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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 1

Godbey's Commentary on the New TestamentGodbey's NT Commentary

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Verses 1-3


THIS is the Greek word translated Revelation. It means the revealment of Christ in His literal, glorified personal manhood back to this world. I stood on Mt. Olivet at the very spot whence He ascended up to heaven. He had repeatedly told His disciples He would return in His literal humanity which they saw ascend up. The moment He passed out of sight, the angels stood by and certified that the same identical Jesus whom they had seen with their mortal eyes ascend into heaven, would come back again just as He ascended up. Acts 1:11

Zechariah says positively: “His feet shall stand again on Mt. Olivet.” when I visited Pilate’s judgment-hall in Jerusalem, I saw superscribed above the old stone door, out of which Pilate led Jesus, his famous words: “ Ecce homo ” (behold the man). When on a French ship, sailing from Egypt to Palestine, I saw a Roman Catholic priest conspicuously walking the deck, covered with beads, images, crucifixes, and other symbols of his idolatry. A medal most ostensible was a silver image of our Savior on the cross. Thus we see his religion culminates in a dead Christ. Our Savior’s divinity never was dead cannot die. His human soul was never dead.

His human body was only dead about thirty-six hours. Then it revived, never to die again. Hence there is no such thing as a dead Christ. Therefore, the man who worships a dead Christ is an idolater. All the sinning Churches on the globe worship a dead Christ, who is incompetent to save them from their sins. Consequently, they live and die in sin, and make their bed in hell. This is the “ Ecce homo ” religion. The true religion is the “ Ecce Deus ”(behold the God). Since the humanity of Christ walked out of the sepulcher and flew up to heaven, He has never been dead, and never will be. The transfigured humanity is filled with the Omnipotent Divinity abundantly competent to “save to the uttermost” all who come unto God by Him. Hence, the true disciples of Christ are saved from all their sins and kept by His power unto everlasting life. The very word Revelation, the name of this wonderful book of prophecy, means the restoration of this glorified humanity back to this world, where we can all see Him. The Apostolic Church lived in constant anticipation of this glorious revelation. It is the true and divinely-appointed inspiration of the expectant bride.

Oh, what an incentive to us to be robed and ready, washed in the blood and filled with the Spirit, every moment. The false bride (Babylon) worships a dead Christ, lives in sin, neither expecting nor desiring the living Christ to return and set up his kingdom.

3. Blessed is he that readeth, and blessed are those who hear the word of prophecy, and keep the things written in it; for the time is at hand.”

Now, reader, I hope you will lay hold of this blessing with enthusiasm, and hold it with the pertinacity of a drowning man. Here God pronounces a blessing on those who read this book of prophecy, and especially on those who receive appreciatively and profit by the wonderful revealments in this book.

May the Lord anoint your eyes that you may see, and your ears that you may hear the voice of your ascended Lord speaking from the skies, “Awake, my beloved, wash and dress, for I am coming!”

The popular idea of the end of the world is unscriptural. Matthew 24:3, which reads, “end of the world,” should read, “end of the age.” The Greek word is not cosmos (world), but aeon (age, or time).

The Bible plainly reveals the eternal durability of this world. It is one of the mansions God is fitting up for the eternal occupancy of His saints and angels. This world was a part of heaven in the Edenic state. Satan broke it loose, and has been doing his best the last six thousand years to add it to hell. Christ came to “destroy the works of the devil” (John 3:8), and He is sure to do it. The last two chapters in this book actually describe this world after it has been sanctified by fire, renovated by the omnipotent Creator, and added beck to the Celestial Empire, and reoccupied by saints and angels, to shine and shout forever.

Verses 4-9


The Antediluvian Ages have come and gone. The Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Prophetical Ages have all come and gone. The Jewish Age and Dispensation closed with the destruction of Jerusalem. The Father’s Dispensation lasted four thousand years; that of the Son, during His incarnate ministry; and that of the Holy Ghost, from Pentecost to the second advent. So we are now living, not only in the last dispensation i. e., that of the Gentiles, the Holy Ghost, and the Church but, as we will show you (D.V.) in this book, we are right at the end of that dispensation. John warned the people: “The time is at hand.” Oh, how much more pertinent to ring out the warning now, as we are eighteen hundred years nearer than the generation in which John lived! Good Lord, help us to sound the alarm and wake up a slumbering world and a dead Church!

Hebrews 1:2: Created the worlds; i.e., the ages, as the Greek reads. So, also, 1 Corinthians 10:11, “On whom the ends of the world have come,” should read, “ends of the ages.”

These Scriptures, and others innumerable, confirm the conclusion that we are living in the last age, which is to be followed, not by the extermination of this earth, but by the glorious kingdom of our descended Lord. For this long anticipated and prayed for Millennial reign all the bygone ages were successive preparations. Our Savior came to destroy the works of the devil, which are sin, and restore this world to its Edenic state.

4. Seven Churches. Doubtless there were hundreds of Churches in Asia Minor at that time. The reason why seven only are mentioned is because the Church is the bride of Christ, and seven is the sanctified number always representing Christ. Four represents humanity, as man is the king of the world, specified by the cardinal points, North, South, East, and West. Three represents Divinity Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Christ is both man and God. Therefore, seven is the sanctified number in the Bible always symbolizing Christ. These seven Churches successively represent the visible Church from the Apostolic Age till the Lord comes. Seven spirits mean the Holy Ghost, as seven represents Christ, and the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Christ, and first begotten of the dead. Elijah and Elisha raised people from the dead. Saints arose at the time of the crucifixion before His resurrection. But we have no assurance that any of these received their transfigured bodies. Hence, our Savior was the first to rise and receive His transfigured body washed us from our sins in His own blood. The Greek says, loosed “Made us a kingdom.” God’s saints constitute His spiritual kingdom on the earth.

7. Behold, He comes with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all the tribes of the earth shall wail at Him. Yea, Amen.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:

“But I do not wish you, brethren, to be ignorant concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and is risen, thus God will also bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For we say this to you in the word of the Lord, that we who are living who have been left unto the coming of the Lord, may not go before those who are asleep. Because the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive who have been left shall at the same time be caught up along with them to meet the Lord in the air; and thus shall we be forever with the Lord. So exhort one another by these words.”

The Resurrections. The Bible plainly discriminates between the resurrection of the just and the unjust, thus clearly revealing two separate and distinct resurrections, the one for the just, and the other for the unjust. Yon see, from the above quotations, that the Lord will raise the sainted dead and translate the living saints when He comes after His bride, before He descends to set up His Millennial kingdom. Daniel 12:2:

“Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting contempt. This is the first resurrection.”

Identical with the above quotations from Paul and John, and will take place when the Lord comes to deliver his bride. The English translation involves the conclusion that the wicked will be also raised at that time. But the most reliable expositions of the Hebrew state that some will be raised to everlasting life, and others doomed to shame and everlasting contempt will not be raised, but sleep on to the end of time, when all the wicked shall be raised, and stand before the great white throne. Philippians 3:11:

“If perchance I may attain unto the resurrection, which is out from the dead.”

We see here, as in other Scriptures, that the Apostle Paul was incessantly and enthusiastically and importunately striving after an especial resurrection. This shows positively that there are two resurrections, the one replete with blessing, glory, and immortal emolument and the highest association of saintship, and the other full of shame, everlasting contempt, and fearful augmentation of the damnation which the wicked enter when they die. Even the saints of the Old Testament times, as well as the Apostolic Age, were constantly striving for a better resurrection (Hebrews 11:35). This glorious doctrine of the resurrection is one of the gems of the long-lost gospel, which God, in His mercy, is now restoring to the world through the medium of the Holiness movement. The Greek phraseology in these quotations plainly reveals an especial, extraordinary, and glorious resurrection for the saints.

“Bro. Godbey, you clearly show by these Scriptures that the first resurrection will take place when the Lord comes for His bride, immediately preceding the great tribulation, after which our Lord will descend with His glorified bride, and set up His Millennial kingdom. Now, what shall I do with Revelation 20:4-6, Bro. Godbey?” This is simply a supplement to the first resurrection, and takes in the tribulation saints, who have suffered martyrdom during the great tribulation.

The Rapture. This word “rapture” means taking up, and it designates the Lord’s deliverance of his saints from the great tribulation. Paul says positively that He will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. This can not mean spiritual sleep, but must mean the sleep of the body in the grave. Therefore, the Lord must come after them, in order to have them to bring with Him when He comes to reign.

Matthew 24:27:

“For as the lightning cometh from the east and appeareth even unto the west, so shall be the coming of the Son of man.”

Hence, we see that the light of His glorified person will flash round the world and affright the slumbering millions now resting in carnal security throughout every nation under heaven. Appalled and panic-stricken, they will howl out one universal wail at Him. The phrase, “all the tribes of the earth,” means the wicked multitudes of all nations meanwhile, His saints will not join in the wailing, but run to meet Him, with shouts of welcome.

1 John 2:28,

“Now, little children, abide in Him, in order that, when He may appear, we may have boldness, and not shrink with embarrassment from Him in His presence.”

In this letter John teaches that we must have perfect love, which casts out fear and takes away our embarrassment, and prepares us to meet our coming Lord with joy. When shall we expect our Savior to come and take away his bride, raising the sainted dead and translating the living saints? Now, all the New Testament certifies over and over that we are in the last age preceding the coming kingdom. We are not only in the last age, but rapidly approaching the end of the Gentile Age.

The Theocray. This word means the government of God. It was the original economy, prevalent in Eden till the fall. It was revived, in a modified sense, after the fall. Almost totally eclipsed erelong by the wickedness of the Antediluvians, it received the grand impetus in the divine intervention of the Flood, sweeping ostensible rebellion out of the world, and leaving a solitary righteous family to re-people the earth. Nimrod’s impious attempt at Babylon to establish a human government, independently of the divine, was the first overt assault against the theocracy in post-diluvian times.

The wicked enterprise of Nimrod, so signally anathematized by the Almighty, proved the unfortunate precursor of all the governments on the globe. God was sorely grieved when Israel asked for a king, because it was an indirect rejection of His government. Yet, in His loving kindness and condescending mercy, He selected their king for them. Even the golden age of Israel, immortalized by the brilliant reigns of David and Solomon, only exhibits the theocracy in a modified form. Then begins the sad downward trend, with the revolt, alienation, and final deportation of the ten tribes into Babylonian captivity, culminating ultimately in the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, B.C. 587, and the final transportation of the Jews into Chaldea. It seemed that the theocracy had utterly evanesced, without the faintest hope of its revival. But remember, God’s plans never fail. Human and diabolical rebellion may interrupt and postpone them. but Omnipotence, in due time, will sweep away all the fabrications of men and devils, and perfect His plans to the admiration of saints and angels. With the fall of Jerusalem, the theocracy went into a total eclipse. The Jews God’s earthly people receded from the world’s leadership. The Gentiles came to the front, and became the rulers of the world during the theocratic eclipse. The Millennial reign will be the final restoration of the theocracy in its Edenic splendor and glory, never again to go into eclipse, but to brighten in the sweep of a thousand years, accumulate new luster in Satan’s post-Millennial defeat and ejectment into the lake of fire, brighten through the final judgment, earth’s fiery sanctification and final celestialization, and sweep on through all eternity-the bliss of glorified saints and the joy of angels, archangels, cherubim, and seraphim.

Thus we see the Gentile Age began with the fall of Jerusalem, B.C. 587. Now, if we know how long it is to continue, we can certainly ascertain proximately the time of the Lord’s coming. It is fanatical to appoint the day of His advent, which no one knows, from the simple fact that there are three distinct systems of chronology, all differing somewhat either from the other, and we do not know which chronology is correct, or whether any one of them is precisely right. In these expositions, it is pertinent that you keep all of the three chronologies i. e., the lunar, calendar. and solar constantly before your mind. Mohammedans and Jews use the lunar chronology, which contains three hundred and fifty- four days in the year; Europeans use the calendar, which contains three hundred and sixty days in the year; while Americans use the solar, which contains three hundred and sixty-five days in the year. How do we know the length of the Gentile Age? Leviticus 26:0 says several times over that the Jews shall suffer expatriation and persecution at the hands of the Gentiles seven times. Daniel 4:25, we find Nebuchadnezzar was crazy and exiled, playing king among the beasts of the field seven times. The Hebrew means seven years for Israel’s expatriation and Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity. When the world became so wicked that there was no place for the Divine Government, God, in His mercy, chose Nebuchadnezzar, probably the most competent man in the world, to rule the nations; hence, in a sense, he symbolizes God in the dominion of the world. The crazy parenthesis of his reign typifies the human parenthesis in the world’s government, which began with the fall of the theocracy, B.C. 587, and will continue till Christ returns to set up the theocracy. In all these prophecies, a day represents a year. Daniel predicted that it would be seventy weeks from the return of the Jews out of Babylonian captivity till Christ should come (Daniel 9:24). It is a well-known historic fact that this period proved to be four hundred and ninety years, thus, with many other prophecies, proving the year-day system of interpretation. The lunar year, 354 days, multiplied by 7, equals 2478; calendar, 360, multiplied by 7, equals 2520; and solar, 365, multiplied by 7, equals 2555. Hence. you see the time of Gentile rule in lunar chronology is 2478 in calendar, 2520; and in solar, 2555.

The period begins with the fall of Jerusalem, B.C. 587; now add A.D. 1896, and the total is 2483. So you see 2483 years have elapsed since the Gentile period began.

Now you will readily see when the Gentile Age will have an end. 2483 minus 2478 leaves 5. You see, according to lunar time, the Gentile Age has already expired, and five years over. 2520 minus 2483 leaves 37 years. Hence you see, according to calendar time, we have only thirty-seven years to await the Lord’s coming to reign. 2555 minus 2483 leaves 72 years. Here you see, according to solar chronology the longest system we have only seventy-two years to await the Lord’s kingdom.

Verse 7


While the Laodicean Church of the present day is busy in her ice-cream suppers and strawberry festivals, the Lord is coming in a cloud, to take up His sanctified bride, and spew these lukewarm professors out of His mouth. Jesus says, in his sermon on the judgments, that the last days of the Antediluvian world symbolize the winding up of the present dispensation. Wickedness increased so fearfully, and the Antediluvian Church apostatized so awfully, that only one preacher’s family survived the spiritual wreck. So here we see the whole Church, along with the wicked world, swept away by the devouring Deluge. To a superficial observer, that looks hard. But don’t you know it was full of mercy? The world had become so wicked, and the Church had fallen and literally united with the world, as at the present day, that there was no hope but for each succeeding generation to get worse and worse, and drop into hell as they come and go. Hence it was signal mercy on the part of the Almighty to put an end to that awful trend into hopeless damnation, and start a new order of things, in which the rainbow of heavenly hope would again span the world. The whole Book of Genesis teaches one great lesson; i. e., that man is a failure. He failed in Eden. He failed in the Antediluvian Ages. He failed in post-diluvian times. He is fast proving an utter failure in the Gospel Dispensation. The Church is a human organization. Therefore, it has proved a failure in every age and dispensation. While Genesis shows up man’s failure, beginning in Paradise and winding up in Egyptian slavery, Exodus reveals that God is a success under all circumstances. So rest assured you will never do any good till you find out that you are a total failure, and fly to the bosom of God, who alone is a perfect success. Just as the Antediluvian world deteriorated morally and religiously to the end, so with the post-diluvian world. At present there is only one Christian in the world for every one hundred and fifty inhabitants. What an awful harvest hell is constantly reaping! What a signal mercy on the part of the Almighty to interpose and arrest this cataract of damnation There is but one way to do it, and that is to destroy them, as in case of the Flood, as only one now and then will repent, and the perpetuity of the present state of things would only conduce to augment the appalling tide of wholesale damnation.

Verses 10-11


While it is positively revealed that no one is to know the day of His coming, yet it is positively certified that the Lord’s true people are to know the time of the end. As Daniel and John did not live in the time of the end, they did not know it. Daniel was terribly grieved because he did not know it; but God said to him ( 12:9):

“Go thy way; close up the vision and seal the book till the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”

We are now living in that period. Many are running to and fro, and spreading abroad the knowledge of the Lord’s speedy coming. Thus you may rest assured that we are living in the time of the end, and the coming of the Lord is nigh. We are flooded on a sides with innumerable prophetical signs of His coming, of which we shall have occasion to speak, ever and anon, in the progress of this exposition. In Revelation 1:9, we find that John was banished to the Isle of Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. When our Savior appeared to Saul, on his way to Damascus, He said: “I have appeared unto thee to make thee a minister and a witness.” Thus the word and testimony are inseparable concomitants.

If John had preached and withheld his testimony, he might have stayed in Rome. We must not only preach the word straight and clear, but constantly corroborate it by our testimony. In that case the blessing of persecution will not be delinquent.

10. As John arrived in Patmos late Saturday evening, spent the night in prayer, with the opening Sunday morning, the glorified Savior came down, opened heaven to his vision, and revealed the wonderful prophetical panorama. Why is our Sabbath the first day of the week? We see here the apostles kept the first day, and, because of its sanctity, called it the Lord’s day.

The Old Dispensation wag under the law, which said, “Work first, then rest; and if you do not work, you shall not rest.” The New Dispensation is under the gospel, which says, “Rest first, and then you will be in good fix to do your work.” Hence, the very genius of the dispensations superinduce the change from the seventh to the first day of the week.

Verse 12

12. Seven golden candlesticks.” Gold throughout the Bible means Holy Ghost religion. In regeneration, we find a gold-mine. In sanctification, our gold is put in the smelting furnace, all the earthly elements eliminated out of it, till nothing but the pure, transparent gold is left. Then it is coined and sent glittering around the world to bless the nations. Brass symbolizes counterfeit religion, being a compound of zinc and copper, and always made by men; whereas, gold is one of the original elements which God created when He made the world. 2 Chronicles 12:0: tells us about the apostasy of Rehoboam, when Shishak, the king of Egypt, came up with his army, captured Jerusalem, and took out of the temple the golden shields which king Solomon had made. Afterwards, Rehoboam made shields of brass to fill the places left vacant by the golden shields. Shishak emblematizes the devil and Rehoboam as the fallen Church. When the devil comes and takes away the Holy Ghost religion out of the heart, he always pokes off on us a big lot of brass to fool us, so we will not find out that we are already fallen, but think we are growing in grace, till the devil dumps us into hell. Thus, fallen Church are full of Satan’s egotistical, brassy religion. The pastors all want to be bishops, and the members all want to go to the General Conference. The golden candlestick symbolizes a Church full of Holy Ghost religion, in which the Holy Ghost Himself is the light. Here we have a glorious description of the glorified Savior as He walks amid the golden candlesticks.

Verse 13

13. Clothed with a garment down to the foot and girded about the waist with a golden girdle.” This is a description of His priestly regalia, as our Savior is Prophet, Priest, and King. As Prophet, He teaches us; as Priest, He atones for all our sins; as King, He rules over us forever. During His earthly mission, He served mankind as Prophet, and was a most indefatigable preacher. He is now exercising His priestly office at the Father’s right hand in heaven. He will soon come down with His mighty angels and transfigured saints to set up His kingdom on the earth and reign forever.

Verse 14

14. His head and His hands were white as wool, white as snow.” This clause describes His antiquity, setting forth the fact that He is uncreated, and has existed from all eternity. “ His eyes are as a flame of fire.” This certifies His omniscience. The eye is the great receptacle of knowledge, and symbolizes all the senses.

Verse 15

15. His feet were like unto brass.” This clause describes our Savior’s immutability, revealing the fact that He never changes, but is the same unutterable love, omniscient wisdom, and superabounding grace, yesterday, to-day, and forever. “ His voice as the sound of many waters.” This reveals His awful denunciation of sin. The artillery on every battlefield, the roaring thunder, the mighty tread of the hurricane, the sweep of the cyclone, the shock of the earthquake, and the bitter wail of the earth’s suffering millions, articulate our Savior’s warning voices against sin, doom, and damnation.

Verse 16

16. Having in His right hand seven stars.” These stars are the faithful preachers of the gospel. So, if you want to be a star preacher, be sure the Savior holds you in His right hand. If you preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, fearless of men and devils, regardless of reputation, filthy lucre, ejectment, and decapitation, rest assured Jesus will hold you in His right hand, and you will have victory when the world is on fire. “ Out of His mouth goes a sharp, two-edged sword.” This is the word of God revealed in the Bible. This wonderful sword has two edges, sharp as God’s lightning; i. e., the salvation edge and the damnation edge. If you receive the salvation edge, and permit it radically and intrinsically to dissect soul, spirit, heart, mind, and body, it will cut out every fiber of sin’s warp and woof, actual and original, and effect a complete purgation from all iniquity, investing you with the spotless robe of entire sanctification, and actually leading you out into the heavenly state, ready, watching and waiting for the Lord to descend, translate and take you up into the cloud. If you prove too cowardly to receive the salvation edge, and let it cut out of you all sin, you will have to take the damnation edge, which will cut all your hopes out of heaven. “His countenance appears as the sun in His power.” John 1:9:

“He is the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”

Thus we see that the world’s Savior shines on every human soul. Hence Paul says en the heathen are left without excuse (Romans 1:20). John says if we walk in the light, the blood cleanseth from all sin. Here is solved the problem of universal salvation. As the sun sends his light throughout the whole world, so the glorious Sun of righteousness illuminates the spiritual world, giving to every human being saint, sinner, heathen, Jew, and Mohammedan all the light they need to lead them to heaven. If they will only walk in all the light they have, His blood will cleanse them from all sin, and robe them for glory.

Verse 17

17. I fell at His feet as a dead man.” We see here that John had a knock- down religion. I have seen much of it. Lord, give us more, to rebuke the dead formality and hollow hypocrisy of the fallen Churches!

Verse 18

18. I have the keys of death and Hades.” Here we see that no person can die until God permits. People vainly talk about a Christian dying unsanctified. Such a thing never occurs. From the moment of your conversion, the holy Sanctifier is with you, holding the keys of death and Hades. He will not permit death to touch you till He finishes His work in your entire sanctification, which He can do in the twinkling of an eye if you are true. If you will not permit Him to sanctify you, but grieve Him away, you become a backslider, and drop into hell. Hades is a compound Greek word, meaning the unseen world, and including both heaven and hell. Gehenna is the Greek word which always means hell, and nothing else.

Verse 20

20. The seven candlesticks are the seven Churches. From these Scriptures we see the sanctified, Holy Ghost religion is the essence of the Church; and Jesus holds the sanctified pastor in His right hand. When a Church falls below these conditions, she is no longer the Church of God.

Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Revelation 1". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ges/revelation-1.html.
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