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- Introduction & Part 1
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INTRODUCTION & SALUTATION 1:1-8 BLB
1B. Introduction 1:1-3 BLB
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,
2 who testifies to everything he saw-- that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
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.
The first three words of this book in the original language of Greek sets the purpose of the entire work. The first word is "Revelation" (Gr. apokalupsis - disclosure, unveiling) which indicates that the information the book contains is meant to reveal truth, not conceal it. In other words, it is knowledge which can and should be understood.
The next two words are "Jesus Christ." The clear implication here is that Jesus Christ is the central subject of the book. Therefore, we should not focus on the Tribulation or Antichrist or the terrible events that are described in these pages. Dreadful things will happen in the future, but these are preparatory to the glorious coming of Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords in chapter 19. This corresponds perfectly to Jesus' own teaching in the Olivet Discourse that the coming trials are like birth pains. An expectant mother may suffer greatly with hard labor, but when the result is a beautiful baby, she will always say that the labor was worth it.
The focus on Jesus Christ is seen throughout the book. Chapter one includes a vision of Jesus in Glory. Chapters two and three are messages from Jesus to His churches, chapters four and five are a heavenly scene with Jesus in view to prepare the reader to know that He is righteous in all the tribulation that will follow. In Chapters nineteen through the end of the book, Jesus is shown to be the coming king.
The book is revealed through an angel to John the Beloved, one of Jesus' twelve apostles. There are many angels in the book, but one in particular seems to have been the messenger ("angel" means messenger) of these things to John. John himself was very old at this time, probably in his 90's. He was in exile on the island of Patmos because of his faith in Christ. John was the only one of the twelve apostles who, according to tradition, was not put to death for his belief in Jesus. However, the traditions do say that he was thrown into a boiling pot of oil and miraculously survived.
A promise is given at the outset that whoever reads this prophecy, or even hears it, since many people did not know how to read, will be "blessed." To be blessed means to be made happy. A person should never become fearful or depressed because of this book. It is meant to bring joy because of the outcome: the triumph of good over evil, the restoration of the earth to perfection, salvation of those who believe in Jesus Christ, and their deliverance from a corrupted world into one of indescribable beauty and opportunity! Of course, those who do not yet know Christ will want to be sure they are in a right relationship with Him.
2B. Salutation 1:4-5d BLB
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,
5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
John greets the believers of the seven churches of Asia, over whom he had evidently been the bishop or "overseer." His greeting is similar to most of Paul's epistles in that it offers "grace and peace." Grace is God's gift, freely given to those who believe in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), and Peace is the result of this gift: We have Peace with God through salvation(Romans 5:1), and may also have the Peace of God (Philippians 4:7), an inner state of mind which does not depend on outward circumstances. This promise of happiness, grace and peace is another indication that the study of eschatology ("last things") should not cause fear and distress, but should result in peace of mind.
The greeting is also from Him "who is, and who was, and who is to come." This is undoubtedly a reference to God the Father (see also verse 8).
The Seven Spirits before His throne identifies the blessed Holy Spirit as co-author of this book as well. The number seven is used repeatedly in The Revelation to indicate completeness or perfection. Thus the Seven Spirits would mean the perfect, complete Spirit, revealed by Jesus to His disciples as the Holy Spirit (John 14:16 ff). This, of course, fortifies the truth found in 2 Timothy 3:16 that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God (literally "God-breathed"). This accounts for the perfect accuracy of Biblical prophecy
Notice that there is yet another greeter here. It is Jesus Christ! Thus all three persons of the Holy Trinity are involved in the giving of this revelation. Jesus describes Himself as "the faithful witness." The Greek word for "witness" is martus, from which we get our word "martyr." The connection is this: those who are witnesses of spiritual truth may be called upon to give their very lives for the truth they believe. Jesus Himself did this, though His death was a necessity for our salvation, He was crucified for telling the truth about Himself.
Two other titles of Christ are given here. He is "the firstborn from the dead," an obvious reference to His Resurrection. Furthermore, He is "the ruler of the kings of the earth," a preview of His glorious return mentioned in verse 7, and described more fully in chapter nineteen. These three descriptions are just the beginning of a very long list of names and titles of Christ given in The Revelation.
3B. Dedication 1:5e-8 BLB
5e To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
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.
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.
8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."
1A. THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST 1:9-18 BLB
(The things which you have seen)
1B. Preparation for the vision 1:9-10 BLB
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.
10 On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,
John identifies with those who read this book as a brother and a fellow-sufferer for bearing the testimony of Jesus. There is no doubt that this book has been valuable for people of all ages, but it is especially instructive to those who find themselves in the "last days" with its persecution of true believers.
John was prepared for reception of a vision by being "in the Spirit" on the Lord's Day. The Lord's Day was Sunday, the day of special importance to Christians because Jesus was raised on this first day of the week. Being "in the Spirit" is referred to elsewhere as being "filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18) and "walking in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25). This is the privilege of every true Christian: to surrender himself or herself to the direction and empowerment of God's Holy Spirit. There is no thought here of entering a trance by use of drugs, hypnosis or other occult practices. John was simply in the right frame of mind for this relation by being filled with the Spirit. The revelation itself came as a vision rather than a dream. In his waking state John was startled by a loud voice.
2B. Presentation of the vision 1:11-18 BLB
1C. The revelation to John 1:11-16 BLB
1D. The Golden Stands 1:11-12 BLB
2D. The Glorified Savior 1:13-16 BLB
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."
12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands,
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.
14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.
15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.
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.
The message was to be written in a scroll and given to the seven churches of Asia over which John had presided. In Chapters 2 and 3 these churches represent the entire period of the church age. There are seven churches, seven golden lampstands and seven stars. Revelation 1:20 equates the seven lampstands to the seven churches, undoubtedly a reference to the golden lampstands in the Tabernacle and the Temple which were symbolic of the light of God's presence on earth. Jesus told His followers, who comprise His Church, that they are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16). The seven stars are also identified in Revelation 1:20. They are the angels of the seven churches. The word "angel" (Greek aggelos) literally means "messenger." Therefore the messengers to these churches may be their pastors. As mentioned in the notes on Revelation 1:4, seven is the number of perfection or completion. Thus these sets of seven churches, lampstands, and angels are representative of the entire church.
The first thing that John saw was a majestic person whom he thought might be Jesus, who often referred to Himself as the Son of Man. Yet he did not fully recognize this glorious person because he seemed different from the gentle Savior he had known so well. These descriptions of Christ are symbolic. There is extensive use of symbolism throughout the book or Revelation. The white hair, fiery eyes glowing feet and His face shining like the sun are pictures of wisdom, holiness and judgment. The concept of His burning eyes is reminiscent of Paul's teaching that Jesus will judge the works of believers, and only what is good will remain. Whatever is useless: wood, hay and stubble, will be consumed by the fire. (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) The bronze feet are a further picture of judgment, bronze being the material of the Altar of Sacrifice (Exodus 27:1-4), and of the serpent in the wilderness, one of God's most graphic judgments of sin. (Numbers 21:5-9; John 3:14-18).
2C. The reaction of John 1:17-18 BLB
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.
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."
John, like most other people in the Bible who received such visions, was terrified! He fainted, but was revived by the glowing vision of Christ, who put his hand on him and identified Himself with several meaningful descriptions. He is the First and the Last, an appellation that could only refer to God. To John this would not contradict his impression that it was Jesus since he had often equated Jesus with God in his writings (John 1:1-2,14; 20:28), and referred to Him as The Son of God (John 1:34;3:16-17; 5:18; 19:7).
By calling Himself the Living One, who was dead and was now alive forever, Jesus confirmed His identity to John. He who had come the first time as Savior was now preparing to come again as Judge. Thus he held the keys of death and Hades. Hades is the name of the place of departed spirits. It is seen as the enemy of the Church (Matthew 16:18). Since Christ's ascension (Ephesians 4:8-10), it is the temporary abode of unbelievers who have died and await their final judgment (Revelation 6:8; 20:13-14).