Bible Commentaries
Revelation 1

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-3

Jesus, the Author

We have already observed that Revelation means an uncovering or a laying bare. Particularly, this is Jesus' Revelation, but as John has done so often before ( Joh_4:34 ; Joh_6:38 ; Joh_7:16 ; Joh_8:29 ; Joh_12:44 ; Joh_12:49 ; Joh_14:24 ; Joh_17:8 ; Joh_17:20-23 ), he stresses that it is a message from the Father and given through the Son. There must have been great comfort in the thought that the victory set forth within the coming pages would "shortly come to pass." This vision was delivered by heavenly messenger to John, who simply identifies himself as the Lord's slave. Once, he had wanted more for himself ( Mar_10:35-40 ), but now he had seen the Lord submit and serve others ( Php_2:5-8 ; Mat_20:20-28 ) and was following his lead.

The angel merely reported God's word, as it had been revealed to him, and the things he had seen. He immediately pronounced a blessing on those who would read and hear, in the sense of yielding to, the words of this prophecy. This is the first of the blessings, or beatitudes, pronounced in this book ( Rev_1:1-3 ; see also Rev_14:13 ; Rev_16:15 ; Rev_19:9 ; Rev_20:6 ; Rev_22:7 ; Rev_22:14 ). This blessing is for all those who will hear and do the things the book says to do ( Jam_1:22-25 ). Combining this with the blessing of 22:7, one can have no doubt that John intended for the message to be understood and obeyed.

Verse 4

The Seven Churches of Asia

In light of the symbolic nature of this book we have already suggested that seven churches are addressed because it is a perfect number. These seven would seem to stand for all churches and contained a representative sample of all the good and bad characteristics generally found in the churches of that, or for that matter this, day.

The greeting "Grace to you and peace," seems to have been the common Christian greeting of that day ( Rom_1:7 ; 1Co_1:3 ; 2Co_1:2 ; Gal_1:3 ; etc.). We are dependant upon the riches of God's grace for salvation and long for His indescribable peace ( Eph_1:7 ; Eph_2:8-10 ; Php_4:7 ). The source of these great blessings is God, the Father, the eternal one. Also, they come from the Holy Spirit by whom the message of grace and peace was delivered ( Joh_16:12-14 ). He is here designated by the symbolic words, "the seven Spirits which are before his throne" because he has perfectly delivered God's message and is the perfect Spirit of God ( Rev_1:4 ).

Verses 5-8

Identifying Jesus

This letter is also from Jesus, who is the "faithful witness" of God's will ( Rev_1:5 ; Joh_3:31-32 ; Joh_8:14 ; Joh_18:36-38 ). Jesus was also the first one to be raised from the dead to die no more ( 1Co_15:20 ; Col_1:18 ). This would be a source of great encouragement since Antipas had already died for the faith and others would likely soon follow (2:13). Knowing that God can raise the dead should give us courage, even in the face of death ( Rom_8:11 ).

Christ is likewise the ruler over all who are in authority on the earth ( Rom_13:1 ; Eph_1:20-21 ). It might have seemed that no one could control Rome, but the Lord was in authority and would judge them for their misdeeds ( Joh_19:10-11 ). Certainly, no one has ever loved any of us more than Jesus did and does ( Joh_5:13 ; Rom_5:6-8 ). Because of that love, He gave His blood that our sins might be washed away ( Heb_9:14 ; Heb_9:28 ; Eph_5:25-26 ).

We are kings in that we are a part of the body of the King and shall rule over all ( Rev_1:6 ; Eph_1:22-23 ; Php_2:9-11 ; 1Co_6:1-3 ). We are, furthermore, made a priesthood that we might offer up sacrifices of praise to God's name ( 1Pe_2:5-9 ; Heb_13:15 ). At the mention of God the Father, John breaks forth in praise to His name ( Eph_3:20-21 ).

John was there when the men in white apparel promised that Jesus would return in a manner like He left ( Act_1:9-11 ). Now, he further reveals that every eye shall see Him come again. Lest there be any doubt whether the wicked are included with the righteous in that sighting, John tells us that they who pierced him will see along with all the families of the earth, who will wail because He is coming back and they are unprepared. Jesus is eternal and his saints need not fear temporary powers like Rome because He is also Almighty ( Rev_1:7-8 ).

Verses 9-10


John was more than just a brother in Christ. He was also one going through the extreme distress of persecution. He may have been banished to the Isle of Patmos because of his continued preaching about Jesus our Lord. John indicates that he and the brethren from Asia were already in the kingdom of Jesus Christ, not looking forward to its coming ( Col_1:13 ). Notice that he writes as if his time on Patmos was in the past in Rev_1:9 , so it may be that a part of this book was written after he left the island. Another part of the revelation may have been written while John was seeing it ( Rev_10:4 ).

McCord says, "It so happens that the word "Lord's" (Kuriakes, pertaining to the Lord) appears only twice in the New Testament, once in referring to the Lord's supper ( 1Co_11:20 ), and once in referring to the Lord's day ( Rev_1:10 ). Apparently these two, the supper and the day, belong together." John would have been in the spirit of mind so important for worship ( Joh_4:23-24 ). However, it seems likely that he is here telling us that he was receiving a revelation from the Holy Spirit (4:2). Trumpets were used to direct troops in battle, so a voice like a trumpet would seem to be a commanding, or authoritative one.

Verses 11-16

The One Who Told John to Write

The one who is the beginning and end of all things, our Lord, told John to write what he saw in a book and send it to the seven churches. We will say more about each of these in the next two chapters. John turned to see the source of the powerful voice and saw seven golden lampstands. Gold was the metal used to plate many of the vessels in the tabernacle and in vessels of diving service. The tabernacle was lighted by a single lampstand with seven lamps on it.

Now, each church is a lampstand with a lamp shining for the Savior. In the middle of the stands is Jesus robed in the flowing robes of one in high office. The one like the Son of man is a familiar figure from the Old Testament prophecy of Daniel (7:13-14). There, He came to the Ancient of Days, whose hair was as wool, to receive a kingdom and dominion. Here He is ruling in the midst of His churches. Notice, each church is an independent lampstand and Christ is right there with them ( Rev_1:11-13 ).

White snow is so pure it reflects light and is nearly blinding. Jesus is pictured in the same manner as Daniel pictured the Father, thus He is God. His eyes are able to penetrate and discover the thoughts and intents of the heart. His feet flow as metal still in the crucible. Such would be hot and burn all they touch. Hailey says this reminds us of the promise God made to His people in Mal_4:3 . His voice is powerful like great waves crashing against a rocky shore ( Rev_1:14-15 ; Eze_43:2 ).

The right hand is the hand of power ( Psa_110:1 ; Heb_1:3-4 ). The stars the hand holds will be talked about more in verse 20. Here, it should be observed that they are under His control and protection. The sharp two-edged sword proceeding out of His mouth must represent judgement ( Rev_1:16 ; Rev_2:12-16 ; Rev_19:15 ; Rev_19:21 ). Man cannot look on His face because it shines like the sun.

Verses 17-20

John's Response To Jesus' Greatness

The vision of Jesus was so powerful and awe-inspiring that John fell down as if he were dead (compare Isa_6:5 ; Ezekiel 1:29 ; Dan_8:17 ; Dan_8:27 ; Dan_10:8-10 ). Jesus does not want His followers to fear Him but be comforted by His presence. Jesus was there in the beginning of the world and will be there in the end ( Isa_41:4 ; Isa_44:6 ; Isa_48:12 ). He had to die on the cross, but now is alive and able to give life to those who come to Him. He conquered death and opened up the way from the place of disembodied souls (Hades) so Christians need not fear the end of life on this earth ( Rev_1:17-18 ).

Jesus gave John his commission to write things which were, are and will be. There is really an element of all of these in the whole book. In this book, it is always wise to look for an inspired interpretation of the figures. In Rev_1:20 , the stars and lampstands are identified by Jesus. The stars are angels. Hailey says, "Jesus addresses each letter to 'the angel of the church...,' and concludes with the appeal, 'He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.' Whoever is addressed is to hear; the angels are addressed; the churches are to hear. It follows that the angels are that part of the church addressed which is to hear; this would be the spirit or active life of the churches."

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Revelation 1". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.