The Revelation of Jesus Christ
“The things which you have seen” – Revelation 1
In the introduction to The Revelation of Jesus Christ we looked at the following:
The Promise of Revelation - This book has a unique promise of blessing to those who “reads . . . hear . . . and keep those things which are written in it.”
The Purpose of Revelation - This book has the twofold purpose of providing us with a revelation of Jesus by Jesus and that we would be ready for His return.
The Picture of Revelation - The term “revelation” means “an uncovering, unveiling, a disclosure” and therefore the reader should be able to understand that which God is unveiling or revealing. This revelation is given in timeless symbols i.e. “signified” - 1:1.
The Pertinence of Revelation - Repeatedly the book calls the reader to be ready for the fulfillment of the events depicted and Christ’s return (1:1,3; 2:5,16; 3:11; 22:6,7,10,12,20). The term “shortly” mentioned in 1:1 and 22:6 is translated from the Greek en tachei which is derived from the Greek term tachos. When we think of “shortly” we may think in mere time related ways. To us “shortly” means a short amount of time whether in minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years. Shortly is relative; to us years are a long time; to God a thousand years is as a day and a day as a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8-9).
Therefore, when we define “shortly” in mere time related ways, we need to understand it speaks relative to Jesus or God, not in mere human related ways. We can get a better grasp of time related durations of God by looking to His word. The incidents in the Bible where God waited hundreds of years to bring His judgment on sinners must have felt like a long time to the just who were waiting for relief (e.g. Noah; those suffering under the oppression of the Amorites – Gen. 15:16; the four hundred years of enslavement in Egypt – Exodus 1; 70 years of captivity; four hundred years of intertestamental period; the eight centuries waiting for Isaiah’s messianic prophecies to be fulfilled; etc.), but to God such times of waiting were rooted in His mercy and loving longsuffering hoping for sinners to repent (cf. 2 Peter 3).
But there is an additional sense of definition of en tachei. And this additional perspective is illustrated from another English word translated from tachei. From this word we get the English term “tachometer.” Like in an automobile with a tachometer, the tach or tachometer tells the driver the revolutions per minute of the engine. On the tach is a “redline” indicating a danger zone. If the driver revs the engine past the redline there is a danger that the engine will blow or explode. In Revelation en tachei conveys the idea of an ever increasing frequency and intensity of events until a final explosion and culmination in the end. While the book of Revelation was received by the apostle John around 96 A.D., the events depicted therein will occur “shortly” in that as time passes we are coming nearer the redline of God’s ordained plan. We can expect, and indeed do see, the increase in frequency and intensity of prophetically pertinent events (e.g. wars and rumors of wars; natural upheaval; increased immorality; etc. – cf. Matthew 24; 1 Timothy 4; 2 Timothy 3; 2 Peter 3).
The Practical Nature of Revelation - In Revelation 1:9-10 we see that John considered himself a “companion in the tribulation.” This context and perspective conveys to us a very important life principle, that revelation from God comes in times of personal tribulation allowed by God.
The Plan of Revelation - The book of Revelation is unique in that it has its own built in outline. In order to understand the book, we need to follow this outline. This outline is given to us in 1:19 -
- Revelation 1:19 - “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”
This outline is Revelation 1 – “The things which you have seen”; Revelation 2-3 – “the things which are”; Revelation 4-22 – “the things which will take place after this.”
As we follow the book’s built in outline, we begin our verse by verse study of The Revelation of Jesus Christ and its first section - “The things which you have seen.”
“The things which you have seen”
Revelation 1:1a - “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ” - This can be taken in a twofold regard. First it refers to an unveiling of Jesus so that we will see Him clearly and in His glorious fullness. Secondly, it is a disclosure from Jesus to His servants.
Revelation 1:1b - “which God gave Him”
First, the book of Revelation is from God. God the Father delivered this book to Jesus, Who then gave it to His angel who gave it to the Apostle John. John wrote down for Christian posterity what he received from the Lord.
This book of Revelation is inspired by God. The contents of this book proceed from God to Christ to His servants. When we refer to the Scriptures as “inspired” what we mean is God spoke to and through human authors so that what they wrote was what God wanted written and therefore what was written has the authority of God. This is a Biblical truth as seen in the following verses:
- 1 Thessalonians 2:13 - “13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17 - “16 All Scripture is given by inspiration [theopneustos - lit. ‘God-breathed] of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
- Hebrews 1:1-2 - “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;”
- 2 Peter 1:19-21 - 19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
What we will see in Revelation is based on an inspired eyewitness account. This is not a dream or product of someone’s active imagination. This message is inspired by God.
Secondly, revelation flows from and depicts the intimacy and interaction of the Godhead. In John’s gospel, just as in Revelation, we see that the message Jesus communicated flowed from His intimate relationship with the Father. John the Baptist recognized this -
- John 3:31-36 - 31 “He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.32 “And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony.33 “He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true.34 “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.35 “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.36 “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
As Jesus humbled Himself and came in the likeness of a man it would appear that He set aside certain benefits of His previous position in heaven. For instance, in Mark 13:32 Jesus says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (See also Matthew 24:36) He chose to limit Himself in regards to knowing the chronology of prophetic events. Jesus came to earth as a “light” (Isaiah 42:6; John 1:4; 8:12; 12:46). Jesus states that revelation comes through Him -
- Matthew 11:27 - “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (See also Luke 10:22).
Jesus’ humanity placed Him in a position dependent upon the Father (John 3:35; 5:19-23, 25, 26, 30. 6:38, 57; 7:16; 8:26-29; 10:30; 12:49; 14:10, 24; 17:7-8,23; 20:17; Acts 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:28; 2 Corinthians 13:4; Philippians 2:6, 7).  However, it would be wrong to use these verses to diminish the deity of Christ.
Jesus said -
- John 5:19-24 - 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.20 “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.21 “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.22 “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son,23 “that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
“That all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father.” That is clearly a statement of equality. Jesus and the Father are to both be equally honored. Jesus became less in terms of His position of authority, but He remained equal in terms of His quality with God the Father.
Furthermore, if we only approach Revelation as information about the End Times, we will miss the heart and soul of this incredible book. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” is primarily a revelation about Jesus Christ. What is unveiled for all to see in this incredible culminating book of the Bible is the laying out in the open for all to see the Christ-crowning fulfillment of Jesus glorious return and victory and the enthroning of Jesus as “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS”! The heart of this revelation from God is exalting Jesus.
This therefore tips us off to the motivation for this revelation from God. Jesus stated, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). This initially and primarily refers to the resurrection of Jesus. But the Revelation of Jesus Christ will also life up Jesus on the earth so that all people can have one final opportunity to bow their knee to Him either in repentance and received salvation, or as conquered foes. The Book of Revelation is an exaltation of Jesus Christ aimed at drawing all people to Him for salvation and eternal life.
Indeed, when we look at the context of the New Testament uses of the term “revelation” in regards to Jesus we see the connection of revelation with Christ’s exaltation and enthronement:
- 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 - “6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed [apokalypsei] from heaven with His mighty angels,8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.”
- 1 Peter 1:7 - “7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation [apokalypsen] of Jesus Christ,”
- 1 Peter 1:13 - “13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”
These are only a few of the places where Jesus’ revelation and His exaltation are found. (See also Galatians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 9:1 in reference to Jesus’ appearing to the apostle Paul.) God’s revelation in His word is aimed at exalting Jesus. That’s important to always remember. When you study God’s word always ask, “What does this reveal about Jesus? What other reasons does this give me to exalt Jesus further. Do that and you will find the heart of God in scripture.
Joseph A. Seiss in his book The Apocalypse - Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987 reprint from 1900 original publication, p. 19) explains:
“Some understand this gift in the sense of signified, made known to; and so put themselves under the necessity of explaining how this could be without compromising our Lord’s Divinity. This is the first difficulty engendered by the departure from the proper scriptural meaning of the word Apocalypse. People take it as denoting a piece of information, and so represent Christ in a state of ignorance respecting the sublimest results of his mediatorship until after his ascension into heaven. The incongruities of such an acceptation should teach men better. The apocalypse of Christ is the future reappearance of Christ, clothed with the honors and crowned with the triumphs which are to characterize that forthcoming, and not the mere knowledge or description of these things. And it is that apocalypse, with all its glorious concomitants and results, that God has, in covenant, give to Christ; - given to Him as the crowning reward of His mediatorial work, as the scriptures everywhere teach.
Truly, from the opening lines of Genesis (Genesis 3:15) to the middle of the Book (Psalm 2:7-9), to the New Testament (Philippians 2:5-11), we find the prophetic promise of Jesus’ exaltation at His revelation. (See also Isaiah 53:10-12; Ephesians 1:20-23; Hebrews 12:1-2; Revelation 5:13).
Revelation 1:1c-3 - “. . . to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.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.”
Here we are introduced to the recipients to which this revelation of Jesus Christ is offered.
First, John was diligent to pay attention to details and actively hear what Jesus revealed to Him. John was very careful to record what he saw and heard firsthand. John cared about truth and being truthful. He did not shy away from doctrine or any other matter God wanted to share with him. John felt whatever God chose to reveal to him, because it was from God, it was important. And because what came from God was important, John made it his life ambition to share God’s revelation with others (cf. John 19:35; 21:24; 1 John 1:3). He was a student of God’s word. This made him a prime candidate to receive revelation from God.
Secondly, this demonstrates to us that to receive revelation we need to be willing to share what we receive from God. Some people will read and hear the words of Revelation and say, “I don’t get it.” Why is that? Sometimes it’s because those reading are only looking to satisfy their personal curiosities instead of prioritizing a passion to share what they receive from God. We need to remember that the promise of 1:3 includes, “and keep those things which are written.” Many in the church become spiritually constipated because they constantly take in the Word of God but never apply it or share it with others.
John received this revelation because He was faithful and willing to share what he received. If you want to receive revelation from the Lord, you need to be willing to share what you are given. Are you willing to commit yourself to share that which God reveals to you?
If we truly want to hear from Jesus and receive revelation from Him, we should:
- Be a servant at heart - Revelation 1:1c; John 13
- Be willing to share what we receive - Revelation 1:2
- BE a doer of the word of God not a hearer only - James 1:22-25; Revelation 1:3
This is what Jesus taught. Jesus said that we need to listen carefully and use what we hear or what is revealed to us -
- Mark 4:24-25 - 24 Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.25 “For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”
If you want to get something out of your Bible study, purpose in your heart beforehand a willingness to apply what is revealed to you. In regards to God’s word, what you don’t use you will lose.
Third, to receive revelation we need to be willing to write down things (Revelation 1:3). We retain and understand much more when we write it down than when we merely read it or hear it. God could have instructed John to simply “Listen to this,” or “read this.” But John was instructed to “write” what he received by revelation from God (1:19). When we read we use our sense of sight. When we hear we use our sense of hearing. When we do we use our sense of touch and physical action. When we write we coordinate all of these senses and therefore etch in our memory more deeply the things Jesus is impressing on us.
Revelation 1:4a - “John, to the seven churches which are in Asia:”
It’s interesting that of the “seven churches” mentioned the church at Jerusalem, Rome, Corinth, Thessalonica, Colosse etc. are not mentioned. Why is this? The answer is found in addressing this word to “seven churches.” The Lord chose seven particular churches. Seven is a clue we shouldn’t overlook.
Seven means completion or fullness. Henry Morris in his book The Revelation Record explains the significance of the use of the number “seven” in the book of Revelation:
“The word seven appears in Revelation more than in any other book of the Bible and, in fact, more than in all other books of the New Testament put together. . .. Why are there so many “sevens” in this last book of the Bible? . . . . almost certainly one of the primary reasons is to emphasize that this is the last book of the Bible! . . . . The number “seven” has always been regarded as representing fullness or completion. . .. Eventually, this great work of “the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:14) will also be completed, and God’s eternal Rest will begin.” (pgs. 29-31).
Revelation is not addressed to “the Church” but to “the churches.” That the letter is addressed to “seven churches” is evidence that the church as a whole (in its fullness) is in view here. Therefore, it would appear that Jesus selects seven representative churches that stand for all churches everywhere (locally and historically).
The seven churches addressed are seven real local churches. As we continue to study we will see that the seven churches addressed by Jesus in Revelation 2 and 3 are not only seven local churches, but also cover seven historical epochs of church history as well as address fully the issues of church life that apply to all of us.
Church is important to Jesus. We should learn from the address of Revelation here that because Jesus addresses His revelation to these churches it is evident that CHURCH IS IMPORTANT TO JESUS. Jesus agrees with what the Bible states about the importance of the church fellowship:
- Hebrews 10:24-25 - “24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
We should pay attention to what Jesus says about the church and not neglect the gathering together of believers, “as is the manner of some.”
Revelation 1:4b - “Grace to you and peace . . ..”
What is grace and how is peace connected to it? Grace is God’s undeserved blessing. Salvation is based in God’s grace because it is His effort to assist helpless sinners (1 Corinthians 15:10; Ephesians 2:1-10). Peace is the comforting condition of those who receive God’s gracious salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1-11).
This is a common salutation or introduction in the epistles of Paul who always says such grace and peace are from God the Father and Jesus Christ. The order of “grace and peace” is important and grace always precedes peace in order. That is because you cannot experience the peace of God until you experience the grace of God.
Revelation 1:4c-5 - “. . . from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,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,”
John’s salutation differs from Paul’s in that here he invokes the entire Trinity.
God Eternal. John writes, “from Him who is and who was and who is to come.” In the Old Testament God describes Himself in eternal terms. In Exodus He tells Moses:
Exodus 3:14 - “And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
God is eternally all He needs to be in order to do all and anything He ever intends to do.
Through Isaiah the prophet God says:
Isaiah 57:15 - “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
God is eternal. God is not limited by time; it is more accurately said of Him that He simply “is.” God has no past or future but He exists in the ever present. God does not age or increase or decrease, He simply IS.
As we study through this book, (and in other portions of Scripture as well) we come across things that we find hard to believe. For instance, how is it that God sovereignly elects us and is in control of the universe and we still have free will? If you’ve thought about God and His ways, you probably have a few questions that you’ve been unable to reconcile or figure out. We may encounter some things in the book of Revelation that we can’t figure out or can’t understand. Part of that is due to our condition of finiteness and God’s condition of infiniteness.
To illustrate this, imagine a piece of paper with a two-dimensional triangle drawn on it. Now, let me ask you something, can a triangle ever be a circle? In its two-dimensional state we would have to answer “No.” But if we add a dimension by taking the paper and folding the triangle into a funnel shape cone and then look at the base of it, viola! A circle. You see, that’s our problem, we lack a dimension. We lack the dimension necessary to comprehend God fully and figure out certain aspects of who He is.
Mankind has known this for some time. God has revealed to us that which He has decided we need to know. God knows our limitations and therefore reveals to us what we are capable of knowing. We do not have the capacity to know all things. Moses stated as much when he wrote:
Deuteronomy 29:29 - 29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
We should thank God that He has blessed us with any revelation. Heaven will be an awesome place in part because we will have an eternity to learn and discover some of the other dimensional aspects of our loving Triune God.
The Holy Spirit. John continues, “and from the seven Spirits who are before the throne.” In the Old Testament God reveals through the prophet Isaiah:
Isaiah 11:2 - “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.”
This verse lays out seven attributes of the Holy Spirit. If seven is a number of completion, then what we see here is the sevenfold or complete and full nature of the Holy Spirit in this verse. There are not seven Holy Spirits!
That these “seven Spirits” are “before the throne” paints a picture of the Holy Spirit as the Agent of the work of the Triune God. In Revelation what we see is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is before the throne not as one bowing before the throne of God, but as One who is an extension of Who God is.
Jesus Christ. John next records, “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, . . ..” What does this tell us about Jesus?
Jesus full of the Spirit. Well to back up a bit to Isaiah 11:2’s description of the seven attributes of the Holy Spirit, we are led to remember that Jesus ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit. Digging a little bit here helps us to see a beautiful network of the Holy Spirit’s ministry with Jesus.
The context of Isaiah 11:2 is a reference to Messiah. It states, “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1). This is a clear reference to Messiah. Then Isaiah in his inspired description of Messiah states, “The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him.” At His baptism the Spirit came upon Jesus symbolically as a dove (Matthew 3:16-17). Jesus was empowered by the Holy Spirit in His ministry. The fullness of the Spirit was upon Jesus. This fullness is then described by Isaiah in verse 2 of chapter 11.
Isaiah 11:2 describes the Holy Spirit in terms of seven attributes. These seven attributes of the Holy Spirit can be seen in the life of Jesus:
- The Spirit of the LORD – The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Triune Godhead. The Spirit testifies of Jesus (John 15:26). Jesus Himself quoted from Isaiah where it states, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me” (cf. Luke 4:16-21).
- )The Spirit of wisdom – The Holy Spirit is all wise able to solve all administrative problems. The sense of the Hebrew term here (hakema) is administrative skill. God is orderly by nature. We see this in the detailed plans for the Tabernacle and Temple, we see it in His overall plan of redemption (e.g. 1 Cor. 14:33 and 40). Jesus, in the power of the Spirit, ordered His followers into twos when He sent out the 70 disciples, into 12 Apostles, and an inner core of three Apostles. He did this prayerfully in the Spirit (Luke 6:12-16; 10:1 ff.; Matthew 10:5).
- )The Spirit of understanding – The term “understanding” (Hebrew biyna) refers to discernment. Jesus demonstrated this Spirit provided discernment in His interactions with people (e.g. Luke 68; John 2:24-25). The Holy Spirit understands and provides us with understanding (e.g. 1 Corinthians 2:9-14).
- )The Spirit of counsel – The Holy Spirit is the One who provides us with counsel. The word “counsel” (Hebrew esa) means prudence, plan, advice, advisement, counsel. Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6).
- )The Spirit of might – The Holy Spirit is the Great Empowerer. “Might” (Hebrew gebura) means force, valor, victory, power, strength. After withstanding the temptations of the devil Jesus “returned in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). We too should receive and minister in the power of the Holy Spirit (e.g. Acts 1:8). The book of Acts is the account of the church operating in the power of the Holy Spirit.
- )The Spirit of knowledge – The Holy Spirit is omniscient. “Knowledge” (Hebrew daat) means cunning, awareness, not ignorant, perception. Jesus was aware and perceived the wicked intentions of His opposition (Matthew 22:18; Luke 5:22). He also perceived what others were thinking during His ministry (Mark 2:8). He perceived when He was touched in a crowd by a woman who was healed by that touch (Luke 8:46).
- )The Spirit of the fear of the LORD – The Holy Spirit teaches us reverence for Holy God. “Fear” (Hebrew iyra) means moral fear, reverence, terror in the presence of Holy God. Jesus, as fully Man, was deeply aware of the holiness of His Father. In His High Priestly Prayer, He referred to the Father as “Holy Father” (John 17:11). Jesus exuded a sense of holiness and reverence and He also exemplified it as well (e.g. the Transfiguration – Matthew 17).
When we look at the Man Jesus, we see Him modelling the Spirit-filled life to us. Jesus ministered in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. We should follow Him in this (e.g. 1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6).
Jesus the Faithful Witness. John writes of Jesus as, “the faithful witness.” Jesus is the “faithful witness” because His testimony is true and not a lie in any way. Jesus testified to Pilate about the purpose of His coming stating, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). What He says can be relied upon.
If Jesus says something or does something, you can depend on Him. Also, if you want to know what God is like, look to Jesus. Jesus gives us a true representation of who God is:
- John 14:8-9 - “Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
Jesus most prominent. John writes, “the firstborn from the dead.” Cults will try to assert here that Jesus is “born” and therefore He wasn’t always, or isn’t eternal. Others were raised from the dead before Him: Widow’s son - 1 Kings 17:17-22; The Shunnamite’s son - 2 Kings 4:32-35; An unnamed man- 2 Kings 13:20,21; Jairus’ daughter - Matthew 9:23-25; Widow’s only son - Luke 7:11-15; and Lazarus of Bethany - John 11:43-44). However, Jesus is the “firstborn” not in precedence but in prominence. Jesus is the One who rose from the dead and did not die again. All the other examples of resurrection eventually died again. Jesus leads the way in resurrection!
That “firstborn” here does not refer to having had a beginning (and therefore that Jesus is not eternal). Firstborn here is a reference to the prominence of Jesus. This is seen when we compare the use of the term “firstborn” to other biblical instances. “Firstborn” refers to prominence. We refer to the president’s wife as the “first lady.” Does that mean she predates Eve? No, it means she is first in prominence.
The Bible clearly teaches that “firstborn” refers to prominence not precedence:
- Jeremiah 31:9 - They shall come with weeping, and with supplications I will lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters, in a straight way in which they shall not stumble; For I am a Father to Israel, And Ephraim is My firstborn.”
Now Ephraim was not born before Manasseh but God sovereignly referred to him as “firstborn” because he had priority and preeminence over Manasseh (cf. Genesis 48:17-20).
Jesus our King. John continues, “and the ruler over the kings of the earth.” Later in Revelation we will see Jesus’ triumphant return at His Second Coming where emblazoned on His thigh and robe the words, “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16). There is no king like King Jesus. There is no lord like our Lord Jesus. The book of Revelation will make that crustal clear.
Jesus our Cleanser. John is inspired to continue writing, “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, . . .” The only cleanser that is able to wash away our sins is the precious blood of Jesus. The Apostle Peter also was inspired to write this saying, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19). To that we can only bow before Jesus in humbled adoration.
There’s an old hymn by Phoebe W. Palmer entitled The Cleansing Wave that expresses the blessing of what John was inspired to write:
Oh, now I see the *crimson wave! [*cleansing]
The fountain deep and wide;
Jesus, my Lord, mighty to save,
Points to His wounded side.
The cleansing stream I see, I see!
I plunge, and, oh, it cleanseth me!
Oh, praise the Lord, it cleanseth me!
It cleanseth me, yes, cleanseth me.
I see the new creation rise,
I hear the speaking blood;
It speaks, polluted nature dies,
Sinks ’neath the cleansing flood.
I rise to walk in Heav’n’s own light,
Above the world and sin,
With heart made pure and garments white,
And Christ enthroned within.
Amazing grace! ’tis Heav’n below
To feel the blood applied,
And Jesus, only Jesus know,
My Jesus crucified. 
Jesus is a loving Ruler Who has demonstrated His love for us in giving His all for our redemption on the cross (e.g. Romans 5:8). As mentioned earlier, Jesus will establish His earthly rule over the kings of the earth. Also, He loved us and has demonstrated that love for us by His death on the cross which works the cleansing from sin in our lives.
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.”
Jesus the Revealer has a plan for us. We will reign with Jesus during the millennium. Jesus will delegate authority to us in His kingdom. We are not slaves but “kings and priests”:
- 2 Timothy 2:12 - “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. (cf. also Romans 6:20-22; Ephesians 2:6; 1 Peter 2:5).
Kings rule people in kingdoms or geographical locations. We will serve as kings in the Millennial reign of Jesus on earth. We will serve Jesus during this time; the King of kings and Lord of lords. Priests serve as go-betweens for people with God. Priests go to God on behalf of people and convey God’s word to people as representatives of God. What a glorious prospect that is that one day (maybe very soon) we will serve our Lord in His Millennial Kingdom as His governors in the earth.
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.”
JESUS IS COMING BACK FOR ALL TO SEE. In the Old Testament the prophet Zechariah is inspired by God to state:
- Zechariah 12:9-10 - 9 “It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. 10 “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.”
In part this was fulfilled when the Roman soldier pierced Jesus’ side on the cross (John 19:34). But Jesus spoke of a more broad and expansive sight when He stated:
- Matthew 24:30 - 30 “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Jude quotes the ancient book of Enoch in his letter speaking of the return of Jesus as something to “behold”:
- Jude 14 - 14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints,
This refers to the 2nd Coming of Christ when He returns with the saints to deliver Israel from being annihilated. Only in our technologically advanced time could it be possible that “every eye will see Him.”
When President Kennedy was shot in 1963, it is estimated that 2/3rds of the world saw the event on television. When the Towers fell on 9/11, nearly the entire world was able to see that horrific event. Since 9/11 technology and the ability for the world to “see” has expanded even more so that there is nearly no part of globe that cannot see world events. Yes, we are living in the End Times when Revelation 1:7 is literally possible.
The word “clouds” is sometimes used to refer to masses of people as in a “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). But the coming of Jesus mentioned in Revelation 1:7 does not refer to the Rapture of the Church which will be secret, “as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). This is the Second Coming which is and event for all to see.
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.”
These are holy inspired words of revelation from Jesus about Himself and we should approach them with awe and reverence.
Jesus, the Ultimate Word. “Alpha” is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and “Omega” is the last letter of the Greek alphabet. The One referred to here is all that can be expressed in any language. In his gospel John refers to Jesus as “the word became flesh” (John 1:14). Jesus is the pinnacle of God’s revelation to humanity.
Interestingly, in the original Greek Text “Omega” is not completely spelled out but only the “O” or omega letter itself is written. Jon Courson makes the following comment on this stating:
“In the original text, it is plainly seen that, under the inspiration of the Spirit, John writes out the word ‘Alpha’ – the first letter of the Greek alphabet. But when it comes to Omega, he uses only the letter. Why? I suggest it is because the Lord is the beginning and the end without end. In other words, Omega is never written out fully because the Lord never ends. We’ll spend eternity exploring His nature.”
Cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses say that this verse does not refer to Jesus Christ but to Jehovah. They deny the deity of Jesus and say that He was created by the Father and is not eternal with the Father but is instead Michael the arche angel. Christian Scientists state that Jesus was just a great teacher not divine. Mormons believe that Jesus is the brother of Lucifer! So we need to ask, “Who is envisioned here?”
Who is envisioned here?
In order to answer this question, we need to look at some parallel passages in order to identify Who is being referred to in Revelation 1:8.
In the Old testament Isaiah is inspired to write:
- Isaiah 41:4 - “Who has performed and done it, Calling the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the LORD, am the first; And with the last I am He.’”
When in our Bible translations we see the word “LORD” it is a reference to the Tetragrammaton which is the Hebrew YHWH or “I AM” name of God. The actual pronunciation of this name has long been lost. Early Jewish scribes, in reverence to God and wanting to avoid offending God by having His name mispronounced, removed the vowels from God’s name leaving only the consonants YHWH. In order to make a pronounceable name for God they then took the vowels from the Hebrew Adonai which is today at times translated into English as “Jehovah.” Notice please, that here we see that “the first . . . and . . . the last” is identified with “LORD” or in some translations, JEHOVAH.
The LORD is identified as the “First and the Last” in numerous places:
- 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; Besides Me there is no God.”
- Isaiah 48:12 - “Listen to Me, O Jacob, And Israel, my called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last.”
The context of Isaiah identifies “the First . . . the Last” with the LORD.
Now follow me here. In Revelation we see the following:
- Revelation 21:6 - “And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.”
Now Who said, “it is done!” Jesus did! “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30). Jesus also invited us to receive His living water (John 4:14; 7:37-39).
- Revelation 22:12-13 - “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
Who is coming quickly? Clearly the book of Revelation states Jesus is! (22:16). And JESUS is referred to here as THE “FIRST AND THE LAST”!
But there is more evidence.
- Revelation 2:8 - “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:”
Who was dead and came to life? Jesus did! JESUS IS THE “FIRST AND THE LAST”!
Having shared this inspired breathtaking description of Jesus, John is not moved to personally address his readership.
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.”
John identified himself as “both your brother and companion in the tribulation.” John was in the trenches with his people. He didn’t lead from the rear but led from the front lines. And because of this he was loved by those he led in the Lord.
John is their companion in tribulation, but he is also their brother in the “kingdom.” John wasn’t a doom and gloom pastor. John spoke the truth and realities of persecution, but he also shared the prospect of serving in the coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth. Praise the Lord for that.
John was further their companion in the “patience of Jesus Christ.” All three of these things mentioned, tribulation, kingdom and patience are all connected to Jesus Christ. We suffer persecution because of our belonging to Jesus. We will serve in His Kingdom. But there is also an aspect of “patience.” These things are coming and will unfold. The patience of Jesus is necessary, even if it means trials and persecution because God desires none to perish and for all to have ample opportunity to repent and be saved (e.g. 2 Peter 3:9). If suffering some temporal trials is necessary to provide more time to repent and be saved eternally, then it is well worth it.
The environment into which this revelation is being received is one of “tribulation” (Greek thlipsis). “Tribulation” means literally a pressing, pressure. It can refer to anything that burdens the spirit of a person. Jesus used this term when He stated:
- John 16:33 - “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
In this world Jesus affirms we will experience tribulation. But this does not mean we will experience the Great Tribulation! We will experience pressures from the world and our adversary the devil. The “tribulation” referred to in John 16:33 and Revelation 1:9 are not the same as the Great Tribulation described in Revelation chapters 6-19. The difference between the tribulation referred to by Jesus that we would experience and that of the Great Tribulation is that the source or origin of each is different.
During the Great Tribulation God is the One who orchestrates the tribulation by pouring out His righteous and well deserved wrath on a Christ rejecting world (Revelation 6:17; 16:17-19). Christians are not destined to experience the wrathful tribulation of God but will be and are saved from it (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). In this world now we have an adversary who prowls the earth like a roaring lion seeking to prey on the weak (1 Peter 5:8-9). We are in a spiritual war against Satan and his cohorts (Ephesians 6:10-18). We live in a fallen world where sin causes tribulation to its victims (1 John 3:8). In this world we will suffer tribulations.
It should also be noted here that the cause of the tribulation John and his fellow believers were experiencing was their faithfulness to “the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Their faithfulness led to tribulation. They experienced trials because they did the right thing in the eyes of God. They were not suffering as a consequence of their personal sins. Indeed, the Bible promises us that “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Persecution. At the time that John was given this revelation there was a great persecution by Rome against those who called themselves “Christian.” The Church experienced its first persecution under Caesar Nero (54-68) and more particularly under Emperor Domitian in A.D. 95 around the time that the book of Revelation was received by John. The persecution under Nero was instigated by Nero himself as historians tell us he blamed Christians for starting a fire in Rome that he in his personal madness had set. It was a fierce fire that spread to the entire city. As the truth of this terrible deed began to be discovered Nero diverted attention and blame from himself to Christians.
The Roman historian Tacitus wrote the following in regards to this situation:
“With this view he inflicted the most exquisite tortures on those men who, under the vulgar appellation of Christians, were already branded with deserved infamy. They derived their name and origin from Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius, had suffered death by the sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate. For a while this dire superstition was checked, but it again burst forth; and not only spread itself over Judea, the first seat of this mischievous sect, but was even introduced into Rome, the common asylum which receives and protects whatever is impure, whatever is atrocious. The confessions of those who were seized discovered a great multitude of their accomplices, and they were all convicted, not so much for the crime of setting fire to the city as for their hatred of human kind. They died in torments, and their torments were embittered by insult and derision. Some were nailed on crosses; others sewn up in the skins of wild bests, and exposed to the fury of dogs; others again, smeared over with combustible materials, were used as torches to illuminate the darkness of the night. The gardens of Nero were destined for the melancholy spectacle, which was accompanied with a horse race, and honored with the presence of the emperor, who mingled with the populace in the dress and attitude of a charioteer. The guilt of the Christians deserved indeed the most exemplary punishments, but the public abhorrence was changed into commiseration, from the opinion that those unhappy wretches were sacrificed, not so much to the public welfare as to the cruelty of a jealous tyrant.” 
When Nero was three years old his mother murdered his father by giving young Nero poisoned food to give his father. One can only imagine the effect upon Nero as he watched his father writhe in pain and die before him. At age 12 Nero tortured to death a friend who displeased him. At age 15 Nero married but strangled to death his wife when she displeased him. He married and murdered two other wives and eventually murdered his mother as well. Nero was a madman and his behavior confirms this.
It’s believed that when Nero came to power his insane nature led to his exalting himself as a god and demanding that all subjects of the Roman empire bow to worship him. When Christians refused to worship him he began a one-man mission to wipe out Christianity. Nero would travel throughout the empire with his military and round up any who would not declare, “Caesar is Lord.” Nero would take these “offenders” and dip them in hot wax and use them as human candlesticks in his imperial garden. He would then strip naked and ride his chariot in the garden shouting, “You are the light of the world! You are the light of the world!”
Nero was described as “He was an ugly man with a bull neck, beetle brows and a flat nose with a tough mouth. He had a pot belly with spindly legs, bad skin and an offensive odor.” At the age of 31 Nero committed suicide by slitting his own throat. By the end of his reign he had murdered an estimated 3 million Christians.
Titus Flavius Domitian was the next Roman emperor to persecute Christians. He was the emperor who persecuted Christians during the end of the first century when Revelation was received. Domitian’s persecution led to the murder of millions more Christians. Historians refer to Nero as a crazy devil. But Domitian was a sane devil. Domitian was cruel and calculated in his efforts to annihilate Christianity from the face of the earth. Domitian chose to attack Christian leadership. It was Domitian who, legend has it, attempted to execute John by boiling him in a cauldron of hot oil. God miraculously spared John through the execution.
John alone of the 11 original disciples (not counting Judas who committed suicide) survived execution for their faith. John, known as the apostle of love, survived. “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8a). Frustrated, Domitian exiled John to the rocky, desolate, barren isle of Patmos 50 miles southwest of Ephesus (located in the area of modern day Turkey) out to sea, an island 10 miles long and 6 miles wide where he received the vision of Revelation.
Persecution is alive today. Statistics tell us that with the rise of Islam and its terrorist groups, persecution and genocide of Christians is on the rise.
The Apostle John was persecuted for his loyalty to “the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” John would not compromise God’s word. John stood faithfully for the truth God had revealed. John persevered in the “patience of Jesus Christ.” John was who he was because he was a man of the word of God. He referred to the Old Testament 518 times in this book. He knew the word and lived by the word even if that meant discomfort and trials would enter his life.
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,”
John was an effective pastor because he was able to empathize with the flock. He was their “companion in tribulation” (v. 9). But he was also a poet. John used poetry to stir up and feel the reality of the LORD and His coming. The people John was ministering to were undergoing the severest of persecution and the poetry used in this book addressed the feelings they had in the midst of their trials. The vision of Christ we have in Revelation 1 is rich in symbolic poetry.
John was “in the Spirit.” This means John was tuned into the Spirit; what the Spirit would say to Him. John had been born again and was walking in the Spirit, even during his trials. Jesus said a person must be born again to enter His kingdom and eternal life (John 3). Later Paul would explain that it is the Holy Spirit who gives us understanding about the things of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9-14). We won’t understand anything in God’s word separate from the revelation of the Holy Spirit to us. The Holy Spirit convicts the sinful world of their need of a Savior, Jesus (John 16:8-11). Jesus told us the Holy Spirit will testifies or helps us to know Jesus (John 15:26). And John being “in the Spirit” when he received this revelation of Jesus is a good example of the ministry of the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s truth to us.
The “Lord’s Day.” Was this Sunday? Possibly. The first reference to worshipping on the first day of the week is found in Acts 20:7 and also in 1 Corinthians 16:2. Tertullian who wrote in second century referred to Sunday as day of worship “as was the custom of the early church.” This was because Sunday was day Christ resurrected. But could the “Lord’s Day” refer to something else? It may have been a reference to, “The Day of the Lord.”
John says, “and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, . . . ” When we think of a trumpet we think of a loud sounding instrument and so it is. But the trumpet was an instrument to call God’s people to assemble or to direct His armies in battle. Here, John speaking poetically, is likely speaking more about a voice that got his undivided attention than he is speaking about a loud sound. John heard the voice of the Lord and he paid attention to it like a soldier hearing the command of His commanding officer.
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.”
The title of “Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last” is repeated because people in persecution need to be constantly reminded that God is in control.
Revelation 1:12-13 - “Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,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.”
John states, “Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me.” John took time to pay attention to Who was speaking to him and what They were saying. Stopping to listen and pay attention when the Lord speaks is essential for receiving revelation from Him. Sometimes we have the good intention of reading through the Bible in a year or reading a certain amount of scripture and that is good. However, it can actually turn out to be a hindrance to getting closer to Jesus if we are so in a hurry or focused on reading a certain amount of scripture devotionally that we don’t take the time to pause and listen when the Lord speaks to us. John knew enough to turn to see Who was speaking to him and to listen to what was being said. That’s a good example for us to follow if we want to hear from the Lord.
It continues, “And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, . . .” Jesus is “in the midst of” the lampstands which are a symbol of being a light to the world. When it states, “in the midst of the seven lampstands” we should remember that Jesus is in the midst of the churches (Matthew 18:20). Jesus is in the midst of His church and the Source for that church being a light to a lost world. Jesus goes to church. Jesus plants Himself in the church. So should we. If Jesus cares so much for His church and works in and through her like that, we should follow in those steps.
Why “Lampstands” and not “candlesticks”? Candlesticks burn their own fuel and burn themselves out. The lampstand (i.e. menorah) is fueled by oil (i.e. type of Holy Spirit) and will not burn out as it is continuously refueled (cf. Zechariah 4:1-7 for a beautiful prophetic vision of this.)
In EXODUS 25:31-40 the lampstand is described. The branches of the menorah are equally on either side of a central branch - i.e. Jesus = Vine, we are branches - John 15. Gold = type relating to God. Gold that was hammered, beaten - i.e. as Jesus was beaten to pay for our sins.
We mentioned in our introduction and earlier in this section that there are numerous references or allusions to the Old Testament. These two verse are just such an example. Compare Revelation 1:12-13 with what is written in the book of Daniel:
- Daniel 7:9-10,13-14 - “I watched till thrones were put in place, 1 And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; 10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened. 13 “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.14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.”
Jesus is the One who will bring ultimate victory.
John writes, “clothed with a garment down to the feet.” This reminds us that the Body of Christ the Church is wrapped in Jesus robe of righteousness (1 Corinthians 12:27). In Isaiah it states:
- Isaiah 61:10 - “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
It continues, “girded about the chest with a golden band.” Girded and ready to act, to return to deliver those being persecuted. JESUS IS COMING BACK!
Revelation 1:14 - “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;”
John states, “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow” In the Old Testament it states:
- Isaiah 1:18 - “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
He has our redemption on His mind. His redemptive work does a thorough cleansing from sin.
This also may picture the wisdom of Jesus in that “the silver haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31). In modern culture in America age is looked down upon and shunned. But in Biblical cultures age was a huge asset. Age was seen as being learned and experienced and to be associated with acquired wisdom. Here the whiteness of Jesus hair goes beyond mere silver to show His eternal wisdom. Jesus “learned” through obedience and suffering as the Perfect Man (Hebrews 5:8).
“His eyes like a flame of fire” - He looks to the heart of matters and will judge correctly (1 Corinthians 3:12-15; Hebrews 4:13; Revelation 2:18). Jesus is able to burn right through pretention, false claims, lies, and any other deception that might arise. This will especially be true on Judgment Day.
Revelation 1:15 - “His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;”
John writes, “His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace.” Jesus has also been through the fires of trail and therefore can empathize with those being persecuted. Jesus knows the trials we are going through and therefore He is able to share with us, empathize with our hard circumstances and guide us through them.
In Daniel we have the account of the three Hebrews cast into the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar:
- Daniel 3:24-25 - “Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
“His voice as the sound of many waters.” The sound of waters running has a soothing effect. Therefore, His voice was firm but soothing (cf. John 4:13-14; 7:37-39). “Many waters” can be a tsunami. “Many waters” can be like the still waters the Shepherd guides us by (cf. Psalm 23). If we need a torrent of water to blow obstacles out of our way, Jesus can be that. If we need calm waters to soothe our anxiety, Jesus can be that too.
Revelation 1:16,20 - “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. . .. 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.”
“He had in His right hand seven stars, . . . The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.” “Angels” here (Greek angelos) can be translated generally as messenger. A messenger can be from God or from Satan. This term can also refer to “a guardian representative.” In verse 20 here “angels” can refer to actual angels assigned by God to help these churches. “Angels” can also simply be translated as “messengers” and therefore a reference to the pastors of these churches (e.g. Haggai 1:13; Malachi 2:7; 3:1; Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:24; 9:52).
Children have an angel assigned to them (Matthew 18:10). The term can even be used when referring to a “ghost” (Acts 12:15). The most frequent use of “angels” is regarding an order of created beings, superior to man (Hebrews 2:7; Psalm 8:5). These beings originate in heaven (Matthew 24:36; Mark 12:25). They belong to God (Luke 12:8). They were created to serve God (Psalm 103:20). “Angels” are spirits (Hebrews 1:14, i.e., they have no material bodies as men have). Angels can at times take human form (cf. Luke 24:4, with v. 23, Acts 10:3 with v. 30). Angels are referred to as “holy” (Mark 8:38) and even as “elect” (1 Tim. 5:21). They are “elect” as opposed to some of the angels who chose to sin by leaving their proper position in heaven (Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). Angels are always referred to in the masculine.
Joseph A. Seiss in The Apocalypse - Exposition of the Book of Revelation (p.41) states:
“The seven stars are the angels (ministers) of the seven churches,” and, as such, they are distinct from the candlesticks. Christ walks among the candlesticks, but he holds these ministers in his right hand. The democratic idea of Church organization, which makes all power proceed from the members, and makes the ministerial position nothing more than what inheres in every Christian, is thus scattered to the winds. Ministers have relations to Christ and the Church, which ordinary Church members have not. They partake directly of Christ’s authority, and are responsible directly to him, and are upheld by his right hand, beyond the power of men or angels to displace them. What a lesson for ministers, as to the holiness of their office, the solemnity of their responsibilities, the necessity of unswerving fidelity, and the exercise of every confidence in their sacred functions. They are in Christ’s hand. If they are unfaithful none can deliver them out of that hand; but if true to their position, none can touch them, or quench their light. They shall shine as the stars forever and ever. What a lesson for the people as to the authority of those ministrations which they are so prone to despise. Dealing with the regular ministers of the Churches, you are dealing with the jewels on Christ’s right hand. And what a lesson for all as to the Divine majesty and glory of our Lord! The Pauls, and Johns, and Husses, and Luthers, and Cranmers, and Knoxes, and Wesleys, and all the hosts of those who have been teaching and guiding the Churches for these 1800 years, are no more than the rings upon his fingers. But they are jewels to him. He holds them as precious. Disregarded as they may be of men, they are dear to him. He holds them, as a man holds what he most esteems. He holds them, for service now, and for judgment when he cometh. He holds them, for success against the hosts of evil, for glorious honor if they are faithful, and for eternal disgrace if they are not.”
It continues, “out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.” The word “sword” (Greek ramphaia) refers to the long sword which required the user to use both hands to weld it. This is different than the term translated “sword” in Hebrews 4:12 and Ephesians 6:17 (Greek machaira) which refers to a short sword or dagger, a scalpel. What we see here is a magnificent and potent weapon coming from the mouth of Jesus. It is such in that His word is powerful and able to accomplish what He says. It’s likely that the word proceeding from the mouth of Jesus is the word of righteous judgment on a Christ rejecting world.
“His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.” Jesus will bring light into darkness and sunshine into the gloom of the persecuted.
Revelation 1:17-19 - “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.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.19 “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”
This is not an example of being slain in the spirit. The experience John had here is a far cry from that seen in many Pentecostal churches where people are “slain in the spirit.” Here John falls forward at the feet of Jesus.
In the Old Testament God told Moses:
- Exodus 33:20 - “But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”
When John saw Jesus in His glorified state, he “fell at His feet as dead.” In Exodus 33:20 God told Moses that no human could see God and live. Why then would anyone want to see God? O propose that we should seek to see God in order to die: die to sin; die to self; die to superficiality. It is only through such death that we can be freed from our carnality.
This is why Jesus said:
- Luke 9:23-24 - “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.24 “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
To follow Jesus as a disciple requires we die. Such death means a denial of self-oriented passions. We need to die to selfishness and take up our cross (our mission calling from the Lord) and follow Him.
The Apostle Paul was inspired to reiterate the same idea when he wrote:
- Galatians 2:20 - “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
- Philippians 2:5-8 - “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
You might ask, “How do I die to self?” The answer is to simply get a fuller vision of Jesus. The closer we come to Jesus, the more clearly we will see our sin. The closer we come to Jesus, the more drawn away from our sin we will be. The closer we come to Jesus, the more power we will have over our sin.
In the Old Testament when Isaiah came into the presence of the LORD he became instantly aware of his personal sin and the sin of those around him (Isaiah 6). In the New Testament when Peter came into the presence of Jesus he too became aware of his utter sinfulness and unworthiness (cf. Luke 5:8). Truly, the extent to which we are willing to put up with sin or allow sin in our life, reveals and exposes the closeness we have to Jesus. Our relationship to Jesus is a sin repellent relationship. The closer we are to Jesus, the further away from sin we will be.
Revelation 1:17-18 - “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.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.”
Who lived, died and lived again? JESUS IS THE “FIRST AND THE LAST”!
When we compare the Old Testament and New Testament references to the “First and the Last” we discover that JESUS AND the LORD (JEHOVAH) THE FATHER ARE ONE! JESUS IS GOD! (cf. also John 10:30; Isaiah 9:6). Jesus is eternally existent just like God the Father (Messiah pre-dates Christmas - Micah 5:2; Preexistence before Abraham - John 8:58; Co-existence with God - John 17:5, 24; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 7:3; Alpha and Omega - Revelation 22:13).
Jesus is the Second Person of the Triune Godhead; Jesus is God!
“But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid.” Jesus speaks a word of comfort to those who fall at His feet. Jesus comforts us. He comes behind us and puts His right hand on our shoulder as much as to say, “I’ve got your back.” The touch of Jesus comforts like no other touch. John was going through some severe difficulties and I bet the touch of Jesus was a great comfort to him on Patmos the isle of persecution. If you’re going through a trial now, fall before Jesus and let Him comfort you with His assuring touch.
“And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” The Greek term Hades is a parallel to the Old Testament word Sheol. Sheol/Hades is the abode of the dead where in separate compartments the righteous dead and the unrighteous dead are kept (Luke 16:23-26). When Jesus died on the cross He descended to Hades and freed the righteous dead (Ephesians 4:9). The unrighteous dead will be brought out to judgment at the Great White Throne judgment in Revelation 20. (Cf. Luke 16:23-26; Ephesians 4:8-10; Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Peter 3:18-20; Revelation 20:13).
Jesus has the key to unlock the prison of death. Many are locked in the fear of death. But Jesus is able to unlock that prison door and free you from the fear of death. Trust Him and He will open up and entirely new and eternal perspective on death so that you won’t fear it, but in faith you will look forward to it.
Revelation 1:19 - “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”
The Revelation of Jesus Christ provides us with a three-part outline for the Book. This outline is:
- The Things Which You Have Seen – Revelation 1 – “The Person of Christ”
- The Things Which Are – Revelation 2-3 – “The People of Christ” - The Church Age:
- “7” is the number of completeness, e.g. 7 days of the week; 7 notes on the musical scale; 7 weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9)
- 7 Epochs of Church History – The Church Age ends when the last Gentile is saved (Romans 11:25). It is at this point that the Church is Raptured. We will discuss the Rapture when we get to Revelation 4:1. A clue to this is the Greek phrase meta tauta which means “after this” or “after these things” (Revelation 1:19; 4:1).
- The Things Which Will Take Place – Revelation 4-22 – “The Program of Christ”
- Seven Years Worshipping the LORD – Revelation 4-5
- Seven Years of Tribulation on Earth – Revelation 6-18
- To shake up unbelievers – to provide one last chance for salvation
- b.To wake up Israel (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 9; Revelation 7)
- c.To make up the Kingdom – like a maid makes up a room for the next guest
- C.The Second Coming of Christ with His Bride the Church – Revelation 19
- D.The Millennial Reign of Christ on Earth – Revelation 20
- E.The Establishment of the New Earth and New Heaven – Revelation 21-22
This is the basic outline of Revelation we will follow. It is based primarily on the internal outline provided to John by Jesus in Revelation 1:19.
This glorious vision needs to be recorded and distributed to all the churches. Will you be a part of fulfilling this glorious distribution?
Jerome H. Smith, editor, The new treasury of scripture knowledge [computer file], electronic edition of the revised edition of The treasury of scripture knowledge, Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1992 by Jerome H. Smith.
 Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon (abridgment by D.M. Low) Harcourt, Brace and Co.: New York 1960, p. 202).