greatness of God, who has power over all humankind and every competing authority (Ep 1:19, 20, 21-see notes Ep 1:19; 20; 21). Occurrences of this word predominate (9 of the 10 uses) in Revelation. There they pick up the OT theme of God's final, decisive intervention in history, when He acts to destroy this world's kingdoms and to establish His own (EDITORIAL NOTE: Thus fulfilling His covenant promises to the the patriarchs and the Nation of Israel, which is not the church but the actual nation that will be composed of 100% believing Jews at the return of the Messiah, when as Paul states "all Israel will be saved" - see note Romans 11:26). As the Almighty, God makes promises to people and commits his own power to see these promises carried out. This God is ever-present, hovering over history and free to act within it, even though his authority may be unacknowledged by those who do his will. Ultimately, he will undertake a great, final intervention. Then every competing power will be visibly crushed, and God's hidden authority will be overwhelmingly visible. When this happens, the irresistible power that makes God almighty will be known and acknowledged by all (cf. Php 2:9, 10, 11-notes Php 2:9; 10; 11; Re 19:6-note). (Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency) (Bolding added)
Pantokrator - 10v - 2 Co. 6:18; Rev. 1:8; Rev. 4:8; Rev. 11:17; Rev. 15:3; Rev. 16:7; Rev. 16:14; Rev. 19:6; Rev. 19:15; Rev. 21:22
Pantokrator - over 170x in the Septuagint most often translate the triumphant, militant Name Jehovah Sabaoth, LORD of hosts (of armies) - 2 Sam. 5:10; 2 Sam. 7:8; 2 Sam. 7:25; 2 Sam. 7:27; 1 Ki. 19:10; 1 Ki. 19:14; 1 Chr. 11:9; 1 Chr. 17:7; 1 Chr. 17:24; 1 Chr. 29:12; Job 5:17; Job 8:5; Job 11:7; Job 15:25; Job 22:17; Job 22:25; Job 23:16; Job 27:2; Job 27:11; Job 27:13; Job 32:8; Job 33:4; Job 34:10; Job 34:12; Job 35:13; Job 37:22; Jer. 3:19; Jer. 5:14; Jer. 15:16; Jer. 23:16; Jer. 25:27; Jer. 31:35; Jer. 32:14; Jer. 32:18; Jer. 33:11; Jer. 44:7; Jer. 49:18; Jer. 50:34; Jer. 51:5; Jer. 51:57; Hos. 12:5; Amos 3:13; Amos 4:13; Amos 5:8; Amos 5:14; Amos 5:15; Amos 5:16; Amos 5:27; Amos 9:5; Amos 9:6; Amos 9:15; Mic. 4:4; Nah. 2:13; Nah. 3:5; Hab. 2:13; Zeph. 2:10; Hag. 1:2; Hag. 1:5; Hag. 1:7; Hag. 1:9; Hag. 1:14; Hag. 2:4; Hag. 2:6; Hag. 2:7; Hag. 2:8; Hag. 2:9; Hag. 2:11; Hag. 2:23; Zech. 1:3; Zech. 1:4; Zech. 1:6; Zech. 1:12; Zech. 1:13; Zech. 1:14; Zech. 1:16; Zech. 1:17; Zech. 2:8; Zech. 2:9; Zech. 2:11; Zech. 3:7; Zech. 3:9; Zech. 3:10; Zech. 4:6; Zech. 4:9; Zech. 5:4; Zech. 6:12; Zech. 6:15; Zech. 7:3; Zech. 7:9; Zech. 7:12; Zech. 7:13; Zech. 8:1; Zech. 8:2; Zech. 8:3; Zech. 8:4; Zech. 8:6; Zech. 8:7; Zech. 8:9; Zech. 8:11; Zech. 8:14; Zech. 8:17; Zech. 8:18; Zech. 8:19; Zech. 8:20; Zech. 8:21; Zech. 8:22; Zech. 8:23; Zech. 9:14; Zech. 9:15; Zech. 10:3; Zech. 11:4; Zech. 12:4; Zech. 12:5; Zech. 13:7; Zech. 14:16; Zech. 14:17; Zech. 14:20; Zech. 14:21; Mal. 1:4; Mal. 1:6; Mal. 1:8; Mal. 1:9; Mal. 1:10; Mal. 1:11; Mal. 1:13; Mal. 1:14; Mal. 2:2; Mal. 2:4; Mal. 2:7; Mal. 2:8; Mal. 2:12; Mal. 2:16; Mal. 3:1; Mal. 3:5; Mal. 3:7; Mal. 3:10; Mal. 3:11; Mal. 3:12; Mal. 3:14; Mal. 3:17; Mal. 4:1; Mal. 4:3
The Almighty by Charles Roll - The strength of Christ's might and the majesty of His stability transcend all other sand all else in the ability and authority, for His is omnipotent. At this point we are to consider Christ as the competent, independent, self-sufficient One in His almightiness. The grand title which appears forty-eight times in the Old Testament is here applied to our Redeemer. The magnificence of the name in its depth of meaning and degree of might, defies the capacity of our reasoning powers. Superficially we comprehend its import, but actually we do not. The almighty is supremely real, dispassionately true and faultlessly just; yet withal infinitely tender and graciously kind, ad revealed in the Book of Job, where the title occurs thirty-one times.
His almightiness is expressed alike in the material, physical, spiritual and judicial realms. This feature may also be applied to His sublimity of thought, stability of mind, sovereignty of will, sufficiency of wisdom, security of power, suitability of grace and serenity of peace, in all of which He is the Almighty. When we pause to ponder His enormous energy, His prodigious power, His stupendous strength and marvelous might, these ponderous qualities of ableness, with their tremendous potential, cause us to tremble at the thought of meeting such forces in exercise; but when we turn and learn of the blended qualities of goodness demonstrated in the character of divine activity, we behold the gracious care, generous pity, gorgeous gifts and glorious love which are lavished so freely, and our fears depart for we view His heart. This is exactly what Job longed for when, discouraged and downcast, he concluded God had decided to despise the work of His hands (Job 10:3), hands which he knew to be characterized by wisdom and strength (Job 12:9-13). Job was definitely corrected in his mistaken ideas by Elihu who declared, "Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: He is mighty in strength and wisdom" (Job 36:5).
All things emanate from His creative wisdom and are maintained by His sustaining strength. Round about us many demonstrations illustrate the magnanimity of God as expressed by Elihu. for instance, the sun is too majestic to despise a worm, the ocean is too gigantic to disdain a sprat, the rain is too prolific to disregard a leaf, and "behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any." He is "mighty in battle" (Psalm 24:8). "I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me" (Psalm 40:17).
Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
NET Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother and the one who shares with you in the persecution, kingdom, and endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony about Jesus.
NLT Revelation 1:9 I, John, am your brother and your partner in suffering and in God's Kingdom and in the patient endurance to which Jesus calls us. I was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching the word of God and for my testimony about Jesus.
ESV Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
NIV Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
GNT Revelation 1:9 Ἐγὼ Ἰωάννης, ὁ ἀδελφὸς ὑμῶν καὶ συγκοινωνὸς ἐν τῇ θλίψει καὶ βασιλείᾳ καὶ ὑπομονῇ ἐν Ἰησοῦ, ἐγενόμην ἐν τῇ νήσῳ τῇ καλουμένῃ Πάτμῳ διὰ τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ.
KJV Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
ASV Revelation 1:9 I John, your brother and partaker with you in tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
CSB Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation, kingdom, and endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of God's word and the testimony about Jesus.
NKJ Revelation 1:9 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
NRS Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
YLT Revelation 1:9 I, John, who also am your brother, and fellow-partner in the tribulation, and in the reign and endurance, of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, because of the word of God, and because of the testimony of Jesus Christ;
- John: Rev 1:4
- fellow partaker: Rev 2:9,10 7:14 Joh 16:33 Ac 14:21-22 Ro 8:17 1Co 4:9-13 Php 1:7 4:14 2Ti 1:8 2:3-12
- in the tribulation: Rev 3:10 13:10 14:12 Ro 2:7,8 5:3,4 8:25 2Th 1:4,5 3:5 Heb 10:36 Jas 5:7,8
- the word of God: Rev 1:2 6:9 11:7 12:11,17 19:10
John on Patmos
JOHN IDENTIFIES HIMSELF
AND WITH HIS READERS
I, John - John for the third time (Rev 1:1,4) identifies himself. The use of the first person singular pronoun (I) identifies John as the human author and is repeated in Rev 22:8+ (cf other use of "I" in Rev 21:2+). Compare Daniel's use of the first person (Da 4:13, Da 7:2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 16, 19, 21, 28, et al) This combination of the first person pronoun and the name is not restricted to prophetic writings because Paul uses it five times ( 2 Cor. 10:1; Gal. 5:2; Eph. 3:1; Col. 1:23; Philem. 19). We also see this pattern once by Jesus in Rev 22:16.
MacArthur suggests why John added "I" - John was astounded that, despite his utter unworthiness, he had the inestimable privilege of receiving this monumental vision.
These same words are found in Rev 22:8 "I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things."
Lehman Strauss writes that "Notice, it is not "The Revelation of St. John the Divine." There is no authority for this designation. Moreover, John refers to himself as "your brother, and companion in tribulation" (Revelation 1:9). He was a saint in the sense that all true Christians are saints, but he would be the last person to refer to himself as "divine." He was the chosen instrument to be the human penman of the book, but he was not divine." (The Book of the Revelation: Outlined Studies)
Robertson points out that there is "One article with adelphos and sunkoinōnos unifying the picture. The absence of apostolos here does not show that he is not an apostle, but merely his self-effacement, as in the Fourth Gospel, and still more his oneness with his readers.
your brother - John was a member of the inner circle of the twelve disciples, the one specially beloved by Jesus, an apostle who authored the powerful Gospel by his name and three epistles. And yet here we see a mark of his great humility, not giving us any of his "credentials" but identifying himself as brother to the believers in the 7 churches which will receive his letter. The suffering of brothers in Christ is a unique relationship.
Brother (80)(adelphos from a = denotes unity + delphus = a womb) literally means brother referring to a physical brother or figuratively as in the present context referring to a brother in the spiritual sense, born by the same Spirit into the family of God.
and fellow partaker - Companion is one who associates with another, in this case participating with the other believers. John goes on to describe three aspects of fellow participation with the believers who read this letter. John is identifying himself with the believers to who he is writing and not writing as from a pedestal or elevated status but as a sharer in their sufferings. Paul uses the same word (sugkoinonos) in his letter to the Philippians
For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers (sugkoinonos) of grace with me. (Phil. 1:7+)
Grant Osborne commons that "It was common in epistles to use the more official title “apostle” (as Paul does), but John has always avoided such, using no title in 1 John and “elder” in 2 and 3 John. Here he obviously wishes to demonstrate commonality and shared experience. Such language was frequently utilized by Jesus (e.g., Mark 10:29–30) and the early church (note the “household” imagery throughout the Pastorals) for the church as a family unit, as “brothers and sisters” of one another."
This description recalls Paul's words
But God has so composed the body (OF CHRIST) giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it (1 Cor 12:24-27)
Fellow partaker (4791)(sugkoinonos from sun/syn = with + koinonos = partaker, sharer) is one who takes part in something along with another. A fellow participant. A partner. "Everywhere the word group (koinonos) appears it connotes the idea of community togetherness and mutual participation in the family of God and Christ. Such “fellowship” is first with God and then with one another." (Osborne) Four uses in NT - Rom. 11:17; 1 Co. 9:23 = "I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it."; Phil. 1:7; Rev. 1:9
In (en) - This preposition in includes all three following descriptions (tribulation, kingdom, perseverance). Osborne quotes Thomas (1992: 84–85) who "points out how the grammatical combination κοινωνοὶ ἐν also occurs in Mt. 23:30 and Gal. 6:6 and is a key element of NT teaching on discipleship (1 Th. 1:6; 2 Cor. 1:7; Phil. 3:10; 1 Pet. 2:21; 4:13; 5:1). It connotes the idea of “sharing in” the life of Christ and of Christian leaders who provide us with examples." It follows that all three descriptions are related to one another, and so "the suffering in “persecution” and “endurance” occurs as part of the believers’ share in God’s “kingdom.” (Osborne)
Robertson - So there is only one article (tēi) with thlipsei (tribulation), basileiāi (kingdom), hupomonēi (perseverance), ideas running all through the book. Both the tribulation and the kingdom were present realities and called for perseverance [hupomonē] being “the spiritual alchemy” according to Charles for those in the kingdom (see Luke 8:15; James 5:7).
the tribulation - He is not referring to the "Great Tribulation" (nor Daniel's Seventieth Week) at the end of this present evil age, but is describing the afflictions which are promised to the person who has received Christ as Savior and Lord. As Paul wrote to Timothy "Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Ti 3:12+). At this time in the first century AD, the Roman Caesars claimed divinity and were honored by the pagans as "Lord." This is something Christians could never acquiesce to and as a result they were often subjected to affliction. At the time of this writing the Roman emperor was Domitian (81-96 AD) who considered Christianity a threat to his Empire and this resulted in tribulation for believers. John was on the Island of Patmos because he had been exiled by the Roman Empire. The same word for tribulation is used twice in Jesus' description of the church at Smyrna (Rev 2:9,10+) to describe the persecution the believers suffered because of their belief in Christ. Jesus had warned His disciples (and us) "“These things (Jn 14-16) I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation (THIS IS HIS PROMISE), but take courage (THIS IS HIS ENCOURAGEMENT); I have overcome the world (THIS IS VICTORY - cf 1 Jn 5:4-5+).”
Tribulation (2347)(thlipsis from thlibo = to crush, press together, squash, hem in, compress, squeeze in turn derived from thláo = to break) originally expressed sheer, physical pressure on a man. Thlipsis is a strong term which does not refer to minor inconveniences, but to real hardships. Medically thlipsis was used of the pulse (pressure). It is a pressing together as of grapes. It conveys the idea of being squeezed or placed under pressure or crushed beneath a weight. When, according to the ancient law of England, those who willfully refused to plead guilty, had heavy weights placed on their breasts, and were pressed and crushed to death, this was literally thlipsis. The iron cage was stenochoria (see below). Figuratively thlipsis pictures one being "crushed" by intense pressure, difficult circumstances, suffering or trouble pressing upon them from without. Thus persecution, affliction, distress, opposition or tribulation, all press hard on one's soul. Thlipsis does not refer to mild discomfort but to great difficulty. In Scripture the thlipsis is most often used of outward difficulties, but it is also used of emotional stress and sorrows which "weighs down" a man’s spirit like the sorrows and burden his heart.
The English word "tribulation" is derived from the Latin word tribulum (literally a thing with teeth that tears), which was a heavy piece of timber with spikes in it, used for threshing the corn or grain. The tribulum was drawn over the grain and it separated the wheat from the chaff. As believers experience the "tribulum" of tribulations, and depend on God’s grace, the trials purify us and rid us of the chaff.
Thlipsis - 5x in Revelation -Rev. 1:9; Rev. 2:9; Rev. 2:10; Rev. 2:22; Rev. 7:14
And kingdom - Here kingdom refers the Kingdom of God (and of His Son Who is King of that Kingdom - cf Rev 19:16), and which stood in direct opposition to the pagan Kingdom of Rome which was under the dominion of the prince of the power of the air, Satan (Eph 2:2+). Paul describes our new kingdom status as believers writing that God "has rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Col 1:13-14+).
And perseverance - As discussed above this description is intimately related to the first two descriptions, tribulation and kingdom, because it describes patiently enduring affliction and suffering (tribulation) which is the lot of all who have been delivered from "from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God (Kingdom)." (Acts 26:18+). Notice that this is not believers simply having an attitude of "grin and bear" the suffering, but is in fact a gift from God "Who gives perseverance and encouragement." (Ro 15:5+, read also Col 1:11+ where hupomone or steadfastness is the result of divine strengthening). As Richison says this Greek word "carries the ideas of tenacity. God gives those who walk by faith a bulldog-like tenacity of soul." And where does this "tenacity," this perseverance come from in context? The last phrase says it is in Jesus. He is the ultimate Source through His Spirit's provision of supernatural power to persevere under afflictions that come on us because we bear His Name (see also 1 Th 1:3+ = "steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ", 2 Th 3:5 = "steadfastness of Christ").
Luke links these ideas together in Acts 14:21-22+ writing "After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith (AKA PERSEVERANCE), and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
Perseverance (5281)(hupomone from hupo = under + meno = stay, remain, abide) literally means abiding under. The root idea of hupomone is to remain under some discipline, subjecting one’s self to something which demands the submission of one's will to something against which one naturally would draw way from. It portrays a picture of steadfastly and unflinchingly bearing up under a heavy load and describes that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial. The picture is that of steadfastness, constancy and endurance. It has in it a forward look, the ability to focus on what is beyond the current pressures (eg Jesus "Who for the joy set before Him endured [verb form hupomeno] the Cross despising the shame" see notes on Hebrews 12:2).
which are in Jesus - In Jesus, because we are IN covenant with Him, He is our Provider and our Protector and ultimately our Prize! Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus! (Ro 8:39+) "All this is possible only “in Jesus” (en Iēsou), a phrase on a par with Paul’s common en Christōi (in Christ), repeated in Rev 14:13. Cf. Rev 3:20 and 2 Th 3:5."
Island of Patmos
Click to Enlarge
Was on the island called Patmos - More literally “I came to be." "Patmos is a rocky sparsely settled island some ten miles long and half that wide, one of the Sporades group in the Aegean Sea, south of Miletus." (Robertson)
Because - Term of explanation. What is John explaining? In context he is explaining why he is on Patmos and it was not for a vacation. John gives us two reason for his presence on Patmos.
Of the word of God and the testimony (marturia/martyria) of Jesus - Two reasons are given for John's exile on Patmos (1) the Word of God which he undoubtedly was proclaiming which countered the word of Caesar. Richison adds "John came under persecution for taking a stand on the Word of God. He was faithful to the Word. He did not compromise it." (2) Second, the testimony of Jesus which refers to John's testimony about Jesus (which is obviously related to the Word of God). The NLT paraphrases it "I was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching the word of God and for my testimony about Jesus." (Rev 1:9NLT)
This reminds me of Paul's words to Timothy
Therefore (BECAUSE OF WHAT TIMOTHY HAD BEEN GRANTED - 2 Ti 1:7+) do not be ashamed of the testimony (marturion/martyrion) of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering (aorist imperative see our need to depend on the Holy Spirit to obey) for the gospel (HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?) according to the power (dunamis) of God, (2 Timothy 1:8+) (Compare the ability to persevere IN JESUS as described above).
Strauss comments that John "himself was sent in chains as a prisoner to the small and dreary island called Patmos, about twenty-five miles off the coast of Asia Minor, in the Aegean Sea. It was while he was there that God turned his bondage into a blessing. The Patmos of persecution became to John the open door for service. The chains of pagan Rome bound his body but they could not bind his soul. Shut off from the rest of the world, he entered into a communion with his Lord he had never known before." (Ibid)
Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,
NET Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day when I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,
NLT Revelation 1:10 It was the Lord's Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit. Suddenly, I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet blast.
ESV Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet
NIV Revelation 1:10 On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,
GNT Revelation 1:10 ἐγενόμην ἐν πνεύματι ἐν τῇ κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ καὶ ἤκουσα ὀπίσω μου φωνὴν μεγάλην ὡς σάλπιγγος
KJV Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
ASV Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet
CSB Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard a loud voice behind me like a trumpet
NKJ Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,
NRS Revelation 1:10 I was in the spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet
YLT Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's-day, and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying,
- I was in the Spirit : Rev 4:2 17:3 21:10 Mt 22:43 Ac 10:10-33 2Co 12:2-4
- on the Lord's day: Joh 20:19,26 Ac 20:7 1Co 16:2
- like the sound of a trumpet: Rev 4:1 Rev 10:3-8
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day - "In one sense the faithful are always ‘in the Spirit;’ they are ‘spiritual’ (1 Cor. 3:1, 15); are ‘led by the Spirit’ (Rom. 8:14); ‘walk in the Spirit’ (Gal. 5:16, 25). But here, and at Rev 4:2; Rev 21:10 (cf. Ezek. 40:2, ‘in the visions of God’), the words are used in an eminent and peculiar sense; they describe not the habitual condition of faithful men, but an exceptional state, differing from the other not in degree only, but in kind; a condition in which there is a suspension of all the motions and faculties of the natural life; that a higher life may be called, during and through this suspension, into a preternatural activity. It is the state of trance or ecstasy, that is, of standing out of oneself," (Trench)
and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,
Question - What is the Lord’s day?
Answer: The Lord’s day (as distinguished from the day of the Lord) is Sunday. The term Lord’s day is used only once in Scripture. Revelation 1:10 says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.” Since the apostle John does not elaborate on the meaning of “Lord’s day,” we can assume that his target audience, first-century Christians, were already familiar with the expression.
Some have assumed that the Lord’s day is the New Testament equivalent of the Sabbath. The Sabbath day was instituted by God for the nation of Israel to commemorate His deliverance of them from Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15). Sabbath began Friday at sunset and ended Saturday at sunset and was to be a day of complete rest from all labor, symbolic of the Creator’s resting on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2–3; Exodus 20:11; 23:12). The Sabbath was a special sign to the Israelites that they had been set apart as followers of the most High God. Their keeping of the Sabbath would help distinguish them from the nations around them. However, nowhere in Scripture is the Sabbath ever referred to as the Lord’s day. The term Sabbath was still in use within the Jewish community in New Testament times and is referred to as such by Jesus and the apostles (Matthew 12:5; John 7:23; Colossians 2:16).
Sunday was the day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, an act that forever separated Christianity from any other religion (John 20:1). Since that time, believers have gathered on the first day of the week to celebrate His victory over sin and death (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). Even though the Sabbath day was designated by God as a holy day, Jesus demonstrated that He was Lord over the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). Jesus stated that He had come not to abolish but to fulfill the whole Law. Rule-keeping could not justify anyone; only through Jesus could sinful humanity be declared righteous (Romans 3:28). Paul echoes this truth in Colossians 2:16–17 when he writes, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”
The Lord’s day is typically thought of as Sunday, but it is not a direct counterpart to the Jewish Sabbath—in other words, Sunday is not the “Christian Sabbath.” Although we should set aside a day for rest and honoring the Lord who died and rose for us, we are not under the Law (Romans 6:14–15). As born-again followers of Jesus, we are free to worship Him on any day that our conscience determines. Romans 14 gives clear explanation of how Christians are to navigate those subtle gray areas of discipleship. Verses 4 and 5 say, “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.”
Some Messianic Jews want to continue regarding the Sabbath day as holy because of their Jewish heritage. Some Gentile Christians join their Jewish brothers and sisters in keeping the Sabbath as a way to honor God. Worshiping God on the Sabbath is acceptable—again, the day of the week is not the most important issue—but the heart motivation behind that choice is crucial. If legalism or law-keeping motivates the choice to observe the Sabbath, then that choice is not made from a right heart condition (Galatians 5:4). When our hearts are pure before the Lord, we are free to worship Him on Saturday (the Sabbath) or Sunday (the Lord’s day). God is equally pleased with both.
Jesus warned against legalism when He quoted Isaiah the prophet: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules” (Matthew 15:8–9; cf. Isaiah 29:13). God is not interested in our keeping of rituals, rules, or requirements. He wants hearts that are on fire with His love and grace on the Sabbath, on the Lord’s day, and on every other day (Hebrews 12:28–29; Psalm 51:15–17).(Source:GotQuestions.org
Revelation 1:11 saying, "Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea."
NET Revelation 1:11 saying: "Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches– to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea."
NLT Revelation 1:11 It said, "Write in a book everything you see, and send it to the seven churches in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea."
ESV Revelation 1:11 saying, "Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea."
NIV Revelation 1:11 which said: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea."
GNT Revelation 1:11 λεγούσης, Ὃ βλέπεις γράψον εἰς βιβλίον καὶ πέμψον ταῖς ἑπτὰ ἐκκλησίαις, εἰς Ἔφεσον καὶ εἰς Σμύρναν καὶ εἰς Πέργαμον καὶ εἰς Θυάτειρα καὶ εἰς Σάρδεις καὶ εἰς Φιλαδέλφειαν καὶ εἰς Λαοδίκειαν.
KJV Revelation 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
ASV Revelation 1:11 saying, What thou seest, write in a book and send it to the seven churches: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamum, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
CSB Revelation 1:11 saying, "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea."
NKJ Revelation 1:11 saying, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last," and, "What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea."
NRS Revelation 1:11 saying, "Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea."
YLT Revelation 1:11 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last;' and, 'What thou dost see, write in a scroll, and send to the seven assemblies that are in Asia; to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.'
- I am: Rev 1:8,17
- What: Rev 1:19 2:1 10:4 14:13 19:9 21:5 De 31:19 Isa 30:8 Jer 30:2 Hab 2:2
- seven: Rev 1:4 2:1,8,12,18 3:1,7,14
- Ephesus: Ac 18:19-21,24 19:1-41 20:17 1Co 15:32 16:8 Eph 1:1 1Ti 1:3
- Laodicea: Col 4:15,16
saying, "Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.
Revelation 1:12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands;
NET Revelation 1:12 I turned to see whose voice was speaking to me, and when I did so, I saw seven golden lampstands,
NLT Revelation 1:12 When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands.
ESV Revelation 1:12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands,
NIV Revelation 1:12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands,
GNT Revelation 1:12 Καὶ ἐπέστρεψα βλέπειν τὴν φωνὴν ἥτις ἐλάλει μετ᾽ ἐμοῦ, καὶ ἐπιστρέψας εἶδον ἑπτὰ λυχνίας χρυσᾶς
KJV Revelation 1:12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
ASV Revelation 1:12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks;
CSB Revelation 1:12 I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me. When I turned I saw seven gold lampstands,
NKJ Revelation 1:12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,
NRS Revelation 1:12 Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands,
YLT Revelation 1:12 And I did turn to see the voice that did speak with me, and having turned, I saw seven golden lamp-stands,
- see: Eze 43:5,6 Mic 6:9
- I saw: Rev 1:13,20 2:1 Ex 25:37 Zec 4:2
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me.
And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands - This is clearly figurative language but just as clearly has a literal meaning which is discerned by comparing Scripture with Scripture. So comparing Revelation 1:12 with Revelation 1:20 it is crystal clear that "the seven lampstands are the seven churches."
Revelation 1:13 and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.
NET Revelation 1:13 and in the midst of the lampstands was one like a son of man. He was dressed in a robe extending down to his feet and he wore a wide golden belt around his chest.
NLT Revelation 1:13 And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest.
ESV Revelation 1:13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.
NIV Revelation 1:13 and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.
GNT Revelation 1:13 καὶ ἐν μέσῳ τῶν λυχνιῶν ὅμοιον υἱὸν ἀνθρώπου ἐνδεδυμένον ποδήρη καὶ περιεζωσμένον πρὸς τοῖς μαστοῖς ζώνην χρυσᾶν.
KJV Revelation 1:13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
ASV Revelation 1:13 and in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle.
CSB Revelation 1:13 and among the lampstands was One like the Son of Man, dressed in a long robe and with a gold sash wrapped around His chest.
NKJ Revelation 1:13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.
NRS Revelation 1:13 and in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest.
YLT Revelation 1:13 and in the midst of the seven lamp-stands, one like to a son of man, clothed to the foot, and girt round at the breast with a golden girdle,
- like: Rev 14:14 Eze 1:26-28 Da 7:9,13 10:5,6,16 Php 2:7,8 Heb 2:14-17 Heb 4:15
- clothed: Da 10:5
- and girded: Rev 15:6 Ex 28:6-8 Ex 39:5 Lev 8:7 Isa 11:5
CLOTHING OF ONE
LIKE THE SON OF MAN
And in the middle of the lampstands - Note the strategic location of the glorified Christ -- in the middle of the lampstands, indicating He is the middle of these seven churches. His location in the middle indicates He has contact with all seven churches and that they should have contact with Him. One is reminded of Paul's description of Christ in Colossians 2:19 and not holding fast to the head (CHRIST), from Whom the entire body (CHURCH), being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. In Eph 4:15-16 we read "but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body (THE CHURCH), being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body (THE CHURCH) for the building up of itself in love."
I saw one like a son of man - This is a clear reference to Daniel's description "I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him." (Da 7:13)
Clothed in a robe reaching to the feet - Robe reaching to the feet is one Greek word, poderes (pous = foot + aro = to adjust), found only here and descriptive of a garment that reaches to the feet.
And girded across His chest with a golden sash - This parallels the description of the garments of the high priest as described in Lev 8:7+ "He put the tunic on him and girded him with the sash, and clothed him with the robe and put the ephod on him; and he girded him with the artistic band of the ephod, with which he tied it to him." Indeed, Jesus is "great high priest who has passed through the heavens." (Heb 4:14).
Revelation 1:14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.
NET Revelation 1:14 His head and hair were as white as wool, even as white as snow, and his eyes were like a fiery flame.
NLT Revelation 1:14 His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire.
ESV Revelation 1:14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire,
NIV Revelation 1:14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.
GNT Revelation 1:14 ἡ δὲ κεφαλὴ αὐτοῦ καὶ αἱ τρίχες λευκαὶ ὡς ἔριον λευκόν ὡς χιὼν καὶ οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ αὐτοῦ ὡς φλὸξ πυρὸς
KJV Revelation 1:14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
ASV Revelation 1:14 And his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
CSB Revelation 1:14 His head and hair were white like wool-- white as snow-- and His eyes like a fiery flame.
NKJ Revelation 1:14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;
NRS Revelation 1:14 His head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire,
YLT Revelation 1:14 and his head and hairs white, as if white wool -- as snow, and his eyes as a flame of fire;
- and his hair: Da 7:9 Mt 28:3
- and his eyes: Rev 2:18 Rev 19:12 Da 10:6
Daniel 7:9 I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire.
Revelation 2:18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this:
His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow - In Da 7:9 there is a similar description of the Ancient of Days, God the Father. The description in this passage refers to the Son of God. Given the truth of that the Son is coequal, coexistent, and coeternal with the Father, it should not be surprising to see similar descriptions. R L Thomas agrees writing that the similar descriptions "is in line with his Christological practice of granting to the Second Person of the Trinity attributes and titles previously reserved for the Father (cf.Rev 1:18; 2:8; 5:12; 22:13) (Swete)."
John Walvoord points out that "It is evident that His ultimate glory was veiled in order to make possible a ministry to His disciples in scenes on earth. After His ascension into heaven, Christ never appeared again apart from His glory. In Acts 7:56+, Stephen saw Christ standing at the right hand of the Father in the midst of the glory of God. In the appearance of Christ to Paul recorded in Acts 9:3-6+, the glory of Christ was such that Paul was blinded. A similar experience befell the Apostle John in Revelation 1:12-20+ where John fell at the feet of Christ as one dead when he beheld the glory of Christ in His resurrection.
Spurgeon says that “When we see in the picture his head and his hair white as snow, we understand the antiquity of his reign.”
Adam Clarke - “This was not only an emblem of in antiquity, but it was evidence of his glory; for the whiteness of splendour of his head and hair doubtless proceeded from the rays of light and glory which encircled his head, and darted from it in all directions.”
and His eyes were like a flame of fire - This simile speaks of the penetrating, perfect discernment of Christ.
Lehman Strauss writes that "John had seen His eyes filled with tears when He wept at the grave of Lazarus (John 11:35), but these are the eyes of the Judge before whom all things are laid bare (Hebrews 4:13). This speaks of His omniscience."
Revelation 1:15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.
NLT Revelation 1:15 His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves.
ESV Revelation 1:15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.
NIV Revelation 1:15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.
GNT Revelation 1:15 καὶ οἱ πόδες αὐτοῦ ὅμοιοι χαλκολιβάνῳ ὡς ἐν καμίνῳ πεπυρωμένης καὶ ἡ φωνὴ αὐτοῦ ὡς φωνὴ ὑδάτων πολλῶν,
KJV Revelation 1:15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
ASV Revelation 1:15 and his feet like unto burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace; and his voice as the voice of many waters.
CSB Revelation 1:15 His feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and His voice like the sound of cascading waters.
NKJ Revelation 1:15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;
NRS Revelation 1:15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters.
YLT Revelation 1:15 and his feet like to fine brass, as in a furnace having been fired, and his voice as a sound of many waters,
- his feet: Rev 2:18 Eze 1:7 40:3 Da 10:6
- his voice: Rev 14:2 19:6 Ps 93:4 Isa 17:13 Eze 43:2
Ezekiel 1:7 Their legs were straight and their feet were like a calf’s hoof, and they gleamed like burnished bronze.
His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace -
Strauss says burnished bronze "speaks of righteous judgment for which He firmly stands. It is upon those feet of beauty that He came preaching the gospel of peace, the glad tidings (Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15). But when He comes again He shall tread down all abominations and crush those who hate Him."
and His voice was like the sound of many waters.
Strauss on His voice - This is the voice of power and authority that shall roar from on high upon His habitation (Jeremiah 25:30). It is the voice that is full of majesty (Psalm 29:4). When He comes again all that are in the graves shall hear His voice (John 5:28). To the unbeliever it will be the voice of final judgment. To His own His voice will give confidence and joy (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
Revelation 1:16 In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.
NET Revelation 1:16 He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp double-edged sword extended out of his mouth. His face shone like the sun shining at full strength.
NLT Revelation 1:16 He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.
ESV Revelation 1:16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
NIV Revelation 1:16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
GNT Revelation 1:16 καὶ ἔχων ἐν τῇ δεξιᾷ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ ἀστέρας ἑπτὰ καὶ ἐκ τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ ῥομφαία δίστομος ὀξεῖα ἐκπορευομένη καὶ ἡ ὄψις αὐτοῦ ὡς ὁ ἥλιος φαίνει ἐν τῇ δυνάμει αὐτοῦ.
KJV Revelation 1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
ASV Revelation 1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
CSB Revelation 1:16 He had seven stars in His right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from His mouth, and His face was shining like the sun at midday.
NKJ Revelation 1:16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
NRS Revelation 1:16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force.
YLT Revelation 1:16 and having in his right hand seven stars, and out of his mouth a sharp two-edged sword is proceeding, and his countenance is as the sun shining in its might.
- He held: Rev 1:20 Rev 2:1 Rev 3:1 Rev 12:1 Job 38:7 Da 8:10 12:3
- out of His mouth: Rev 2:12,16 Rev 19:15,21 Isa 11:4 Isa 49:2 Eph 6:17 Heb 4:12
- and His face was like: Rev 10:1 Isa 24:23 60:19,20 Mal 4:2 Ac 26:13
In His right hand He held seven stars -
Spurgeon - What do you see in Christ’s right hand? Seven stars; yet how insignificant they appear when you get a sight of his face! They are stars, and there are seven of them; but who can see seven stars, or, for the matter of that, seventy thousand stars, when the sun shineth in his strength? How sweet it is, when the Lord himself is so present in a congregation that the preacher, whoever he may be, is altogether forgotten! I pray you, dear friends, when you go to a place of worship, always try to see the Lord’s face rather than the stars in his hand; look at the sun, and you will forget the stars.”
and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword -
Augustine called the two-edged sword "the old and the new law," but this is a clear example of allegorizing or spiritualizing the text. There is no Scripture to support this interpretation.
and His face was like the sun shining in its strength -
Revelation 1:17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,
NET Revelation 1:17 When I saw him I fell down at his feet as though I were dead, but he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid! I am the first and the last,
NLT Revelation 1:17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, "Don't be afraid! I am the First and the Last.
ESV Revelation 1:17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last,
NIV Revelation 1:17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.
GNT Revelation 1:17 Καὶ ὅτε εἶδον αὐτόν, ἔπεσα πρὸς τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ ὡς νεκρός, καὶ ἔθηκεν τὴν δεξιὰν αὐτοῦ ἐπ᾽ ἐμὲ λέγων, Μὴ φοβοῦ· ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ πρῶτος καὶ ὁ ἔσχατος
KJV Revelation 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
ASV Revelation 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last,
CSB Revelation 1:17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. He laid His right hand on me and said, "Don't be afraid! I am the First and the Last,
NKJ Revelation 1:17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.
NRS Revelation 1:17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,
YLT Revelation 1:17 And when I saw him, I did fall at his feet as dead, and he placed his right hand upon me, saying to me, 'Be not afraid; I am the First and the Last,
- I fell: Eze 1:28 Da 8:18 10:8,9,17-19 Hab 3:16 Mt 17:2-6 Joh 13:23 Joh 21:20
- And he: Da 8:18 10:10
- Do not be afraid: Ge 15:1 Ex 14:13 20:20 Isa 41:10 Da 10:12 Mt 28:4 Mk 16:5,6 Lu 24:37-39
- I am: Rev 1:8,11 Rev 2:8 Rev 22:13 Isa 41:4 Isa 44:6 Isa 48:12
JOHN'S OVERWHELMED BY VISION
OF OUR AWESOME CHRIST
When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man - John had a view of the risen Christ and fell down in awe, overcome by the vision of the glorified Christ.
THOUGHT - As we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18+), we will also have an increasing awareness of His presence and power. We will grow in our reverence and awe of and for Him. And we will live "fallen at His feet" lives (so to speak), living as bond-servants increasingly submitted to His Word and His Will. Our faith will increase for "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ." Our obedience will become more and more a delight and less a sense of duty and certainly not a sense of drudgery. In effect will be experientially obeying Paul's command in Ro 13:14+ "put on (aorist imperative see our need to depend on the Holy Spirit to obey) the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision (present imperative with a negative) for the flesh in regard to its lusts."
Trench "This falling, as is evident, is no voluntary act of homage on the part of St. John, but an involuntary expression of the effect produced upon him by that awful vision which he saw....The unholy, and all flesh is such, cannot endure immediate contact with the holy, the human with the divine. ...The beloved disciple, who looked upon, and whose hands had handled, the Word of life (1 John 1:1), who had lain in his Lord’s bosom in the days of his flesh, could as little as any other endure the revelation of his majesty, or do without that ‘Fear not,’ with which that Lord at once reassures him.”
THOUGHT - Compare a similar reaction by mortal men in many Scriptures - Gen. 3:8; 17:3; Exod. 3:6; Num. 16:22; 22:31; Josh. 5:14; Judg. 6:22; 13:6, 20, 22; 1 Chron. 21:20; 2 Chron. 7:3; Job 4:12–15; 42:5, 6; Isai. 6:5; Ezek. 1:28; 3:23; 43:3; 44:4; Dan. 7:15; 8:17; 10:7–9, 15; Tob. 12:16; Matt. 17:6; 28:4, 5; Mark 16:5, 8; Luke 1:12, 29; 2:9; 5:8; Lk 24:5; John 18:6; Acts 9:4; 10:4.
This recalls the lyrics of a popular Christian song I Can Only Imagine...
I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk, by your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When you face is before me
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
Surrounded by You glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
C H Spurgeon - WE long, sometimes, to behold Christ in his glory. Certainly, it is one of our brightest hopes that we shall see him as he is. Every true believer can say, with Job, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.” But, brethren, as we are now constituted, we are quite unfit for the vision of our Master’s glory. It was well that, when he was on earth, he veiled himself in the form of man, for when he did uplift the veil a little, as he did on the mountain of transfiguration, the sight, though it was but a glimpse, was too much for Peter, and James, and John. They were overpowered by it, they fell asleep even upon the holy mount; and even when they were awake, they knew not what to say. And as we now are, if we could be favoured with a sight of Christ in his glory, it would be too much for us also. It was too much even for John, and we are far inferior to him; our eyes are not as clear and strong as his eyes were; yet he could not endure that wondrous vision. The grey old saint in Patmos had been familiar with his Master more years than most of us have known him; he had laid his head upon the Saviour’s bosom,—a privilege accorded to none beside himself; he had stood at the cross, and seen the blood and water flow from that dear heart that loved him so well; and yet, though he was “that disciple whom Jesus loved,” when even he had a sight of his glorified Master, he fell at his feet as dead. The full glory of Christ is too much for us to behold while we are here on the earth, so ask not to have it yet, dear friends. By-and-by, when you are fitted for it, and Christ has prepared a place for you, his prayer shall be fulfilled in your happy experience, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me.” He might say to each one of you, “Not yet, my child, not yet may you see me as I am; your eyes are not yet fit for such a sight as that.” (The Ever-Living Christ)
And He placed His right hand on me, saying - Holiness personified touching a sinful man (Saved but still a sinner). Is this not amazing grace indeed!
THOUGHT - First, he laid his right hand upon him; and that is where your comfort and mine must always come from,—from the hand that was crucified for us. There streams from that pierced hand a wondrous power that makes the weakest strong. A touch of it proves how near Christ is to us. We know, when he touches us, that he is man as well as God; and the familiar touch, which brings him so consciously near our spirit, makes us glad and joyous, and we become strong again. (Spurgeon)
Trench on the right hand "The right hand being ever contemplated in Scripture as the hand of power alike for God (Deut. 33:2; Isai. 48:13; Acts 7:55) and for man (Gen. 48:14; Zech. 3:1; Matt. 5:30), it is only fit that with the right hand of the Lord he should be thus strengthened and revived (cf. Isai. 41:10)."
At the transfiguration John had fallen on his face
Matthew 17:6-7 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, (aorist imperative) and do not be afraid (present imperative with a negative).”
Do not be afraid - Phobeo in present imperative with a negative was a command to stop an action in process - stop being afraid.
Trench - This same ‘Fear not’ is uttered on similar occasions to Daniel (10:12), to Peter (Luke 5:1), to the Three at the Transfiguration, of whom John himself was one (Matt. 17:7); to the holy women at the sepulchre (Matt, 28:5; Mark 16:6). Nor is this reassurance confined to words only; the Lord at the same time lays his hand upon him,—something parallel to which goes along with more than one ‘Fear not’ of those referred to just now (cf. Jer. 1:9; Isai. 6:7); and from the touch of that hand the Seer receives strength again, and is set, no doubt, upon his feet once more (Ezek. 1:28; 2:1, 2; Acts 26:16).
THOUGHT - ARE YOU FEARFUL DEAR SAINT? Jesus would say to you as "he did to John, “Fear not.” The Master is saying that to each one of you who believe in him, but especially to such of you as are very faint and weak, and who feel that you are soon to die. He is drawing near to you, sisters and brothers, who are shortly to lay aside the frail tabernacle of this mortal body. The glintings and gleamings of the glory yet to be revealed overcome you; but he whispers in your ear, “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead.” All these words are full of good cheer to spirits that faint away with expectation of the coming of the King, and to hearts that are ravished with desire for the company of the Best beloved. (C H Spurgeon)
I am the first and the last - He is before anything else. I am is ego eimi signifying I am continually.
Trench comments "He is from eternity to eternity, so that there is no room for any other. All creation comes forth from Him (John 1:1–3), all creation returns to Him again, as from whom and by whom and to whom are all things."
This designation of Jesus the Messiah as the first and the last is mentioned three times in Isaiah
Isaiah 41:4 “Who has performed and accomplished it, Calling forth the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the LORD, am the first, and with the last. I am He.’”
Isaiah 44:6 “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.
Isaiah 48:12 “Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.
Three times in the Revelation, Rev 1:17 and...
Revelation 2:8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:
Revelation 22:13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Triumphant "I Ams" in the Book of Revelation
• "I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending" (Revelation 1:8).
• "I am the first and the last" (Revelation 1:17).
• "I am alive forevermore" (Revelation 1:18).
• "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end." (Revelation 21:6).
• "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” " (Revelation 22:13).
• "I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” " (Revelation 22:16)
Charles Roll on "The first and the last" - Great comfort is to be derived from Christ's claiming to be the First and the Last. In this capacity He outlives all idolatrous opposition and all iniquitous oppression. They who inflict penalties on His people and imprison His servants and saints must needs succumb to His enduring sovereignty. So this title is definitely directed to help and hearten John in his banishment. He proves that his Lord and Master is wholly familiar with the pressure of circumstances to which he has been subjected because of his witness. Why be afraid when the almighty One says, "Fear not; I Am the first and the last." Why fear sin? The sinless One atones adequately. Why fear life? The living One lives and loves abidingly. Why fear death? The risen deathless One ascends triumphantly. Why fear the beyond? The exalted One assures convincingly. Why fear the ages? The ageless One administers immortally. Why fear foes? The enthroned One rules and reigns eternally. Why fear defects? The spotless One avails perfectly. Yea, verily, we are altogether accepted in the Beloved, everlastingly. Christ's name and fame as the First and the Last cover the whole wide range of realism; indicating that He is the Sum and Substance from start to finish, the Fountain and Fullness from spring to sea, the Origin and Objective from gateway to goal, yea, the Framer in priority and Finisher in finality of all things. We need our thoughts of Him to be enlarged, expanded, and exalted, until He fills and thrills our hearts with loftier conceptions of His transcendent glory. We should resolve to take a more attentive look at His lofty lordship as Son of man, recall afresh that this dignified Lover "loved us and loosed us from our sins by His own blood," and then learn anew to admire and adore His intrinsic loveliness, by virtue of which we shall long to live and labor for Him alone. If we rate His love highly, we shall be stirred to ardent activity, our gratitude will grow deeper, our devotion stronger, and our loyalty firmer. (Names and Titles of Jesus Christ)
Look! ye saints, the sight is glorious,
See the Man of Sorrows now,
From the fight returned victorious:
Every knee to Him shall bow.
Crown Him! Crown Him!
Crowns become the Victor's brow.
A well-known minister was in his study writing an Easter sermon when the thought gripped him that his Lord was living. He jumped up excitedly and paced the floor repeating to himself, “Why Christ is alive, His ashes are warm, He is not the great ‘I was,’ He is the great ‘I am.’ ” He is not only a fact, but a living fact. Glorious truth of Easter Day!
THE TOUCH OF THE MASTER'S HAND - A RENOWNED violinist announced before a concert that he would play one of the world's most expensive violins. He played the first composition flawlessly, and the audience was thrilled at the performance. After taking his bows, the musician suddenly smashed the instrument, completely demolishing it, as the audience watched in horror.
The violinist explained that he had been playing a cheap violin, and then, picking up the expensive instrument, he drew the bow across the strings. The sound was beautiful, but most of the people couldn't tell any difference between the music from the expensive violin and the cheap one. The quality of the instrument was secondary to the skill of the violinist.
It's something like that in our service for the Lord. The Master can take ordinary instruments like us and produce beautiful music from our lives. The results of our service depends not so much on us as it does on Him. The apostle Paul said that "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise" (1 Corinthians 1:27). God did so "that no flesh should glory in His presence" (v. 29).
Like that cheap violin, we can be instruments in the Master's hands to declare the beauty of the Lord and to bless others.—R W DeHaan
THOUGHT - BELOVED, IS YOUR LIFE "OUT OF TUNE" THEN LET THE MASTER TOUCH YOUR LIFE LIKE HE DID JOHN!
Play Wayne Watson's Touch of the Master's Hand
This song seems to be based on the writing by Myra 'Brooks' Welch
The Touch of the Masters Hand
Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
thought it scarcely worth his while to waste much time on the old violin,
but held it up with a smile; "What am I bidden, good folks," he cried,
"Who'll start the bidding for me?" "A dollar, a dollar"; then two!" "Only
two? Two dollars, and who'll make it three? Three dollars, once; three
dollars twice; going for three.." But no, from the room, far back, a
gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow; Then, wiping the dust
from the old violin, and tightening the loose strings, he played a melody
pure and sweet as caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low,
said; "What am I bid for the old violin?" And he held it up with the bow.
A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two? Two thousand! And who'll make
it three? Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice, and going and
gone," said he. The people cheered, but some of them cried, "We do not
quite understand what changed its worth." Swift came the reply: "The touch
of a master's hand."
And many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the old violin, A
"mess of pottage," a glass of wine; a game - and he travels on. "He is
going" once, and "going twice, He's going and almost gone." But the Master
comes, and the foolish crowd never can quite understand the worth of a soul
and the change that's wrought by the touch of the Master's hand.
Myra 'Brooks' Welch
Revelation 1:18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.
NET Revelation 1:18 and the one who lives! I was dead, but look, now I am alive– forever and ever– and I hold the keys of death and of Hades!
NLT Revelation 1:18 I am the living one. I died, but look-- I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.
ESV Revelation 1:18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
NIV Revelation 1:18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
GNT Revelation 1:18 καὶ ὁ ζῶν, καὶ ἐγενόμην νεκρὸς καὶ ἰδοὺ ζῶν εἰμι εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων καὶ ἔχω τὰς κλεῖς τοῦ θανάτου καὶ τοῦ ᾅδου.
KJV Revelation 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
ASV Revelation 1:18 and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.
CSB Revelation 1:18 and the Living One. I was dead, but look-- I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.
NKJ Revelation 1:18 "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
NRS Revelation 1:18 and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades.
YLT Revelation 1:18 and he who is living, and I did become dead, and, lo, I am living to the ages of the ages. Amen! and I have the keys of the hades and of the death.
- the living One;: Job 19:25 Ps 18:46 Joh 14:19 Ro 6:9 2Co 13:4 Ga 2:20 Col 3:3 Heb 7:25
- and I was dead: Ro 14:8,9 2Co 5:14,15 Heb 1:3 Heb 12:2
- behold, I am alive forevermore: Rev 4:9 Rev 5:14 Heb 7:16,25
- the keys: Rev 3:7 Rev 9:1 Rev 20:1,2,14 Ps 68:20 Isa 22:22 Mt 16:19
and the living One - The living One.
In probably the oldest book of the Bible, the book of Job, we read "As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth." Play "I Know My Redeemer Live."
And I was dead - This speaks of His crucifixion.
For if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. (Romans 14:8; 9 )
Behold (2400)(idou) is a command in the aorist middle imperative and is a charge to see, perceive, look at and is used to draw attention to what follows. Spurgeon reminds us that "Behold is a word of wonder; it is intended to excite admiration. Wherever you see it hung out in Scripture, it is like an ancient sign-board, signifying that there are rich wares within, or like the hands which solid readers have observed in the margin of the older Puritanic books, drawing attention to something particularly worthy of observation." I would add, behold is like a divine highlighter, a divine underlining of an especially striking or important text. It says in effect "Listen up, all ye who would be wise in the ways of Jehovah!"
I am alive forevermore - Jesus speaks of His resurrection to which the writer of Hebrews would say "Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25).
John 11:25-26 - Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
And I have the keys of death and of Hades - Keys open and keys lock and Jesus has both. Hades speaks of judgment which the Father gave over to the Son, John writing "“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son." (John 5:22)
Hades (86)(hades) is the transliteration of the Greek word Hades (from a = negative + eido = to see) literally means "not seen" or "unseen". Usually in the NT as the temporary underworld prison where the souls of the ungodly await the judgment. 10v - Matt. 11:23; Matt. 16:18; Lk. 10:15; Lk. 16:23; Acts 2:27; Acts 2:31; Rev. 1:18; Rev. 6:8; Rev. 20:13; Rev. 20:14
Revelation 6:8 I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
Revelation 20:14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
Gotquestions on Hades - In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word used to describe the realm of the dead is sheol. It simply means “the place of the dead” or “the place of departed souls/spirits.” The New Testament Greek equivalent to sheol is hades, which is also a general reference to “the place of the dead.” The Greek word gehenna is used in the New Testament for “hell” and is derived from the Hebrew word hinnom. Other Scriptures in the New Testament indicated that sheol/hades is a temporary place where souls are kept as they await the final resurrection. The souls of the righteous, at death, go directly into the presence of God—the part of sheol called “heaven,” “paradise,” or “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23).
David Jeremiah - LISTEN TO JESUS REVELATION 1:17–18
I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.
Who is Jesus? He’s the Son of God and the Son of Man. He is the God-man and the man-God. He is Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. He is God walking around in a body. He is God forever enthroned in heaven now at the right hand of the Father. Jesus Christ is God. One of the greatest illustrations of who Christ is and why we should listen to His words is found in the prologue of the Book of Revelation. John was in exile on the Isle of Patmos, and he saw this One to Whom we are appealing and said, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen’ ” (Revelation 1:17–18). There is no one like Jesus Christ. He is the only one who has ever lived or ever will live who has a true grasp of the future. Because the Lord Jesus Christ as God lives in the time about which He speaks, He views all of time as if it were the present. He is the Eternal One, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.
Revelation 1:19 "Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.
NET Revelation 1:19 Therefore write what you saw, what is, and what will be after these things.
NLT Revelation 1:19 "Write down what you have seen-- both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen.
ESV Revelation 1:19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.
NIV Revelation 1:19 "Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.
GNT Revelation 1:19 γράψον οὖν ἃ εἶδες καὶ ἃ εἰσὶν καὶ ἃ μέλλει γενέσθαι μετὰ ταῦτα.
KJV Revelation 1:19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
ASV Revelation 1:19 Write therefore the things which thou sawest, and the things which are, and the things which shall come to pass hereafter;
CSB Revelation 1:19 Therefore write what you have seen, what is, and what will take place after this.
NKJ Revelation 1:19 "Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.
NRS Revelation 1:19 Now write what you have seen, what is, and what is to take place after this.
YLT Revelation 1:19 'Write the things that thou hast seen, and the things that are, and the things that are about to come after these things;
- the things: Rev 1:11,12-20
- and the things which are: Rev 2:1-3:22
- and the things which shall be: Rev 4:1-22:21
THE PLAN OF THE
This verse is the key that opens the door to the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Notice three sets of "the things."
Therefore write the things which you have seen - John refers to the glorified Christ in Revelation 1
and the things which are - This refers to the seven letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3
and the things which will take place after these things - The things that are yet future in Revelation 4-22. Notice the time phrase after these things in Rev 4:1. Notice that there is no mention of a church or churches after Revelation 2-3.
Strauss writes "These three divisions are clear and they do not overlap. Each division is complete in itself and distinct from the other two. This is God's own division of the book. Hold fast to it, and you cannot go astray in your quest to understand its meaning. Do not at any time lift events from one division and attempt to place them in another.
- Chapter 1—The Unveiling of His Person (His Glory)
- Chapters 2 and 3—The Utterances of His Purpose (His Grace)
- Chapters 4-22—The Unfolding of His Power (His Government)
Revelation 1:20 "As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
NET Revelation 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
NLT Revelation 1:20 This is the meaning of the mystery of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
ESV Revelation 1:20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
NIV Revelation 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
GNT Revelation 1:20 τὸ μυστήριον τῶν ἑπτὰ ἀστέρων οὓς εἶδες ἐπὶ τῆς δεξιᾶς μου καὶ τὰς ἑπτὰ λυχνίας τὰς χρυσᾶς· οἱ ἑπτὰ ἀστέρες ἄγγελοι τῶν ἑπτὰ ἐκκλησιῶν εἰσιν καὶ αἱ λυχνίαι αἱ ἑπτὰ ἑπτὰ ἐκκλησίαι εἰσίν.
KJV Revelation 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
ASV Revelation 1:20 the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks are seven churches.
CSB Revelation 1:20 The secret of the seven stars you saw in My right hand and of the seven gold lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
NKJ Revelation 1:20 "The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.
NRS Revelation 1:20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
YLT Revelation 1:20 the secret of the seven stars that thou hast seen upon my right hand, and the seven golden lamp-stands: the seven stars are messengers of the seven assemblies, and the seven lamp-stands that thou hast seen are seven assemblies.
- mystery: Mt 13:11 Lu 8:10
- the seven stars: Rev 1:13,16
- the seven golden: Rev 1:12
- The seven stars: Rev 2:1,8,12,18 3:1,7,14 Mal 2:7
- and the: Zec 4:2 Mt 5:15,16 Php 2:15,16 1Ti 3:14-16
As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand - Don't miss the important truth in this passage regarding mystery. What does John say about mystery? In other words does use the word like we commonly do in secular writings to describe that which is concealed or does he use it to describe what is revealed? Revealed of course. So what does that teach us about the definition of "mystery?" It is something previously hidden which has now been revealed. Mystery occurs 4 times in the Revelation - Rev. 1:20; Rev. 10:7; Rev. 17:5; Rev. 17:7
Notice that the number seven occurs 11 times in Revelation 1 and 6 times in Rev 1:20. - Rev. 1:4; Rev. 1:11; Rev. 1:12; Rev. 1:16; Rev. 1:20
and the seven golden lampstands:
the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches,
and the seven lampstands are the seven churches