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Thursday, July 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 1

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-20

1 This is the unveiling of a Person Jesus Christ-not merely a prediction revealed through Him. God gives it to Him as a reward for His sufferings.

1 Swiftly-not soon , but with speed. On the morning of the resurrection John and Peter started together , but John ran more swiftly than Peter ( Joh_20:4 ). If this prophecy started soon after John wrote, it has moved very slowly indeed. When it does commence, it will run with great rapidity. God lingers in dispensing grace but hastens in executing judgment. This calls for an entirely future fulfillment.

1 Signify-not necessarily by signs, but in the ordinary sense of this word in English, as, the Lord signified His death ( Joh_12:33 ; Joh_18:32 ), and foretold Peter's ( Joh_21:19 ), and Festus signified Paul's crimes to Caesar ( Act_25:27 ). There are only three distinct signs in this scroll: the woman clothed with the sun ( Rev_12:1 ), the dragon ( Rev_12:3 ), and the seven messengers who have the seven calamities ( Rev_15:1 ). Besides this the false prophet ( Rev_13:13-14 , Rev_19:20 ) and the spirits of demons do signs ( Rev_16:14 ). None of the rest is communicated by signs.

3 Near denotes a conditional proximity. The kingdom of the heavens was near during the early part of our Lord's ministry. It was postponed by His rejection. It was near again when proclaimed by the apostles but once more rejected by the nation of Israel. Peter writes "the consummation of all things is near" ( 1Pe_4:7 ), yet nearly twenty centuries have passed and the consummation or end is still future.


4 The Divine Name, JEHOVAH, is a union of the three tenses of TO BE.


The reverse arrangement of this is used once ( Rev_4:8 ) by the four animals. Here and in Rev_1:8 the present tense is put first to emphasize the fact that He is now present:

o wn o hn o ercomenos


In Rev_11:17 and Rev_16:5 the phrase "Who is coming" is omitted, because He is regarded as having come at that time. The Name is flexible and adapts itself to times and conditions.

10 In spirit, John is transported into the future day of Jehovah of which the prophets have often spoken. The Hebrew phrase "the day of the Lord" is changed to "the Lord's day" in order to shift the emphasis from the character of the day to the time , which is the important point in this passage. This is done in three ways, by changing the grammatical form, the rank, and the order of the words. The direction of the thought is altered by putting "Lord" in the dative instead of the genitive case, so that it locates rather than describes the day. Its force is further weakened by making it all adjective rather than a noun, and by shifting it from its prominent place at the end of the sentence and giving that striking location to "day".

13 Seven lampstands stand for a scattered Israel, as the one seven-branched lampstand in the tabernacle and temple stood for a united nation. These ecclesias are all in the "dispersion".

13 The description and acts here ascribed to Christ are not priestly, but accord with His prophetic office, The prophet's function was to point out God's method of procedure. At first this was done privately , by the seers; then officially by prophets. Prophets are sent especially in apostasy . Christ wears none of the priestly vestments except the girdle, and this is of gold, not of fine twined linen ( Exo_39:29 ), The scene is one of judgment, which the apostle tells us must begin at the house of God ( 1Pe_4:17 ). The sword indicates this ( cf . Dan_10:5 ).

16 Stars stand for those whose spirits are in touch with God ( Dan_12:3 , C. V.). Abraham's seed was to become as the stars of heaven. His physical progeny are like the sand upon the seashore.

17 First and Last ( Isa_41:4 ; Isa_44:6 ; Isa_48:12 ; Rev_2:8 ; Rev_22:13 ) is a title of Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer.

19 The word "are" must be given the same sense here as in verse Rev_1:20 "the seven stars are ," and "the lampstands are ." It is a metaphor.

20 There are three "mysteries" or secrets in this scroll. The seven stars and lampstands are in

Christ's hands as Prophet. The secret of God ( Rev_10:7 ) is finished when Christ as King receives the sovereignty of the world. The secret of Babylon is in the Temple section ( Rev_17:5 ; Rev_17:7 ).

The Prophetic Section

20 The vision is figurative. The explanation is literal. It must not be further "explained ". The seven stars are seven messengers. The seven lamp stands are seven ecclesias. These will be found at the places indicated at the opening of the Lord's day. They are God's luminaries in the dense darkness of that judgment era.


&#These letters fall into two groups. In the first three the injunction to hear precedes the promise. In the last four this order is reversed. In the former the wilderness experiences of Israel are recalled: their first love in Ephesus, their trials in Smyrna, Balaam in Pergamos. The latter recall their history in the land-two for Israel and two for Judah; Jezebel in Thyatira, Israel's blotting out in Sardis, the temple in Hezekiah's reign in Philadelphia, and the declining days of the Minor Prophets in Laodicea.


4 Their "first love" is an allusion to Israel's espousals in the wilderness ( Hos_11:1 ; Jer_2:2 ;

Eze_16:8 ; Eze_16:10 ; Exo_19:4 ; Exo_19:6 ) .

6 The Nicolaitans (Conqueror People) are probably Israelitish votaries of the wild beast. Their name indicates their allegiance to the great world conqueror. First their acts are condemned and then their doctrine ( Rev_2:15 ). It was the same as Balaam;s ( Num_25:2 ).

7 The "tree" of life is, literally, the wood or log of life, for the wood is dead, and, in this phrase, always speaks of life out of death, or resurrection.

7 The promise reminds us of the tree of life in Eden and has its consummation in the new Jerusalem ( Rev_22:2 ). Our destiny is heaven ( Eph_1:3 ).


8 In each message the Lord alludes to such particulars of the preceding vision as meet the case of the ecclesia. His resurrection life is a pledge of the wreath of life He promises to those who are faithful until death.

9 What force can there be to the claim to be Jews unless the Smyrna ecclesia was composed of Jews? Their allegiance to Satan's (or the Adversary's) synagogue would have no point if the Smyrnaites did not belong to God's synagogue.

10 The ten days' affliction alludes to Israel's trial in the wilderness. That lasted forty years. This will be brief. Jews often suffer from anti-Semitic riots.

10 A wreath or garland, often of laurel, was awarded the successful contestant in the ancient games. This was the trophy of victory. It is not the symbol of rule, but the reward of faithful effort. The wreath of life will be worn by all who gain life as a reward of their deeds. It is given to the one who endures trial ( Jam_1:12 ). The life we have in Christ is a gratuitous gift, in no sense the reward of our efforts, so it cannot be figured by a wreath.

11 The allusion in this promise is to the entrance of death when Adam sinned. The fulfillment of the promise will wait until the great white throne judgment ( Rev_20:11 ). This promise cannot be applied now, for all in Christ are beyond judgment.


14 Balaam (Nu.25). The sorry scene at Shittim will be repeated in the day of Jehovah. In ancient times sacrifices to the gods were accompanied by ceremonial prostitution, which will also characterize the worship of the wild beast.

Compare Rev_2:20 ; Rev_9:20-21 ; Rev_14:4 ; Rev_21:8 ; Rev_22:15 ; Jud_1:15-16 ; Jud_1:23 .

Balaam was killed with the sword ( Num_31:8 ; Jos_13:22 ). The Nicolaitans are threatened with a similar fate. This is put in execution when the followers of the wild beast are "killed with the blade which is coming out of the mouth of Him Who is sitting on the horse" ( Rev_19:21 ).

17 Unless they worship the image of the wild beast they will not be able to obtain food, unless God gives it as He gave the manna. So the star-crowned woman will be nourished in the wilderness ( Rev_12:14 ). Then they will pray as He taught them: "Our bread, our dole, be giving us today" ( Mat_6:11 ), for every other source is cut off. The white pebble was used in allotting the land. Each man's name was written on a pebble, and these were put into a bag. As each allotment is called, a pebble is withdrawn. The allotment is given to the man whose name is on it. Thus the white pebble will be an earnest of their allotment in the kingdom. This is for Israel, not for the body of Christ.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Revelation 1". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/revelation-1.html. 1968.
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