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the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 1

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

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Verses 1-20


In this book we return to the atmosphere of the Old Testament, at least after the third chapter, at which point the apocalyptic part begins with a narration of events synchronizing with The Day of the Lord.

The authorship is ascribed to John, who wrote the Gospel and three epistles bearing his name, and who at this time, about A.B. 95, had been banished by the Roman Emperor, to the Isle of Patmos in the Aegean Sea (Revelation 1:9 ). The date is in dispute, some placing it as early as Nero, A.D. 64 or 65, but the preponderance of opinion is in favor of the later period of Domitian.

THE PREFACE (Revelation 1:1-3 )

A few questions will put us in possession of it. Whose revelation is it? Of course, the reference here is to Jesus Christ considered as the God-Man. Whence did He receive this revelation? For whom was it given to Him? And for what purpose with reference to them? To which of His servants was it representatively sent? And through what agency? What did this servant do with the revelation thus committed to him (Revelation 1:2 )? “Things which must shortly come to pass” has puzzled some, and given rise to the opinion that the predictions have been fulfilled in the course of history from that time. However, while some of them have been fulfilled in the history of the seven churches of Asia, for example, the bulk of them are still future. “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years.” (2)

THE SALUTATION (Revelation 1:4-8 )

The seven churches in Asia were probably those over which John had particular charge. But it would be a mistake to suppose that the readers were limited to those churches. The number seven itself can hardly have been chosen except as symbolical or universality, according to the writer’s practice throughout the book.

Observe the allusion to the Trinity. “Him Which is, and Which was, and Which is to come,” identifies God the Father. “The Seven Spirits before His Throne,” God the Holy Ghost; “Jesus Christ the faithful witness,” God the Son. Compare for the Seven Spirits, Isaiah 11:2-5 .

Candlesticks - Revelation 1:20 Matthew 5:14-16

Clothing - Isaiah 11:5 ; Isaiah 61:10 Ephesians 6:14 Revelation 19:8

White Head and hair - Daniel 7:9 Matthew 17:1 Acts 22:6-8 2 Peter 1:16-18 Revelation 22:5

Eyes of fire - 2 Timothy 1:7-8 Hebrews 12:29

Feet of brass - Proverbs 1:24-28 Isaiah 48:4 Luke 13:25-27

Voice of many waters - Daniel 10:6 Revelation 14:2-3 ; Revelation 19:6

Seven stars - Daniel 12:3 Malachi 2:7 Revelation 1:20 ; Revelation 12:1

Two-edged sword - Ephesians 6:17 Hebrews 4:11

Keys - Isaiah 22:20-21 Matthew 16:19 ; Matthew 28:18 Luke 11:51 Revelation 3:7 ; Revelation 20:0 ; 1 Corinthians 12:4 ; 1 Corinthians 12:8

PREPARATORY VISION (Revelation 1:8-16 )

The vision John received constituted his authority to write (Revelation 1:8-16 ). This vision was that of the Person of the glorified Christ. The table (left) shows how much scriptural imagery is involved in John’s vision.


The vision concludes with the general command to write (Revelation 1:17-20 ), in the terms of which (Revelation 1:19 ) there is outlined the three major divisions of the book. “The things which thou hast seen,” refer to the Patmos vision just considered; “the things which are,” refer to the things existing, i.e., the churches, and particularly the seven churches of Asia; “the things which shall be hereafter,” or literally “after these,” means, we think, after the church period ends. As the first division covers chapter 1, so the second covers chapters 2-3, and the third the rest of the book. The last division falls into a series of six sevens with five parenthetical passages making, with the church division, seven sevens. The six sevens are:

1. the seals, Revelation 4:1 to Revelation 8:1 ; Revelation 2:0 . the trumpets, Revelation 8:2 to Revelation 9:19 ; Revelation 3:0 . the personages, Revelation 12:1 to Revelation 14:20 ; Revelation 4:0 . the vials, Revelation 15:1 to Revelation 16:21 ; Revelation 5:0 . the dooms, Revelation 17:1 to Revelation 20:15 ; Revelation 6:0 . the new things. Revelation 21:1 to Revelation 22:21 .


1. What peculiarity about interpreting Revelation is stated in this lesson’s first paragraph?

2. What is said about its date?

3. State the four main divisions of the chapter.

4. Have you examined its symbolism in the light of the parallel passages named?

5. Name the three major divisions of the book as indicated in Revelation 1:19 ?

6. Name the six sevens of the third division.

Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Revelation 1". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/revelation-1.html. 1897-1910.
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