Revelation Episode 1

Beth's Notes

We see in the first verse of Chapter One all three members of the Trinity represented, as well as man. Scripture states:
1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.

The Holy Spirit is the great Revealer or the Discloser of Scripture to all the saints in Christ Jesus. I think it interesting to note that God gave Jesus the revelation (the pronoun “him” refers to Jesus) reminding me of Jesus’ Words in Acts 1:7-8. These words of our Lord were given in response to His disciples’ query of if He were now restoring His literal earthly kingdom to Israel of which Christ talked about in several passages of Scripture.  The Jews were all awaiting Jesus’ earthly kingdom. Acts 1:7-8 tells us:  7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:7-8 (NIV)

And again in Matthew 24:36 Jesus states:
36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36 (NIV)

I find it easy to think of it like this: The Father wills it; the Son words it and the Holy Spirit works it. All three God. All three equal. All three differing positions of the Godhead. And all three One.  

The wording “what must soon take place” in verse 1:1 describes quickly, or suddenly coming to pass”, indicating the rapid progression of events once they begin to occur. The idea is not so much that the event will come soon rather when it does come, it will be sudden. 

The name of the angel is not given but Gabriel has been suggested as the one who communicated this message to the apostle John as he was also used to communicate messages in Scripture to Daniel, Zechariah and Mary. In verse two we see the Apostle John faithfully testifying to the Truth of what  he saw and he speaks of the blessing for those who read it, hear it and take it to heart. Encouraging words to begin our study of this great Book. As previously stated, this is the only Book in Scripture containing such a direct promise of blessing.   

Revelation begins and ends with Jesus. He is its futuristic and central theme. It is described by the phrase “the words of this prophecy” implying that the Book as a whole is prophetic and the importance of this prophecy is emphasized by the statement “for the time is near” meaning the next great event on God’s prophetic calendar is near from the standpoint of prophetic revelation. Our task is to be expectant, obedient, ready and prayerfully evangelistic as He will come as “a thief in the night” as described by the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3:
1 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 (NIV)

My desire is for all of us to be informed and all of those we hold near and dear to be informed as well. Jesus is going to return – we can take that to the proverbial bank. 

John is writing to the seven churches in the province of Asia (which was the Roman province of Asia Minor and is now a part of modern-day Turkey). They were the intended recipients of Revelation. All were historically existent at the time of John’s writing in A.D. 95-96. In addition and wholly compatible with this, most commentators say the seven churches can also be representative of seven consecutive periods in church history from its inception through our present day.  John’s commendations and warnings are applicable in every generation – including our own. The seven periods of church history are given approximately as follows:
1. Ephesus – Apostolic church (AD 30-100)
2. Smyrna – Persecuted church (A.D. 100-313)
3. Pergamum – State church (A.D. 313-590)
4. Thyatira – Papal church (A.D. 590-1517)
5. Sardis – Reformed church (A.D. 1517-1790)
6. Philadelphia – Missionary church (A.D. 1730-1900)
7. Laodicea – Apostate church (A.D. 1900-Present)

There are also four major stages represented in Revelation:
1. Chapters 1-3 Church Age  (? Years)
2. Chapters 4-19 Tribulation Age (7 Years)
3. Chapter 20 Kingdom Age (1,000 Years)
4. Chapter 21-22 Eternal Age (Endless)

John’s greeting of “grace and peace” capture the richness of the Christian faith. Grace is God’s attitude of goodwill towards all believers and His good work in us, coupled with all His loving gifts. Grace denotes that which causes joy and pleasure, creating delight in the recipient. It is the favorable disposition of God toward sinners on account of Christ’s work on the cross. God’s grace never changes towards His heirs of mercy, Hallelujah! It is His unsurpassed gift to all who have faith in Jesus. Grace is God’s riches at Christ’s Expense. Peace is the sweet evidence and assurance of this grace and refers to our relationship with God – both the peace with God at our salvation and peace of God in our ongoing relationship with Him as we walk with Him in obedience in His revealed will. This peace denotes a state of untroubled, undisturbed, well-being.  

God the Father is named first as Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, eternal, unchangeable. Next, the Holy Spirit is named in The Seven Spirits, the infinite, perfect Spirit of God, in Whom there is a diversity of gifts and activities. Lastly, the Lord Jesus Christ is described as The Faithful Witness. We can depend upon His testimony as He cannot be deceived and He cannot deceive us. The Firstborn from the dead referring to His resurrection, and the Ruler of the kings of the earth indicating His prophetic role after His second coming in Chapters 19 and 20.        

In His dying on the cross Christ, who loves us, is the One who freed us from our sins by His blood. And has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father therefore all glory and praise are due Him.   Believers in Christ are presently a kingdom and priests with the purpose now and forever of serving God. This prompted John to express a benediction of praise and worship culminating with an Amen. After this doxology, another equally glorious announcement by John immediately arrives on its heels - the second coming of Jesus. The use of the present tense depicts a future act so certain, so sure to be fulfilled, that it can be spoken of as already happening. Christ was received by a cloud in His ascension in Acts 1:9:
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. Acts 1:9 (NIV)

And so He will come again in the clouds of heaven to gather His own.  Indeed in the verses immediately following Acts 1:9 in verses 10-11 we are told:
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10-11 (NIV)

These verses describe the Lord’s Ascension but they also anticipate His return.  He will come back in a cloud, bodily, in view of all people, and to the Mount of Olives - the same way the apostles saw Him go. And John writes in Revelation 1:7:
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. Revelation 1:7 (NIV)

There is no indication that the world as a whole will see Christ at the time of the rapture of the church (where believers will be caught up “in the clouds to meet with the Lord in the air” described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). But when Jesus comes back to establish His kingdom at the second coming, all will see Him, including both those who “pierced Him” as well as all the other peoples of the earth. Christ’s second coming will be visible to the entire world including unbelievers, in contrast with His first coming at His birth in Bethlehem and in contrast with the future Rapture of the church, which probably will not be visible to the earth as a whole. 
Of course, Jesus’ crucifiers who were responsible for His death on Calvary are dead, but this term does not have to be limited to them.  According to Zechariah 12:10 the nation of Israel will look upon Jesus at His return and mourn its rejection of Him as Messiah, albeit many Jews will be saved during the tribulation. The wailing of the Gentile nations will in large part not be a cry of repentance rather one of fear and terror of judgment. The wording indicates that this will most certainly come to pass. Also, the word translated “mourn” used here is the strongest form to describe the outward expression of inward grief. 

God then declares Himself to be the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega - the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.  The description of the Father given in verse 4 is here repeated in verse 8, concluding with “the Almighty” – meaning the all-powerful One, occurring nine times in Revelation. 

Next, John writes to these seven churches that he is their “brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance” that are ours in Christ Jesus. Like every other believer in Jesus, John suffered trials and tribulations which the Lord Jesus has warned all of us about – we are not to be surprised by them rather we are to expect them. Our Lord was not carried to heaven on a bed of down (to say the least) and we are not to expect it either. Indeed John, according to Tertullian, a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa, writes that John was banished (presumably to Patmos) after being plunged into boiling oil in Rome and suffering nothing from it. It is said that everyone in the audience of the Colosseum was converted to Christianity upon witnessing this miracle. Indeed, trials are a given for the child of the King yet, they always have purpose. Always.  

John writes that he was in the Spirit on the Lords day and he heard a voice behind him like a trumpet saying to write what he saw and send it to the seven churches. In stating “the Lord’s day” John was projecting forward in his inner self in a vision – not bodily - to that future day of the Lord when God will pour forth His righteous judgments upon the earth.  He was told to write what he saw and send it to the seven churches.  

He turned to see Who was talking to Him and when he did he saw seven golden lampstands  - seven separate lampstands made of pure gold. The gold representing the deity and the glory of Christ and the implied olive oil to keep the lamps burning is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. 

John next describes the glorious vision of Christ Jesus standing in the midst of these seven lamp stands. Christ’s description has special significance in light of the events that are portrayed in Revelation. “Son of Man” used here in His description emphasizes Jesus’ humanity and Messianic character. And Christ used this term more than any other to refer to Himself. His long robe and sash are the clothing of a priest and judge. The whiteness of His hair corresponded to that of the Ancient of Days in Daniel, which is a reference to God the Father.  Daniel 7:9-10 states:
9 “As I looked, ‘thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. 10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.

The court was seated, and the books were opened. Daniel 7:9-10 (NIV)

God the Son has this same purity and eternity as God the Father, as signified here by the whiteness of His head and hair. His eyes were like blazing fire described His piercing judgment of sin – the searching righteousness of divine judgment upon all that is impure. His feet where portrayed as bronze glowing in a furnace. The bronze altar in the temple was related to sacrifice for sin and divine judgment on it. This depicts Christ standing ready to purify and judge. His voice which sounded as rushing waters (like the Niagara falls) reveals His majesty, power and authority.  

In His right hand He holds seven stars which He tells us are “the angels of the seven churches”. Significantly, Christ held them in His right hand, indicating sovereign possession and protection. Out of Christ’s mouth came a sharp double edged sword. This type of sword was used by the Romans in a stabbing action designed to kill. This is a weapon of devastating judgment and it implies killing the wicked. Jesus Christ was no longer a Baby in Bethlehem or a Man of sorrows crowned with thorns. He was now the Lord of glory to Whom every knee will bow whether forced or not. Paul writes in Romans 14:11-12: 
11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’”  12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.   Romans 14:11-12 (NIV)

The sword coming out of Christ’s mouth also reminds me of the words regarding our choice weapon we are presently to be using against the adversary – the Word of God - written in Hebrews 4:12-13:
12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV)

Lastly, John tells us of the brilliant glory of Christ’s face. This bright light which accompanies the glory of God - blinded the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus – is both a terror to unbelievers and a blessing to believers. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. John tells us in 1 John 1:5-7:   
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7 (NIV)

Just as Moses’ face shown from being in the presence of  God, so to we, as believers are to reflect God’s glory. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:18:
18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV)

A believer’s glory, like that of Moses, is a reflection of the Lord’s glory.  But unlike Moses’ transitory glory a believer’s glory is eternal. This is because of God’s abiding presence through the Holy Spirit.  As believers manifest the fruit of the Spirit, they are progressively being transformed - the same word Paul used in Romans 12:2 - into Christ’s likeness in ever increasing measure, which is the goal of the Christian walk:  
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.   Romans 12:2 (NIV)

The sight of Christ’s glory caused John to fall at His feet as though dead.  Just as the Apostle Paul did when confronted by Jesus on the Road to Damascus. This was the same Jesus that John had enjoyed intimate fellowship with, and was included in His inner circle, and had rested his head between His shoulders.  Yet now His majesty, power and glory were no longer veiled and His righteousness is revealed to be a consuming fire.  The vision was so overwhelming that it made John fall to Christ’s feet as though dead. Yet, in Jesus’ tenderness and compassion, He places His right hand on John and tells him not to be afraid.  

Jesus states He is “the First and the Last”, He is “the Living One”. He lives continually Who, though once dead, is now alive forever and ever.  He conquered death and holds “the keys of Death and Hades”. This is a statement of our Lord’s sovereign authority over both physical death and life after death. In His death and resurrection Christ stripped Satan of any authority he may have had over death. 

Lastly, the three part outline of Revelation is presented. Though a myriad of outlines have been suggested for the Book, none seems to be more practical than the one given here. Following the revelation of Christ in glory, John was again commanded to write. The subject of his record has three tenses: (a) what he had already experienced: what you have seen; (b) the present experiences: what is now; and (c) the future: what will take place later. This appears to be the divine outline of Revelation. What John was told to write was first a record of his experience in Chapter One, now history. Then he was to write the present message of Christ to the seven churches in Chapter Two and Three. Finally, the main purpose of the book being prophetic, he was to introduce the events preceding, culminating in, and following the second coming of Christ in Chapters Four through Twenty-Two.

It is important to remember and note that the revelation embodied in the Book, though often presented in symbols, is designed to reveal Truth, not to hide it.  God never intended to veil Truth from His saints. Symbols in Revelation refer to something literal. There is always reality behind the symbols. God gave us His revelation for our understanding, our obedience, our warning, and our encouragement. Chapter One, emphasizing the glory of Christ, is in essence the theme of the entire Book, moving progressively to the climax – the second coming of Christ and glory to the earth.

These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

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