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Friday, September 29th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Revelation 1

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Verse 1


The book of Revelation was probably written about the year 90 by the evangelist and apostle John. This book is addressed to seven churches in Asia (Revelation 1:11) in the first place, but is also intended for the whole Christian church.

Revelation takes an own, unique place among the twenty seven scriptures which the New Testament contains. After the five historical books and the twenty one letters in which also prophetic portions appear, Revelation is in total a prophetic book (Revelation 1:3). This last book of the Bible reveals our future and is in that way a nice counterpart of the first book of the Bible that declares our origin.

In Revelation it is about the future of the Lord Jesus. And His future determines the future of the world, of Israel, of the church and of the devil and his henchmen. In this Bible book the Lord Jesus is in the center. It is about His Person, about His redemption work, His resurrection, His glorification and His return.

This book is the great terminus where all trains that have started to run in the Old Testament, reach their final destination. Somebody has found at least two hundred and seventy eight verses, which calculation I have not checked, among the four hundred and four verses that this book counts, that is to be connected in one way or another with a verse or a portion of the Old Testament. That is of course not strange when you consider that Christ is also the subject of the prophecy of the Old Testament. In the Old Testament we are being pointed ahead to Him as the One Who is coming. In the book of Revelation He has come and as the revealed Christ He is the Center of all events.

It is the book of contrasts. You will discover how the moral powers like light and darkness and good and evil stand against one another. In the same way God and Christ stand on the one hand and satan on the other hand against one another. Other contrasts are people who are saved and people who are not saved, and also holy and unholy angels. All these persons are actors who are performing on the world stage. You will see how the stage changes and transforms from time to eternity and vice versa. The decor of the exhibition is shaped by heaven and earth and the abyss and the lake of fire.

Everything is supported by music and songs and other expressions of feelings. The song of the victory and the ‘woe’ cry of the defeated cause happiness and also sadness. But the outcome is that God triumphs and that the glories of the Lord Jesus in both the millennial kingdom of peace and in eternity shine in undimmed and immortal beauty and splendor.

There are various possibilities to subdivide this book. The simplest and clearest one is supplied in the book itself and to be found in Revelation 1 (Revelation 1:19). It is a subdivision in three parts:
1. what you have seen (Revelation 1:1-20),
2. what is (Revelation 2:1-3:22) and
3. what will happen hereafter (Revelation 4:1-22:21).

Purpose of the Book

Revelation 1:1. The first word of the book, “revelation”, indicates that something is about to be unveiled. There is something to be made known which formerly was hidden. It is therefore remarkable that many Christians find this book incomprehensible and mysterious. I certainly do not claim that everything is easily explained, but I do say that the events in this book are not obscure, but on the contrary are made even clear. The veil over the future is taken away. You will indeed have to make efforts to figure out in which way the future is being clarified here. Many symbols for instance are being used. But your attempts in order to understand this portion of God’s Word as well will be truly rewarded when you continually remind yourself that God found it the best way to inform you about His thoughts concerning the future.

If you only read this first verse carefully for a moment and allow that to sink in, you will see that it is full of instructions for understanding the contents of this book. It says that it is the revelation “of Jesus Christ”. That means that Jesus Christ is the One, Who reveals or makes known (cf. Galatians 1:12). He acts. At the same time it is of course also true that the revelation refers to Him, which means that He is the One Who is being revealed. He is both the Center and the Executor of God’s counsels.

Then you read that “God gave Him” that revelation. That means that the Lord Jesus is seen here as Man, Who has taken a place of dependence. He receives everything out of the hands of God. He is so truly Man, that it is written of Him that He as Man does not know when the fulfillments of the things will be taking place (Mark 13:32). Here you stand before an inconceivable mystery of God and Man in one Person.

Then John writes about the purpose of the revelation and that is “to show His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place”. The bond-servants here are in the first place the prophets (Revelation 10:7; Revelation 11:18), but they also represent the believers in a general sense (Revelation 7:3; Revelation 19:5Revelation 22:3; Romans 6:19-Song of Solomon :). In order to be able to see the things to come and to take them in, you need to have the mind of a bond-servant. Contrariwise it will, if you know the things to come, make you a better servant. You will be serving with insight in accordance to the great plans of God, with a view to the church, Christianity, Israel and the world.

The word “show” actually plays an important role in the Revelation. Now God continually ‘shows’ things to John and John in his turn passes on what has been ‘shown’ to him. The aim of this book is to show that the judgment is coming. It will “soon” take place or ‘in a hurry’, which is rapidly, quickly.

You may say that it is not that bad, for it is nearly two thousand years ago that this has been written down and it still has not happened. But don’t be mistaken. This word remains in force, for time doesn’t count for God and for the faith (Psalms 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8). And it “must” happen. You may say that there is mention here of a Divine must. God is not only the omniscient God Who tells what is going to happen, He is also the omnipotent God Who makes things happen the way He wants it.

In order to reveal His plans with the world and most of all to reveal His Son, He has used angels. Angels have actually been used more often by God as mediators (Acts 7:38; Galatians 3:19). That God uses angels indicates that there is a distance between Him and John to whom He gives His messages. This goes even more for those to whom John in his turn has to pass on those messages.

Formerly John received messages from the Lord while he was lying on His bosom (John 13:23-Ezekiel :). That indicates confidentiality. However, John is not the apostle here, but the prophet. Prophets speak to God’s people when decay takes place. They warn for running the risk of judgment. John is the last one in the chain of five links through which the revelation of God reaches His bond-servants:
1. the revelation comes from God;
2. is of Jesus Christ;
3. by His angel;
4. to John;
5. to His bond-servants.

The revelation “was communicated” or “was signified” (NKJV) to John. This expression is typical for this book. It is derived from the word ‘sign’. John often receives the messages on the things to come by the means of signs or symbols, through which he gets to see what must take place. Something like that we see in Matthew 13 where the Lord makes use of parables. He uses them to teach. He tells His disciples why He does that and says that through His explanation they will be able to understand the deeper meaning of these parables, while it will remain hidden for the mass of people (Matthew 13:10-Esther :; Matthew 13:34-Habakkuk :).

In this book you will see that the symbols which are used especially are borrowed from nature: the celestial bodies (the sun, the moon, the stars), the natural phenomena (e.g. the wind, lightning), the world of plants (e.g. trees, grass), the world of animals (e.g. the lamb, the grasshopper), the world of men (e.g. the mother and the child, the harlot and the bride), the world of culture (musical instruments, agricultural tools). Also the many numbers that appear in Revelation are often symbolic (two, three, three and a half, four, five, six, seven, eight, ten, twelve, twenty-four, forty-two, one hundred and forty four, six hundred and sixty six, one thousand, twelve hundred and sixty, sixteen hundred).

The explanation of it does not leave you to your imagination. The symbols are explained
1. by the book itself,
2. by the context of the book and
3. by the use of it in the Old Testament.

That does not mean that there is always one unambiguous explanation for each symbol. It also happens that certain matters or events are no symbols, but that they are to be taken literally.

All in all, by opening this book to read it we stand at the beginning of an exciting discovery journey. Let us do that with the humble mind of people who are aware that the omnipotent God wants to share His plans with us. Let us at the same time pray that what He reveals to us will have the effect that we put our life at His disposal.

Now read Revelation 1:1 again.

Reflection: Thank the Lord that He wants you to be involved with His future plans and ask Him to help you to live in accordance to that.

Verses 2-6

Recipients, Blessing and Praise

Revelation 1:2. The revelation of which John is a witness and wherein he involves you, is no fabrication of himself. It comes to you with all the authority of the Word spoken by God. What John bore witness to about the coming events, comes from the mouth of God. As an extra emphasis it is added that what God has said is completely covered by “the testimony of Jesus Christ”. The Lord Jesus testifies of what God has spoken.

“All that he saw” is the contents of this whole book. Everything that John has seen and what he has written in this book is therefore the Word of God, while the testimony of Jesus Christ indicates the prophetic nature of it. After all it is about the revelation, the process of Him becoming visible in the world.

Revelation 1:3. There is a special blessing attached to the reading and the reading to others of this book and to the hearing of the contents of it: you are counted to be “blessed”. No one can ‘read’ it and ‘hear’ it without being blessed. What you read and hear are messages about future events that are inspired word for word.

Beside reading and hearing it is also important to “heed the things which are written in it”. “To heed” means that you treasure these things in your heart, so that they may have an influence in the practice of your life too. After all your life is being guided out of your heart (Proverbs 4:23). The call to keep returns one more time at the end of the book (Revelation 22:7). What is written in this book is therefore stuck between these two calls.

As a matter of fact, that it is “written”, means that it is of lasting value. It is always possible to be read in order to see what must yet take place and it can also be read to check on what is happening around you. You therefore have a perfect manual of the future in your hands. I would like to advise you to often consult it for “the time” that everything will be brought to a decision “is near”. The Lord Jesus is about to appear and to judge.

Revelation 1:4. John is the one to write this book. The Lord Jesus said of him that he would remain concerning his ministry, till He comes (John 21:22). That means that John also has a ministry regarding the future. He already achieves that ministry in a sense when he speaks in his first letter about the antichrist and the return of Christ and the decay that was already showing up. But the full achievement of it we find in this Bible book Revelation.

He writes the book “to the seven churches that are in Asia”. The mention of the number “seven” is not insignificant. The number seven represents perfection. The seven churches represent the whole church. Still there are seven different churches. You will see it better when we will be studying the chapters 2 and 3. That means that the whole church has manifested itself in different ways on earth.

You must have noticed in the letters which Paul has written to various churches that local churches are different from each other. That variety is not only to be seen in the different local churches, but also in the various periods of the existence of the church on earth. You recognize that directly when you only think of how the church was at the beginning and how the church is today. In that way there are more differences in the development of the church.

All those different churches may learn a lot from one another and we also can learn a lot from it. That’s why it is so wonderful that in God’s Word we have this writing of John to them.

It is also lovely to see that the blessing of “grace” and “peace”, which you can remember from the letters of Paul, is also wished by John here to the seven churches. “Grace” is the source of all blessing, it is the unmerited favor of God, which you receive just on the basis of Who He is. If you realize that God deals with you in grace, the result will be that you will go your way with “peace” in your heart, whatever the circumstances.

Still it differs from the letters of Paul when it is about the question from Whom you get the blessing. In those letters the blessing comes from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Here it is “from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne”. That is totally fitting with this Bible book. Here you find God as He is presented in the Old Testament: as Jahweh, the God of the covenant, the God of faithfulness to His covenant. Then what is said next is not firstly ‘Who was’, but “Who is”. That means that He is seen as the “I AM WHOM I AM” (Exodus 3:14). But He is also the One “Who was”. That is the God of the past, Who has always taken care of His people and the whole earth. He is also the One “Who is to come”, for He is also the God of the future.

Then in the blessing “the seven Spirits” are mentioned. This is the Holy Spirit, but as the Spirit of power through Whom God will execute the judgments from His throne. The number seven refers to the variety and the perfection with which the Lord Jesus will execute the judgments in the power of this Spirit at His return (cf. Isaiah 11:2). Therefore the attention is drawn to the “throne” of God, which emphasizes that it is about reigning and the exercise of power.

Revelation 1:5. Finally grace and peace are wished “from Jesus Christ”. Just like with the seven Spirits, to Whom is added “Who are before His throne”, also something is added to the name of Jesus Christ. You can actually say that three titles of Him are mentioned which all are in relation with the earth.

He was
“the faithful witness” to God in the past on earth (1 Timothy 6:13), from the womb to the cross (John 18:37). He has always been faithful. The church was also meant to be like that, but she failed and still fails to do so.

He is also
“the firstborn of the dead”. He is that in the present time, since His death and resurrection (Acts 26:23; Colossians 1:18). ‘Firstborn’ means that He is the highest in the order of rank in the realm of the resurrection.

Thirdly He is
“the ruler of the kings of the earth”. He is that also now, but He will be that openly in the future; that’s how He will be revealed (Psalms 89:27).

When He is presented like that, the church spontaneously responds to that. That will be your response too. The heart of each who loves Him agrees to it that He “loves us”. He has loved and still loves us. Isn’t it great that He, Who is emphatically presented as the Judge in this book, is the One Who loves you? His love has been especially expressed in the way that He “released us from our sins by His blood”. That meant to Him that He had to enter into death, for only His blood could redeem you from your sins. To you it means that all future judgments will pass you by completely, for He has redeemed you once and for all. Isn’t that a reason to praise Him?

Revelation 1:6. But He has done more than everything He did regarding the past, which was necessary to liberate us from the judgment. He has taken our sins away in order to make us to be something. He namely “has made us [to be] a kingdom, priests to His God and Father”. What you have become is what He has made you to be. There is absolutely no achievement from your side. You owe everything to Him. It is nothing more than great grace that you may partake of His government. As a redeemed person you receive, together with all believers, a royal dignity together with Christ, “the ruler of the kings of the earth”, so that you also are exalted above the kings of the earth (1 Peter 2:9; Exodus 19:6).

Thereby you are also made a priest before His God and Father. Everything that the Lord Jesus did He did with a view to the honor of His God and Father. You are made a person who is allowed to praise and worship in God’s presence (Revelation 4:10; Revelation 5:9; Hebrews 13:15; 1 Peter 2:5). You can do that now already. When the Lord Jesus will take over His royal majesty, you will be allowed to be a means of blessing for those who are enduring hardships on earth and who go to God with their suffering. You then can bring ‘prayers of saints’ before God (Revelation 5:8).

To Him be the glory for everything that He has done for you. Everything you have become reflects His glory. While man always did all things for his own glory and in his own strength, the Lord Jesus did everything to the glory of God from Whom He drew all power as a Man. As a Man He lived from all the words that came from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). What characterized Him as a Man and what He has achieved, will be seen and rejoiced in forever. There is nothing more left for you to do than to wholeheartedly agree with the “amen” with which this praise ends.

Now read Revelation 1:2-6 again.

Reflection: What do you learn here about the Word of God and about the Lord Jesus?

Verses 7-12

John on Patmos

Revelation 1:7. With a “behold” John draws the attention to Him Who will appear in person. This is a great event to which the whole book works towards. It is told in a way that we not only shortly, but now already have to be looking forward to it. You may call it the ‘prophetic present tense’. It indicates how real and close the events are, not only for John in those days, but also for you today.

The Lord Jesus will appear “with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13) and also “on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 24:30) that as it were will form His throne. So it is not about His coming to take up the church, which you may call His first coming, for that will take place “in the clouds of heaven”, and will not be visible for everyone (1 Thessalonians 4:17; cf. Acts 1:9; Luke 21:27). That will surely be the case at His second coming. Everyone will be brought face to face with Him, without exception.

Of all those people John mentions a certain category, namely “those who pierced Him”. This primarily refers to the Jews (Zechariah 12:10), but it also refers to the Gentiles, for a Roman soldier pierced Him (John 19:34). They who committed this deed of contempt will be full of fear when they behold Him. It will cause an enormous mourning among the Jews (Zechariah 12:10-2 Chronicles :), which will be the beginning of their conversion. This is the way it shall happen, “so it is to be. Amen”. ‘So it is to be’ or ‘yes’ is the Greek confirmation and ‘amen’ the Hebrew version of it, through which for both Gentiles and Jews it is indicated that God’s Word is determined.

Revelation 1:8. Then the One Who will come, makes Himself to be heard. He says Who He is: “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” The alpha and the omega are the first and the last letter of the Greek alphabet. In these two letters all the other letters are embedded. In this name you also see that He is ‘the Word of God’. What He has started as the Alpha He will accomplish as the Omega. He Who shall come and is speaking here is the Lord Jesus. He is ‘the first and the last’ (Revelation 1:17; Revelation 2:8Revelation 22:13). That is also what Jahweh, the name of God in the Old Testament, says of Himself (Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 44:6Isaiah 48:12), which is again another proof that the Lord Jesus is Jahweh.

He Who is speaking is ‘Jahweh Elohim’ or “the Lord God”, which is the Lord Jesus. He is the One “who is”, the eternal Being One. He “was” and will always be. He is also the One “who is to come”. He is the Almighty Who will realize all His promises and plans. He Who was pierced, when He as the weak of God was hanging on the cross, is Jahweh Himself, “the Almighty” Who has all power in the universe and Who is about to accept that power. This is a comfort for His people, because He carries and supports them with His omnipotence. At the same time it is a threat for His enemies, because He will judge them and repay everyone according to his works.

Revelation 1:9. No one else than John addresses his readers. He doesn’t present himself as an apostle, but as a “brother” among the brethren (in his gospel he calls himself a “disciple”, John 21:24, and in his letters an “elder”, 2 John 1:1; 3 John 1:1). He also calls himself “fellow partaker in the tribulation” from which we derive that he shares the same fate as his fellow believers who also had to endure suffering under the emperor of Rome. Tribulation goes together with faith. It is the path along which you must go to enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).

The time to reign has not come yet. You still have to persevere, right through all kinds of tribulations and tests, till the moment comes to reign. When the Lord Jesus returns, it will be the moment. While considering that you may also bear in mind that the Lord Jesus is also waiting for the establishment of the kingdom.

John speaks about “Jesus” here, which is the Name of His humiliation and a reminder of His sojourn on earth. When He was on earth He also showed that perseverance. His testimony towards Pilate, when he asks Him whether He is the King of the Jews, sounds as follows: “But as it is, My kingdom is not from this realm” (John 18:36). Pay attention to the words ‘but as it is’. It shows that during His presence on earth He did not established His kingdom. That was and is still now also, to come.

John testified from God’s Word of that kingdom. The Roman ruler saw that as a threat for his own kingdom and position and did not approve of it (cf. Acts 17:7) and therefore expelled him to “the island called Patmos”. John did not speak what men loved to hear, otherwise he would not have been in captivity now. He was ‘illiterate’ (Acts 4:13), but he spoke the Word of God with power and authority. In his preaching he testified of Jesus, Who is the center of all God’s thoughts and plans.

Revelation 1:10. There John was sitting, isolated and lonesome on an island. He is not voluntarily there, to have a break, but as a captive. He was exiled to that place, without any prospect of release. It doesn’t look like that he could expect a visit from time to time. But it doesn’t mean that the Lord was not with him and that the Spirit could not use him. On the day of the Lord (literally: the day pertaining to the Lord, the Sunday, cf. 1 Corinthians 11:20) he was caught up in a vision through the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 10:10; Acts 22:17). The day of the Lord is the first day of the week, the day of His resurrection (John 20:1; John 20:19, Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). On this day John receives all information and visions that are written in this book.

But before he sees something, he hears something behind him. It is as if he is standing with his back to the churches, while he is looking at the kingdom in the expectation that it will come. But the Lord has not finished yet with His church on earth. He has to deal with it first. He calls John to look, so that he has to turn and must pay attention to what the Lord is paying attention to.

What he hears is “a loud voice like [the sound] of a trumpet”. It is not the voice of the good Shepherd, Who calls His sheep by name. He heard that voice when he walked with the Lord Jesus through Israel (John 10:11; John 10:14). But now he hears the voice of an ominous Judge, of Someone Who speaks out and executes the judgment.

Revelation 1:11. The voice of the Judge commands John to write down in a book everything that he sees. That implies that he must sharply observe and take in. Then he has to record all of his observations in writings, so that they will be preserved for the next generations. However, the book is not only meaningful for the next generations, but also for the seven churches, mentioned by name in Asia Minor, in the western part of present Turkey.

There were still more churches in Asia Minor. But the Holy Spirit of God has elected these seven because they are, as a matter of fact, a reflection of the church in its whole through the ages. That’s why you read “the” seven churches. It is the seven certain churches to which this book is to be sent. That there are seven, shows that it is about something complete. It is about the complete history of the church on earth. Also the order is not random, but of certain importance. You will see that when we will take a closer look at these seven churches in the next two chapters (Rev 2-3). At the same time each church is also mentioned separately, which you can derive from the word “to” which stands before the name of each church.

Revelation 1:12. When John heard the voice and what it has said, he turns. He wants to see the voice that spoke with him. Of course you cannot see a voice, but the voice is of a person. That Person is the Lord Jesus. He is the Word. When John turns he first sees “seven golden lampstands” and then only he sees the Son of Man. Isn’t it like how it happens today, that we first see the believers and then only, as it were through them, the Lord Jesus?

John notices that the lampstands are of gold. Gold represents the glory of God. A lampstand is meant to be spreading light. Therefore, the fact that the churches are compared with golden lampstands means that it is the intention of local churches to be spreading Divine light.

Each local church ought to display in her environment Who God is. She can only do that by taking His Word into consideration. By listening to the truth of God’s Word and obeying it, the light will be spread in the darkness. Darkness rules everywhere in the world and it covers more and more places in Christianity. You will see how it happened that the light of the lampstand is getting weaker and weaker and that even a situation can arise that a lampstand is taken away.

Now read Revelation 1:7-12 again.

Reflection: What is the reason for John being on Patmos?

Verses 13-20

In the Middle of the Lampstands

Revelation 1:13. After having seen the golden lampstands, John sees that One is standing in the middle of them. John recognizes Him as no one else than the “Son of Man”, that is the Lord Jesus (cf. Daniel 7:9-1 Chronicles :). He is standing here – figuratively – in the middle of the churches, in order to judge them. That is to be derived from the features that are then being observed by John. You find those features also in Daniel 7, but then as visions of the Ancient of days, that is God Himself. That proves once more that the Lord Jesus is God. The wearied Man at the well at Sychar (John 4:6) and the Creator Who ”does not become weary or tired” (Isaiah 40:28) is the same Person.

The first characteristic of the Son of Man is that He is “clothed in a robe reaching to the feet”. He is not the Servant here Who lays down His garments to serve His disciples as a humble servant (John 13:4; cf. Luke 12:35). It is the garment of the Judge. The Lord Jesus judges the church in relation to her responsibility which she has as a testimony on earth (cf. 1 Peter 4:17).

The second characteristic is that He is “girded across His chest with a golden sash”. His “chest” speaks of love. ‘Gold’ speaks of Divine glory. The “sash” speaks of serving. From this you can derive that He also as a Judge serves in love.

Revelation 1:14. He carries out His service as a Judge honorably and with wisdom and in accordance with the purity of heaven. That is what the next characteristic refers to: “His head and His hair were white like white wool” (Proverbs 16:31; Proverbs 20:29).

The following characteristic, “His eyes were like a flame of fire”, indicates that He sees through everything and tests everything that is not in accordance with His holiness. Nothing can remain hidden from this flame of fire. This is how He tests the entire Christianity of which the seven churches are an image.

Revelation 1:15. That “His feet [were] like burnished bronze” means that the standard of His judgment is His own walk. What He can expect of the spiritual condition of the church is that she measures up to what He has shown on earth in His walk and devotion towards God. “Bronze” is an image of a righteousness that can stand the fire of God’s judgment (Numbers 16:37-Malachi :), because there is nothing that should be consumed by the fire. Everything is in accordance with God.

While He exposes Himself like that “His voice [was] like the sound of many waters” (Ezekiel 43:2; Psalms 93:4). Therein the power of His word is being revealed, with which He will speak out the verdict. The power of His voice will prevent any possible reply. Nobody will dare to dispute His verdict.

Revelation 1:16. He also has “in His right hand … seven stars”. What the seven stars mean is explained in Revelation 1:20. They are the seven angels, which means the responsible ones in each of the seven churches. The Lord Jesus has them in His right hand, which is the hand of His power. That indicates that He has the control over them.

The “sharp two-edged sword” that came “out of His mouth” (Isaiah 11:4; Revelation 2:12; Revelation 2:16Revelation 19:15; Revelation 19:21), is an image of the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17). Christ judges the churches on the ground of this Word, which they have known, but have ignored in so many ways. The Divinely revealed Word is the standard according to which everyone will be judged (John 12:48). It will have to be acknowledged by everyone.

The description of His Person is concluded with a description of “His face”. That is “like the sun shining in its strength” (Matthew 17:2; Acts 26:13; Malachi 4:2). The sun places everything in the light, nothing remains hidden. His countenance is the same countenance, at which people have been spitting (Matthew 26:67).

Revelation 1:17. When John has seen Him in His full majesty, he fells “at His feet like a dead man”. The sight is such a horrible sight, that he almost dies. When the Lord was on earth John knew the familiar relation with Him and was reclining on His bosom (John 13:23-Lamentations :). But now he sees the Lord as he has never seen Him before.

Then the Lord “placed His right hand” on him. That expression doesn’t only mean that the Lord touches him and in that way comforts and encourages him. The touch of the hand has life giving power. To John it is a remembrance that this Judge is His Redeemer. To you it implies the encouragement that you have nothing to fear of Him, Who will judge Christianity, if you know Him and love Him.

That is also said by the Lord. The words “do not be afraid” from His mouth have been a great comfort and encouragement for the believers through all ages. He points to Himself as “the first and the last”. As “the first” He is before everything and above everything and the origin of all things; everything comes forth from Him. As “the last” He will have the last word. Why should you fear? He is the rock of strength for the wearied feet and for the heaviest burdens of life.

Revelation 1:18. He is also “the living One”. This is the large distinction between the true God and all false gods. He has life in Himself. He is able to give it to others too (John 5:21; John 5:24-Ezekiel :). In order to be able to do that He has been into death. Therefore John did not need to become as a dead. Death could not hold Him, for in His death He took away everything through which death had power.

Death has lost its power and right and will never ever be able to have any control over Him. He is “alive forevermore”. The victory is complete and eternal. Through His victory He also has full power over “death and … Hades”, which is demonstrated in the possession of “the keys”. The Lord Jesus can dispose of death and hades as He sees fit (Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 20:14).

He had not been left in the grave and His body was not allowed to see corruption (Acts 2:27-Hosea :). The glory of the Father has raised Him out of it (Romans 6:4), because the Father was glorified by Christ and His work and in that way all God’s holy demands were fulfilled. Therefore, on that ground death and hades have no power anymore over everyone who believes (Matthew 16:18).

Revelation 1:19. After the encouraging words of the Lord, John receives the order to write down some things. It is an order in three parts. In these three parts you have the basic division of the book at the same time. He had to write down the things which he has seen and the things which are and the things which will take place after these things.

1. “The things which you have seen”, you already read in the previous verses: the Lord Jesus as a Judge in the middle of the seven lampstands.

2. “The things which are”, refers to the chapters 2 and 3. There the situation is described of the seven churches in Asia which are mentioned in Revelation 1:11. That was the present time for John. In the broader sense it is the whole period of time of the church that began on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and which will stop at the rapture of the church.

3. “The things which will take place after these things”, starts with chapter 4 (Revelation 4:1) and ends with the last verse of the book. This third part totally lies in the future. Those are things that are to be taking place after the things that we still experience in the present dispensation.

Revelation 1:20. Before the Lord Jesus addresses the seven churches He first gives an explanation of “the seven stars” and of “the seven golden lampstands”. This is necessary, for it refers to a “mystery”. A ‘mystery’ is something that is a secret and is hidden until it is revealed. The mystery is now revealed by the Lord Jesus.

The stars are in His right hand here, as they are in Revelation 1:16. He supports them with His power and shows them as it were in their open relationship with Him. Stars shine in the night. They are a symbol for the angels of the seven churches. The word ‘angel’ literally means ‘messenger’ or ‘representative’. You can also use it in a broader way to represent people. The angels are not cherubs or other spiritual creatures here, but people who are representatives of the churches.

Just like stars lampstands are also intended to spread light in the darkness. The lampstands are a symbol of the whole of each local church, while stars are more a symbol of the individual, out of which the churches exist. You also see that both the individual and the whole are held responsible for spreading the light. In the two following chapters you will see the judgment of this task by the Lord Jesus.

Now read Revelation 1:13-20 again.

Reflection: What impression does the description of the Lord Jesus have on you?

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Revelation 1". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/revelation-1.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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