The Greek word translationted revelation is “apokalupsis” which means “to reveal” or “uncover.” Here Jesus the Christ is being uncovered as the eschatological judge(John 5:27; Acts 10:42; 17:31). This revelation of the Christ is given to Him by the Father. The content of this revelation are things which must shortly come to pass. This revelation is directed to His servants. These things were communicated to His servant John through the mediation of His angel. We are not told which one of His angels this was. Considering the importance of the message, he must be a high ranking angel. He is probably archangel Gabriel, the bringer of good news(Luk.1:19, 26,27). John the brother of James, son of Zebedee, was one of the Apostles of the inner circle. He was the disciplie whom Christ loved, who leaned on His breast at the Passover table in the upper on Mount Zion(John 13:23). He was probably the Apostle closest to the Lord during His earthly ministry. He was the latest of the twelve to be with the Lord. He is the author of the gospel of John and the epistles of first and second John.
In verse 2 John referred to his earlier ministry that he John was faithful in bearing record of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, and presently, at the receipt of this revelation, all that he saw. Verse 3 contains the first of seven benedictions in the Book of Revelation. The others are Rev.14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7,14. Blessed is he that readeth and heareth and keepeth the words of this prophecy. Here John makes it clear that the message of the book of Revelation is prophetic. Prophecy is of two kinds, “forth-telling” and “foretelling.” The book of Revelation contains both. In the early church, the scriptures were handwritten, and therefore could not go round. Besides the level of literacy was not so high. The few copies available were kept by the church elders and read to the congregation during fellowship. Those who could read very well are selected to read to the whole congregation. The majority of believers had no personal copies of the Scriptures to read on their own as we do today. They were dependent on what they heard read during fellowship. Apostle Paul commanded his son-in-the Lord, Timothy to give attention to reading and exhortations and doctrines(1 Tim.4:13). In the synagogues, these readers are called cantors.
The benediction is upon the one that readeth, for not all could read, and upon the the one that heareth, for not all will hear, and more so upon the one that heedeth the words of this prophecy; for not all that heareth would hearken. The reason for the blessedness is that the time is at hand. What this means is that time is short. There is no time to waste: whether we are raptured or sleep in the Lord before the rapture, time is short. Once the events begin, they are going to happen very quickly, with the rapidity of a machine gun fire.
In verse 4, John addressed the revelation he received from the Lord through the mediation of an angel to the seven churches which are in the Roman province of Asia Minor. A frequent motif in the book of Revelation is the number 7. We have seen the first of seven benedictions. Here seven churches are mentioned. This motif indicates that in the book of Revelation, everything is done with divine accuracy and precision, and completeness and perfection. These seven churches were not the only churches in Asia Minor. They were representatives of all the churches in Asia Minor. What this means is that if all the local churches in all of Asia Minor were classified, they would fall into one of seven categories. The same is true of all churches at all times and in all places.
Grace be unto you and peace, is combined salutation formula. Grace, “Karis,” is the Greek form of salutation. Peace, “shalom” is the Hebrew form of salutation. Here John combined both probably because the congregations were an admixture of Greek and Hebrew speaking congregants. The phrase, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come is referent to Our Lord Jesus the Christ, the second person of the Trinity, who came into this world and was crucified on the execution stake of Calvary for our sins, died and was buried. He rose from the dead on the third day, and ascended into heaven. Today, He is seated at the right hand of the Father, angels and authorities and powers being made subject to Him. And He is coming again to reign over the kingdom of His father David. So the phrase, was and is and is to come is referent to His finished works in His first advent, death, burial and resurrection, His ascension and session at the right hand of the Majesty in the Heavens, and His inevitable triumphant return in His second Advent to rule over the Earth.
And from the seven Spirits which are before His throne. The throne here is the throne of the Father in the throne room of the temple of the tabernacle in heaven. Seven spirits which are before His throne does not mean their seven individual spirits, but rather, the seven complete and perfect manifestations of the Spirit of God referred to in Is.11:2,3. These seven manifestations of the Spirit of God were in complete and perfect manifestation in the ministry of our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg believes the seven spirits are seven angels which stand before God. Verse 5 says, and from Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness. Our Lord Jesus the Christ was faithful in all the period of His earthly ministry. Even though He was God and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, the Father, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon the form of a servant, being found in fashion as a man, He became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. For this reason, God the Father hath highly exalted Him, giving Him a name above all other names: that at the mention of that name everything should bow, of being and things in heaven, beings and things on Earth, and beings and things underneath the Earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus the Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father(Phil.2:6-11).
In all points, He was tempted as we are and yet without sin(Heb.4:15;1Pet.2:22). He ministered to the poor and needy, the widows and the fatherless. He preached good news to the poor(Matt.11:5). He raised the dead( Matt.9:25;, He healed the sick(Matt.9:20-22; 10:8), and cleansed the lepers. He opened the eyes of the blind(Matt.9:27-31). He fed the poor and hungry. Moses was faithful as a servant in His house, but Jesus was faithful as a Son over His own house. Therefore He was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He that built the house has more honour than the house(Heb.3:1-6). He is the first begotten of the dead. He is the firstfruits of them that slept. Jesus was not the first person to be raised from the dead. Jesus Himself raised many from the dead in His earthly ministry. He raised Lazarus from the dead(John 11:4). He raised Jairus daughter from the dead(Mark 5:42. He raised the son of the widow of Nain from the dead(Luke 7:11-17). In both the ministries of Elijah and Elisha, men were raised from the dead(1 Kings 17:17-24; 2Kings 4:8-37; 13:20,21). All these subsequently died again. They were brought back to life in their earthly mortal bodies. They were subject to sin, sicknesses, disease and death. They were raised in the same old death-doomed body. But when Jesus rose from the dead, He received a glorified eternal immortal resurrection body. He is not earth-bound any more. He could appear and disappear, materialize and dematerialize. He is no longer subject to death. In this sense Jesus is the firstfruits of them that slept. He is the first to receive a glorified eternal immortal resurrection body.
He is the prince of the kings of the Earth. Jesus is King over all the Earth. In that sense He is prince over all the kings of the Earth. But the kings of the Earth here is referent to the saints who shall reign with Him over the Earth in the New Millennium when Satan is incarcerated for a thousand years in the bottomless pit(Rev.20:1-6). Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. Without the shedding of blood, there is remission of sins(Heb.9:22). But all had sinned and come short of the glory of God(Rom.3:23). Jesus our kinsman redeemer, the “goel,” is the only man that ever lived on Earth who was tempted as we are, yet without sin. Man is constitutionally and genetically a sinner. Jesus had no Sin nature. He did not sin neither was any guile found in His mouth(1 Pet.2:22). Though He was tempted just as we are, He committed no individual acts of sin. Therefore His blood was pure, and could and did cleanse us from our sins. He cleansed us not only from our Sin nature but also from our individual acts of sin. The outworking of cleansing us from our individual acts of sin is instantaneous at the moment of salvation, and continuous and progressive when we sin and confess our sins(1 John 1:9). The outworking of cleansing us from our Sin nature is a process. It is progressive, and shall be consummated when we sleep in the Lord and shed our mortal body and or receive our glorified eternal immortal resurrection body at the rapture. What that means is that as long as we are in this death-doomed body of ours, we are capable of sin, and do in fact sin. These things write I unto you that you sin not. But if man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation, not only for our sins but the sins of the whole world(1 John 2:1-2). If we confess our sins-when we sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness(I John 1:9).
Verse 6 says He had made us kings and priests unto God and His Father.
We will not only reign with Jesus the Christ on Earth in the Millennium, we shall minister with Him as priests in the Fourth Temple(the Millennial Temple) on the new Mount Zion in the New and earthly Jerusalem. We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people, that we should show forth the excellencies of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light(1 Pet.2:9). Parallel passages confirm that we the elects of God are a kingdom now. We are not going to be a kingdom(John 18:36; Acts 26:18; Col.1:13;Rev.5:9,10). In the old dispensation, the priests were from the tribe of Levi, and the High Priest from the house of Aaron. In the new dispensation, Jesus the Christ is our eternal High Priest, and every believer is an eternal priest and an eternal king. Our kingship and priesthood are eternal and everlasting. This verse closes with a doxology to Jesus: to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. A doxology is a christian poem that ascribes glory to God the Father. Here Jesus is ascribed glory because of His salvific works for the elect of God. Amen is an affirmation formula used in the OT and imported into the NT. It is a Hebrew acrostic derived from the statement, “el melech ne’eman” which means God is a faithful King. The implication of this affirmation is predicated upon the faithful of God who is a faithful King.
Verse 7 is an affirmation of His earlier promise that He is coming again. “Behold, He cometh with the clouds, and every eye shall see Him.” The cloud signifies the glory of God. It is heaven’s means of transportation. On the Mount of Olives, Jesus ascended into heaven and His disciples whom He had chosen beheld Him. It is written that He shall come in the same manner as the disciples saw Him go into heaven. The wailing shall begin with the earthly and celestial disturbances which interrupts the great tribulation(Rev.6:12-17). It shall culminate in His return at Armageddon, riding upon a white horse accompanied by the armies of heaven(Rev.19:11-16). The kindreds of the Earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen. The kindreds of the Earth is universalistic; it includes Jews and Gentiles. All the tribes or kindreds of the Earth shall mourn refers to mourning out of despair at the return of Christ by the adorers of the Dragon-Beast. The kindreds of the Earth, the beast-marked worshippers shall wail because they know He is coming to destroy them. Once the sixth seal, the earthly and celestial disturbances interrupt the great tribulation, the beast-marked adorers and worshippers of the Dragon-Beast shall know they are destined for the wrath of God. Even those who pierced Him includes Jews and Romans(Gentiles)[Acts 7:52,52; John 19:21,37; Zech.12:9]. Even so, Amen is a phrase used to affirm that what is said or written is based on the faithfulness of God who is a faithful King, and therefore certain and inevitable.
In verse 8, John the revelator quoted our Lord, Jesus the Christ: I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. It is like saying that without Him, there is no sound, no word formed, no speech and no language. He is the beginning and the end, the first and the last. If Jesus were not God, it would be blasphemous for Him to make such claims. The God of Israel made such claims( Is.44:6). It is obvious that Jesus is the one who made this statement and not the Father, by the fact that the one who is speaking is referred to as the Lord who is, and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. Biblical scholars are not agreed that the one who is, and was, and is to come is referent to Jesus who came and died and rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, and is coming again to reign. The Father has never been here physically and never have died, neither had the Holy Spirit; for neither of them have physical bodies. Therefore it is obvious that He is referring to Himself here as the Almighty God of Israel. The Orthodox Jew will see this as blasphemous. But did Jesus commit blasphemy? In the parallel passages in Rev.1:17; 21:26; 22:1, the Christ is equated with Almighty God. Some biblical scholars believe that God the Father is consistently identified with same titles. That makes it impossible to identify which member of the Godhead is involved. It is as if both members were speaking at the same time. This they claim may be closer to the intended truth by John. There is no controversy however that this prophecy stands as the unanimous consent of God the Father and God the Son inasmuch as the Father gave the revelation to the Son.
In verse 9, John the revelator identified himself to his readers as a fellow believer in Jesus Christ and a companion to all those in Christ who are persecuted. The Greek word translated tribulation is “thlipsis.” It is the same word used in [great] tribulation(Matt.24:21, 29; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Rev.2:22; 7:14). Interestingly the definite article is used. Therefore the tribulation is the focus; the tribulation that is consistently connected with Jesus the Christ(Col.1:24). Persecution is common denominator in the life of all believers irrespective of their age and local. It comes in different forms and severity. The ultimate however is martyrdom. That also comes in different forms, summary executions, decapitations, crucifixion, burning at the stakes, other forms of enmolation, being thrown to hounds and wide animals, frayed alive, strangulation, suffocation, being starved to death etc. Persecution is part and parcel of life in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. The millennial kingdom spoken of in Rev.20 is in view. The Christian life calls for perseverance. The Greek word translated patience here in the KJV is peirasmos which means putting to test(Rev.2:2,3; 3:10; 13:10; 14:11,12). It is best rendered perseverance. Perseverance is the true mark of a believer via-a-via tribulation(Matt.13:21). The believer must persevere in the face of opposition. As Jesus persevered, so must we.
John received this revelation when he was on the Greek island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea. That island still exists today and is inhabited. John claimed he was there for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. In other words, he was there to preach the word and witness and testify about Jesus. However, in actual fact, he was exiled to that island by the Roman emperor Domitian as a result of antichristian persecution. Early tradition says that John was banished to Patmos by The Roman authorities. This tradition is credible because banishment was a common punishment used during the imperial period for a number of offenses amongst which were the practice of magic and astrology. Prophecy was regarded by the Romans as belonging to that category whether pagan, Jewish or christian. A lot of people sent to that island died there. He was later released and lived at Ephesus where he died around 100 AD. He was the last of the twelve to depart. Those who live long have the difficult role of seeing the others go.
In verse 10, John was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard a great voice behind him as a trumpet. After the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus the Christ on the first day of the week, believers in the early church came to designate it as the Lord’s day. Following the persecution of the believers and the curses laid upon them in the prayers said in the synagogues, which led to the parting of the ways between Judaism and Christianity around 96 AD, the believers came to meet for regular worship on Sunday rather than Saturday, the sabbath day. So John was in the spirit on Sunday, the Lord’s day. To be in the spirit, one would have the gift of the spirit called discerning of spirit. This is one of the revelational gifts. The others are the word of wisdom and word of knowledge(1 Cor.12:8,10). The one in whom this gift operates sees and hears, smells and perceives into the realm of the spirit. The phrase “in the spirit” signifies that John’s vision took place in the spirit and not in the body. The spirit man is a body, the spirit body exhibits all the five senses of the physical body. We shall talk more about this gift in Chapter 5. A loud voice is a phrase compared to the blast of a trumpet, the sound of thunder, and the sound of roaring waters. It is used 21 times in the Scroll of Revelation. Each time, a divine angelic being is delivering a message. The voice is like the blast of a trumpet. The emphasis is on the loudness of the voice. The voice identified Himself as the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. We have earlier stated that these appellations designate the Lord Jesus, the Christ. John was instructed to write what he saw in a book and send it unto the seven churches in Asia. These churches are: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sadis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.
The Description of The Son Of Man(verses 12-20).
There are similarities between Rev.1:13b-16 and Dan.10:5,6. The person who appeared to Daniel is the same person that appeared to John in the context of the angelic being, communicating prophetic truth about the end times. This forms an important connection between the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation.
In verse 12, John turned to see the voice that spoke to him. When he turned, he saw seven candlesticks. These candlesticks or candelabra are usually held on a single lampstand called menorah. In the midst of the seven candlesticks, one like unto the Son Of Man. This is the commonest appellation by which Jesus referred to Himself. It is His favourite Self-designation. According to Leon Morris, Jesus used this phrase because of its lack of political complications, because it has human undertones and divinity overtones and connects to the kingdom. The Son Of Man is one with authority to forgive sins(Luke 5:24). God the Father gave Him authority to execute judgement (John 5:27). The Son Of Man is human. This silences every argument that God’s judgement are unfair because He cannot understand the impact of sin on man’s ability to choose righteousness. Jesus the Christ became man. He was in every point tempted as we are yet without sin. Therefore He is an experientially qualified judge. He wore a garment down to his feet and a golden sach about His loins. White signifies righteous. He is the righteous judge of the church. Gold signifies righteousness, wealth and royalty. His head and His hairs were as white like wool, as white as snow. This signifies His judgeship over the church. And His eyes were as a flame of fire. He is the righteous judge. And His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters, powerful and authoritative(Ps.29).
Verse 16, He had in His hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. I presume that we do not suppose that when we see Jesus, there shall be a sword protruding out of His mouth. Jesus is the word of God. In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God. Without Him there was not anything made that was made( John1:1-3). By Him all things were made. By the word of God were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the word of His mouth(Ps.33:6). The word protruding out of His mouth portrays Him as the executor of the Father’s will, the judge of the whole Earth. Judgement must begin in the house of God. If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear(1 Pet.4:17-19). Therefore He is Judge both of the church and the world. When John saw Him, he fell at His feet as dead. He laid His right hand upon him saying unto him, fear not; I am the first and the last. Johns’ response when he encountered Jesus is similar to that of Daniel(Dan.10:9). Mortal and sinful make man cannot stand in the presence of the Holy God. Our holiness quickly turns into corruption and our righteousness into filthy rags(Isa.64:6).
In verse 18, Jesus refers to Himself as He that liveth and was dead; behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. He died and rose again from the dead in order that He might be judge both of the living and the dead. Key signals right and authority. Jesus is judge both of the living and the dead. Jesus is Lord of both the living and the dead. He whom He justifies is justified, and he whom He condemns is condemned. John was instructed to write the things which he had seen, the things which are and the things which shall be hereafter. This gives a possible key to the understanding of the book of Revelation. The things you have seen are Christ as judge of the Church, chapter 1. The things which are would be the seven churches in Asia(chapters 2&3). And the things which shall be hereafter would be the remainder of the book of Revelation(chapters 4-22). This outline is overly simplistic and merits little if any exegetical supports. This is particularly the case when one realizes there is no time difference between the vision of The Christ in Rev. 1 and the seven churches in Rev.2,&3. We should not be pushful about the significance of this outline. The significance of the relationship of the church to Rev.4-22, cannot be recognized by the absence of the term church in these chapters. Does the absence of the term church mean that there is no applicable value for the church in the OT? Jesus the Christ referred to the seven stars and seven Churches as mystery. The Greek word Mysterion occurs four times in the book of Revelation(1:20; 10:7; 17:5,7). A mystery always requires divine insight. In other words, the correct interpretation necessitates divine help. Allegorically, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven candlesticks are the seven churches.