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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 1

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

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Verses 1-3

  1. Intro:
    1. Prayer for Missions teams: Peru; Dominican; Belize; Haiti.
    2. Questions:
      1. So why do you like the book of Rev.? (ask)
        1. We are inspired by its content, fascinated by its prophecies, & stand in awe of its mysteries. (www)
      2. Q: How many have seen my Power Point on an Overview of Rev.?
    3. Tonight: Intro; background; How we are going to look at it.
      1. Illustration: Like this picture – explain its background.
        1. Yossi Rosenstein (“Symbolic Art”)
        2. Have someone tell what they see from row 10.
        3. Have someone tell what they see from row 5.
        4. Have another come take a closer look.
      2. In viewing art “no single visit will be sufficient” the more you visit the painting, the more it will reveal itself to the visitor, the more it will reveal the Artist/Author himself! [Apply to Scripture/God]
      3. So the question is…What will God unveil to us this time through?
    4. Why people are afraid of this book:
      1. Some see Rev as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” Winston Churchill
      2. Some see Rev as a kind of a “biblical boogey-man”. Swindoll
      3. Everyone is quick to say it is God’s Inspired Word!...but, a part of everyday life? - Application for today?
        1. Yet, it is piercingly relevant & has some of the most straightforward advice for the Church in all of Scripture!
      4. Symbols, they Scare me!!! – Why did John use symbolism?
        1. Symbols don’t weakened w/time!
        2. Symbols not only convey information, but also impart values & raise emotions.
        3. For instance John could have written “a dictator will rule the world.” But instead he described - “a beast”!
          1. Instead of a world system - “Babylon!”
      5. Biblical symbols are consistent w/the whole biblical revelation.
        1. Some symbols are explained: “7 stars are7 Lampstands” (1:20)
        2. Others are understood in the O.T.: “Tree of life” (2:7)
          1. Out of 404 vs. in Rev. 278 contain ref to the OT.
        3. Some aren’t explained at all: “White stone” (2:17)
      6. Symbols speak of reality = a flag stands for the existence of a nation.
    5. We must be careful not to allow our imagination to run wild.
      1. Don’t overanalyze the details. (i.e. 666, Ronald Wilson Reagon)
      2. Mikhail Gorbachev (his birth mark?)
    6. Be careful not to read too much of “our world” into the text:
      1. Try not to try to correlate every image to a modern equivalent.
      2. Every generation has had its Antichrist & Babylon!
    7. Don’t loose the Big Picture!
      1. When lost in the details, lift your head up for air!
      2. What is the Big Picture? Mankind started well, then went bad fast! The promise of a deliverer was 1st given in “the seed of a women”. The hope was passed on to Abraham, then to Isaac, then to Jacob who passed it on to his sons. Then it was beautifully illustrated in Exodus. It was longed for by the Judges, amplified in the Kings, & predicted by the Prophets. Finally it was fulfilled in the Gospels. But not until the Rev does it come to its fullest climax. Christ rides out of heaven to destroy Sin & Satan, & to restore creation to its original glory for our good, & His good pleasure forever! (Chuck Swindoll; “God’s Masterwork”, Revelation Overview; pg.123)
    8. Why I love this book:
      1. I love John’s writing style (think of his Gospel; 1 Jn; love)
      2. It’s Beatific Vision! – Rev.21:3
      3. 2 of the most beautiful chapters on Worship (ch.4 & 5).
      4. Stir us to a deeper commitment for the Lord in light of end-time events. – And to promote a concern for lost souls.
    9. Is Rev really a book for us to understand?
      1. Read 1:1 - “unveiling” (not veiling) a “laying bare”.
      2. Read 22:10 – It wasn’t to be sealed!
      3. This is Jesus’ Royal Mail to the Church! (Chuck Swindoll; the 7 Churches of Rev; pg.1)
    10. What views are there, & which view will we take?
      1. Historical View - A panorama of the history of the church from the days of John to the end of the age.
      2. Spiritualistic View - This viewpoint spiritualizes & allegorizes the text! Saying basically that these are not actual events but are simply stories of the struggle between good & evil! [emerged in the 4th cent., Catholic & Reformers held/hold to]
      3. Preterist(Latin for past) View - All ready fulfilled in Roman Empire.
      4. Futuristic(prophetic) View - Literal, future, normal, plain. They see from ch.4 on as yet to be fulfilled. [the view we’ll take!]
    11. Revelation answers the deeper questions of life! Like, Why are we here? Where is this mixed-up, out-of-control world heading?
      1. It’s ok to be dissatisfied w/this world…because we were created for a better one!
        1. A world w/o pain!
        2. Perfect harmony w/our Creator, & w/each other.
    12. Q: What is the world asking for right now in the news?
      1. U.S. out of Iraq & Afghanistan.
      2. World Peace!
      3. Iran not to develop Nuclear weapons.
      4. Peace in the Middle East.
      5. A Greener Earth. - Global Warming.
      6. “Can’t we all just get along?”
      7. Wait, isn’t that our message of the millennium?
        1. No wars, a remade earth(plants & animals), world peace!
      8. Folks we can guarantee this for them if they’d except Christ!
      9. It is a Grim future for the Earth! [1] Scientist say, our environment can’t hold up. [2] Economist say, w/in 40 yrs. we’ll be raped of our natural resources. [3] Militarist say, we can’t survive an atomic nor nuclear world war. [4] Diplomats say, the fuse is lit in the Middle East & it’s going to blow! [5] Historians say, man’s tried every form of government & none are w/o flaw!
      10. It’s a Great future for Heaven! [1] God says 1 form of Gov. will work…a Monarchy w/a Righteous Monarch! [2] The Good News is & our absolute promise is…“The Lamb Wins!”
    13. The Revelation! (not “s”)
      1. In the 4 Gospels they “reveal” Jesus in His Humility, Now Revelation “reveals” Him in His Glory!
      2. It is Apocalyptic literature: {writings that employ symbolic lang. to tell of Divine intervention which will take place in the future}
        1. Barclay, “All Apocalyptic literature is necessarily cryptic. It is continually attempting to describe the indescribable, to say the unsayable, to paint the unpaintable.”
          1. .i.e. How do you describe heaven? Or, the resurrected Lord…in human terms?
    14. Revelation is where things come to a fitting conclusion!
      1. Creation of heaven & earth; Creation of NEW heaven & earth.
      2. 1st Adam reigning on earth; last Adam reigning in glory.
      3. Night & seas created; No more night, no more sea.
      4. A bride brought to Adam; The Bride prepared for Christ.
      5. A tree of life in Eden; A tree of life in the New creation.
      6. Death & a curse; no more curse, no more death & tears.
      7. Man driven from God’s face; Men see his face in glory.
      8. Believers looking for a city; The Holy City presented in glory.
      9. Where is the Lamb? The Lamb reigns!
      10. Satan utters the 1st lie; nothing that makes a lie enters the city.
    15. How should we interpret it?
      1. “The Chinese say that it’s very difficult to prophesy, especially about the future!” {It’s easy for the One who sees our Future as Past!}
      2. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​See it Chronologically! (do ch’s 1-22)
      3. Yes we’ll talk about the future; but let’s not forget the meaning to its original readers; or its timeless truths for us today.
      4. We will interpret it with “normal, grammatical, historical, ordinary literal sense” w/in the normal context that it is written.
        1. When the literal makes sense, seek no other sense.
        2. When it doesn’t (i.e. a symbol) we will use proper rules of grammar & interpretation.
  2. IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS! (1:1-3)
    1. ​​​​​​​Just Give Me Jesus!
    2. (1) Revelation unveils the central figure of Scripture in all His Glory…Jesus Christ!​​​​​​​
      1. He is the Savior to whom all symbols point.
      2. To miss seeing Jesus in Rev is to squint so hard staring into the sun & thus missing the sun!
      3. It’s the most worshipful book in the bible. For it reveals the glorious splendor of our gracious Lord.
    3. Revelation = 1st He is the revealer; 2nd He is the content or object of the Revelation.
    4. From: the Father, to Jesus, to the angel, to John, to His servants.
    5. (2) John saw & recorded these things.
    6. (3) The only book in the bible that promises a blessing! (7 in Rev)
      1. Who hear & obey(1:3); Who die in the Lord(14:13); Who look for Christ’s return(16:15); Who are invited to the Messianic banquet(19:9); Who have part in the 1st Res(20:6); Who keep the words of the prophecy of this book(22:7); Who wash their robes(22:14).
    7. Reads – reads aloud.
      1. In the ancient world not everyone could read (estimate about 20/30% were able) & not many could afford books/scrolls.
      2. Col.4:16 “Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”
    8. Hears –
    9. Keeps – Takes to heart, heeds.
      1. Read Rev.22:7
      2. Q: Shall we commit to keeping the things we are about to read in the next weeks?

11 Differences between the Rapture & the 2nd Coming

  1. Rapture – Christ’s coming for us is a movement to heaven; 2nd Coming - a movement to earth!

  2. Rapture – living saints are translated; 2nd Coming – no saints are. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
  3. Rapture - Saints go to heaven; 2nd Coming - Saints stay on earth!
  4. Rapture – World stays the same; 2nd Coming – World is regenerated!
  5. Rapture – No judgment(i.e. throne); 2nd Coming – 2 (Is. & Gentiles)!
  6. Rapture – Saints are delivered from wrath; 2nd Coming – Believers have survived the wrath!
  7. Rapture – Imminent, He can come any time; 2nd Coming – Can’t come till all signs fulfilled!
  8. Rapture – Deals only w/the saved; 2nd Coming – Deals w/both saved/ unsaved!
  9. Rapture – Satan not bound; 2nd Coming – Satan bound 1000 yrs.!
  10. Rapture – No unfulfilled prophecy before it takes place; 2nd Coming – many signs must take place 1st!
  11. Rapture – No one sees, twinkling of eye; 2nd Coming –Everyone sees!

Verses 4-20

  1. Intro:
    1. Last week not on the air. (CD in bookstore of intro)
    2. This coming Month: Show Overhead.
    3. Pray –
    4. A letter coming by angelic delivery.
  2. GREETING! (4-8)
    1. (4-6) John wishes “Grace & Peace” from the Triune God!
      1. Father – the unchangeable God. He stands above history & is not limited by time!
      2. Holy Spirit – 7-fold Spirit = explained in Is.11:1,2.
        1. Or, represented as being present among the 7 churches.
        2. Also depicted as: 7-fold Sp.(3:1); 7 Lamps (4:5); 7 Eyes(5:6).
      3. Son –
        1. The Faithful witness = the source of the revelation to be given.
        2. 1st born from the dead – referring to His historic resurrection.
        3. Rulers over the kings of the earth – speaking to His prophetic role after His 2nd coming.
    2. (5) Loved(s) us & washed us(freed) –
      1. He Loved us - (most manus. in the pres tense!) {parallels John’s gospel}
      2. He Washed us – or freed us.
        1. May we never forget the blood!
        2. It washes/frees us(5); redeems us(5:9); makes us overcomers(12:11).
      3. Like the man who took pride in how his beautiful white highland terrierw as. One day when after a fresh blanket of snow saw a dog running in front of his home & thought, “who’s drab-looking dog is that?” then realized it was his well groomed terrier! [Great example of our sin when finally compared to the proper background!]
    3. (6) Amen – hearing what this “made us” This prompted John to express a benediction of worship & praise.
      1. He culminates with Amen “so be it”.
    4. (7,8) These 2 verses announce the main theme of the book.
    5. (7) Every eye will see Him – in contrast to his 1st coming at His birth & in contrast to the Rapture. [Public vs. Secret]
      1. Invisible coming - When He comes to “catch away” He comes as a “Thief”.
      2. Visible coming - witnessed by the whole world. [The climax of the Trib. period!]
      3. Eye - Eyes have two purposes: [1] To See [2] To Weep.
        1. “The eye that looks to the pierced One is the eye which weeps for Him!”
    6. Even those who pierced Him – Though the literal executioners & rejecters are now dead & won’t be res until after the Millennium, the godly remnant of Israel “will look on the One who they have pierced.”(Zech.12:10)
    7. (8) Alpha & Omega - God who is at the beginning of all things, is also at their end.
    8. Who is & was & is to come - The Eternal God, unlimited by time!
      1. He is not the Great “I Was!”
    9. Almighty - A key name for God in Rev. (9 x’s).
  3. PATMOS! (9)
    1. Return Address…Patmos!
    2. Tribulation – There was already persecution taking place (95ad)
      1. Nero started it in 64ad. Son after Peter & Paul were killed.
      2. Rome was beginning to exalt the emperor as a semidivine being.
        1. The Christian faith was already illegal.
      3. It was the emperor Domitian who banished John there as a punishment for his “seditious/rebellious” preaching in Ephesus (where he pastored), & as a quarantine to inhibit the further spread of the gospel. (Chuck Swindoll; pg.4)
    3. Patmos – A small crescent shaped little Island of Greece(in-between Athens & Turkey). A rocky island 10 m. long & 6 m. wide, in the Aegean Sea. [pop. 2600 in 1995]
      1. Note John mentions “Sea” 25 x’s! (surrounded by)
      2. Rome had a penal camp there where the prisoners labored in the mines.
      3. It was here in this isolated spot that John received the visions that make up Revelation. (Warren Wiersbe; NT Outlines.)
    4. Imagine how lonely that must have been for him.
      1. Cut off from his church(pastor of Eph.) Looking out across the blue bars of his prison to the distant mountains of Asia Minor, wising he was home.
      2. Maybe you’re experiencing a Patmos exile of your own?
        1. Unemployment; Divorce; A Terminal Illness; Rejection; feel cut off, perhaps even from God?
  4. THE CHURCHES! (10-11)
    1. (10) It’s been 60 yrs. since John’s heard Jesus voice - Now he hears it “as a trumpet” (also in 4:1).
      1. Trumpets are important in Revelation.
      2. The Jews used Trumpets to: gather an assembly; announce war; & to proclaim special days. [i.e. gather saints at Rapture, gather Israel at His coming; announce war on the world]
    2. “In the Spirit” – Frankly a mystery.
      1. Robert Mounce, “As paganism had set aside a day on which to honor their emperor, so also Christians chose the 1st day of the week to honor Christ.”
    3. Yet, every Christian lives in 2 locations!
      1. John was in Patmos & in the Spirit. [a human environment, & a heavenly one]
      2. A Christian was asked if he was you going to heaven. To which he replied, “I live there”! Was he right? Well, a workman had a little store in which he cobbled shoes. He also had an apartment upstairs over his shop. Someone asked him about his situation. “I work down here,” he said, “but I live up there!” - That’s it!!! (John Phillips; Exploring Revelation; pg.25)
    4. 7 churches – these are mentioned in geographical order, on Asia Minor(Turkey), in which mail would have been delivered. [clockwise]
      1. John just became Postmaster General of Patmos! (Swindoll)
  5. PORTAIT OF CHRIST! (12-18)
    1. (12) Explain lampstand – vs.20.
      1. Not Candlesticks (KJV) – Show Menorah (It held oil & wick not wax candle)
    2. (13) In the midst of the 7 lampstands. [Shamash, “Servant”]
      1. In the middle of the lampstand stands “The Light of the church”, Jesus Christ arrayed in splendor & glory!
    3. No matter how weak the church seems, how flawed or unfaithful, always remember that Christ stands in the center!
      1. Mt.16:18 “…I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
      2. We can depend on Him to keep that promise.
      3. As Christians we believe that, but do we also believe it as individual members of His church?
        1. Do you allow Him to be the center of your life?
        2. Where is he in your heart? Left of center? Extreme right? Center?
    4. (13-16) Like & as – Simile: a figure of speech that draws a comparison between two different things. (i.e. as white as a sheet!)
      1. Compare to Daniels vision – Dan.7:9,10.
      2. We have very little knowledge of what Jesus looked like while hear on earth: [1] Beard/Is.50:6 [2] Nothing esp. attractive about Him(Is.53:2) [3] Though children liked Him.
    5. (13) Garments - Those of a Judge or King! {One w/honor & authority}
    6. (14) White hair - Symbolizes His Externality “the ancient of days”.
      1. The glory of young men is their strength, And the splendor of old men is their gray head.” Prov.20:29
    7. (14b) Eyes - Seeing all, enabling Him to Judge righteously!
      1. Talk about having piercing eyes!
      2. Fire - burns & bores its way into the heart of the toughest timber & can even melt the strongest steel.
      3. Your true character is transparent to His eyes!
      4. Could this be tied to 1 Cor.3:13? That fire that will consume the believer’s human works of wood, hay, or stubble?
    8. (15) Feet of fine brass - Also suggests judgment.
      1. Fine = Highly rubbed & polished!
      2. The Brazen(brass) altar was the place where the fire consumed the sin offering.
      3. He came to judge: [1] The Church [2] The world system.
      4. “The serpents fangs once fastened on those feet. Now the red-hot brass will trample on His serpents head.”
    9. (15b) Voice - The sound of many waters.
      1. Q: Imagine arguing w/Niagara Falls?
        1. 12 mill. cubic feet of water roaring down each minute.
        2. His voice will drown out all who try to talk back, or offer excuses to Him.
    10. (16) Sword - The living word of God.
      1. Eph.6:17 “… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
      2. He fights His enemy w/His Word.
      3. Has time dulled His sword? No way! Will man made religions blunt it? Not a chance!
    11. Countenance - Reminds us of His transfiguration.
      1. Mt.17:2 “and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.”
      2. Was like the sun - “But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings.” Mal. 4:2
      3. Reminds us of “the unapproachable Light”, & the ancient Israelites at Sinai.
      4. Wow, just a little of God’s glory causes one to fall on their face…Ezek.1:28 “Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking.”
    12. (17) John in the upper room leaned on Jesus chest(13:23); but when he saw the glorified Christ, he fell at his feet as a dead man.
      1. What a great contrition of our heart, for us all to fall at His feet & ask for this Revelation to give meaning to us.
    13. When Daniel & John received God’s revelations of the future, both fell down as dead men.
      1. Dan.10:5-9 “And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.”
      2. A vision of the exalted Christ can only produce awe & fear!
        1. This is when you can’t scream, can’t move, your strength is zapped, your knees buckle & you drop.
      3. 2 Cor. 5:16 “Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.”
      4. We must approach this book as Wondrous & Worshipers!
    14. (17b,18) Note these are Jesus’ words of comfort to John:
    15. He laid His right hand on me and said, do not be afraid!
      1. He touches him reassuringly.
      2. Oh the loving touch of our Savior! – Have you felt His hand?
      3. Evans Roberts prayed, “Bend me! Bend me!” & when God answered, the Great Welsh Revival resulted! [make that your prayer!]
    16. I was dead…but now am alive!
      1. One day there will be no more death(21:4) because Jesus conquered death.
  6. OVERVIEW! (19,20)
    1. (19) An inspired 3 point Outline:
      1. What you have seen(ch.1) – the Glorified Christ.
      2. Which are(ch.2,3) – the churches.
      3. Which will take place(ch.4-22) – the Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, Judgments, & the Consummation.
    2. (20) Stars = angels = messengers!
    3. Maybe each church has its own guardian angel? ☺
    4. Options: (top views)
      1. [1] Each church has Guardian Angel – The normal meaning of “angel” in Rev is “spirit being”.
      2. [2] Pastor – unusual language.
      3. [3] Messenger – Roman Postal Service(RPS) was only for Imperial use. Thus Business & congregations had to develop their own mail system.
        1. Thus the 7 mail carriers.
      4. [4] Church personified - ?
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Revelation 1". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/revelation-1.html. 2017.
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