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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Revelation 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-3

The Introduction to the Book of Revelation - John 1:1-3 serves as the introduction to the book of Revelation. It may have been written by the apostle John himself, but since these opening verses refer to him in the third person, it may well have been added by his disciples in order to prepare this document as a circular letter. For example, these disciples may have added words that John himself used in introducing this Revelation to the churches.

The Direct Words of Jesus Christ- G. Campbell Morgan notes how the book of Revelation was written by the apostle, not by non-visionary inspiration as were the Gospels and New Testament epistles, but by direct communication in a divine vision between the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostle John himself. Thus, this book contains the last words of the Lord Jesus Christ to one of the Twelve apostles. 25]

25] G. Campbell Morgan, A First Century Message to Twentieth Century Christians: Addressed Based Upon the Seven Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1902), 7.

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:

Revelation 1:1 — "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" - Comments - "The Revelation" - The word "revelation" does not mean something that is hidden, but rather, something that is revealed. The book of Revelation is not the book of hidden mysteries not to be revealed, but rather, the unfolding of the events of the last days that will usher God's children into eternity. It is God's intent that we understand this glorious book and not lay it aside as being too difficult to understand. This is why this same verse says, "to show (or reveal) unto His servants," and why Jesus will tell John , "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein." ( Revelation 1:3) Thus, we must understand this revelation in order to keep the words written in it.

"of Jesus Christ" - Some commentators and scholars entitle this book "The Revelation of John the Apostle." However, this is in fact the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Since the underlying theme of the book of Revelation is the glorification of the Church, the phrase "the revelation of Jesus Christ" more specifically refers to His Second Coming, when He will reveal Himself to the Church and to the world in all of His Glory. The book of Revelation is structured around the events leading up to His Second Coming. We find this same Greek phrase used three other times in the New Testament as a reference to His Second Coming, sometimes being translated into English as "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," or "the appearing of Jesus Christ."

1 Corinthians 1:7, "So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:"

1 Peter 1:7, "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:"

1 Peter 1:13, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;"

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ" - This book is given a title by the author, "A Revelation of Jesus Christ." In addition, the phrase "the revelation of Jesus Christ" refers to the fact that the book of Revelation will reveal Jesus Christ in three of His offices and ministries during the last days. In particular, Revelation 1-3will reveal Jesus Christ in His office as Head of the Church, in which passages He will be judging the Church in order to prepare it for His Second Coming to receive it in the form of the Rapture. As Head of the Church He has the authority to judge His body. Revelation 4:1 to Revelation 19:10 reveals Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. This title gives Him the authority to judge the world in preparation for His Second Coming at the end of the Great Tribulation Period, for He alone is worthy to open the seals of the book that contains God's judgment upon this earth for crucifying God's Son. Revelation 19:11 to Revelation 22:5 reveals Jesus Christ as the King of Kings, who will reign on earth at the time of His Coming. Thus, the book of Revelation is indeed a revelation of Jesus Christ as He serves in His offices related to His Second Coming.

The book of Revelation will reveal additional aspects of His divinity. To the Church Jesus Christ is also revealed as the Faithful Witness, the First Begotten from the Dead, the eternal Son of God, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, who judges the Church to make it read as His bride, and who is coming again in clouds of glory ( Revelation 1:4 to Revelation 3:22). The Gospel of John also reveals the divine character of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. The Synoptic Gospels have revealed Jesus Christ as the Messiah and King of the Jews (Matthew), as the Miracle-Worker (Mark) and as the Saviour of the World (Luke). The epistles have revealed Jesus as the Head of the Church, the Shepherd of the Sheep as well as our Great Intercessor. However, the book of Revelation emphasizes Jesus' ministry related to His Second Coming in order to rule and reign on earth eternally.

Revelation 1:1 — "to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass" - Comments- The purpose of this revelation to John is to show what things are soon going to happen on this earth. By its very nature apocalyptic literature was written to those who were being persecuted by ruling powers. Therefore, the urgency of its prophetic message and the element of time are important in order to give its readers hope. John introduces his letters to the seven churches by saying that he was their brother and companion in their present tribulation ( Revelation 1:9).

Revelation 1:9, " 1 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."

The book of Revelation closes with an urgent statement, saying, "the time is at hand" ( Revelation 22:10), and "behold, I come quickly" ( Revelation 22:12), and "Surely, I come quickly" ( Revelation 22:20).

The recipients are "His servants," Christians. In other words, this revelation was not just to John the apostle or the early Church. This revelation is for all believers of all ages to study and to understand.

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.

Revelation 1:2 — "Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ" - Comments- In the opening verse that God gave the word to John the apostle. This Word of God became a Revelation , or a testimony, of Jesus Christ. This phrase will be used again in Revelation 1:9 and Revelation 6:9.

Revelation 1:9, " 1 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."

Revelation 6:9, "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:"

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.

Revelation 1:3 — "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy" - Comments- The reader is singular and they that hear are plural. In those times, there were fewer books and less people who could read. Song of Solomon , one who could read would read aloud to his hearers.

Some scholars see this phrase particularly referring to the practice of the public reading of God's Word, which was practiced by the early Church and which goes back to the time of Moses and even Joshua. Moses commanded this public reading to be done every seven years. These leaders of Israel read to the people in order that they might understand God's ways.

Deuteronomy 31:10-11, "And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing."

Joshua 8:34-35, "And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them."

The Scriptures reveal that Ezra and Nehemiah carried on this custom of the public reading of Scriptures.

Nehemiah 8:1-3, "And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law."

During Ezra's time, the Scriptures were interpreted for the people in order that they could have full understanding of the Hebrew language, who were now speaking Aramaic.

Nehemiah 8:8, "So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading."

During the inter-biblical period, the priests began to read and exhort from the Scriptures in the Jewish synagogues. We see Jesus not only reading the Scriptures publicly in Luke 4:14-30, but exhorting and teaching the people publicly out of the Scriptures.

During the time of Timothy, the apostolic writings began to be read at church gatherings along with the Old Testament Scriptures. As a result, these writings began to hold equal authority to the Old Testament Scriptures. Thus, we see in 1 Timothy 4:13 the beginning of the canonization of the New Testament Scriptures.

1 Timothy 4:13, "Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine."

Now here, several decades later in John's writings, we see in Revelation 1:3 a reference to public reading as it became established in the churches of Asia Minor:

Revelation 1:3 — "for the time is at hand" - Comments- The author tells us that the time for these events to occur is "at hand", or "near". What events that are approaching so quickly is this verse referring to? Note that this book was written two thousand (2000) years ago, yet the time is near. Many scholars suggest that the letters to the seven churches refer to seven periods of Church history that begin with the death of the last apostle John and end with the Rapture of the Church two thousand years later. This would be one way to explain the use of the phrase in Revelation 1:3, "the time is at hand".

Revelation 1:3Comments- There are blessings bestowed upon the readers and hearers and doers of the Word of this prophecy. Note that the hearers of this word are also to become doers (See James 1:19-27). The blessings of God come after doing three things: reading, hearing, taking heed to what has been heard. Like in all the Scriptures, the blessings come by reaping what we have sown, when one obeys God's Word as a sower of that Word. This pattern of blessings is not unique to Revelation , but is found throughout the Holy Scriptures.


Verses 4-8

John's Salutation to the Seven Churches - Revelation 1:4-8 gives us John's salutation to the seven churches in Asia Minor.

Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which Isaiah , and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

Revelation 1:4 — "John" - Comments- The writer of this revelation is John the apostle who was overseeing the churches of Asia Minor founded by Paul. God used John to write the Gospel that revealed Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

Revelation 1:4 — "to the seven churches which are in Asia" - Comments- John uses the number seven throughout the book of Revelation to signify the divine intervention of God upon the earth. Thus, the seven churches in Asia listed in Revelation 2-3are the work of God. These churches are the recipients of John's message and are mentioned here by name:

1. Letter to Ephesus — Revelation 2:1-7

2. Letter to Smyrna — Revelation 2:8-11

3. Letter to Pergamos — Revelation 2:12-17

4. Letter to Thyatira — Revelation 2:18-29

5. Letter to Sardis — Revelation 3:1-6

6. Letter to Philadelphia — Revelation 3:7-13

7. Letter to Laodicea — Revelation 3:14-22

Revelation 1:4 — "Grace be unto you, and peace" - Comments- These blessings of grace and peace from God must surely come upon those who read God's Word. The depth of these words is vast. Much study is required.

Revelation 1:4 — "from him which Isaiah , and which was, and which is to come" - Comments- In Revelation 1:4 John is referring to God the Father. In the phrase "from him which Isaiah , and which was, and which is to come," John is describing an immortal, eternal God from the human perspective of time as man envisions Him: for God does not dwell within the realm of time nor space, but in eternity. Thus, He can dwell in the past, present and future as one time. Throughout the Scriptures, each book of the Bible describes God in a way that fits the theme of each book. Thus, the book of Revelation opens with a description of God who encounters mankind, who lives in the realm of time. This is because this last book of the Bible places emphasis upon the element of time within its prophetic message. Note that we have already had two references to this element of time in the opening verses: "things which must shortly come to pass" ( Revelation 1:1), and "for the time is at hand" ( Revelation 1:3). The book closes with the phrase "the time is at hand" ( Revelation 22:10). Thus, we see a clear emphasis upon a prophetic timeline that is presented within the book of Revelation. Thus, John describes God from the perspective of a prophetic time.

Revelation 1:4 — "and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne" - Comments- As in the book of Ezekiel , these spirits are those who are sent forth to set in motion the prophetic events described in the book of Revelation. However, Hilton Sutton says that these seven spirits first mentioned in Revelation 1:4 represent the Holy Spirit. He says that there are seven spirits mentioned in Revelation 1:4; Revelation 4:5 because they represent the diverse nature of the Holy Spirit. 27] If this is the proper interpretation, then it is important to note that this is the first time that the Holy Spirit is represented as being before the throne of God. Sutton suggests that this means the Holy Spirit has completed his assignment upon the earth. When Jesse Duplantis was caught up into Heaven, he saw the throne of God and he met Jesus. When he asked where the Holy Spirit was, the reply given was that the Holy Spirit was still on earth as this time. 28] Therefore, Sutton suggests that these seven spirits represent the fact that the Holy Spirit has completed His work and has now returned to Heaven with the Rapture of the Church and is manifesting Himself as seven spirits.

27] Hilton Sutton, Revelation: God's Grand Finale (Tulsa, Oklahoma, c 1984), 30.

28] Jesse Duplantis, Heaven Close Encounters of the God Kind (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Harrison House, 1996), 118-9.

Revelation 4:5, "And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God."

If we believe that the Holy Spirit is omnipresent when dwelling with the saints of God upon the earth, then it is possible for Him to represent Himself as seven spirits before God's throne.

We also observe how Revelation 1:4-5 lists God, the seven Spirits and Jesus Christ as the Ones who are sending this revelation to John the apostle. Having sent this message by His angel ( Revelation 1:1), we can gather from the context of this passage that John is referring to the Trinity. Thus, the seven Spirits is a reference to the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 1:4Comments- In a similar way that the early apostles were instructed by Jesus to let their peace come upon the home of their host ( Matthew 10:13), so did Paul the apostle opening every one of his thirteen New Testament epistles with a blessing of God's peace and grace upon his readers. Peter, John and Jude do the same in their epistles. We find this blessing in the book of Revelation. Matthew 10:13 shows that you can bless a house by speaking God"s peace upon it.

Matthew 10:13, "And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you."

This practice of speaking blessings upon God's children may have its roots in the Priestly blessing of Numbers 6:22-27, where God instructed Moses to have the priests speak a blessing upon the children of Israel. We see in Ruth 2:4 that this blessing became a part of the Jewish culture when greeting people. Boaz blessed his workers in the field and his reapers replied with a blessing.

Ruth 2:4, "And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee."

We also see this practiced by the king in 2 Samuel 15:20 where David says, "mercy and truth be with thee".

2 Samuel 15:20, "Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither I may, return thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and truth be with thee."

Song of Solomon , this word of blessing was a part of the Hebrew and Jewish culture. This provides us the background as to why Paul was speaking a blessing upon the church at Rome, especially that God would grant them more of His grace and abiding peace that they would have otherwise not known.

Song of Solomon , this word of blessing was a part of the Hebrew and Jewish culture. This provides us the background as to why John was speaking a blessing on the seven churches of Asia Minor, especially that God would grant them more of His grace and abiding peace that they would have otherwise not known. In faith, we too, can receive this same blessing into our lives. John actually pronounces and invokes a blessing of divine grace and peace upon his readers with these words, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." I do not believe this blessing is unconditional, but rather conditional. In other words, it is based upon the response of his hearers. The more they obey these divine truths laid forth in this epistle, the more God's grace and peace is multiplied in their lives. We recall how the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, with six tribes standing upon Mount Gerizim to bless the people and six tribes upon Mount Ebal to curse the disobedient ( Deuteronomy 27:11-26). Thus, the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 28:1-68 were placed upon the land. All who obeyed the Law received these blessings, and all who disobeyed received this list of curses. In the same way John invokes a blessing into the body of Christ for all who will hearken unto the divine truths of this epistle.

We see this obligation of the recipients in Beck's translation of 2 Peter 1:2, "As you know God and our Lord Jesus, may you enjoy more and more of His love and peace."

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,

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" - Comments- Revelation 1:5 reveals the three-fold revelation of Jesus' office and ministry in His Second Coming and final triumph over Satan. He will be revealed as the faithful witness ( Revelation 1:9 to Revelation 3:22), and the first begotten of the dead ( Revelation 4:1 to Revelation 19:10), and the prince of the kings of the earth ( Revelation 19:11 to Revelation 20:15). Jesus was a faithful witness for God the Father during His earthly ministry; for He testified of the Father. He was faithful unto death, and became the first begotten from the dead at His glorious Resurrection. When He returns the second time to rule and reign from Jerusalem He will be crowned "Ruler of the kings of the earth". John the apostle will use this three-fold revelation of Jesus Christ to structure the book of Revelation. In Revelation 1-3Jesus Christ will be the faithful witness to the seven churches. In Revelation 4:1 to Revelation 19:10 we find Jesus Christ as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth, who is found worthy to open the seven seals that will judge the earth. In Revelation 19:11 to Revelation 22:5 Jesus is revealed as the King of Kings who goes forth to conquer the kings of the earth.

Revelation 1:5 — "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood" - Comments- This is a reference to Jesus Christ and His atoning death on Calvary, and the motive of love that caused Him to suffer such anguish for a lost and dying world.

Revelation 1:5Comments- The book of Revelation will now place emphasis upon Jesus' office and ministry as the soon conquering king. He has been the Word of God in creation, our Redeemer on Calvary and the Head of the Church. Now He comes as the King of kings to rule the nations of the earth. His office as King of kings brings His people into a similar office as they serve Him. Thus, Revelation 1:6 describes His church as "kings and priests unto God".

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.

Revelation 1:6"And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father" - Comments- The phrase "kings and priests" is also stated in Revelation 5:10. As kings, the saints have authority now on earth ( Ecclesiastes 8:4). It does not matter how insignificant you may appear to be on your job or to the world. If you are Christian, you have supernatural authority through your spoken word. Song of Solomon , "speak thou the things which become sound doctrine." ( Titus 2:1).

Revelation 5:10, "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."

Ecclesiastes 8:4, "Where the word of a king Isaiah , there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?"

Revelation 1:6 — "to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" - Comments- The phrase "for ever and ever" is used throughout the Scriptures. In the Greek this phrase literally reads, "unto the ages of ages." An age would be equivalent to a particular era or period in the history of mankind. For example, the phrase "time of the Gentiles" ( Romans 11:25) refers to the period in which Gentile nations began to dominate the earth after the fall of Israel with the Babylonian Captivity. Thus, this Greek phrase refers to such "ages" in the past and implies that there will be "ages" to come in the future after we enter Heaven.

Revelation 1:4-6Comments - The Trinity in Heaven- Note that there are three sources of God"s grace and peace to the seven churches (and to us also). This grace is given to the Church as each member of the Trinity fulfills their office and ministry.

1. From God the Father "who is (present), who was (past), and who is coming (future)."

2. From the Holy Spirit, called "the seven spirits before His throne."

3. From Jesus Christ:

a. A faithful witness

b. The first born from dead

c. The Ruler of the Kingdoms of earth

This description of the Trinity in Revelation 1:4-5 reflects how we will see and understand the Trinity in Heaven, and ourselves as redeemed from sin and servants of God ( Revelation 1:6). We will see God on His throne dwelling in eternity, and the Holy Spirit as the seven Spirits before His throne, and Jesus Christ as the ruler over all nations.

Revelation 1:5-6Comments- Summary of Christ's Redemption for Mankind- Revelation 1:5-6 gives us three things that summarize our redemption.

1. He presently loves us.

2. He loosed us from our sin by His atoning death on the Cross.

3. He made us a kingdom of priests who serve Go. We ourselves are a kingdom, a kingdom of priest, intercessors from nations around the world and Jesus is the Ruler, our King ( Revelation 1:5).

It was God's love that moved Him to send His Son to pay for our sins. It was Jesus' work on Calvary that washed away our sins. Our redemption made us kings and priests unto God. Thus, Revelation 1:5-6 describes the saints of God in the way that they will appear in Heaven. Our redemption through God's love will be celebrated forever as we rule and reign as kings and priests unto God. This describes our office and ministry in Glory in the same way that Revelation 1:4 gives us a brief glimpse into how we will perceive the Trinity in Heaven.

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 Song of Solomon , Amen.

Revelation 1:7 — "Behold, he cometh with clouds" - Comments- The book of Daniel portrays the Messiah riding on a cloud ( Daniel 7:13). The eschatological passages of the New Testament tell us that Jesus Christ will come to earth a second time riding upon a cloud ( Matthew 24:30; Matthew 26:64, Mark 13:26; Mark 14:62, Luke 21:27, 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Revelation 1:7). This cloud of heaven may be likened to a royal chariot, horse or palanquin upon which ancient kings often rode. These royal vehicles were often preceded by forerunners, men who ran before the king to announce his coming. We see such a scene when Elijah ran before Ahab's chariot ( 1 Kings 18:46). The Song of Solomon 3:6-11 describes a wedding processional with the bride in a royal palanquin perfumed with spices ( Revelation 3:6; Revelation 3:9-10), accompanied by sixty valiant men armed with swords ( Revelation 3:7-8) approaching Jerusalem.

Daniel 7:13, "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him."

Matthew 24:30, "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."

Matthew 26:64, "Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."

Mark 13:26, "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory."

Mark 14:62, "And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."

Luke 21:27, "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory."

1 Thessalonians 4:17, "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

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 Song of Solomon , Amen."

1 Kings 18:46, "And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel."

Revelation 1:7 — "and every eye shall see him" - Comments- Billy Graham refers to Revelation 1:7, saying that there will be a moment in the redemptive history of mankind when both sinners and saints will see the Lord Jesus Christ in all of His magnificent glory. The saints will spend eternity in His presence, but sinners will spend eternity in damnation separated from their glorious Saviour, whom they saw for only a moment in time. 29]

29] Billy Graham, "Sermon," Billy Graham Classics, Melbourne, Australia, 1959.

Revelation 1:7 — "and they also which pierced him" - Comments - There are only two other passages in the Holy Bible that refer to Jesus' pierced side. John quotes the Old Testament prophecy found in Zechariah 12:10 as one of the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled during His crucifixion. Note:

Zechariah 12:10, "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only Song of Solomon , and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn."

John 19:31-37, "The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced."

Why are these particular people distinguished out of all of mankind in seeing Jesus come in power and authority? Note: The context is of Jesus as King (verse 5, "the prince of the kings of the earth."). Also verse 5 brings declares Jesus as a faithful witness and the first begotten from the dead. Remember that those who pierced Jesus also mocked His claim as a King. These skeptical witnesses believed that He would die and no longer be a bold witness. These witnesses of Jesus" death will see Him as having been a faithful witness until His death, His true resurrection, and His true authority as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Revelation 1:7Comments - Many scholars believe that Jesus Christ will make His next appearance on earth to rapture the Church as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. At this time it seems that only the saints that are alive and those being resurrected will see Him as they join Him in the sky. This appearance is called the Rapture of the Church which immediately precedes the seven-year Tribulation. At the end of this terrible Tribulation Jesus Christ will not only appear, but will return and come to Jerusalem where He will rule and reign on earth with the saints for one thousand years. Thus, we have Jesus' appearing before the Tribulation and His return after the Tribulation. The description in Revelation 1:7 of all the earth seeing Him and wailing sounds like Jesus' return at the end of the Tribulation. Hilton Sutton says that Isaiah 9:6-7 is a prophecy of Jesus' return when He sets up His earthly kingdom at the end of the Tribulation period and the beginning of the thousand-year Millennium. 30]

30] Hilton Sutton, Revelation: God's Grand Finale (Tulsa, Oklahoma, c 1984), 31.

Isaiah 9:6-7, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."

Scholars believe that Revelation 1:7 describes Jesus Christ's return at the end of the seven-year Tribulation period. We have a similar description in Matthew 24:30 and Zechariah 12:10.

Matthew 24:30, "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."

Zechariah 12:10, "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn."

It is possible that Revelation 14:14 gives us another description of this same event.

Revelation 14:14, "And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of Prayer of Manasseh , having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle."

This verse in Revelation 1:7 clearly reveals that Jesus will avenge His crucifixion upon a depraved humanity that crucified him. All the world will mourn under His wrath and vengeance.

Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which Isaiah , and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Revelation 1:8 — "I am Alpha and Omega" - Comments - The words "Alpha" and "Omega" are the first and last letter of Greek alphabet. This title represents His character as being from the beginning to the end. It means that each aspect of His character is without measure.

Revelation 1:8Comments- This divine name of Jesus is given at the beginning and at the end of the book of Revelation. This gives us a hint as to its theme.

Revelation 22:13, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."

Revelation 1:8Scripture References- Note similar verses:

Revelation 1:4, "John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which Isaiah , and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;"

Isaiah 41:4, "Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he."

Isaiah 44:6, "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."

Hebrews 7:3, "Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually."

Hebrews 12:2, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."


Verses 4-22

The Message to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor - Revelation 1:4 to Revelation 3:22 records Jesus' message to the seven churches of Asia Minor, a message that places emphasis upon their perseverance in the faith, and a message that reveals Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church. We know that we have moved from the General epistles, which carry the underlying theme of the perseverance of the church, and into the book of Revelation. Thus, this section of the book is transitional in that its message is directed to the Church during its closing age as we leave that theme and move into the theme of the glorification of the Church. At the time of the rapture of the Church, which immediately precedes the seven-years of tribulation, the nation of Israel takes back the center stage of man's history and plays an important role in the rest of this book.

Hilton Sutton calls the first chapter of Revelation the "cover letter" to the seven epistles that John sent to the seven churches of Asia Minor. 26] This cover letter explained to the churches how he received the vision and the reason for sending it to them. This cover letter is followed by seven letters to the seven leading churches of Asia Minor.

26] Hilton Sutton, Revelation: God's Grand Finale (Tulsa, Oklahoma, c 1984), 29.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. John's Salutation to the Seven Churches — Revelation 1:4-8

2. John's Reason for Writing — Revelation 1:9-20

3. Letters to the Seven Churches — Revelation 2:1 to Revelation 3:22


Verses 9-20

John's Reason for Writing to the Seven Churches - In Revelation 1:9-20 John the apostle gives his reason for writing to the seven churches of Asia.

Revelation 1:9 1 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.

Revelation 1:9 — "for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ" - Comments- We find this phrase used in the opening verse of Revelation 1:2 and in Revelation 6:9.

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."

Revelation 6:9, "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:"

Revelation 1:9Comments- It is difficult to assign an exact date to the period of John"s exile on the island of Patmos. According to ancient church history, it very likely took place in the early 90"s, during the reign of Domitian, the Roman Emperor. Philip Schaff writes:

"The time of the exile is uncertain, and depends upon the disputed question of the date of the Apocalypse. External evidence points to the reign of Domitian, A.D 95; internal evidence to the reign of Nero, or soon after his death, A.D 68. The prevailing—we may say the only distinct tradition, beginning with so respectable a witness as Irenaeus about 170, assigns the exile to the end of the reign of Domitian, who ruled from 81to 96." 31]

31] Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), 427.

Schaff later concludes from internal evidence in the book of Revelation that this exile took place during the time of Nero, perhaps in the late 60"s. 32]

32] Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), 428.

I would be inclined to believe that a number of John's ministers from the churches of Asia minor also made their way to the isle of Patmos to attend to him, if the Roman government allowed for such passage to the island. Thus, it is very likely that John was not isolated by himself during this time of exile.

Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord"s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

Revelation 1:10 — "I was in the Spirit on the Lord"s day" - Comments- John's phrase "on the Lord's day" ( εν τη κυριακη ημερα) is unique to Scriptures and is generally understood as a reference to Sunday, the first day of the week. Because Jesus Christ rose on the first day of the week, the early Church began to meet on that day rather than on the Sabbath ( Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2).

Acts 20:7, "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight."

1 Corinthians 16:2, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."

However, John H. Ogwyn interprets this phrase to read "in the day of the Lord," referring to "the future prophetic time that he saw in the vision" called the "Day of the Lord" in many Old Testament passages of Scripture. 33]

33] John H. Ogwyn, Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled! (Living Church of God 2003) [on-line]; accessed 19 September 2010; available from http://www.tomorrowsworld.org/media/booklets/ru.pdf; Internet, 6.

Revelation 1:10 — "and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet" - Comments- John will again hear a voice as of a trumpet in Revelation 4:1 after recording these seven letters to the churches. It is most likely the same voice of our Lord Jesus Christ that will call him up into Heaven.

Revelation 4:1, "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter."

Revelation 1:10Comments- My experiences as a Christian show that it is during our greatest trials that God manifests Himself to us in the greatest ways. The greater the trial, the greater the grace that God gives to us ( 2 Corinthians 12:9). John the apostle received perhaps the greatest revelation and divine visitation during the most difficult period of his life. God will often do the same for us.

2 Corinthians 12:9, "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

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.

Revelation 1:11"What thou seest, write in a book" - Comments- The Greek word used here for book is βιβλί ον, which means a scroll, and not χά ρτης, which means a piece of paper. Both were made out of papyrus, but the amount of material contained in the book of Revelation would not fit on a single sheet of paper. It most likely filled a normal size scroll.

Revelation 1:11 — "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." - Comments- We know that John the apostle was literally writing to these seven churches of Asia Minor. However, these seven churches represent all of the churches in the body of Christ.

In other words, in his Gospel, John the apostle records seven key miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ in John 2-11in order to represent the healing ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, although Jesus wrought many more miracles. He also records seven events in the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus that fulfilled Old Testament prophecy in order to represent the fulfillment of prophecy, although Jesus fulfilled many more prophecies. John also gives us seven occurrences in his Gospel where the Jews rejected Jesus and the Gentiles accepted Him. Therefore, these seven churches are representative of the entire body of Christ.

We also know from Revelation 22:16 that this message to the seven churches extends beyond the first three chapters. The message is contained in the entire book of Revelation.

Revelation 22:16, "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star."

Revelation 1:12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

Revelation 1:12 — "And I turned to see the voice that spake with me" - Comments- John Ogwyn suggests that John the apostle turned around and looked behind him because he was standing in the future of the last days immediately before Jesus' Second Coming, so that the "Church Age" was almost ended. 34]

34] John H. Ogwyn, Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled! (Living Church of God, 2003) [on-line]; accessed 20 March 2010; available from http://www.tomorrowsworld.org/media/booklets/ru.pdf; Internet, 12.

Revelation 1:12 — "And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks" - Comments- Jesus Christ will tell John in Revelation 1:20 that the seven golden candlesticks represent the seven churches in Asia Minor that John is to send his message to. Why are churches represented in John's vision as candlesticks and not images of a congregation gathered in a church? I. Rodes says this description is used because God has ordained the institution of the church to be the light of the truth upon earth until Jesus' Second Coming. 35] The Church will play a vital role in the end times by proclaiming the Second Coming of the Saviour and eternal judgment to the world.

35] I. Rode, Studies in the Book of Revelation (Oakland, California: Eusebia Publishing Company, 1902), 6.

Revelation 1:13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of Prayer of Manasseh , clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

Revelation 1:13Comments- As Jesus Christ stands in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, we see the representation of how He stands continually in the midst of these seven churches in Asia Minor.

Revelation 1:16 — "And he had in his right hand seven stars" - Comments- We are told in Revelation 1:20 that the seven stars represent the seven angels, or messengers, of the seven churches of Asia Minor.

Revelation 1:16 — "out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword" - Comments- In Julius Oyet"s heavenly vision, he says, "Every moment the Lord speaks, you feel a sharp sword of love piercing you from the center of your heart spreading to the rest of the body. It is really the voice of the Creator ever powerful as it was at creation. He speaks and things come into being." 36]

36] Julius Peter Oyet, I Visited Heaven (Kampala, Uganda: Bezalel Design Studio, 1997), 69.

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:

Revelation 1:17 — "And he laid his right hand upon me" - Comments- Jesus Christ is holding the seven stars in his right hand in the previous verse ( Revelation 1:16), despite the fact that He reaches out with this same hand to touch John the apostle. Jesus continues to be portrayed as holding these stars in his right hand in Revelation 2:1. Thus, the imagery in the book of Revelation is more allegorical than literal.

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.

Revelation 1:18Illustration- In the first decade of this century, B. H Carroll, the founder of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Fort Worth, Texas, was traveling out west on a train, and looking out across the Texas plains. The Lord gave him a vision of setting up a school to train young preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As he considered the Lord using him, he thought of his old age, his weak body and his lack of strength to perform such a task. The Lord immediately brought this verse to his heart, speaking it clearly to his spirit. He went to Baylor and urged the faculty to begin a program for training young preachers. In 1908, this program began. Shortly afterwards, he confronted the faculty about building a separate institution, a seminary. In 1910 SWBTS built its first building in Fort Worth, Texas, and opened its doors. B.H Carroll remained its president for only six short years. He died in 1914, just a few years after the seminary began classes. L.R. Scarborough, E.D. Head, J. Howard Williams, Robert E. Naylor and Russell H. Dilday, Jr. have all followed as presidents after B.H Carroll's death. Jesus is he that liveth. He was dead, and, behold he is alive forever more. This is what God can do through one man's vision from 1908-1983, for seventy-five years. SWBTS has enrolled 40 ,000 students, graduated 20 ,000 and contributed as much as half of the foreign missionaries of the Southern Baptist Convention. What a vision! 37]

37] Gary Everett, "Class Notes," in "Baptist History," Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, Fall, 1981.

Note Romans 4:19-22, which tells us that Abraham staggered not at God's promise though His body was one hundred years old. That is letting Jesus, who is alive forever more, live through you.

Revelation 1:19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

Revelation 1:19Comments- The past, present, and future tenses are used in Revelation 1:19 for John to understand that he is to record everything that he has been and will be seeing in this vision. Jesus tells John that this vision will include visions of future events that are to take place upon the earth. Therefore, we must understand that the symbolic language in the book of Revelation are intended to describe actual, historical events.

1. "the things which thou hast seen" - Revelations Revelation 1:12-17.

2. "the things which are" - Revelations Revelation 1:20 to Revelation 3:22.

3. "the things which shall be hereafter" - Revelations Revelation 4:1 to Revelation 22:5.

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.

Revelation 1:20 — "The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches" - Comments- Revelation 1:20 tells us that there were seven "angels" over the seven churches of Asia Minor. It is easy to become divided over whether the angels who have been placed over the seven churches refer to heavenly angels or to the pastors of these churches. The word "angels" found in Revelation 1:20 is the Greek word ά γγελος (G 32), which literally means, "one who is sent, messengers, or an envoy". We find this Greek word used in Luke 7:24; Luke 9:52 to refer to men who were sent as messengers by John the Baptist and by Jesus Himself. The Greek word was used to describe the coming of John the Baptist as a messenger sent from God in Matthew 11:10, Mark 1:2 and Luke 7:27. The word ά γγελος was frequently used in the LXX to refer to men who were sent as messengers. This word is also used in extra-biblical Greek literature to refer to men. This view that the word is referring to the local pastors may be additionally supported because of the fact that the seven letters in Revelation 2:1 to Revelation 3:22 are each addressed to the seven "messengers," which means that someone has to deliver a literal letter to the church members of these seven churches. In other words, John the apostle was told to deliver seven letters to seven "messengers," which would appear awkward if this were a reference to angelic beings. Thus, many scholars believe that the word is used in its literal sense to refer to the pastors of the churches and not angels.

In the New Testament, the word "angels" ( ά γγελος) more frequently refers to heavenly beings sent from God to speak to man than it does to humans. Therefore, many reputable scholars, such as Hilton Sutton, teach that these were heavenly angels who were assigned to watch over each of these churches. 38] We must agree that the context of the book of Revelation can allow for either interpretation. I believe it refers to the pastors of the seven churches who are to deliver a message to each of their churches.

38] Hilton Sutton, Revelation: God's Grand Finale (Tulsa, Oklahoma, c 1984), 35.

Revelation 1:20 — "and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches" - Comments- The seven candlesticks in Revelation 1:20 represent the seven churches of Asia Minor. They represent the presence of God and the Holy Spirit in the midst of their congregations. This is easily seen in the letter to the Ephesians ( Revelation 2:1-7) when Jesus warns that He will remove their candlestick out of its place (from the presence of God) and they will find themselves in darkness without the working of the Holy Spirit in their midst.

Revelation 2:5, "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."

The number seven is significant in the fact that it symbolizes divine intervention. The seven years of prosperity and of famine in the time Joseph served as testimonies that God was orchestrating these events. In a similar way, God had established seven churches in Asia Minor to which John was the elder.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Revelation 1:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/revelation-1.html. 2013.

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