Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Revelation 1 (Introduction)

1:1-3 Introduction and Benediction

“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, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. 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” (Revelation 1:1-3).

a) Revelation is about Jesus Christ; he is the interpretive center.

b) The time texts lay the foundation for how we interpret this book.

c) Revelation is signified, full of symbols, just like OT prophecy.

d) Blessing is promised for those who read and obey.

1:4-8 Greeting to the Seven Churches

“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, 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, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:4-6).

a) John is recording this letter specifically for the seven churches that are in Asia minor. The entire letter is for their benefit. Along with the time texts, this points us toward a first century fulfillment.

b) Jesus has ascended and is ruler over the kings on earth.

c) Jesus has made us kings and priests.

“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. 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” (Revelation 1:7-8).

a) “He is coming with clouds” is not a reference to the second coming, nor is this a personal coming. This is OT language for a coming in judgment (cf. Isaiah 19:1). Jesus will come in the sense that he will send his agents to do his bidding.

b) “Every eye will see” does not mean that everyone on the earth will see Jesus physically coming. “Seeing” often refers to cognitive perception, to understanding. Everyone will hear about the destruction of Jerusalem, and then they will understand that Jesus has come in judgment.

c) This is the theme of Revelation. Jesus has ascended, and he is going to prove that he has ascended by coming in judgment on Jerusalem. Jesus talks about coming frequently (2:5, 16, 25; 3:3, 11; 16:15; 22:7, 12, 20). Do not confuse this coming in judgment with the second coming.

1:9-20 The Vision of the Son of Man

“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” (Revelation 1:9).

The great tribulation had already started. Nero began to persecute the church in AD 64. Revelation was likely written around then.

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 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’” (Revelation 1:10-11).

The message of Revelation is relevant for these seven churches in the first century.

“Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 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. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 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. 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. 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’” (Revelation 1:12-18).

This is a description of Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, which matches descriptions in Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1, and Daniel 7 & 10.

“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. 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” (Revelation 1:19-20).

a) The seven golden lampstands are symbols of the seven churches.

b) The seven stars are symbols of the angels (messengers; possibly pastors) over each of the seven church.


Frontier Forest said...

I have always wondered? With all the controversies over who, when, and why’s surrounding this astounding Book, would the Lord ever allow one of the original works, clarifying John’s message to be discovered? As the “Dead Sea Scrolls” have come to be known as the greatest 20th century discovery, think of what the skeptics would say if the Lord allowed the original Book of Revelation to turn up?

Eric Adams said...

I don't think that would make much difference. As Jesus would say, even if someone were to rise from the dead and appear to them, they would still be skeptics.

Frontier Forest said...

AMEN, but it sure would be cool!