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Revelation 1

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Verses 1-3

Rev 1:1-3



Revelation 1:1 to Revelation 3:22



Revelation 1:1-20


Revelation 1:1-3

1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ,--This expression evidently is a title for the entire book, being comprehensive enough to include all its contents. The Greek word Apocalypse --here rendered "Revelation"--properly means the uncovering of anything; an unveiling, so that what is hid may be known. Spiritually it denotes the making known of divine truth that had not before been understood, as the following passages indicate: Romans 16:25; Galatians 1:12 Ephesians 3:3. If it had not been intended that the contents of this book should in some measure be understood, it would not have been called a Revelation. It does not mean a revealing of things concerning Christ, but a revelation which Christ himself made of things involving his church. The book is often referred to by its Greek name--Apocalypse. As its contents clearly show, the revealing is done through words, signs, and symbols, and includes things both present and future at the time John wrote.

which God gave him to show unto his servants,--These words clearly indicate that God is the original source or fountain of truth. Notwithstanding the unexplained unity between God and Christ (John 17:20-21), as mediator between God and man, Jesus recognizes his dependence upon the Pathen He said: "My teaching is not mine, but his that sent me." (John 7:16.) Again he said: "For I spake not from myself; but the Father that sent me, he bath given me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak." (John 12:49.) In John 5:20 he said the Father "showeth" all things to the Son. Paul shows that a dependence upon the Father still exists by saying that when all things were put under Christ it is evident that God was excepted. (1 Corinthians 15:27.) Hence, though at God’s right hand, he is represented as receiving from the Father the revelation he was to communicate to man. All Christians are "servants" of God in some sense (1 Peter 2:16), and the revealing here promised was intended, doubtless, for all God’s children. All wouldneed the encouragement which such a disclosing of events would produce. It would also serve as a protection against being overcome by the disasters that were certain to come upon the church.

even the things which must shortly come to pass:--The words "must shortly come to pass" indicate that the things to be revealed to John in vision would most certainly take place. It does not mean that all the things would "shortly" come to pass, but that they would begin to transpire soon after the time John wrote. This must be the correct view since the seals, trumpets, and vials necessarily imply a series of events. To imagine all the things depicted as occurring at exactly the same time is out of the question. The thousand-year period (chapter 20) would prevent any such theory. Since there was to be a succession of events, they began to transpire when the first one commenced. The period covered by the word "shortly" varies according to the nature of the subject in question. A short time could be a few hours, a few days, a few years, or even many years if compared with several centuries.

and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John;--He (Christ) signified the things shortly to come to pass, sending them to John by his angel. The term "signify" comes from the word "sign" and indicates that the things to be revealed to John would be presented through signs and symbols. This word is used in the same sense by John in the following passages: John 12:33; John 21:18-19. It is an appropriate word to express a revelation which was to be made largely through symbols. The symbolic nature of much of the book is evident from even a casual reading of it. The word "angel" means messenger, and this shows that the visions were conveyed to John through the medium of some heavenly messenger. How this was done is a matter that must be left to the secret things known only to divine wisdom. (Deuteronomy 29:29.) It is a matter of first importance in the study of God’s word to stop where Revelation ends. In no part of the sacred record is this more important than in the study of the Apocalypse.

2 who bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, even of all things that he saw.--This language shows that John regarded himself simply as a witness of God’s revelation. In general God’s word means any declaration or truth coming from him. But here he means that John was giving a true record of the things recorded in this book. This is evident from the explanatory clause "even of all things that he saw." Of course, John was a witness of the things he had seen in the personal ministry of Christ. (John 19:35; John 21:24.) The "testimony of Jesus Christ," as indicated in verse 1, was the witness that he bore to the word of God; or, that this revelation came through Christ and was delivered by John.

3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear--In that early time copies of the sacred writings were scarce and doubtless much truth was imparted through public readings. Many think the language here refers to that custom, because he that readeth and they that hear imply that one read while many listened. This did not exclude individual and private reading ; but, since the other was probably more common, the blessing was pronounced on both reader and hearers. No special blessing is mentioned, but there are always benefits to come to those who are obedient. Nothing is more conducive to hearty obedience than a faithful hearing of God’s word.

the words of the prophecy,--The word "prophecy" here is synonymous with "Revelation" in verse 1 and the "things saw" in verse 2. It is ’used in its narrow sense of disclosing future events, for the main part of the book is devoted to such matters. John did not say that all who read the book would understand it, for that is not true of any part of the Bible written in literal language. But there would be no point in saying a blessing would come to those who heard it unless some degree of understanding were possible; at least enough to make the study profitable.

and keep the things that are written therein: for the time is at hand.--To keep things written meant that they should not forget what related to the future as a matter of encouragement and warning, and they should obey any duty that the book required. Present-day Christians should maintain the same attitude toward the teachings of this divine volume. It came from God through Christ and was delivered through an inspired apostle. No book of the Bible has stronger claims for its authority. Disobedience is inexcusable when God speaks.

Since the visions presented to John unquestionably cover a long period of time, the expression "at hand" cannot mean that the completion of all the events was near. The thought must be then that the things that were to come to pass would begin to transpire in a relatively short time. "At hand" should be understood in the same sense as "shortly," verse 1.

Commentary on Revelation 1:1-3 by Foy E.Wallace


(Revelation 1:1-3)

(1) The source of the visions.

1. “The revelation of Jesus Christ”-- Revelation 1:1.

It was made known by Jesus Christ, that is, it was not concerning Christ himself. The language does not refer to the person of Christ, as the subject of the vision, but to the One by whom it was communicated to John--by Jesus Christ “the faithful witness,” through the agency of his angel.

2. “Which God gave unto him"-- Revelation 1:1.

God, the Father, was himself the source of the vision. This reverence for God was always manifested by Jesus, as he affirmed in all of the gospel records while he was on the earth, that he did not speak of, or from, himself, but from his Father who sent him. (John 12:49) This vision was first a revelation that God sent to his Son, Jesus Christ, who, in the second place, sent it by an angel, in the third place, to John, in the fourth place of the numerical declension. The angel signified the vision to John, that is, communicated it to him in the signs directed by Jesus Christ.

(2) The object of the visions.

1. “To show unto his servants"-- Revelation 1:1.

It was on the principle that to be forewarned was to be forearmed. So the things signified, or symbolized--set forth in signs--were explained to the members of the churches for their needful information concerning the immediate events which pertained to the persons and churches addressed, and which would be fulfilled in the period of their own lives and experiences; else the language addressed to them served no purpose to the people for whom “God gave it,” and to whom it was sent.

2. “Things which must shortly come to pass"-- Revelation 1:1.

Reference to things indicated a definite form of events then shaping, and the word must is not a speculative or conjectural term; it was factual, and the word shortly denoted immediacy. These events applied to them, not to centuries after their time, and even yet to come. The object of the entire revelation was to inform and forewarn, to comfort and encourage the church in the time of this vision --the apostolic age, the period of the churches addressed.

(3) The method of the delivery and communication.

1. “And he sent and signified it by an angel”-- Revelation 1:1.

The revelation was sent by an angel--that is, it was delivered by a special messenger. And it was signified, indicating how it was communicated; that it was not merely made known, but was transmitted in code by signs and symbols. It was a special message, delivered by special messengers, in the special medium of code language. It was thus dispatched unto his servant John.

2. “Unto his servant John"-- Revelation 1:1.

There is a difference in the meanings of the words show and signify. Jesus Christ signified the vision unto John to show unto his servants. That is, it was revealed to John in code for explanation to the churches, which could, of course, have been accomplished by the spiritually gifted teachers of that period in each church. The meaning is that as a message, it was special and not general; it was for the churches, and not for the public. As an example, the Comforter (John 14:16; John 13:13) was a special promise to the apostles alone, and not to all of the disciples, nor for the world in general--only the apostles. So it was with the apocalypse; it was a message for the early churches, not for the Jewish world nor the Roman public--and that is why it was written in code instead of the use of literal language, as in all of the other epistles.

(4) The witness of the visions.

1. “Who bare record of the word of God"-- Revelation 1:2

The word of God, to which John was to be the witness, was the message of the revelation itself, the word which God gave unto Jesus Christ (verse 1) at this time and in this apocalypse, not the word of God which had already been preached by the other apostles or that which was in the general epistles. This was the word of God in the special sense, belonging to the special message, for the special time. These were the special things which Jesus Christ signified to John, which did not belong to the revelation of the gospel contained in the other epistles. It was an apocalyptic revelation to the churches that were on the threshold of their peril--in that period called the hour of trial.

2. “And of the testimony of Jesus Christ"-- Revelation 1:2.

As previously intimated, this is a specific reference to the testimony of Christ to John, not John’s testimony of or concerning Christ. It was the testimony of this apocalypse, as stated in the first line of the first verse, the testimony of Jesus Christ.

3. “Even of all things that he saw"-- Revelation 1:2.

Thus it is that both the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ refer to the things that John saw, of which John bare record, not the past witness of the word which all the other apostles had made, nor the testimony of Christ in the sense of the gospel which they had preached. It was the word of God and the testimony of this apocalypse only of the things to which John was bearing witness and of which he was making a record.

(5) The admonitions of the visions.

1. “Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear- Revelation 1:3.

This is, first, a reference to the person whose task it was to explain the visions, designated as he that readeth; and second, to the auditors assembled to receive it, as they that hear. As previously mentioned, there were specially endowed teachers, spiritually gifted men, in all of the churches (1 Corinthians 12:1-31), who could read and decode the revelation that was signified. The language of verse 3 indicates the need of the explanatory reading.

2. “The words of this prophecy"-- Revelation 1:3.

These words were prophetic in the sense of being visional. In this use of the word prophecy, it was apocalyptic only of things already beginning to occur. It was not the foretelling of far future events not connected with the experiences of his servants to whom and for whom the apocalypse was delivered.

3. “And keep those things which are written therein” -- Revelation 1:3.

The manifest meaning of this phrase is that his servants should remember the signified portents, and the monitory exhortations of the visions, for they would come within the experiences of their own time.

4. “For the time is at hand"—Revelation 1:3.

There can be no reason to assign any other meaning to this phrase at hand than that which it had in the announcement of John the Baptist that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matthew 3:2), or of Jesus that the kingdom of God was at hand (Mark 1:14-15). The language and the context of it can mean only one thing--that these events were imminent. The sole reason for the admonition to read and hear and keep the things signified is stated in the clause of this verse: for the time is at hand. If the things written therein pertained to the remote future rather than to the immediate future, there was no application for such a warning.

Commentary on Revelation 1:1-3 by Walter Scott

PREFACE (Revelation 1:1-3).

The introduction contains a preface (Revelation 1:1-3), a salutation (Revelation 1:4-6), a prophetic testimony (Revelation 1:7), and a divine announcement (Revelation 1:8).

1. "The Revelation of Jesus Christ." Here Jesus Christ is viewed as Man, not in essential Deity as in John 1:1-2. The divine and human natures of our Lord, both absolutely perfect, are distinguished in office and action, but must not be separated. There is but one Saviour and one Mediator, Who is very God and very Man, and on this fundamental truth reposes the whole system of Christianity. Faith believes and grasps it firmly, while not pretending to solve the mystery of the Godhead. Our own complex being is a mystery, much more so the Being of our adorable Lord.

The Revelation is embodied in the visions beheld by the Seer of Patmos. The word "Revelation " gives unity to the many and diversified communications, whether in word or vision, contained in the book. Revelations there were, but these form one compact whole, and this belongs to Jesus Christ. Not only, however, is the Revelation Jesus Christ’s as given Him by God, but He is the central object in these as in all prophecy. The rays of the prophetic lamp are directed onward to the millennial glory of Christ, no matter whether the lamp be held in the hands of Isaiah the Grand or John the Beloved.

1. "Which God gave unto Him." The kingdom is Christ’s by right in virtue of what He is, yet as Man He receives it from God (Luke 19:15), and shall deliver it up to God (1 Corinthians 15:24). So the Revelation, which mainly concerns the kingdom, is here given by God to Christ as Man.

1. "To show unto His servants (bondmen) things which must shortly come to pass." The term "bondmen" is applied in a narrow and restricted sense in both Testaments. The prophets of old were so designated (Amos 3:7; Daniel 9:6; 2 Kings 17:13), as also the apostles and others of reputation in the Church (Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:7, see Greek). On the other hand, the word is employed in the New Testament to embrace all believers (Romans 6:19-22). It is, we judge, this wide and general application of the term which is to be understood here (compare with Revelation 2:20; Revelation 7:3; Revelation 22:3).

The object, then, of the Revelation is to show Christ’s servants or bondmen the near future. Servant is a more distant character of relation than that of son (position), or child (relationship), or friend (intimacy), and best suits the general character of the book which addresses itself to every individual Christian, and not by any means exclusively to an official class.

To ignore this book, therefore, to regard it as a profitless study, to consider its visions as day-dreams, and its symbols as inexplicable is to incur serious loss, dishonour God by Whom the book is inspired, and rob the soul of special promised blessing (v. 3). This warning applies to every servant of Jesus Christ, i.e., every Christian.

1. "Shortly" arrests our attention. The imminence of the fulfilment of the events herein foretold, as also the near Return of the Lord, the culminating point in the prophecies, are stated in precise terms both in the beginning and end of the book (Revelation 1:1; Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:20), thus forming an insuperable difficulty to its interpretation on the historical basis. A general application of the prophecies to certain past and present events is frankly admitted, for history is ever repeating itself. The facts may be new, but the underlying principles, as pride, love of money, love of power, are the same in all ages, and have ever produced a harvest which has gone to make up history. Thus while fully admitting a partial fulfilment of the strictly prophetic part of the book, i.e., Revelation 6:1-17; Revelation 22:5, yet we are forced to the conclusion that a yet future and brief crisis must be looked for under the Seals, the Trumpets, and the Vials, after the Translation of Old and New Testament saints to Heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:17). We look for a successive series of judgments during the time that the saints of past and present ages are at home in the heavens. Before these begin (Revelation 4:1-11), during their continuance (Revelation 12:1-17), and after they have run their course (Revelation 19:1-21), God’s heavenly people are seen in their home above. The futurist application therefore is the basis of our interpretation. If prophetic Scripture as a whole and in detail is to be interpreted soberly and fully, then we must discard the prevalent and pernicious error that history is its interpreter. We hold that the teacher of all Scripture is the Holy Ghost: "He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). The full and precise fulfilment of the prophetic portion of the Apocalypse is yet future; and cannot possibly be shown as fulfilled. Take one central fact, the Beast or empire of Rome. Prophecy shows the Latin power in the last phase of its history, previous to its destruction, and in a condition in which it has never yet appeared. It is represented as a great blaspheming, persecuting power, distributed into ten kingdoms under ten vassal kings, subservient to one energetic chief or head, all reigning in willing subordination to their supreme lord (Revelation 13:1-18; Revelation 17:1-18), and in league with apostate Judah in Palestine. Neither under the imperial sway, nor since, has Rome appeared in this new form one essential to the prophetic future; moreover, Rome destroyed the Jewish commonwealth instead of seeking to preserve it. Nor was Judah apostate when Rome was in the ascendant.

1. It will be observed that the medium of communication between Christ and John is an unnamed angel, no doubt a spiritual being of prominence in the hierarchy of Heaven "His angel." How unlike in character and mode the unfolding of the Lord’s mind during His sojourn on earth. Then John was taught the Lord’s will as he reposed in the Master’s bosom (John 13:23, R.V.). Now all is distant and in a way mysterious, but in exact keeping with the character of these communications. God is not here regarded as "our Father," but five times Christ’s relation to His Father is affirmed (Revelation 1:6; Revelation 2:27; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 14:1). We have only one recorded instance of our Lord, when on earth, directly addressing His Father as "My God" (Matthew 27:46), but in this book we hear Him say both "My Father" and "My God," the former as Son, the latter as Man. The unfolding of certain governmental glories and titles in no wise enfeebles the blessed truth of Christ’s more intimate relations as Son and Man.

The order of the Revelation, therefore, is from God to Christ, then by Christ’s angel, whoever that may be, to John, and then on to us, i.e., all Christ’s servants or bondmen.

1. "Unto His servant John." The beloved apostle always writes in the third person in the four inspired records bearing his name. Here he writes in the first person, naming himself three times in the introductory part (Revelation 1:1; Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:9) and twice in the closing portion of the book (Revelation 21:2; Revelation 22:8).

Revelation 1:2. "The Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ" formed the sum of the visions beheld by the Seer. Omit the second "and" in the verse, and thus, "all things that he saw" constitute in brief the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. The third member of the text is really a summary of the preceding two. "The Word of God" is limited to the communications contained in this book, while "the testimony of Jesus Christ" is here of a prophetic character (see Revelation 19:10). "The Word of God" in the Gospels is one of grace, whilst "the testimony of Jesus Christ " has as its burden the revelation of the name and character of the Father. But as the Apocalypse treats mainly of the public government of God, both the "word" and "testimony" refer especially to the display of divine authority and rule over the earth. We regard the Word of God as that which He directly or mediately expresses, and the testimony of Jesus Christ that which He Himself, or by His angel, announces.

Revelation 1:3. In this verse, which completes the preface, the divine benediction, "Blessed," is pronounced on the reader, the hearers, and on those who keep these verbally inspired communications. The fact that the blessing is repeated at the close (Revelation 22:7), and judgment threatened on all who tamper with the whole or part of this book of prophecy (Revelation 1:18-19), imparts an unusually solemn character to this hitherto much neglected portion of Scripture. None can read it or hear it read without blessing, and none dare despise it with impunity. God is ever faithful to His Word, whether in the bestowal of blessing or in the execution of judgment.

The divine beatitude, "Blessed," occurs seven times (Revelation 1:3; Revelation 14:13; Revelation 16:15; Revelation 19:9; Revelation 20:6; Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:14).

3. "He that readeth" probably refers to the public reading of the Scriptures in the assemblies, and no doubt Paul’s admonition to Timothy, "Give attendance to reading" (1 Timothy 4:13), speaks of the same good old practice, and one which, we fear, is sadly neglected. Every reader of the Revelation, whether in public or private, may rest assured of the Lord’s blessing. The synagogues, authorised by Jewish law wherever ten persons could be brought together to form a congregation, had as an integral part of their service the public reading of the Word of God and exhortation (Luke 4:16-20; Acts 13:14; Acts 13:27; Acts 15:21). "They that hear" would signify the company present on these and other occasions when the prophecy was read. For the force of "keep those things," see John 14:21-24.

3. "The time is at hand." Prophecy annihilates time, and all intervening and even opposing circumstances, and sets one down on the threshold of accomplishment. The activity of the divine will needs not, nor knows rest. But to our naturally impatient minds, weary and fretful of evil, it might seem at times as if God had let slip the reins of government and ceased to intervene in human affairs. But it is not so. Time, ways, men and their actions are in His hands and under His sole control. He is sovereign Lord and Master. "The time is at hand," and "the effect of every vision." God’s lengthened delay of nigh 2000 years has proved a rich season of grace to the world. In the meantime faith rests assured that the hand of God, although unseen, is working out a scheme of good (Romans 8:28), which will result to His eternal glory, the true end of all.

Commentary on Revelation 1:1-3 by E.M. Zerr

Revelation 11 ---General remarks. In approaching this book for the purpose of writing comments thereon, I am resolved not to resort to speculation or guesswork. True that should be one’s purpose regarding every part of the Bible. But the various extremes to which so many would-be interpreters have gone make it especially important to observe this safety principle with this book. One extreme has the position that the book is a deep mystery that the Lord never• intended to be understood. The fact that it is a part of the Sacred Volume and that He pronounces a blessing on those who read and hear and keep the things written therein (chapter 1:3) Shows the error of this position. An opposite extreme is that it is "just as simple and easy as any other part of the Bible." At first thought one might not realize the evil of the statement, but it will be manifest by the manner of reasoning that is resorted to, in order to carry out what is thought to be required by the law of consistency. In pursuing such a course it is claimed that the prophecies of the book are literal and attempts are made to find such facts in the history of the world. This theory ignores the statement in chapter 1:1 which says the book was revealed by being "signified" or by signs and symbols, which rules out literalism in explaining the book as a whole.

We should avoid both extremes mentioned above and seek an explanation that will be consistent with the facts and other truths that are available to us. A sign or symbol must stand for something that is literally true or else its use can accomplish nothing. We should understand, therefore, that the ones in this book point forward to facts that were destined to occur literally in the then future years of the world. Since God knows the future as well as the present or past (Isaiah 46:9-10) it was possible for Him to look forward from the time of John and see the events that would occur in the world, including those of the religious and political domains of human activities. It would be unreasonable to suppose that He would direct a man to write a book with symbols which were not in harmony with the facts of history. The business of the student, therefore, is to read the symbols and then seek the explanation in the statements of authentic history. That is the task I have set for myself in writing a commentary on this book.

I shall here write a brief outline of the facts of history, to show the general program that has been and is now and will be carried out, in fulfillment of the predictions that John was told to write in the language of symbols. Many of the specific and detailed incidents of history will be reserved to be cited as the particular passages are reached in our studies. Among the sources of my information are the following: Ancient Monarchies, by George Rawlinson; Mommsen’s History of Rome; Josephus’ History of the Jews; Myers’ Ancient History; Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon; Mosheim’s Ecclesiastes History; Jones’ Church History; Eusebius’ Church History; and many others. Due to the wide field of historical material, it will not be expected that I can cite the actual text of the sources except in particular cases. The Roman Empire was at the height of its power in the time of Christ and the apostles, and continued so through several centuries. Religion was a state affair, being protected and regulated by the government under the direction of the emperor. That of Rome was the pagan or heathen and its worship was in devotion to idolatry. Other religions were tolerated as long as they did not become too conspicuous and did not show signs of interference with the state religion. Among the religions tolerated was Christianity, started by Christ. and propagated by the apostles. At first it was regarded as an insignificant movement and little attention was paid to it by the leaders in Rome. But as it grew in numbers and influence the Empire began to fear for its effect on the state and tried to counteract it by persecution.

After a few centuries the church or leaders therein began to grow corrupt, and they sought to concentrate their power with a view to reaching a condition where one man would dominate the entire brotherhood. This ambition for power was held back by the power of Rome whose religion was the pagan or heathen. But a change took place in this Empire that removed the hindrance. In the beginning of the fourth century the emperor was Constantine the Great. He finally professed to be converted to the Christian religion and accordingly gave it the endorsement of the Empire. That resulted in the union of church and state so that the emperor over the government and the bishop over the church, both of whom resided in the city of Rome, were joined in a mutual interest and hence took away the rights or privileges of both the local leaders in the congregations, and those of kings and governors over smaller sections of the Empire. There is a lengthy note under "General remarks" at 2 Thessalonians 2 which the reader should see again. After the union of church and state was formed there followed a period of twelve centuries known as the apostasy or Dark Ages. During that time the Bible was virtually taken from the common people and everyone both in religious and civil matters had to bow to the dictates issued at Rome by the joint power of the emperor and bishop (who finally took the title of pope). This condition continued until the time of Martin Luther and the other Reformers, who gave the Bible back to their respective countries in the language of their people, resulting in the dissolving of the union of church and state. The preceding paragraphs give a general picture of what actually occurred according to history, and of course the symbols of the book of Revelation should be interpreted in a way that agrees with the facts of history. Various details and specific instances will be related as occasion arises in our study of the book. Before taking up the chapters and verses on the plan that has been followed throughout the Commentary, it should be noted that the symbolical part of the book of Revelation is included in chapters 4 through 20. The three in the beginning and the two at the close of the book will be considered very much like the rest of the New Testament.

Revelation 1:1. The word revelation occurs 12 times in the King James Version. It is from APOKALUPSIS and Thayer defines it as follows: "An uncovering; 1. properly a laying bare, making naked." The revelation is said to be of or from Jesus Christ and God gave it unto him. It was to show things that were to come to pass or that were in the future. Shortly is a comparative term, for while some things predicted did take place in a short time literally, some of them were hundreds of years in the future. Signified is from SE-MAINO, which Thayer defines, "To give a sign, to signify, indicate." (See the comments on "symbols" in General remarks at the beginning of the chapter.) The revelation was sent to John and the bearer of it was an angel of the Lord. The writer is one of the twelve apostles but he uses the term servant which indicates his attitude of modesty. In a later verse he refers to himself as a brother to his readers in the king. dons of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Revelation 1:2. Who is a pronoun that stands for John in the preceding verse and he is the writer of this book. Bare record means he is making a record of what tie saw, which was according to the testimony of Jesus Christ. It is also the word of God because he gave Christ the authority to make the revelation known to John by an angel.

Revelation 1:3. Blessed means happy and it is said of those who read the words of this prophecy or book. But the blessing is not on those who read it only, but they also must hear it which means to give heed to it. The writer does not stop there but adds the condition that they shall keep ( "observe"--Thayer) them. These three significant terms certainly do not agree with the notion that the book of Revelation is one to be ignored by Bible students. Time is at hand. That is, the general program that was to extend down through the centuries was soon to begin.

Commentary on Revelation 1:1-3 by Burton Coffman

Revelation 1:1

The predominating thought in this chapter is that of the exalted and glorified Christ amidst the congregations of his church, his constant attendance with them and concern for them being represented in this chapter as a fact connected not merely with the salvation of people, but especially with the execution of judgment, not merely upon the church alone, but upon all people. The judgment is the theme of Revelation, and that subject is stated in the master-sentence of the whole book in Revelation 1:7. In the first paragraph (Revelation 1:1-3), the writer introduces himself, states the nature of what he is about to write, and pronounces a double beatitude upon those who read, and upon those who hear and keep the words of the prophecy. The second paragraph (Revelation 1:4-8) contains the salutation to the original recipients of Revelation and a noble doxology in which appears the grand thesis of the whole book. The third paragraph (Revelation 1:9-20) has the introductory vision of the Christ glorified, the details of which strongly emphasize his character and office as the Judge of all people.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants, even the things which must shortly come to pass: and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John. (Revelation 1:1)

The Revelation of Jesus Christ ... Although the primary meaning of this phrase regards the source of the prophecy as having come from God through Jesus Christ, it is also true in the extended sense of being a revelation of the Son of God in his capacity as the judge appointed by the Almighty God himself and divinely commissioned to "execute judgment" (John 5:27). The word "Revelation," capitalized in the text, was so rendered in order to indicate the word as the title of the prophecy. It is translated from a Greek word [@apokalupsis], from which also comes the similar English word given to the book and also applied to a whole field of similar writings. It means "an unveiling."

The things which must shortly come to pass ... Scholars generally assume that this means: (1) either that all of Revelation was fulfilled within a very short time after John wrote, or (2) that such events as "the thousand years" and the final judgment were mistakenly believed by the apostle to lie in the near future. We simply cannot believe that either proposition is true. Caird declared that all of the events John prophesied were "expected to be accomplished quickly in their entirety."[1] Even the respected Foy E. Wallace, Jr., wrote that, "The word "shortly" denotes immediacy; the events applied to them, not to centuries after their time, and even yet to come.[2] The objection to the view in (1) is twofold: first, many of the events foretold in Revelation, notably the final judgment, did not take place "shortly"; and secondly, it is incorrect to suppose that the holy apostles of Christ erroneously "taught" that the end of all things would occur soon. It may be freely admitted that they may indeed have been mistaken in thinking such a thing; but, in fairness, it must be admitted that none of them either implied or declared the Second Advent to be an event in the immediate future. The statement before us teaches no such thing. The meaning of it is the same as when Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is at hand," meaning that the "beginning of it" was near at hand. Furthermore, the declaration of John in 4:1 that some of the things he prophesied were to "come to pass hereafter" categorically refutes such views. Regarding the view in (2), we heartily agree with McGuiggan who said:

The claim is made that the early church believed that the second coming was near in time; but this is just not true. They may have lived aware of the possibility of his coming soon, but that they believed he was coming soon is not at all established by the New Testament.[3]

Furthermore, such a figure as reigning with Christ "a thousand years" could not possibly have been written by one who believed the end of the world would occur in a few weeks. No matter what view of the prophecy is taken, the extensive treatment of the Second Advent and accompanying judgment of all mankind absolutely forbids the notion that all of this great prophecy has already been fulfilled. There are some who delight in attributing ignorance and misunderstanding to the New Testament writers, using their false interpretation of this verse to bolster their opinions. For a more thorough refutation of the false view that the apostles all expected the speedy return of Jesus, see in my Commentary on 1Thessalonians, pp. 18-20.

Signified it by his angel ... The use of angel (singular) here is strange, especially in view of the fact that a number of angels are seen in the course of the Revelation. Lenski’s explanation of this has the ring of truth:

Such singulars are at times generic. "His angel" does not necessarily mean only one and the same angel. Any angel, now one, now another, would be Christ’s (and God’s) angel ... that conferred the commission on John.[4]

Unto his servant John ... The only person who ever lived in the first century, speaking with the great authority evident in Revelation, who could possibly have identified himself in these words, was the holy apostle John, the son of Zebedee, and author of the fourth Gospel and the three Johannine epistles. As Hendriksen expressed it:

We are thoroughly convinced that there was only one John who did not need to add "the apostle", for the very reason that he was the apostle! Besides, he does not call himself "the apostle" because he (in this book) wrote in his capacity as a seer (or prophet).[5]

Further comment on the authorship of this book is in the introduction.

[1] G. B. Caird, The Revelation of St. John the Divine (New York: Harper and Row, 1966), p. 12.

[2] Foy E. Wallace, Jr., The Book of Revelation (Nashville: Foy E. Wallace, Jr., Publications, 1966), p. 63.

[3] Jim McGuiggan, The Book of Revelation (West Monroe, Louisiana: William C. Johnson, 1976), p. 32.

[4] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John’s Revelation (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943), p. 31.

[5] William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1956).

Revelation 1:2

Who bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, even of all the things that he saw.

Some interpreters of this verse have found a reference to the gospel and John’s testimony there; but the final clause appears to define the testimony as that contained in this prophecy.

Of the word of God ... This is the great affirmation here. It declares the Book of Revelation to be indeed and in truth the word of God, given by the Father to Christ, and by Christ to John, who in turn delivered it to the churches. This is the very loftiest claim that possibly could be made upon behalf of this sacred writing.

Of all things that he saw ... The one verb saw embraces also the things which John heard in the course of his seeing the visions.

Revelation 1:3

Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein: for the time is at hand.

It was noted above that "shortly come to pass" cannot be applied to all that is revealed in the prophecy; but the last clause here surely indicates that some of the events foretold would soon occur, the very imminence of them leading to this double beatitude which was to be heeded by the persons who originally received the epistle. Regarding the events which were indeed imminent, the great persecution about to break forth against the Christians was most certainly one of the things in view. "There is general agreement that John expected persecution of the church by the Roman Empire."[6] Frank L. Cox noted that, "This is the first of seven beatitudes in the book, the other six being found in Revelation 14:13; Revelation 16:15; Revelation 19:9; Revelation 20:6; Revelation 22:7, and Revelation 22:14."[7] Regarding this one, Beasley-Murray wrote:

The blessing invoked is on the one reading aloud to the congregation and on those hearing and observing that which is enjoined. There are two classes here, not three, the last two participles being governed by one subject.[8]

The words of this prophecy ... Although the book is called "Revelation" in Revelation 1:1, it is here also called "this prophecy," a title for it which appears five other times in Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:10; Revelation 22:18; and Revelation 22:19.

[6] G. B. Caird, op. cit., p. 12.

[7] Frank L. Cox, Revelation in 26 Lessons (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Company, 1956), p. 2.

[8] G. R. Beasley-Murray, New Bible Commentary, Revised (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1280.

Commentary on Revelation 1:1-3 by Manly Luscombe

1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants-things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.---This is a single “Revelation”, not multiple revelations. Most books of prophecy describe multiple scenes, visions, or dreams. This book is one revelation. It contains one motion picture in living color. John does not claim this work to be original with him. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus does the unveiling. John gives the “chain of authority” -- God - Jesus Christ - his angel - John - written form. Purpose is given clearly. To show things that will happen shortly. There is much division on the word “shortly”. It could mean in the next months or years. It could mean shortly as God counts time. The word “must” is an important word. These things are not a guess. They are sure. These are things that must happen. The Greek word here is an impersonal verb that indicates that a moral necessity is involved. God has issued the decree. God does not lie. These things will happen.

2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. John is well known in Asia Minor. Before he was banished to Patmos, he lived and taught in Ephesus and the surrounding area. He, since the day of Pentecost, more than 60 years ago, has been one who testified as a witness to the resurrection of Christ. This book is the record of what he saw. This is a revelation, a parting of the curtain, where John is allowed to see things yet in the future.

3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. A triple blessing is pronounced here: (1) He that reads - A blessing is upon those who give an oral or public reading of this book in the church assembly. Many church assemblies of the first century included a public reading of a section of scripture. (2) They that hear - those who listen to the words being read are also blessed. Listening implies more than just receiving an audible sound. Listening includes understanding, heeding, and obeying the message they heard. (3) Keep those things - The real blessing comes when we follow the commands, heed the warnings and believe the promises. John repeats what was said in verse one. These things will happen shortly. They are seen as “at hand” or within reach. They are close enough that one could reach out and touch them. There would be no encouragement to say, “Here are some things that will happen in a couple of thousand years.”

Sermon on Revelation 1:1-3

Brent Kercheville


The book of Revelation is the book in the Bible that is considered to be shrouded in mystery. Many people think that the book of Revelation cannot be understood. Many think that the book is intended to be hard. Before we begin our study, I am going to encourage you with the same words that I always offer. Please enter this study with an open mind. Try to erase any preconceived notions you may have. Study the book of Revelation for yourself. I believe this is one of the primary reasons that people have difficulty with the book. Many do not read and study the book of Revelation for themselves. Instead, they just listen to what everyone else has to say about the book. This leads to great confusion because everyone says something different about the book. You must read the book for yourself. If you have a question or disagree with what is said concerning the book, you will have an opportunity in the Wednesday night study to voice your question or disagreement and we can work together in our studies for solution. I presented a study of Revelation back in 2002-2003. I have changed my position on some of the aspects of the book since then. I am not arrogant to think that I will not learn more and change my thoughts again down the road. Therefore you need to rely on God’s word and your own study of the book, rather than just on my teachings.

As noted in the introduction material to the class, one of the frustrating aspects of studying Revelation is determining the date of the book. The debate on when the book was written continues to rage. There are many persuasive arguments on both sides of the discussion. I encourage you to read both sides of the discussion. One of the frustrating parts of dating the book is that scholars disagree over when it was written. In the last 100 the predominant view has been a late date for the book (95-96 AD). However, during the previous 100 years the predominant view was an early date for the book (65-69 AD). My encouragement for you in your study (and the basis of our study) is to not begin Revelation with a date in mind. Beginning your study with a date in mind will color how you read the book. Instead, let the book tell you when it was written. Let the images and symbols speak and interpret them in the most natural way, regardless of the date. Once we are done and have read the images, only then let us determine when it was likely for Revelation to have been written. We will have much more to say about the date of the book as we study Revelation. Let’s get started with our study.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1)

“‘Revelation’ (apokalypsis) means to expose in full view what was formerly hidden, veiled, or secret” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary). This is a significant beginning to our study. The book of Revelation is revealing something that previously was concealed. Revelation is not code. Revelation is not hidden language. To suggest such violates the very name of the book. This is the book of unveiling. This is the book of revealing, not concealing. This information also set up our filter for our interpretation method. This book is explaining things that were previously hidden. While we do not know for certain yet, our most likely source would be Old Testament prophecies that were shrouded in mystery that the book is going to make plain. It is noted by all scholars that Revelation borrows heavily from the images of the Old Testament. Therefore, our interpretative model should be that the book of Revelation is an explanation of those Old Testament images. When we read language in Revelation that is found in the Old Testament, we need to go back to the origin of the image and understand it in its proper context. Then we can see how the book of Revelation is shedding light or revealing information about that prophecy. It is not “Revelations,” but “Revelation.” One unveiling of the things hidden in the past.

This is the revelation of Jesus Christ. Many will remark that this book is about Jesus. There are two ways to understand “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” One way is that the revelation is about Jesus. The other way is that the revelation is from Jesus. When we read the sentence it becomes clear that this is the revelation from Jesus, not about him. Verse 1 is awkward if it means, “The revelation about Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants….” God gave Jesus the revelation about Jesus? It makes far more sense to understand verse 1 to say, “The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants….” God gave this revelation to Jesus who gave it to his servants. The end of the book of Revelation makes the point again that this revelation is from Jesus. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches” (Revelation 22:16). The TNIV and NLT translate verse 1 as “The revelation from Jesus Christ” because this is the way the verse makes the most sense. The point is that this unveiling is coming from God the Father. We will see this image made clearer in Revelation 4.

Time Markers (Revelation 1:1; Revelation 1:3)

There are two time markers in this preface. The first is found in verse 1, “To show his servants the things that must soon take place.” The second time marker is in verse 3, “For the time is near.” Carefully read those time markers. Verse 1 says that the revelation concerns things that must soon take place. The time is near for the events that are contained in the revelation and that is why those who read, hear, and keep the words are blessed. The point cannot be ignored. The things in the book are happening soon.

Define “soon” to you? If someone told you that these things are going to happen soon, how long do you think it will be? Would you think that it would be 2000 years later? Do you think it would be 300 years later? 100 years later? No, these things do not fit. Scholars are beginning to rightly reject the popular futurist view that the book of Revelation has not occurred yet because of these time markers.

“Therefore, John’s book is a prophetic work which concerns the imminent and inaugurated fulfillment of OT prophecies about the kingdom in Jesus Christ” (Beale, New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC), 183).

Those who want the book of Revelation to be about things that have not been fulfilled yet even today in the year 2010 try a number of ways to get around these clear time markers. Tim LaHaye, who is one of the most well known futurist advocates for the book of Revelation (popular as co-author of the Left Behind novels), makes no comment in his commentary, Revelation Unveiled, about these time markers. One method to keep a futurist view is to ignore these verses and just keep moving on.

Robert L. Thomas, defends a futurist view by arguing, “God is not limited by considerations of time in the same way man is” (Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary (WEC), 56). This point is absolutely correct. God is not bound by time in the same way that people are. However, this does not solve the problem. Remember, Revelation is supposed to be the unveiling, not the concealing. Revelation is not supposed to add to the confusion, but explain the concealed. Further, God is bound by time when he speaks to humans and reveals to them that something “must soon take place” and “the time is near.” God is not bound by time, but he is bound by his word when he speaks to humanity. If he tells humans that something must happen soon and the time is near, then it must be soon to us and near to us, otherwise God is false and is unable to communicate with his creation.

Beale states the point even stronger. Beale states, loch“Things must soon take place,” “…connotes neither the speedy manner in which the Daniel prophecy is to be fulfilled nor the mere possibility that it could be fulfilled at any time, but the definite, imminent time of fulfillment, which likely has already begun in the present” (Beale, NIGTC, 181-2).

The argument of those who take the book of Revelation as still in the future is that, “Things must soon take place” can also mean “things must suddenly take place.” That is, the preface is not saying that the things contained in Revelation will happen soon, but whenever these things do happen, they will happen suddenly. There are many problems with this position. This does not deal with verse 3, “The time is near.” Even if verse 1 does mean, “Things must suddenly take place,” there is no way to get around that God said the time is near.

Robert L. Thomas, a futurist, states well the problem with taking verse 1 to mean “suddenly.” “A major thrust of Revelation is its emphasis upon the shortness of time before the fulfillment. In the midst of persecution God’s people do not have long to wait for relief to come. To say that the relief will come ‘suddenly’ offers no encouragement, but to say that it will come ‘soon’ does” (WEC, 55). One of the themes of Revelation is relief from suffering will come soon. If not, the book of Revelation becomes an untrue and hopeless book since the martyrs will told a little while longer till they were vindicated. Hundreds or thousands of years will not work. Not only will the futurist position not work in light of these words, but I submit to you that seeing only the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD will also not work. If the book of Revelation is only about the demise of the Roman Empire, that would not happen for nearly 400 years or more. Four hundred years is not soon and is not near. If I were to tell you that Christ would come in judgment and relieve you of your suffering more than 400 years from now, would you have relief? No, not at all. The time marker is not only a problem for the futurist position but it is also a problem for those who see only the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD as the message of the book of Revelation.

Therefore, the book of Revelation is not about the rise of the Roman Catholic church. The book of Revelation is not about Iraq and Saddam Hussein. The book of Revelation is not about the European Union. The book of Revelation is not a book about current events. We must not read the newspapers and try to plug what is happening today as the fulfillment of the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation was relevant to the first century Christians who heard its message. Notice in Revelation 1:3 that those Christians in the first century who read, heard, and kept what is written in it would be blessed. If chapters 4-22 are yet to come still, then there is no blessing for those Christians who received this letter. This does not mean that there is nothing for us to learn. We learn from every book in the Bible even though there was an original audience to whom the book was written. We do not read Romans and discard its value because it was written to the Christians in the city of Rome in the first century. There is still great value, lessons, and applications for us. The book of Revelation is the same. Though written to the seven churches of Asia, there is still great value, lessons, and applications for us.

Signified (Revelation 1:1)

John signals to his audience how the book of Revelation is to be read. Notice that God gave Jesus this revelation “to show,” not to tell, his servants the things that must soon take place. The ESV Study Bible states, “The terms, ‘revelation,’ ‘show,’ ‘made it known,’ and ‘he saw’ prepare the reader and hearers for symbolic visions….” Many translations read in verse 1, “He made it known.” The HCSB and NKJV read, “He…signified it by his angel.” Our English word “signified” gets at the idea appropriately. He “sign-i-fied” the revelation, that is, he put it into signs and symbols.

Grant Osborne says the Greek word, “Yields the idea of making known by means of symbols” (Baker Exegetical Commentary, 55). Robert Thomas also states, “…in nonbiblical literature, it [this Greek word] already had a usage related to symbolic divine communications with men” (WEC, 56). This tells us we must adapt how we study this book. When we communicate with one another, we assume that we are speaking literally, unless something in our language demands us to take it symbolically. We study the scriptures the same way. We take the words of God literally and straightforward unless something in the text demands an idiomatic or figurative interpretation. When Jesus started talking about planks and logs in our eyes, we know that Jesus is speaking figuratively, using imagery to teach a principle. With the book of Revelation, the preface has told us to reverse our method. The book has been put into symbols and signs. Therefore we should read the book as symbols unless something in the text demands otherwise.

Now, let me make an important point. Just because Revelation is full of symbols does not mean that there is not a literal or historical fulfillment. The images represent a literal or historical event. The book of Revelation is not fanciful myths and stories. The symbol represents something actual and real. The red, octagonal stop sign represents the literal act of stopping one’s car. The point is that we should read Revelation seeking the meaning behind the images. We cannot take the numbers, locusts, scorpions, dragons, beasts and other images found in the book at face value. They represent something and our goal as readers is to determine the meaning of those symbols. We take the book as symbols representing something unless something clearly shows us that the image is not symbolic.

This Prophecy (Revelation 1:3)

We need to observe one other point. While the book of Revelation is a letter to the seven churches of Asia, we must also recognize that it is prophetic in nature. Revelation 1:3 describes this book as, “The words of this prophecy.” This bookcommunicates the inspired messages of God and it is showing its first century audience the things that are about to come soon. This is important for us as we try to interpret Revelation’s symbols into a historical context. The things that the book reveals do not have to be happening at the moment the book is written. The book is speaking of things about to happen soon. This alleviates some of the issues concerning dating when the book of Revelation was written. The images are not necessarily describing current events (that is, when the book was written) but are describing images about to happen soon (after the book was written). Therefore, being exact as to the date of the book is not as important because the Revelation is about things to come soon after the writing of the book.


How exciting to read the book of Revelation which will unfold and unveil the prophecies concealed in the past! We stand at a fortunate time to look back and see the completion of God’s plan and are also blessed when he read, hear, and keep the things written in this prophetic book. The book of Revelation is a message of encouragement and hope during difficult times. Our faith will be bolstered by studying the messages contained in this book. Let us hear the words of this book, read the words of this book, and keep what is written in this book and be blessed in doing so.

Verses 4-8

Rev 1:4-8


Revelation 1:4-8

4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia:--As the writer does not call himself an apostle, or use any other descriptive term, it is safe to presume that he was well known to the churches addressed. The fact that he was chosen as the one to write these letters is presumptive proof. To those churches the name John was sufficient identification. The territory here called "Asia" was the Roman province embracing the western part of Asia Minor, of which Ephesus was the capital city. The seven churches addressed were in this territory. There were other churches besides those mentioned, for Colossae and Troas are referred to (Colossians 1:2; Acts 20:5-7), but there was evidently some divine reason why letters were sent to the seven named. As seven is supposed to be a sacred number indicating perfection, it has been suggested that seven were addressed to signify the perfection of the instruction given; or, that the seven would represent the whole church and the combined instruction be complete and applicable to all congregations for all time. It is unquestionably true that the instruction given the Asiatic churches was for any and all churches in like conditions.

Grace to you and peace, from him who is and who was and who is to come;--Asking for God’s favor and peace to rest upon them is the same form of salutation used by Paul in all his epistles. God is here referred to as one who was, who is, and who is to come. That means an everlasting duration, including time past, present, and future. In speaking to Moses God called himself "I AM." (Exodus 3:14.) The existence of God is, of course, incomprehensible by man, but these expressions include not only his existence, but his unchangeableness. We may therefore depend implicitly upon his power and promises.

and from the seven Spirits that are before his throne;--The most satisfactory explanation of the expression "seven Spirits" is that it means the Holy Spirit. The decisive reason for that is that it is used in the salutation in direct association with God and Christ, and that a blessing is invoked from the three. Though Paul usually leaves the Spirit out of his salutations, he includes it in 2 Corinthians 13:14. It would appear out of place to invoke a blessing from any but a divine being. To ask such benedictions from angels or other creatures would necessarily imply the worshiping of angels, yet we know that angels are required to worship Christ. (Hebrews 1:6.) Worshiping creatures instead of God is clearly wrong. (Rom. 1 25.) It is true that the Holy Spirit as a person is one (Ephesians 4:4), but symbolically may be referred to as "seven Spirits" to indicate the fullness of his work; the one personality but diverse manifestations of power. (1 Corinthians 12:4.) The word "seven" is used too often in Revelation not to recognize this significance of the term. The Spirit "before his throne" probably represents readiness to carry out God’s will just as Christ is presented as a Lamb "in the midst of the throne" ready to open the seals. (5:5, 6.)

5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness,--Since this revelation of fiiture events was to be made through Jesus, John here declares that he is "the faithful witness." That means that what he said would be the exact truth and in strict accord with the will of his Father. Of course his testimony on any phase of the plan of salvation was faithfully told, but here John evidently refers to the fact that his witness regarding the future history of the church would be a true portrayal of the facts. Jesus is mentioned after the Spirit here because what follows in this paragraph has direct reference to him, not because the Spirit is in any sense superior to him.

the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.--Paul uses a similar expression in Colossians 1:18, and in 1 Corinthians 15:20 he refers to Jesus after his resurrection as "the firstfruits of them that are asleep." There had been resurrections before Christ (Lazarus and the widow’s son), but Jesus was the first to rise to die no more, to become the "firstfruits" and guarantee the resurrection of all at the last day. (John 5:28-29; John 11:23-24.) Paul further states that Jesus was "declared to bethe Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." (Romans 1:4.) He assures us that the promise God made to the fathers and the prediction that he was the begotten Son of God were fulfilled in Christ’s resurrection. (Acts 13:33.)

At the time John wrote Jesus had not only been raised from the dead, but he was the "ruler of the kings of the earth." The word "ruler" means that he was above all kings; occupied a position far more exalted than any earthly ruler. Paul tells us that because of his humility in submitting to death God "exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name." (Philippians 2:9.) Paul also states plainly when he was given this exalted name and position. It was after his resurrection and ascension to heaven that God made him to sit at his own right hand "far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named." (Ephesians 1:19-21.) This. position and power, which had been in existence since Pentecost, could not be less than a reigning King. Whatever interpretations may be placed upon the visions of future events, as we proceed in this book, nothing must set aside this basic truth in John’s introductory statements.

Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood;--The revised text reads "loveth," present tense, instead of "loved," past tense, in the King James. This is doubtless correct as the love of Jesus did not end with his death. His love not only led him to die for us, but also to provide all else for our salvation here and hereafter. This text has "loosed" from our sins while the King James has "washed." The two Greek words are so nearly alike that only a slight change would turn either one into the other. This could easily have happened in making copies by hand. It is immaterial which is the true reading since both words state true facts. That Christ "washes"--cleanses--us through the merits of his shed blood is unquestionably true.. In fact, that is what occurs, for it is so stated in substance in Revelation 7:14, a text about which there is no question regarding the translation. But by Christ’s blood we are "loosed" from our sins also. The Greek word for "loosed" is in the aorist tense, and expresses a completed past action. Christ had already died, the price had been paid, and the means for securing individual pardon had been provided. That was all past when John wrote this text. The fountain "for sin and for uncleanness" had already been opened "to the house of David" by his descendant, Jesus Christ, making the everlasting atonement in heaven. (Zechariah 13:1; Hebrews 10:12.)

6 and he made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father;--The words "to be" are in italics to indicate there is nothing in the original for them. They are unnecessary to the thought here. Christ made his disciples "a kingdom, priests unto his God." The word kingdom describes them collectively; the word priests individually. In 1 Peter 2:5 Peter makes the same distinction, calling them individually and a collectively. In verse 9 he combines both kings and priests in the name "royal priesthood." Similar language was used in reference to ancient Israel. God said to them: "And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation." (Exodus 19:6.) In the expression "he made us" John again uses the past tense, showing that they had been made a kingdom and therefore were one at that time. This is doubly certain when we consider the fact that they had also been made priests. That the priesthood of Christ, which justifies calling Christians priests, began on Pentecost does not admit of denial; in fact, it is universally admitted. No one can logically deny the existence of Christ’s kingdom without rejecting John’s words; their meaning does not admit of doubt.

to him be the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.--"To him" refers to Christ, as reading verses 5 and 6 will show. In this expression John ascribes both glory and dominion to Christ forever. That means that Christ had both then and will continue to have both until he delivers the kingdom back to the Father after the judgment. (1 Corinthians 15:24-28.

7 Behold, he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him;--John had just said that Christ’s glory and dominion would be "for ever and ever"; that is, throughout the age. This probably suggested the thought of his return to judgment after which the dominion would be returned to God. He wished to assure the readers that there would be no doubt about Christ’s return. This led to his mentioning the fact that he would come "on the clouds," a fact referred to in Matthew 26:64; Acts 1:9; Acts 1:11. That the coming here means his appearance to judge is seen in the words "every eye shall see him." That will only be when all the nations are gathered before him as indicated by Matthew 25:31-46. They that pierced him refer to all those who, directly or indirectly, had anything to do with his crucifixion, and means that even his enemies must face him at the judgment.

and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him. Even so, Amen.--All the tribes--peoples--will mourn when lie comes because of their sins and the knowledge that their condemnation is a certainty. The redeemed will rejoice, of course, but the lost will bewail their undone condition. In thewords "Even so, Amen" the thought probably is that John wished the things to transpire just as they would he revealed, and thus his words would he verified.

8 I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, who is and whc was and who is to come, the Almighty.--Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet ; hence, mean the first and last, the beginning and the end. (22:13.) The Revised makes this language refer to God rather than Christ, though elsewhere the same language refers to Christ. (Verses 17, 18.) God is called the Almighty to indicate his power to fulfill his promises and grant the blessing mentioned in verse 3. Being eternal in existence guarantees his promises, however long the fulfillment may be in coming.

Commentary on Revelation 1:4-8 by Foy E. Wallace


(1) The salutation of John to the churches.

As John was known to them all, familiar by name and person, it was not necessary to distinguish himself from others by any descriptive titles or designations, such as an apostle of Christ. The use of the word apostle as introductory to the epistles of Paul had a specific reason, to affirm his apostolic credentials which Judaizers had attempted to discredit. No such circumstances existed with John, and he simply said John to the churches. If the author of Revelation had been another John than the apostle, some descriptive appellation would have been required for identification.

(2) To the seven churches.

The claim that seven dispensations are indicated by seven letters to seven churches, covering all Christian centuries, is reversed by the factual character of the names and the events corresponding in date to the period of the apocalypse. Though addressed to the seven churches in the Asian provinces of Mysia, Lydia, Caria and Phrygia, its contents would apply to all the early churches, as did the teaching in the apostolic epistles.

The Asia of these churches is generally considered to be where John went after the martyrdom of his brother James (Acts 12:2-3), which was said to be “pleasing to the Jews,” and which connects with the Jewish persecutions belonging to the apocalypses of Revelation, and with John’s association with the seven churches of this Asian region. The geographical designation of the text, in Asia, does not include the continent of Asia, nor the whole of Asia Minor, but rather a small Roman province in the west coastal part of Asia Minor, of which Ephesus was the capital, and which included the lesser provinces named. A look at the map will settle this point in the minds of the reader who is geographically interested.

(3) From the eternal God and the living Christ.

1. “From him which is, and which was, and which is to come"-- Revelation 1:4.

This sublime statement refers to God, and the description which is, and which was affirms his eternal Being; and which is to come has reference to his predicted judgments and events.

2. “And from the seven spirits which are before his throne”-- Revelation 1:4.

The seven spirits are a designation of the spirit of each of the seven churches, having already been described as seven golden candlesticks, and later referred to (chapter 4:50 as seven lamps before his throne. Thus the seven spirits before his throne are identical with the seven lamps before his throne. It is the continuation of the apocalyptic aspect of the seven-branched lamps (or candlesticks) which represented the seven churches, and being before his throne signified a unison with God and Christ in these salutations.

3. “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness” -- Revelation 1:5.

It was Jesus Christ who had borne witness to the truth of his Sonship before Pontius Pilate, as mentioned in 1 Timothy 6:13. And he was associated with God in the salutatations to his servants who were on the brink of that hour of trial, which would bring death to them, for the same confession before men that Jesus had made before Pilate.

4. “The first begotten of the dead"-- Revelation 1:5.

The language here does not affirm that Jesus was the first person to be raised from the dead, for several names can be mentioned who were miraculously raised up out of their graves, by the prophets of the Old Testament, and by Jesus and Peter in the New Testament, all of which were for the purposes of divine demonstration. They were not resurrected to die no more, but returned to corruption -therefore they were not begotten of the dead. To him alone, who conquered death by a resurrection to die no more, belongs the title, the first begotten of the dead.

5. “The prince of the kings of the earth"-- Revelation 1:5.

The four appellations together accentuate first, who he was, and second, what he was, from whom this message came.

6. “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood"-- Revelation 1:5.

The release from sins as the result of the shedding of his own blood, represented here as the element in which the sins of man are washed away, is the heart of the remedial plan.

7. “And hath made us kings and priests"-- Revelation 1:6.

The God unto whom all members of the church are priests is here affirmed to be his Father, thus ascribing deity to Jesus Christ. The offices of royalty and priesthood are united in the members of the churches, as typified in Exodus 19:6, and finds its spiritual fulfillment in 1 Peter 2:9. The allusions to the “kingdom of priests,” in the Exodus passage, was to emphasize that Christ has made us new kings and priests in contrast with what once was but is no more. The church is the kingdom of Christ, and all the members are priests unto God--hence, the church is a kingdom of priests. The Syriac New Testament reads: “And hath made us a priestly kingdom.”

8. “Unto God and his Father"-- Revelation 1:6.

The eternal dominion of God is here pronounced. Although it is Christ who is King, and has made us into a new kingdom and a new priesthood, it was so done unto God and his Father. This was true of the old Israel whose kingdom, though ruled by appointed heads, was unto God; and this universal dominion of God has existed from the beginning as an eternal truth.

9. “To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."-- Revelation 1:6.

The glory and the dominion of God is never ending. He had unlimited dominion in all things of the past; he holds dominion over all things of the present; and he will exercise dominion over all events of the future. The dispensations changed from one age to another, from the old to the new, but the dominion of God remains the same. The things of men and of angels, and of the Son himself, are and ever shall be subservient to God, the Supreme Being and Absolute Ruler of the universe.

(4) The ominous announcement.

1. “Behold he cometh with the clouds"-- Revelation 1:7.

The reference here is not to the second advent, or return of Christ, but to the coming events about to be delineated, as in the Lord’s reply to Caiaphas, the high priest in Matthew 26:64 : “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” This high priest would live to see the event here foretold, the fulfillment of which occurred in the figurative coming of Christ in the destruction of Jerusalem, as previously foretold in Matthew 24:1-51, and centuries before by the prophet Zechariah in chapter 14. The prophet referred to the destruction of Jerusalem as “the day of the Lord,” and in Matthew 24:1-51 Jesus designated it as his coming. And Jesus told Caiaphas that he would live to witness it. The words behold he cometh are an announcement of warning, a call to expectancy, an alert to the impending developments.

The added expression “with the clouds” is not to be literally taken for a material display of his bodily presence. In the description of God’s judgment on Egypt, in Isaiah 19:6, the prophet said: “Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt.” Also, in Ezekiel 38:16, the prophet said that the latter days God would come up against Israel “as a cloud to cover the land.” And in Matthew 24:30, Jesus describes the events in the destruction of Jerusalem as “the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” This is precisely what Jesus told Pilate that he should see, and it is the meaning of Revelation 1:7, pointing to the destruction of Jerusalem.

2. “And every eye shall see him"-- Revelation 1:7.

Both the impact and the import of the occurring events would be of universal knowledge. The siege and fall of Jerusalem would be known to the entire population of the Roman empire both Jewish and pagan.

3. “And they that pierced him"-- Revelation 1:7.

The act and the fact here declared refer not merely to the Romans who wielded and thrust the sword into the Lord’s body on the cross, but also to the Jews who, through the officials of their nation, had performed the deed. The truth of this statement is affirmed by the officials of the Jews themselves in Matthew 27:25, and it is confirmed by the apostle Peter in Acts 2:23.

4. “And all the kindreds (tribes) of the earth shall wail because of him"-- Revelation 1:7.

The families of the Jews all over the Roman world are here mentioned. The Gentiles were never referred to as tribes; the tribes belonged to the Jews, who were dispersed into every part of the earth. Yet the events foretold of what would happen to their city and their nation, in Jerusalem and Judea, would become known wherever they were scattered, and all the Jews in every part of the earth would wail over this calamity. They would all mourn over the ruin of their city Jerusalem, and for the destruction of their system of Judaism, and for the overthrow of their theocracy in the demolition of their temple, and for the termination of their Jewish state-their national distinction and existence.

And they would wail (or mourn) because of him, for it was in fulfillment of the fearful woes that he had pronounced against Jerusalem and which were figuratively ascribed to his coming.

This piercing and mourning were the subjects of the prophecy of Zechariah 12:9-11; Zechariah 14:1, described as “the day of the Lord.” The quotation of the first reference is made in John 19:37. These scriptural applications show that the fulfillment of the coming with the clouds in Revelation 1:7 was accomplished in the events of the fall of Jerusalem. These fulfilling events, at and after the destruction of Jerusalem, have unmistakable bearing on the contents of Revelation, and the period to which it belongs.

5. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending”—Revelation 1:8.

These are the first and the last letters in the Greek alphabet, and they correspond to the Yea and Amen of the Hebrew equivalent. The one in verse 7, and the other in verse 8, appear to be an affirmation and ratification of the things about to be signified as being the irrevocable testimony of Jesus Christ.

Commentary on Revelation 1:4-8 by Walter Scott

A DIVINE SALUTATION (Revelation 1:4-6).

We have had a brief but weighty prologue. Now we have a divine greeting. The former instructs, the latter cheers.

4. "John to the seven churches which are in Asia." What is here denominated Asia is not the old and dreamy continent as a whole, nor even Asia Minor, but that part of the latter on the western side or sea-coast of which Ephesus was the renowned capital, proconsular Asia. In this limited geographical area the professing Church was to be tested, and the salient features of her history depicted in the blaze of day, as represented by those seven Asiatic churches specially chosen for the purpose. Other and important churches in the same district are omitted, whilst those seven, and those only, are named, and that, too, in the order in which a traveller would naturally visit them. The seven selected assemblies form a symbol of the Church in its universality in successive periods of its history, as also at any given moment till its final rejection as an unfaithful witness to Christ (Revelation 3:1-22; Revelation 16:1-21).

Why seven churches? That numeral is of more frequent occurrence than any other. There are seven feasts of Jehovah (Leviticus 23:1-44); seven kingdom parables (Matthew 13:1-58); seven churches, seven Seals, seven Trumpets, seven Vials noted in the Apocalypse. In each of the foregoing there is a marked division into three and four. What is divine is expressed in the former, the human element enters into the latter. Combined they express what is COMPLETE. Thus the professing Church, as God’s light-bearer on earth, is here regarded in its completeness at any given moment from its declension (Revelation 2:4) to its final and public repudiation by Christ (Revelation 3:16). In its public and responsible position it is solemnly warned. The threatened judgment, i.e., absolute rejection, applies to the corporate body only. Believers are repeatedly assured of safety and blessing. An overcoming company of true saints is recognised in each of the first six churches. The mystic "seven" of the Apocalypse is pregnant with meaning.

John here announces himself simply by name. There is no assertion of his apostleship. No flourish of trumpets in calling attention to these sublime prophecies. There is a quiet dignity befitting the introduction and disclosure of subjects which have bowed in heartfelt adoration tens of thousands.

Then the Godhead, each in His own Person, unites in a message of grace and peace, and that, moreover, before the mutterings of the coming storm are heard. Not a Seal can be broken, not a Trumpet blown, nor a Vial poured out till the saints are divinely assured that the strength and blessing of God are for them. God for us in blessing, and in the maintenance of His own glory at all times and under all circumstances, is our mighty stronghold.

The hurricane of divine judgment could not roll over the plains of Sodom till Lot was delivered (Genesis 19:1-38): nor could the utter destruction of Jericho by fire take place till Rahab was saved (Joshua 6:1-27). But in this divine greeting, and in the place it occupies, we have far more than a guarantee of preservation from divine judgment. The salutation does not come in between threatened judgment and its execution, but before ever it is announced, and the true character of things in the Church, the world, and Israel disclosed, God’s saints are assured of the deep interest He takes in them.

4. The common and needed blessing of the redeemed is one of "grace and peace." Neither things nor persons can rob them of it, because given and maintained by God Himself. Grace is the source of all blessing, and peace the rightful and happy state before God. In the apostolic salutations grace always precedes peace; whilst in the individual epistles as those to Timothy, Titus, etc., "mercy" is generally added, as this latter takes account of personal need and circumstances.

The salutation, while eminently fitted to beget and strengthen confidence in God in view of impending judgment, is yet governmental in character. It is not the Father and the children, nor God and sons, but Jehovah and saints; hence, in the naming of the Persons of the Godhead, the order differs from that contained in Matthew 28:19, there it is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; here it is Jehovah; the Spirit, and Jesus Christ. Paul only once at the close of an epistolary communication (2 Corinthians 13:14) greets the saints in the Name of the three divine Persons; here John does so at the commencement of the book.

4. The dread and sacred Name Jehovah signifies underived existence, the Self-Existing One. To Israel the Name was explained as "I AM THAT I AM" (Exodus 3:14); to Gentiles as "Him which is, and which was, and which is to come" (Revelation 1:4; Revelation 4:8). *The heathen borrowed from the Jews. The truths of the Old Testament really lie at the root of anything good in the ancient faiths and mythology of the heathen. Thus, "Jupiter was, Jupiter is, Jupiter will be," is evidently taken from the Biblical explanation of the national Names of the God of Israel, Jehovah. It is a Name of ineffable grandeur, and one which Israel was made fully acquainted with from the commencement of her history (Exodus 6:3). It is God’s memorial Name, even to generations yet unborn. "Which is" implies independent, unchangeable existence. "Which was" intimates Jehovah’s relation to the past. "Which is to come" shows His connection with the future. God’s relation to the universe in its vastness and greatness, as also in its minuteness, is a grand and invigorating truth.

In Revelation 4:8 the order of the sentences is reversed; "which was" precedes "which is." Chapter 4 contemplates the government of the whole earth, and not that of Israel only, hence the living creatures first say "which was." It is a question of time; whereas in Revelation 1:1-20 the eternity of Jehovah’s Being is first presented in the words "which is." Thus, too, it is intimated in the change of the sentence "which was " that Jehovah’s past deeds of power are an earnest and pledge that eternal existence and omnipotent might are not quiescent attributes in the divine Being, but are exercised through all ages and under all circumstances.

4. Next, the Holy Spirit is named, but not here regarded in the unity of His Being as "one Spirit" (Ephesians 4:4 ). The plenitude of His power and diversified activity are expressed in the term "seven Spirits," the fulness of spiritual activity (compare with Isaiah 11:2; Revelation 3:1; Revelation 4:5; Revelation 5:6). "Before His throne," because the primal thought in the Apocalypse is the public government of the earth. In the history of Christianity for the first thirty years, the apostolic era, the Spirit is witnessed acting in energy and grace with individuals, as the book of Acts fully relates; whilst in the epistles, the Spirit’s presence and action in the Church is the main truth disclosed. But here, as has been already remarked, the Spirit acts governmentally from Heaven on earth.

The governmental character of the book accounts for the mention of the Spirit before Christ. Had it been simply a question of grace, pure and simple, then necessarily the mention of Christ would have preceded that of the Spirit, after the Father as sent by Him (1 John 4:14), and before the Spirit because sent by the Son (John 15:26).

Revelation 1:5. "Jesus Christ" is next mentioned, uniting with Jehovah and the Spirit in saluting the saints. In the combination of Name and title is intimated the union of manhood and glory (Acts 2:36). "Jesus" is composed of two syllables, signifying Jehovah-saving (Matthew 1:21). It was a Name given Him before His birth, and one which exactly describes His Person and work. The greatest of all Names, the Name par excellence, is that of Jesus (Philippians 2:9-11). It occurs upwards of 600 times in the New Testament, and is never prefixed by an adjective; *We strongly deprecate the irreverent use (unwittingly, we are assured) of the most precious Name to a believer’s ear and heart. "Dear Jesus," and such-like terms, are an offence against Him Who is our Lord and Master. His title of dignity, "Lord," should be employed in a thousand and one instances instead of "Jesus." This latter, when used in combination with other divine names and titles, is, of course another thing (see John 13:13-14). nor was the Lord ever, save by demons, directly addressed as Jesus. The Name "Jesus" occurs in the Apocalypse nine times, and in combination with Christ three times. Christ (Greek) and Messiah (Hebrew) both mean the anointed as in Psalms 2:1-12, etc.

Thus we have God in the greatness of His Being, the Spirit in the plenitude of His power, and Jesus Christ in holy humanity now glorified, united in blessing the saints who are about to have unfolded to them the prophetic counsels of God respecting the earth.

Then certain distinct attributes inseparable from the Name Jesus are introduced; glories which as Man He has earned, and to which He has right. There are three titles used of Him: the first referring to a certain relation to God; the second pointing to a special connection with all the dead, saved and lost; whilst the third directs attention to His supremacy over earth’s governing authorities.

(1) "The Faithful Witness." The whole life of our Lord from the manger to the Cross is embraced in this comprehensive title. The epithet "the faithful" is in marked contrast to all preceding witnesses for God. The path of human testimony is strewn with wreck and ruin. Christ alone passed through earth in His solitary and rugged path of unswerving devotedness to God, without break or flaw and in all holy separateness to God. "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness *"The word witness, in its noun or verb form, is found not less than seventy-two times in the writings ascribed to John. It is pre-eminently his characteristic word." unto the truth" (John 18:37).

(2) "The First-born of the Dead." Christ is both "first-fruit" and "first-born" of the dead. The former title intimates that He is first in time of the coming harvest of those who sleep (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). The latter title signifies that He is first in rank of all who will rise from the dead. "First-born" is the expression of supremacy, of pre-eminent dignity, and not one of time or of chronological sequence (Psalms 89:27). No matter when, where, or how Christ entered the world, He would necessarily take the first place in virtue of what He is. We may here remark that the change which the bodies of living believers will undergo at the Coming of Christ is equivalent to the raising of the sleeping dead. Both are to be like Christ morally (1 John 3:2) and corporeally (Philippians 3:21).

(3) "The Prince of the Kings of the Earth." The proud monarch of the west, the haughty despot of the east, have each their Master. Christ is "higher than the kings of the earth." The kingdoms of the world are His by right and title, and before Him all must bow. He is "Lord of lords and King of kings." Lord of all who exercise authority, and King of all who reign. He has not yet put forth His power. His sovereign rights are yet in abeyance. But they will be asserted when the Father’s time has come, and public universal government will pass into His hands. He shivers every imperial sceptre, and breaks the crown of all opposing authority. Then the pride of man is brought low, and his pomp withers in the dust.

In these titles, therefore, we have a tower of strength to the Christian and Church. We can see One, now in the heavens, Who has trod the path of faith and obedience without halting (Hebrews 12:1-2); One Who has grappled with death, and him that had the power of it; Who overcame and is now great in His victory; One, too, Who is Lord and Master of all earth’s governing authorities. But now the salutation abruptly passes on to a doxology.

Revelation 1:6. The preceding benediction, coupled with the Spirit’s relation of what Christ is as man, at once rouses the heart of the redeemed. The affections are stirred, and the recital of Christ’s dignities is answered by the exulting song: "Unto Him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by His blood" (R.V.). He has won our hearts by His changeless love, and cleared our consciences by His precious blood. In this book, which reveals the crumbling to atoms of the consolidated power of evil established in high places, how positively refreshing to know, ere the coming judgments are announced, or the precursors of divine vengeance are seen and heard (Revelation 4:5; Revelation 8:5), that the whole redeemed company on earth can triumphantly sing of Christ’s present and changeless love, and of His precious blood which has for ever freed them from their sins.

But the themes of the song are not exhausted. Our high dignity is next celebrated, and ascribed to Him Whose love and blood are our confidence and rest. "He made us a kingdom, priests unto His God and Father." It might be inferred from the expression, "made us a kingdom," that we are to be governed as subjects, but such is not the thought. Sovereignty is conferred upon the heavenly saints, and in a lesser degree upon Jewish millennial saints on earth. The character in which we shall rule is next intimated as "priests." What is meant is the union of kingly dignity and priestly grace. Zechariah 6:13 states the position exactly: "He shall be a Priest upon His throne." But we shall reign with Christ; hence the character of His reign in part determines the nature of ours. There will be secured for the world in the coming age a thousand years’ righteous and gracious government. Let us never forget, nor in practice sink below, our exalted rank. The constant remembrance of it will impart dignity of character and preserve from the money-loving spirit of the age (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).

6. "To Him be the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen." The form of the ascription is nearly the same as in 1 Peter 5:11, save that the Jewish apostle asserts that the glory and the dominion are Christ’s; whereas John intimates the desire of the redeemed that the visible glory and far-reaching dominion foretold by prophet, seen by seer, and sung of by bards should be His Who alone is worthy; and not only during the millennial era, but through the ages or definite measures of time on to eternity. Neither is the "Amen" in the two passages used as prayer that it may be so, but is added as a solemn asseveration of the truth stated.

In the course of the successive disclosures contained in the book, and as their character deepens, the doxology increases in fulness. Here it is twofold; threefold in Revelation 4:11; fourfold in Revelation 5:13; and sevenfold in Revelation 7:12.

Revelation 1:7


7. "Behold He cometh with the clouds." The Second Advent of our Lord is a vital part of Christian testimony, and never more needed to be insisted upon than now, especially in light of the solemn reflection that both the Church and the world are about to enter on their final phases of accumulated guilt before being dealt with in sharp judgment. But it is essential to distinguish the two distinctive parts into which the Coming divides. There is a class of passages, confined to the New Testament, which directly refer to the Coming of the Lord for His saints, as John 14:3; Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; and 1 Corinthians 15:23. But there is another set of texts, common to both Testaments, which as distinctly teach the Coming with the saints, as Judges 1:14; Zechariah 14:5; Colossians 3:4; and Revelation 19:11-14. Now, while both these aspects of the one Coming of our Lord should be increasingly pressed on the earnest attention of Christians as a part, and by no means the least important of the faith of God’s elect, yet the second part or stage of the Coming is the one referred to here. The former, i.e., the Translation of all saints at the epoch of the Lord’s descent into the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17) necessarily precedes the latter, i.e., His Coming with His saints (Judges 1:14) and angels (Matthew 25:31).

The apocalyptic testimony, "Behold He cometh with the clouds," coalesces with that of the Hebrew prophet, "I saw in the night visions, and behold one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of Heaven" (Daniel 7:13); and also with the prophetic utterance of our Lord on Olivet, "They shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:30). All refer to the same time and event. The epiphany of the Son of Man in such majesty as has never been seen by mortal eye will strike terror to the hearts of all on earth save those of His own people.

The prophets of old, each in his own way, and according to his personal characteristics, but all under the direct guidance of the Spirit, descant on the two great prophetic themes: JUDGMENT and GLORY.

Immediately before the dawn of blessing the Gentiles, no less than the Jews, will be enveloped in gross moral darkness (Isaiah 60:2); whilst, instead of according a loyal welcome to the Coming One, the nations will be found gathered in open and armed rebellion, either in the west against the Lamb (Revelation 19:19), or in the east against Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2). Hence the earth must be cleared of evil and evil men ere the consecrating footsteps of its Lord and ours cause it to throb with a joy beyond that experienced in the brief and sinless moment of Genesis 2:1-25. It is the judgment aspect of the Coming to which the Seer of Patmos refers in Revelation 1:7.

Christ is nowhere said to come with the clouds to gather His own. On the contrary, they go up in the clouds (1 Thessalonians 4:17). These are the royal carriages provided to convey us from earth to meet the Lord. The cloud of old was the well-known symbol of Jehovah’s presence with His people (Exodus 13:21; Exodus 40:34-38; Luke 9:35). But observe, Christ is not only said to come in the clouds (Mark 13:26), but with them (Revelation 1:7), and on them (Matthew 24:30). The clouds which attend His Coming are symbols of His majesty (Psalms 18:9-12). He sits on them as on His throne (Matthew 24:30). We are caught up in the clouds (1 Thessalonians 4:17). He ascended in a cloud (Acts 1:9), and shall come in a cloud (Luke 21:27). Such minute distinctions are interesting.

Here, then, we are directed to the culminating point of all prophecy, the pivot of blessing for Israel, the Church, and the world. The first and last testimonies in the book are to the Coming of the Lord (Revelation 1:7; Revelation 22:20), and we may further remark that the word "quickly" applied to the Coming is alone found in this sublime prophecy.

The Coming of the Lord to break the manifested power of evil on earth, to scatter the combined forces marshalled under the leadership of Satan, to grind to atoms every hostile power, will be an event of so public and overwhelming a character that it is added, "Every eye shall see Him." What a sight in the heavens! The descending Lord with many diadems on His head, clad in the insignia of royalty, saints and angels swelling His triumph, clouds around and beneath, will then appear in a manner befitting His majesty.

7. But while the statement, "Every eye shall see Him," must be accepted in its literality, need one add, not at the same moment yet one class is singled out from the mass of mankind then in open revolt against God and His Anointed (Psalms 2:1-12), namely, "they which pierced Him." The Gentile spear which pierced the Saviour’s side is a fact alone recorded by "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 19:33-37). The weak and vacillating representative of Rome in her imperial greatness, sullied her vaunted reputation for inflexible justice by basely ordering his august Prisoner whom he thrice declared innocent to be scourged and crucified. But the Jews behaved even worse by clamouring aloud for His death, the death of their Messiah, and provoking the unhappy governor to pronounce the fatal sentence. Their children, who have inherited their guilt, and who refuse the shed blood of Christ as God’s answer to their sin, shall see Him Whom they pierced, while Zechariah 12:10 shows how grace will use it. The special class referred to as those "who pierced Him" are the Jews.

7. "All the tribes of the earth shall wail because of Him," more especially in the land and amongst the people where His grace has been so conspicuously displayed. The wailing, however, is not confined to the two tribes then in the land, Judah and Benjamin; nor to the ten tribes on the confines of Palestine ere entering it (Ezekiel 20:1-49), but embrace the Gentiles also. "All the tribes of the earth." The substitution of "land" for "earth" is simply a question of interpretation, and not of translation. "Kindreds" or "tribes" in Revelation 7:9 undoubtedly designates Gentiles. Compare with Matthew 24:30, which fixes the moment of the general wail of anguish, viz., the Coming of the Son of Man.

7. The double affirmation, "Even so, Amen," is the Spirit’s seal to this striking prophetic testimony. The "Even so" is Greek, the "Amen" is Hebrew. To both Gentiles and Jews His Word is unchangeable.

Revelation 1:8


8. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." The announcement of these divine titles forms a fitting conclusion to the introduction. The dignity of the speaker and the character of His utterances demand profound attention. We listen here not to the voice of Christ as man, but God Himself is the speaker. He announces His own titles and glories. "I am the Alpha and the Omega" the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, would intimate His relationship to creation. God is the source, the beginning of all truth revealed, of all promise given, and of all testimony committed to men. In this respect He is "the Alpha." But He is also the end. His glory is the goal. Everything finds its answer in Him. Our course, our testing lie between these points, God the Alpha and God the Omega. To Him as the end all gravitate. On our hands the threads are broken; in His hands they have never been rent. In the midst of failed and failing circumstances, and the Church ecclesiastically a ruin amidst the wrecked testimony of the ages, God’s voice is heard above the din and strife. The beginning of all testimony is in God, and the end, too, centres in Him. In Him as the Omega is finished what as the Alpha He began.

Next we are introduced to the divine greatness of the speaker, who is none other than the Lord God of the Old Testament (Genesis 2:1-25, etc.).

Who is the Lord God? Jehovah Elohim, the God of men and of Israel, Who has been pleased to put Himself into moral relationship with both, speaks once again from Heaven. What a calm to the soul amidst the rush of life! Here the voice of the Eternal, and at once the murmur within and the din without are stilled. In the explanatory words which follow, "Which is, and which was, and which is to come," the essential and ever-abiding nature of His Being as Jehovah is stated. The three clauses form the interpretation of the Name Jehovah. The third member of the text, "which is to come," would at first sight seem to indicate an actual coming, but it is not so. The force of the whole is to present an eternal Is, yet not simply eternal existence, but a positive relation to the past and future.

How fitting that this truly weighty introduction should close with the title of God as the "Almighty," a title which has been a rock of strength to His afflicted people in all ages. "The Almighty" is not simply the witness of omnipotent power, but signifies Almighty in "sustaining resources," and it will be found in the course of this book that the circumstances of God’s people make many a demand on this strong Name; hence its frequency in the Apocalypse, found only once elsewhere in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 6:18), and then as a quotation from Isaiah. "Almighty" used singly, or in conjunction with other names, occurs about sixty times, half of these instances in the ancient book of Job. Almighty God is a title full of strength and consolation. He is Almighty in sustaining His people, yet equally Almighty in judgment on His enemies.

It is to be noted that the Authorised Version of verse eight both interpolates and omits. The words, "the beginning and the ending," are right in the text of Revelation 21:6 and Revelation 22:13, but wrong here. "God" after "Lord" is also an important omission. These and other blemishes are corrected in the Revised Version of 1881. It must be remembered that the excellent and, in general, godly men, who translated the Scriptures in 1611 had not the advantages of their successors in 1881. Neither the Vatican, Sinaitic (both most ancient of Biblical MSS.), nor the Alexandrian Codex were available to the translators of our noble Authorised Version.

Commentary on Revelation 1:4-8 by E.M. Zerr

Revelation 1:4. Let the reader note the statements at the close of General Remarks, which show that the three chapters will be given before the symbolical part of the book begins. They will consist of letters or epistles sent to a group of churches not far from where John was in exile. The seven churches does not mean there were no others in that territory for there were several. It means as if it said "write to the seven that will be named." The number seven was regarded as of special significance in old times, so that it came to be used as a symbol of completeness in many instances. Smith’s Bible Dictionary says it was so regarded even among the Persians, Greeks, Indians and Romans. Doubtless the seven churches selected were representative of the general condition in the brotherhood at large, and hence the letters written to them may serve as important instruction for the congregations everywhere and at all times. Asia is a small province in what was known as Asia Minor until late years. It was one of the districts to which Peter addressed his first epistle (1 Peter 1:1). The familiar salutation of grace and peace is given and it is from the same source. However, it is stated in different words, namely, from the One who is, was and is to come. This means that God always was and always will be. Seven Spirits. Paul says there is "one Spirit" (Ephesians 4:4), so the term is figurative and used in the sense of completeness as symbolized by the number seven. This unit of seven Spirits is before the throne because the Spirit has always been an agency of God and Christ in carrying out the divine plans, and it would be appropriate for it to be always near at hand to receive orders.

Revelation 1:5. The faithful witness does not imply there are no other witnesses who tell the truth sincewe know there are many. We therefore must take this to mean that Jesus was the bearer of testimony for God in a preeminent degree. First begotten of the dead to die no more (Romans 6:9). Prince of the kings of the earth. All power in heaven and in earth was given to Christ (Matthew 28:18) thus making Him a Prince above all. Jesus showed his love for men by giving his blood for their cleansing.

Revelation 1:6. Made us kings and priests. The word kings is from BASILEUS and I shall quote the definitions of a number of lexicons as follows: Greenfield, "A king, monarch, one possessing regal authority." Robinson, "A king." Thayer, "Leader of the people, prince, commander, lord of the land, king." Groves, "A king, monarch, sovereign, prince, chieftain." Donnegan, "A king." Hickie, "A king." I have quoted thus extensively because there is a tendency upon the part of some to deny that Christians should be called kings since Christ only is king. Yet it is freely admitted that Christians are priests although Christ is our priest also. There should be no difficulty on this point, for Jesus is High Priest, while Christians are inferior priests under Him. Likewise they are inferior kings under Christ who is "King of kings and Lord of lords." Peter says Christians are a royal (kingly) priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), and Paul told the Corinthians they had "reigned as kings" and furthermore he would that they "did reign" (1 Corinthians 4:8). Since Christ accomplishes all His spiritual work through the church (Ephesians 3:10 Ephesians 3:12; 1 Timothy 3:15), it is logical that if He is to be a king his servants are to cooperate in the work. That would make them secondary kings acting under their Chief. Glory means grandeur and dominion denotes scope or domain; John ascribes them to Christ to be everlasting.

Revelation 1:7. Behold is a call to attention because something of great importance is about to be said. He cometh with clouds. The two men in white apparel (Acts 1:9-11) announced the same thing, and .lesus also made the announcement before leaving the earth (Matthew 24:30 Matthew 26:64). Every eye shall see him. The fact that the writer next specifies the executioners of Christ as among those who shall sec him proves that it will not be restricted to His faithful followers. That explodes the arrogant heresy taught by a group of materialists that Jesus came but that only they have seen Him, and that is because they are Jehovah’s Witnesses. All kindreds shall wail because they will realize that Christ has come to judge the world. But John and all other faithful servants will not wail because they will "love His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8). That is why lie exclaims even so, A men; both terms mean virtually the same in effect.

Revelation 1:8. The pronoun I refers to Christ because he is the one who is to come in the clouds. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet (the language in which the New Testament was written). It is a figure to indicate completeness, similar to saying a man knows his business "from A to Z." Beginning and ending denotes the same idea as the other figure, the particular words being selected because Christ was present at all of the works of God from the beginning (John 1:1-3; Ephesians 3:9). Is, was and is to come has the same meaning as in verse 4. The Almighty. This phrase belongs primarily to God the Father, but since God is a name for the Deity or Godhead, and Christ is a member of that family, it is proper to ascribe the title to Him also. He is called "The everlasting Father" in Isaiah 9:6, and it can be understood only because of His relation to the Deity.

Commentary on Revelation 1:4-8 by Burton Coffman

Revelation 1:4

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from him who is and who was and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits that are before his throne.

To the seven churches ... It is evidently John’s preference for the number seven that lies behind this book’s being directed to only seven congregations, because the New Testament names others in the same province, namely, Troas, Colossae and Hierapolis. Among the Hebrews, this was a sacred number often used to symbolize the whole or the completeness of something. Thus, the interpretation of these seven standing for all of the congregations of Christ throughout the world would appear to be correct. "It is certain that while the book is addressed to a limited circle of Asian churches, the author’s purpose was to reach beyond these to all the churches throughout the world."[9] The evidence of this universal destination of the book is found in the repeated injunction, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches."

Of Asia ... In the New Testament, Asia always means the Roman province located in the western part of what is now known as Asia Minor, with a possibly wider meaning in Acts 2:9.

Grace to you and peace ... Greetings similar to these are found in nearly all the New Testament epistles, especially those of Paul.

From him who is and who was and who is to come ... The Greek words from which this is translated are literally, "The BEING and the WAS and the COMING."[11] There are many examples of such awkward grammar in this prophecy; but "(They) are not due to ignorance of Greek construction, as shown by the predominantly correct uses in the book."[12] This title of God is essentially that of Exodus 3:14, "I AM who I AM." Christ also used this title of himself in Mark 6:50; Mark 13:6; Mark 14:62, and in John 6:35; John 8:12; John 10:7; John 11:25 and John 14:6.

And from the seven Spirits that are before his throne ...; Isaiah 11:2 has this:

And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

There are seven titles of the Holy Spirit in this passage from Isaiah, and from very early times this reference in Revelation has been associated with it. "It denotes the Holy Spirit in the plenitude of his grace and power."[13] The decisive reason for this interpretation was given by Hinds: "It is used in the salutation in direct association with God and Christ, and a blessing is invoked from the three."[14]

[9] Isbon T. Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1919), p. 423.

[11] James Moffatt, Expositor’s Greek New Testament, Vol. V (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967), p. 337.

[12] Isbon T. Beckwith, op. cit., p. 424.

[13] F. F. Bruce, A New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 634.

[14] John T. Hinds, A Commentary on Revelation (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1962), p. 20.

Revelation 1:5

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood.

Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness ... There is a powerful New Testament emphasis upon the faith of Jesus Christ, as in Paul’s writings, especially in Galatians 2:16; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 3:22; Romans 3:22; Romans 3:26; Ephesians 3:12; Philippians 3:9; etc. There is a false impression that since Christ was deity incarnate he did not need to have faith; but in our Lord’s humiliation as a man, faith in the Father was his predominate characteristic. All hope of salvation rests ultimately in the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was the faithful witness in the sense of delivering accurately to mankind the word and the commandment which the Father gave him on behalf of humanity.

The firstborn from the dead ... The New Testament records the resurrection of Dorcas, the daughter of Jairus, Eutychus, the widow’s son at Nain, and that of Lazarus in addition to the resurrection of Christ. In addition, there were "many of the saints" who came out of their graves following the resurrection of Christ (seven resurrections). In what sense, then, is Christ the firstborn from the dead? He alone came back from death never to die again; and besides this, there is the inherent significance of his being the first of many to triumph over death. As Beckwith put it: "The language implies the future resurrection of the saints."[15]

The ruler of the kings of the earth ... Christ is here spoken of as the possessor of all power and authority, fully in keeping with the Saviour’s words, "All authority in heaven and upon earth has been given unto me" (Matthew 28:18). It should be noted that this authority belongs to Christ in the present time and perpetually. He is not planning to start ruling at some future time; he rules now! A great deal of the misunderstanding of this prophecy, as well as of the whole New Testament, derives from a failure to take account of this tremendous truth. Many have difficulty believing that Christ rules now; because, as they say, the world is in such a dreadful mess. However, the world was in a dreadful condition in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, who had to eat grass with the beasts of the field for seven years to learn that "The Most High rules in the kingdom of men" (Daniel 4:25). As for the reason why God’s rule permits such atrocious wickedness on earth, it is clear enough that God permits it because it is in keeping with his purpose. The reign of Christ now in this present time will be more extensively treated under the "thousand years" interpretation (Revelation 20:2). There is no way in which this student of the Lord’s word can accept such a declaration as that of Hal Lindsey, who wrote: "Even though Christ has the right to rule the earth, he isn’t exercising this authority over kings and kingdoms at this time."[16] If Christ is not exercising his authority, how can the church receive his promise that Christ will be with us "even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:18-20)? Yes, despite the inability of some to see and recognize it, Christ is ruling now and will continue to rule until the last enemy is destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:25).

Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood ... Of significance are the present tense (loveth) and past tense (loosed), showing that Christ’s love is continuous, and that the redemption mentioned is a past accomplishment. Since it is an undeniable truth that Christ keeps on saving the saved until at last they are saved eternally in heaven, it is evident that the initial salvation in conversion is the redemption that John had in view here; therefore, the KJV rendition of this as "washed us" is likewise correct. On what the scholars consider sufficient textual evidence, this was changed to "loosed us" in subsequent versions. The Greek words for these two expressions are almost identical in appearance; and, furthermore, it is immaterial exactly which is the original reading. As Hinds said:

Both words state true facts. That Christ washes us, cleanses us, through the merits of his blood is unquestionably true, as stated in Revelation 7:14. But by Christ’s blood we are loosed from our sins also.[17]

The passage in Revelation 7:14, as well as the overtones of the whole context, incline us to accept the opinion of Carpenter: "The general tone of thought would lead us to prefer "washed" as the true reading."[18] The slavish following of certain preferred manuscripts is not necessarily an infallible method of determining accuracy.

[15] Isbon T. Beckwith, op. cit., p. 428.

[16] Hal Lindsey, There’s a New World Coming (California: Vision House, Publishers, 1973), p. 26.

[17] John T. Hinds, op. cit., p. 22.

[18] W. Boyd Carpenter, Ellicott’s Bible Commentary, Vol. VIII (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1939), p. 535.

Revelation 1:6

And he made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

And he made us ... a kingdom ... priests unto his God and Father ... The first step in understanding this passage is to get rid of the two verbs in the future tense that have been added to the passage by the translators. (Note the italicized words in the ASV text.) There is a world of difference in the statements, "God made us a kingdom" and "God made us to be a kingdom." John was not writing of what Christians were to be, but of what they already were. Beckwith, like many others, applied these words to the future, saying that, "The reference is not to the saints as forming the kingdom which Christ now rules."[19] The teaching of the entire New Testament, however, makes it absolutely certain that Christians are now in Christ’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13), the precise terminology of this verse being found in Paul’s words there. This passage reflects Exodus 19:6, where it is revealed that God’s purpose for Israel was that, "Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests." 1 Peter 2:9 is also parallel to this. Therefore, our text means that, "Christ has made us a kingdom, each member of which is a priest unto god."[20] This is not some far-off thing that will happen in some so-called millennium; it is the status of things now in Christ’s church. As Earle said, "This is not only a great privilege, but a great responsibility."[21] All the members of Christ’s kingdom, which as far as we are concerned is synonymous with his church, should be constantly engaged in offering up the spiritual sacrifices appropriate for a kingdom of priests. For a list of the sacrifices, as outlined in the New Testament, see in my Commentary on James, pp. 196-198.

The glory and the dominion ... John here breaks into a noble doxology, using words which imply the present and eternal dominion of the Son of God. The New Testament doxologies invariably ascribe the same power, honor, and glory which belong to God to his Son, Jesus Christ. See Revelation 5:12-13; Revelation 7:10; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 13:21; 1 Peter 4:11; 2 Peter 3:18; and Judges 1:1-24.

[19] Isbon T. Beckwith, op. cit., p. 429.

[20] R. H. Charles, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St. John, "International Critical Commentary" (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1920), p. 16.

[21] Ralph Earle, Beacon Bible Commentary, Vol. 10 (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1967), p. 474.

Revelation 1:7

Behold he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him. Even so. Amen.

This is the topic-sentence of Revelation, a great deal of which relates to the final judgment, an event mentioned at least seven times in the prophecy; and these are not seven different kinds or occasions of judgment, there being only one judgment day, the final and awesome event that shall conclude the dispensation of grace, see the resurrection of the dead and the assignment of every man’s destiny, and bring the redeemed into their eternal habitations. It will occur at the Second Advent of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Behold he cometh with the clouds ... These words apply to the Second Advent, as in Matthew 24:30; Mark 14:62; Acts 1:9-11; and Mark 13:24.

Every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him ... There is no connection between this and the passage in Zechariah, except that the terminology is similar, the great difference being that in the Old Testament their looking upon the one who was pierced, and mourning, was grief for the pierced one, not grief for themselves, as is clearly indicated here and in Matthew 24:30, which words John evidently had in mind when this was written. To understand exactly the object of the mourning here, one should read Revelation 6:15-17. See Zechariah 12:10 to Zechariah 13:1.

All the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him ... This clause, along with the preceding "’every eye shall see him" indicates the final judgment, that being the only occasion when all the tribes of earth and every eye (that is, every man) shall behold the Christ.

And they that pierced him ... Even the generation that crucified Christ will not be exempt from confronting him in the final judgment. The mourning here mentioned will be due to the startling realization on the part of the wicked that the whole course of their lives has been wrong. The atheist will suddenly know that God is a reality. The proud, the arrogant, the thoughtless, the sensualist, the materialist, and all who have lived as if there were no God shall be summoned to a judgment which they have never allowed as even possible. The mourning of people in that circumstance will surpass any possible description of it. And the mourning will not be "over Christ" in the sense of their grieving for what was done nearly two thousand years ago TO HIM (how could people even imagine such an interpretation?). No, their grief will be for themselves. The Second Advent will be bad news indeed to the vast majority of mankind.

Revelation 1:8

I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Who is the speaker in this verse, Jesus Christ, or God the Father? In view of the eternal power and authority of Christ, already stressed, it would appear that John is here emphasizing the Deity of Christ. Earle quoted Plummer as being of that opinion and also pointed out that J. B. Smith gave extensive quotations to show that all of the ancients attributed these words to Jesus Christ.[22] In a sense, of course, it makes little difference, because the same things are true of Christ that are true of God the Father. It makes for better unity in the passage to ascribe Revelation 1:8 to Christ.

Alpha and the Omega ... These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and are here used figuratively to stand for the entirety of anything. Such a comparison seems to have existed for ages. The Hebrews said of Abraham that, "he kept the law from Aleph to Tav (first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet). "From A to Izzard" was a colonial proverb in America with the same meaning. ("Izzard" was an early American name for the letter Z).

Plummer pointed out that the use of this figure is progressively expanded in Revelation. Note:

Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8).

The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 21:6)

The Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end (Revelation 22:13).

Since the usage of this expression in subsequent passages of Revelation undoubtedly refers to Christ, there is no good reason why it should not be applied to him here.

Who was and is and is to come ... See full comment on this under Revelation 1:4.

The Almighty ... Scholars make a big point out of this word’s being one of the "the Septuagint’s renditions of Yahweh Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts"[23] but there is no reason for not applying it also to Christ who was prophetically designated as "The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father" (Isaiah 9:6). That this is indeed a proper and appropriate title of Jesus Christ will vividly appear in subsequent chapters of this magnificent prophecy. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is often referred to as God. For more complete elaboration of this see in my Commentary on Hebrews, p. 31. Furthermore, he himself used the Old Testament "I AM" no less than eight times. See under Revelation 1:4. Also, of those eight New Testament usages of the "I AM" title for Jesus Christ, five of them are in the gospel of John; and the appearance of two more such usages here in the first chapter of Revelation emphasizes the close correspondence between it and the other Johannine works. The same mind lies behind all of them.

[22] Ralph Earle, op. cit., p. 477.

[23] G. B. Caird, op. cit., p. 19.

Commentary on Revelation 1:4-8 by Manly Luscombe

4 John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne. The common manner of beginning a letter in the first century was to identify the author, then express a greeting to those who were the intended recipients. John, the son of Zebedee is the author. See full discussion in the introduction where the authorship is explained in detail. To the seven churches - We know there were more than 7 churches in this area. The letter to the Colossians was also to be read at the nearby city of Laodicia. (Colossians 4:15-16) Grace and peace - was a common greeting. While these words have theological connections, they mean nothing more here than when we say, “Hello. How are you?” It is a common greeting. Which was - Jesus WAS here on earth. He lived, taught, performed miracles, and had many converts. He was killed, buried and raised from the dead on the third day. Is to come - He promised a 2nd coming. (John 14:3) We do not worship a dead savior. We serve a living, resurrected Lord. He is alive and coming again. Seven - Seven is an important number throughout the book of Revelation. It must be understood to be symbolic of completeness, perfection, and wholeness. There were 7 churches, 7 angels, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls of wrath, 7 candlesticks, 7 stars, etc. We know that there were more than 7 churches in this area. So, the 7 churches are understood to represent the whole, complete body of Christ. Spirits before the throne - Who are these spirits? Several possibilities - martyrs, angels ready to deliver letters in chapters 2 and 3, the perfect spirit of God, the Holy Spirit.

5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. From Jesus Christ - This book is called “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”. Many Bibles title this book “The Revelation of Saint John”. The latter is incorrect. John is not seeking the gain, fame or glory for this work. It is from Jesus Christ. Faithful witness - Jesus was faithful in teaching the will of His Father. He was faithful to the law of God. He was faithful to His mission. He willingly died for the sins of the world. First begotten from the dead - While not the first to be raised from the dead, Jesus is the first to be raised from the dead to immortality. There were several raised from the dead in the Old Testament. Jesus and his apostles raised many. But all of these resurrections were temporary. They later faced physical death again. Jesus is the first to overcome death. Ruler of the kings of the earth - Jesus is King over all kings, Lord over all lords. In our day, we think of the king as supreme. Not so in the Roman Empire. Judea had a king who was subject to the emperor and all his princes. A Roman prince was over a Judean king. Unto him that loved us - Jesus loved us and died for us. (Romans 5:6-8) Washed us from our sins - Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. (Hebrews 9:22) Jesus shed his blood for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:28) In his own blood - The blood of an animal sacrifice could not take away sin. (Hebrews 10:4) The forgiveness of sins required a perfect sacrifice, the sinless Son of God.

6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Made us kings - Christians, as fellow citizens in the Kingdom of Christ, are also kings. Priests unto God - Christ is our King of kings and our High Priest. We are kings and priests, participants in the spiritual kingdom of our Lord. We are a royal priesthood. (1 Peter 2:5) We do not go to a priest. We are the priests. We are a priesthood of believers. Glory and dominion - All praise, honor and glory belong to Jesus. He is the ruler. He has all authority. (Matthew 28:18) He is our King forever. Amen - Just as we end our prayers with this word, it is often used to denote the end of a section. This verse ends the opening greeting. What follows is the heart of the message.

7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. Comes with clouds - An angel said that Jesus would return in the same manner as he went from the earth. Every eye shall see him - This passage teaches a general resurrection of all men who have ever lived. All will be made alive and alert as Jesus comes. They that pierced him - The Roman soldier who thrust the spear in his side will see his triumphant return. The soldiers who drove the nails in his hands and feet will witness the second coming of Christ. Wail because of him - The wicked, unbelievers, atheists, and agnostics will see him and moan, groan, and wail because the proof is now before them, but too late. Even so, Amen - A short prayer that simply said, “I am ready for it to happen. The sooner the better. Let Jesus come now.” The revelation ends with a similar prayer, “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Alpha and Omega - These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. We have phrases like, “From soup to nuts” or “Everything from A to Z.” Jesus is our all in all. He is everything from the first letter in the dictionary to the last word in the dictionary. Beginning - Jesus was before the beginning. (John 1:1) Jesus was involved in all parts of creation. (Colossians 1:16-17) Jesus was involved in the formation of all things. Nothing exists apart from Jesus’ creative powers. Ending - He will bring this world to its fiery end. He is eternal - both eternal in the past - without beginning - and in the future - without end. Just as he participated in the creations of all things, he will be involved in the end of all things. Is, was, and is to come - God is the great I AM. God is always in the present tense. You may speak of a deed that God did in the past, but God is always present tense. God is. The same is true of Jesus. He is. He was here on earth in human form. But he is in the eternal present. There is a sense in which Jesus WAS on earth in human form. There is a sense in which Jesus IS TO COME, when he comes to redeem the faithful bride. But Jesus always IS. Almighty - The most common attribute ascribed to deity in the Bible is his power. God is all-powerful. Nothing is impossible with God. He is the Almighty God.

Sermon on Revelation 1:4-8
Brent Kercheville

The first three verses of the book of Revelation contain the preface. These verses told us the interpretative grid we need to apply to the book to appropriately understand it. (1) This book is the revelation. It is the unveiling of things that were previously concealed. (2) The book is written in symbols. The angel signified the book and the first three verses point out that these things are seen, not heard. Symbols and signs represent a historical, literal fulfillment. Since the book is written in symbols, we need to understand what the symbols represent and not be caught up with the symbol itself. (3) The time in near. These are things “that must soon take place.” Therefore we must look for the message of the book of Revelation to directly impact its first century audience. (4) The book is revealing things that were about to happen shortly to the first century audience. It is not describing thing before when the book was written. It is a book of prophecy and it is speaking of things to come.

First Century Letter Format (Revelation 1:4-6)

Verse 4 begins the book and you will notice that it begins in a typical first century Greco-Roman letter format. The author of the letter (not of the Revelation, which is from Jesus Christ) is John. The letter is written to the seven churches that are in Asia. Recall what we learned from the preface of the book of Revelation. The book is written in symbols. Therefore, we must read the book as written in signs and symbols unless something in the text demands a literal interpretation. Most understand the seven churches symbolically. That is, each of the seven churches represent a possible condition of any local church. The conditions of the seven churches of Asia are quite applicable today and we learn about how a local church ought to be and ought not to be. However, there is a very strong reason as to why we must understand that this letter was written to seven literal churches. The reason is that the churches are named in verse 11 as well as in chapters 2-3. The naming of the churches is the flag in the context that tells us that these are not symbolic seven churches, but actual churches in Asia Minor.

The salutation is the next part of a first century letter. This letter is no different. “Grace to you and peace….” Nearly every letter has a salutation with the words, “Grace and peace.” Paul most often use this kind of salutation. Grace and peace is always given from God. The same is true in the book of Revelation. The one “who is and who was and who is coming” refers to God the Father. We also see this salutation from Jesus Christ in Revelation 1:5. The question then is who are “the seven spirits who are before his throne.” It is important to note the location of “the seven spirits” in this salutation. “The seven spirits” are sandwiched between God the Father and Jesus Christ. This is the first reason to understand “the seven spirits” to refer to the Holy Spirit. The second reason to understand “the seven spirits” as the Holy Spirit is because every salutation and blessing has a divine source. Salutations are not from created beings, but from the divine.

Why is the Holy Spirit called “the seven spirits” in Revelation? The most satisfying answer is to connect the reader to the similar description given in Zechariah 4:1-10. The book of Revelation is immediately using images from Old Testament prophecies to show that this book is interacting with those symbols. Revelation uses language that is found in previous prophecies so that the readers can connect the message of Revelation to the prophecy in the Old Testament. Zechariah 4 will be referred to in Revelation a couple times, and we will examine Zechariah 4 in more detail at that time. It is enough at this point to observe that the Spirit of God has the number seven tied to it in Zechariah 4:2; Zechariah 4:10. Seven has the symbolic meaning of perfection. Therefore, the salutation to the churches is from God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ.

Seeing Jesus (Revelation 1:5)

John proceeds to give a number of descriptions of Jesus. He is called the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings on earth. These three descriptions are found in Psalms 89. Psalms 89:37 describes the Messianic offspring of David as a faithful witness. In Psalms 89:27 the Messianic offspring of David is described as the firstborn and the highest of the kings of the earth. All three images reveal Jesus as the Davidic king who rules on the throne. As the faithful witness, Jesus rule will endure forever as the sun (Psalms 89:36-37). Jesus is the firstfruits of the resurrection. His resurrection proves his authority and proves he is ruling from his throne. Ruler of the kings of the earth shows Jesus’ absolute power over all rulers, kings, and kingdoms. Revelation refers to Psalms 89 to show the fulfillment of the promises made to David regarding the eternal kingdom. Jesus is on that throne. By quoting Psalms 89 the book of Revelation is setting up the conflict between the exalted Christ and the earthly rulers. Even more to the point, Jesus is still in charge and is still ruling even though there are other rulers who will cause the people of God to suffer.

The Work of Christ (Revelation 1:5-6)

The end of verse 5 and all of verse 6 is a statement of praise and glory to Jesus for what he has done. Jesus has loved us. Loving us is the reason that he died. Even during our difficult times and suffering, Jesus still loves us. He has freed us from our sins by his blood. These benefits are derived through his blood, that is, in his death on the cross. If Jesus is the king, which the previous verse asserted, then we are citizens in his kingdom. The readers are not citizens in the Roman Empire, not citizens in Judaism, but are citizens in the kingdom of Christ. Jesus has provided a new family relationship by which all believers have a priestly ministry to God. We are subjects in Christ’s kingdom with direct priestly access to God.

Coming With the Clouds (Revelation 1:7)

Revelation 1:7 comes from two places in the scriptures. Daniel 7:13-14 is the most likely reference that Revelation is alluded to.

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14 ESV)

The point in Daniel is the same point is the enthronement of Jesus as the king who has kingdom. All people are to serve Jesus. But we cannot miss that the imagery of coming in clouds is consistent used of judgment. Jesus is enthroned and will come in the clouds of judgment against his enemies. Notice the following passages that use this language.

Behold, he comes up like clouds; his chariots like the whirlwind; his horses are swifter than eagles— woe to us, for we are ruined! (Jeremiah 4:13 ESV)

For the day is near, the day of the LORD is near; it will be a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations. (Ezekiel 30:3 ESV)

A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness….(Zephaniah 1:15 ESV)

Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30 ESV)

Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64 ESV)

These usages show that the phrase “coming in the clouds” is not a sign of the end of the world, but a symbol of national judgment. Christ has authority implying that those against him are worthy of judgment.

The rest of Revelation 1:7 is alludes to Zechariah 12:10 to Zechariah 13:1. The meaning in Zechariah 12 is very important to understanding what the book of Revelation means. Notice that Zechariah 12:10 says that God is going to pour out a spirit of grace and mercy on the Jews. The Jews are mourning because they have pierced the Messiah. The picture is weeping for repentance because they have pierced the Messiah. God is going to pour out mercy and grace so that they can repent. Zechariah 13:1 clarifies that God is going to open a fountain to cleanse them from their sins and uncleanness. When we read the phrase, “those who pierced him,” we must understand that the scriptures is pointing to the Jewish nation. They will seek repentance and God will give that opportunity.

Turn to Matthew 24:30 and notice the image from Zechariah 12 is used here also. Notice in Matthew 24:1-3 that Jesus is discussing the coming judgment against the Jewish nation as seen in the destruction of Jerusalem. Matthew 24:29 reveals that judgment is coming. When the scriptures read, “The sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light,” it is a reference to the judgment of a nation. That nation will not longer see the sun, moon, and stars. It will be “lights out” for the nation. Matthew 24:30 sounds just like Zechariah 12:10 and Revelation 1:7. The Jews have pierced the Messiah and he is coming in the clouds (judgment) with power and great glory. Verse 31 reiterates the message of Zechariah 12:10-14. There will be an opportunity for repentance. Repent now before this judgment comes and you will avoid the coming doom. The elect will be gathered because they are the repentant.

Come back to Revelation 1:7. Notice that all the language is the same except for one small phrase. Revelation adds something that Zechariah 12 and Matthew 24 did not have. The added phrase is, “Every eye will see him.” Let’s put all the pieces together now so that we can understand what Revelation 1:7 is teaching. “He is coming in the clouds” refers to Christ on the throne ruling in authority and he is coming in judgment. “Every eye will see him” means that no one is excluded from this judgment. Everyone is being brought under Christ’s coming judgment. I think we would be right to say that judgment is coming against the Roman Empire as it rebels against the authority of Christ. The Romans are included in this judgment. “Even those who pierced him” refers to the Jewish nation both in Zechariah 12 and Matthew 24. So also here in Revelation. The whole world is coming under judgment. The Roman Empire will be judged. But not only will they be judged, but even the Jewish nation. They also will be judged. “And all the tribes of the earth will wail on account of him” is the final phrase. Remember that the mourning in Zechariah 12 was mourning for repentance. The purpose of these judgments is to bring about the repentance of the nations. Christ is seeking for the Jews and Gentiles to repent and become part of the kingdom of Christ.

The call to repentance is a key concept in the book of Revelation that must not be missed. The book of Revelation twice points out how the judgments did not bring about the repentance God desired.

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Revelation 9:20-21 ESV)

They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds. (Revelation 16:9-11 ESV)

These pictures set the table for what is coming in the book. Judgments have come with the intention to bring repentance. The repentance does not come as God desired. Therefore the nations must be fully judged for its rejection of Jesus as King of Kings.

The paragraph concludes with a description of the Lord God as the Alpha and Omega. Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet. Jesus is the first and the last, the beginning and the end, and everything in between. Jesus is ruling. Jesus is in control. He is the“I AM.” He is the Lord Almighty. Despite all that is going on in the world God maintains control and authority over all the earthly powers and forces. Jesus declares that he is the Almighty Lord of armies, the unchangeable God. He will accomplish all his will, fulfill all his word, and execute all his judgments.

Verses 9-11

Rev 1:9-11


Revelation 1:9-11

9 I John, your brother and partaker with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus,--This is the third time that John has named himself in this book. The words "your brother" mean that he belonged to the same divine family as those to whom he was to write---God’s house or family in the church. (1 Timothy 3:15.) By "partaker" he meant that he was sharing in common with them both the joys and sorrows incident to being a member of God’s family. Jesus had taught that persecutions and tribulations would come. (Matthew 13:21.) John’s banishment on Patmos was evidence that he was then enduring tribulation. The persecution that sent him there was no doubt felt by the churches in Asia, and the main reason for writing them was to encourage them to faithfulness in spite of their persecutions. And, incidentally, also to encourage the saints of all time to overcome trials. As he was then in tribulation, he was also in the kingdom. The words "tribulation" and "kingdom" are in the same grammatical relation. If in one, then in both. No doubt about his being in the tribulation; then none about being in the kingdom.

This again fixes the existence of the kingdom then as beyond question. It was the joy of being in the kingdom that made them endure the tribulation with patience. All these were "in Jesus"--were successful through the means he had provided to meet tribulation. The word kingdom in some passages means the final state or heaven. (Acts 14:22; Ephesians 5:5; 2 Timothy 4:18; 2 Peter 1:11.) But here John means the present kingdom, for in verse 6 he declared that Christ "made us to be a kingdom."

was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.--Patmos is a rocky island in the Aegean Sea not far from the west coast of Asia Minor. It is about ten miles long by five or six wide. The only explanation of his being on that island is that it was "for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus." The commonly accepted view is that he was there in exile because of his fidelity in preaching Christ. It is also supposed that he was banished to this lonely place by Domitian who reigned A.D. 81-96.

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet--"Was in the Spirit" means he came to be in the Spirit; was in a kind of spiritual ecstasy and exalted under the Spirit’s influence till he could understand the visions presented and accurately repeat them. The word translated "Lord’s" occurs only one other time in the New Testament-1 Corinthians 11:20 --where it describes the supper of the Lord. Evidently it refers to something about Jesus. As he arose on the first day of the week, and the Lord’s Supper is observed on that day (Acts 20:7), it is most natural to say John meant the first day of the week by the expression "Lord’s day." Several writers in the centuries following the apostolic day say it was the first day of the week. Evidently it was so well understood then that no explanation was needed. The voice he heard is called "a great voice, as of a trumpet." This means that it rang loud and clear like the sounding of a trumpet. Such a voice would command instant attention and impress the necessity of obedience to what it said.

11 saying, What thou seest, write in a book and send it unto the seven churches:--In these words John received his commission to record what he saw. The verb "seest" is present tense, which often means a continuous action. The meaning then would be what you see now and what will con-tinue to be revealed to you. This view is required by the nine-teenth verse; the things to be recorded are extended to the future. In the remainder of verse 11 the churches are named. Any necessary description will he given in the comments on the letters sent to them.

Commentary on Revelation 19-11 by Foy E. Wallace

III THE PREFATORY VISION (Revelation 1:9-18)

(1) The place of the vision.

The location of the vision was “in the isle that is called Patmos.” This island has been described as a small rocky and rugged region off the barren coast of Asia Minor, approximately twenty-five miles from the mainland in the Aegean sea--a gulf of the Great Sea (the Mediterranean), which formed the coastal provinces of Mysia, Lydia, Phrygia and Caria, and in which were situated all the seven churches of Asia, mentioned in the vision. Tradition claims that John was banished by the Roman government and exiled on Patmos. There is no conclusive scriptural evidence nor verified factual history to sustain this traditional claim, and it stands somewhat on the same basis as the Petrine tradition that the apostle Peter once resided in Rome. It is not said in the text, nor necessarily implied in the contents of Revelation, that John was a prisoner on Patmos. If John was a prisoner on Patmos, as Paul was a prisoner in Rome, it is singularly strange, if not unaccountable, that no mention was made of it, and no reference was made to it, by himself or in any other New Testament epistle.

(2) The purpose of the vision.

“For the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ"—Revelation 1:9.

The English preposition for in this passage is dia, which Professor Terry states that, by its established usage with the accusative, means for the sake of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. It gives the ground or the reason for John’s presence on Patmos: that the reason for being there was no other than to receive the revelation, that is, for the vision itself--for “the testimony of Jesus Christ” and “of all things that he saw,” and not because of banishment and exile. The coupling of the testimony with the vision in verse 2, supports the view that he was there to receive the things that he saw, and that these things were themselves the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, for which he was there.

A further evidence of this concept in John’s own statement, in chapter 10:11, of his intention to leave Patmos for an active itinerary among the people of many nations, to carry to them in personal evangelism the testimony of this apocalypse. If John had been prisoner in exile, no such liberty existed on which to base such an announcement, for he was imprisoned on Patmos, and his status would have been no different from Paul’s imprisonment in Rome.

Further comparisons in the context will support the purpose, not the consequence, of the determinative expression for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. It is worthy of notation here that the similar expressions “for the word of God” and “for the witness of Jesus,” in Revelation 6:9; Revelation 20:4, are in another context and carry another connotation, therefore do not warrant the same construction as in Revelation 1:2; Revelation 1:9. In one the testimony was being received; in the other it was being upheld.

(3) The companionship of suffering and citizenship.

1. “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation”-- Revelation 1:9.

The common ground of fellowship between John and the members of the Asian churches was not his apostleship. It was the brotherhood relation and the mutual participation in the sufferings existing and anticipated. He was speaking not of the incident of his presence on Patmos, or of imprisonment there, but rather to the threat of the gathering and darkening clouds of persecution, such as mentioned in the letters to Smyrna, Thyatira and Philadelphia; particularly as related to its then present and incipient stage; and as in Hebrews 10:31-39, the portent of the things to come.

2. “And in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ” -- Revelation 1:9.

The preposition in with the conjunction and--that is, the phrase in tribulation and the kingdom and the patience of Jesus Christ--joins the three together as existing and present. It follows that if John was not in the kingdom then, and if we are not in the kingdom now--then Johnwas not in Jesus Christ then, and we are not in Jesus Christ now. But the apostle, in Colossians 1:13-14, declares that all the Colossians who were delivered from darkness had thereby been translated into the kingdom when they received redemption in Christ.

3. “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day"-- Revelation 1:10.

The claim that John was in the spirit means that he was in visional rapture, not in the Holy Spirit, but in the state described of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:1-21, and of Peter in Acts 10:1-48. As though out of the body, John was in a state in which the external objects and material surroundings were as though they did not exist--he had for the time passed out of the physical world into the spiritual state. This was not the effect of any natural cause, but rather the result of the interposition of supernatural power.

The words visions and dreams are not synonymous, and their meanings are not identical, though sometimes they are used indiscriminately in the Scriptures, as in Genesis 46:2; Numbers 12:6; Job 20:8; and Daniel 2:28. In the vision, the subject may be awake, as in 2 Kings 6:17; Acts 23:11; Acts 27:23 --in a state of supernatural ecstasy. But in the dreams through which God revealed his purposes and his will, and in the divine purpose, to him was also imparted the powers of interpretation.

The examples of such dreams were numerous, as in Genesis 20:3-6; Genesis 28:12-14; 1 Samuel 28:6; Daniel 2:1-45; and Joel 2:28. This power to interpret was, of course, supernatural and, therefore, the dreams and visions belonged only to the supernatural prophetical and apostolic ages and ceased with them.

Since the complete revelation of God’s will for the redemption of man and the edification of his church has been delivered, and its inspired documents committed to the apostolic records of the New Testament, there can be no need or reason for their existence, and no confidence can be held in the claims and pretensions of individuals and cults presuming to employ them, and such presumption can only be labelled as false and impious.

The verse under consideration states that John was in the spirit on the Lord’s day. The preposition on is the same in the Greek as in, and the context must determine the distinction. The use of it here means in the midst of the Lord’s day. It is not a reference to the first day of the week, but to the day in which the Lord accomplished these events, as used in Isaiah 13:9 in which Isaiah described the destruction of ancient Babylon as the day of the Lord; and in Zechariah 14:1 where Zechariah referred to the destruction of Jerusalem as the day of the Lord. The phrase meant the day of events connected with the judgments of the Lord. 2 Timothy 1:18 referred to the day of God’s mercy, meaning the time in which his mercy is extended to men. In this sense the phrase in the Lord’s day is used in Revelation 1:10; it means in day of the rapture into which the Lord had placed John--that he had been transported into the midst of the scenes of the vision as though he was, himself, in the day of their happening.

(4) The voice of the Son of man.

1. “And heard behind me a great voice"-- Revelation 1:10.

This part of the scene was not occult, but auditory. John heard this voice, and it came from behind him, from a point where he was not looking. The great voice was “as a trumpet”--a signal, as if to announce the approach of a solemn epiphany, a divine presence.

2. “What thou seest, write in a book"-- Revelation 1:11.

The voice appointed John to be only the amanuensis of Jesus Christ--only the scribe of documents that were not his own; the mere chronicler of events of a supernatural apocalypse.

3. “And send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia"-- Revelation 1:11.

This oracular command of the Addresser in this scene specified the seven churches as the addressees, and named them. Again, here is the indication of the period and date of the visions. If the seven churches were figurative, as some authors claim, why this factual designation of the actual names and locations of figurative churches. The argument for the early date of Revelation, as previously shown, is in the historical fact that there were only the seven churches in these western Asian provinces before the destruction of Jerusalem, but after that event the churches became numerous by the diffusion of Christianity over the empire, the opportunity for which was greatly enhanced by the removal of Judaism, its greatest foe, from the path of the church. It has been more than once mentioned that such eminent scholars as Schaff, Terry and MacDonald (and others) verify the historical fact that after the Great Earthquake (before the destruction of Jerusalem) the churches at Colosse and Hierapolis did not again maintain a separate existence, but consolidated with the nearby Laodicean church. Concluding his remarks on this point in The Life And Writings Of John, page 154, MacDonald says:

“There appear to have been but seven churches in Asia . . . when the book was written. It is dedicated to these seven alone by the careful mention of them one by one by name, as if there were no others. . . . The expression ‘the seven churches’ seems to imply that this constituted the whole number, and hence affords one of the most striking incidental proofs in favor of an early date. . . . Those who contend for the later date, when there must have been a greater number of churches than seven in the region designated by the apostle fail to give any sufficient reason for his mentioning no more. That they mystically or symbolically represented others is surely not such a reason.”

Again, Doctor Tilloch, in his work entitled Dissertations, says “There were but seven churches in Asia when the Revelation was written.”

The historical evidences from these, and many others, cannot be spurned or waived aside with a theoretical assertion. It is weighty evidence that the visions of Revelation were composed before the destruction of Jerusalem. The history of these cities and churches supports John’s specific statement. It is a vital point in the divergence of view on the chronology of Revelation. It involves the claim that the church at Colossae is an example of another Asian church than the seven mentioned, but as previously proven by historical data, Colossae was destroyed by the earthquake in the reign of Nero, and was not thereafter identified by that name, but merged with the Laodiceans, as was true of other cities and churches in the region. In his own one volume work titled A Dictionary Of The Bible, Philip Schaff, commenting on Laodicea, makes the following statement: “When, in the middle of the first century of our era, an earthquake destroyed Colossae, Hierapolis and Laodicea, the latter was rebuilt by its own inhabitants without any aid from the Roman senate.” The casual reader cannot fail to observe the significance of the statement that “the latter (Laodicea) was rebuilt,” which, mentioned in direct connection with Colossae and Hierapolis, can only mean that these two were not rebuilt. Laodicea was rebuilt, but Colosse and Hierapolis were not. This accounts for the disbanding of the two churches as separate congregations, and refutes the claim that there were more than the seven churches in the period when the Apocalypse was composed. If the facts of history mean anything at all, there is firm proof here for the pre-Destruction of Jerusalem date for John’s Patmos apocalypse.

Commentary on Revelation 1:9-11 by Walter Scott


9. "I John, your brother and partaker with you in the tribulation, and kingdom, and patience in Jesus." Daniel, more than any other of the Hebrew prophets, deals with subjects which come within the range of the visions beheld by John. There are numerous points of similarity between the two. Thus both the Prophet and the Seer unfold the character of the last holder of the civil imperial power of Rome; both disclose the last phase of the revived empire, as also its awful end (compare Daniel 7:1-28 with Revelation 17:1-18).

"I John" reminds us of "I Daniel" (Daniel 7:15, etc.). The former is not a borrowed style of announcement from the latter, but is an independent statement of quiet yet conscious dignity, befitting the character of the visions about to be disclosed.

John next intimates a common fellowship in life and suffering with God’s sorely afflicted people. The Neronian and Domitian periods of martyrdom were, perhaps, the most bitter of any of the pagan persecutions, which, with an occasional lull, lasted about 250 years. According to some, John was a sufferer under Nero; others would rank him in the noble army of martyrs under Domitian. It is unimportant which tradition is true. *The date generally assigned to "The Revelation" is as in our English Bible, A.D. 96, during the reign of Domitian. Some, however, assign a much earlier date. It has been put in the time of Claudius, A.D. 41-54, and by others in the reign of Nero, A.D. 54-68. The earlier date is extremely improbable. It should be noted that neither as an apostle nor as an elder does John here speak, but as a "brother and partaker" (or companion) with the saints in "the tribulation, and kingdom, and patience in Jesus."

"The tribulation" points to a definite character of trial, and not merely to the ordinary difficulties of Christian life. There are three great periods of determinate suffering: (1) Under pagan Rome; (2) under papal Rome during the Dark or Middle Ages; (3) under the joint persecution of the future civil and ecclesiastical powers (Revelation 6:13).

The "kingdom" is next introduced as that in which John had a common participation with those to whom he writes. There are four distinct phases in which the kingdom is presented in the Scriptures: (1) In responsibility as presented to the Jews, the king being rejected (Matthew 1:1-25; Matthew 2:1-23; Matthew 3:1-17; Matthew 4:1-25; Matthew 5:1-48; Matthew 6:1-34; Matthew 7:1-29; Matthew 8:1-34; Matthew 9:1-38; Matthew 10:1-42; Matthew 11:1-30; Matthew 12:1-50); (2) In mystery among the Gentiles as developed in Matthew 13:1-58; (3) in tribulation as detailed in the central part of the Apocalypse; and (4) in power at the Coming of the Lord in glory (Matthew 25:31), the great and grand subject of the prophets of old.

"Patience," or endurance, follows, for evil yet reigns unchecked in the world and in the Church. The petition, "Thy kingdom come," daily arising from the hearts and lips of thousands, is yet unanswered. Tribulation is the appointed path to the kingdom. The life of some is one of almost uninterrupted suffering, of others one of active service, while for the greater number it is one of weary routine of daily duty. Thus the need of patience by all in the hourly doing of God’s will. The dreariness and solitude of Patmos called for "much patience," an essential characteristic of every true minister of God (2 Corinthians 6:4). Press on, wearied saint, till morning breaks, when God shall openly and publicly appear on the behalf of all who, in the meantime, in weakness cling by faith to His blessed Name.

But not only have we fellowship with the aged and honoured apostle in those three things, namely, "the tribulation," the "kingdom," and "patience," *"The three words, tribulation,’ and kingdom,’ and patience,’ are intimately connected, being brought together under one head by one article in the Greek." J. N. D. but the Lord has His part in them, and a distinguished one too. These things are "in Jesus." The introduction of the Name of sweetest import to the ear and heart of believers is brimful of comfort and solace to suffering saints.


9. "Was in the island that is called Patmos, for the Word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus. " The place of John’s banishment was almost unknown even by name; hence we are informed that it was an "island," and called "Patmos." This exceedingly dreary and inhospitable isle in the Aegean sea, lying off the south coast of Asia Minor, is about fifteen miles in circumference. In the Middle Ages it was known as Palmoso, now known as Patino. Its present population is about 4000, all Greek Christians. The ignorant and lazy monks possess a valuable library which they are unable to use. Says Tischendorf, that indefatigable Bible scholar: "Silent lay the little island before me in the morning twilight. Here and there an olive breaks the monotony of the rocky waste. The sea was still as the grave. Patmos reposed in it like a dead saint. John — that is the thought of the island. The island belongs to him; it is his sanctuary. The stones speak of him, and in every heart he lives." How fitting the geographical position! John in Patmos was, as it were, in the very centre of the prophetic situation. Jerusalem lay south, Rome lay behind the Seer to the west, Babylon to the east, and the land of Magog (Russia) to the north, while on the coast in front of him lay the seven Asiatic assemblies, whose history he was about to relate.

Moral superiority in his circumstances is expressed in the simple statement: "I was in the isle called Patmos." Not a word of reproach nor of complaint. The arrest, trial, and proceedings before the savage emperor Domitian are passed over in absolute silence as deemed unworthy of notice.

Tradition, not a safe instructor, has supplied us with interesting accounts of a legendary character, more numerous and truth-like than those related of the distinguished apostles, Peter and Paul. *"Gloag, in his Introduction to the Johannine Writings’ (Nisbet & Co.) discusses these legendary accounts in a calm and reverent spirit. There may be a basis of truth in some of them, but certainty there is not."

God made the wrath of the haughty emperor to praise Him. The circumstances were just what was needed to introduce John into the visions of God, one of which pictured the downfall of Rome’s imperial greatness, its future revival, and final doom (Revelation 17:8; Revelation 19:20), while she was still in the zenith of her glory the unchallenged mistress of the world.

The same power which gave its legal sanction to the crucifixion of our Lord branded "the disciple whom Jesus loved" as a criminal. Here, however, the real cause of offence is stated in precise terms to be "the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus." These will ever incur the world’s hostility.

John, although destitute of human learning (Acts 4:13), and speaking in the rude vernacular of Galilee, fearlessly and faithfully preached and taught in public and private the Word of God. The apostles had not learned the art a highly finished one in these days, of trimming the truth to suit the varied tastes of people. In proportion as the Word of God is made known in its fulness and integrity, and the claims of God are pressed upon the conscience, the enmity of the world is roused into action,

9. "The testimony of Jesus" is here especially regarded in its prophetic aspect. The birth of the King of the Jews awakened the cruel jealousy of Herod, and stirred Jerusalem to its centre (Matthew 2:1-23). The testimony to the royal rights of Jesus was a crime which neither the laws of Rome nor imperial greatness could brook, so Rome crucified Peter, beheaded Paul, and banished John.

Revelation 1:10

Revelation 1:10. "I became in (the) Spirit on the Lord’s day." All Christians are "in Christ," in contrast with their former state "in Adam," and are "in the Spirit" in contrast with their previous condition "in the flesh." No Christian can ever be found again in either "Adam" or "flesh," both describing a past condition. In the former is signified that you are of that race of which "Adam" is head; in the latter is intimated the morally fallen condition in which the race is found. But being in the Spirit (Romans 8:1-39), as every Christian undoubtedly is, does not convey the force of "I became in (the) Spirit." The meaning is, that John was held, controlled, and characterized by an absolute subservience to the Spirit. Taken out from the consciousness of everyday life and circumstances, he found himself in another state of being. From the absence of the article before "Spirit," it must not be inferred that the Holy Spirit is not meant. It is not the Holy Spirit as a Person, nor our own spirit that is referred to, but the omission of the article marks the phrase as indicating a characteristic state, a state characterized by the Holy Ghost, and one in which the human spirit and the whole inner being were for the time absorbed (compare Ezekiel 11:24 with 2 Corinthians 12:2-3). Paul in his ecstatic state was not allowed then, nor afterwards, to record what he saw and heard. John, on the contrary, was commanded to do both.

The same form of words is found in the introduction to the subsequent visions recorded in Revelation 4:1-11; Revelation 5:1-14, etc. The scene of the spiritual state of ecstasy of Revelation 1:1-20 is on earth, whereas that of chapter 4 is in Heaven.

The whole contents of the book of Revelation were communicated in vision on the most interesting day of the week, "the Lord’s day." The eight visions detailed in Zechariah were seen in one night (Zechariah 1:8). The visions of Daniel were also beheld in the night (Daniel 7:1-28).


10. "The Lord’s day" occurs but once in the Holy Scriptures, afterwards it became the common appellation of the Christian’s special day of rest and worship. That the first day of the week is meant seems evident from the following considerations: First, the difference of the expression used in the original from that employed to set forth the prophetic "day of the Lord," for which see 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:2. Second, the character of the first vision (vv. 12-20), which is of present application. Christ glorified in the midst of the churches could have neither place nor meaning in the period of coming judgment, spoken of in both Testaments as the "day of the Lord," and which is dependent upon the setting aside of the Church as a public witness for God on earth. These, and other considerations, forbid the application of the disputed term to the "day of the Lord," yet future.

Two great facts stamp their character on the first day of the week, the resurrection of the Lord from the dead (John 20:1-31) and the founding of the Church at Pentecost (Leviticus 23:16, with Acts 2:1-47). Thus, "the Lord’s day" is no ordinary day, nor is "the Lord’s supper" an ordinary meal. Both the "day" and the "supper" are distinctively His. The sacred character of the "day" and of the "supper" should be maintained in their fullest integrity. The rude hand of the spoiler would rob us of these precious heirlooms which significantly speak to the Church of His resurrection and of His death.

10. "I heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet." The position of the Seer is significant. His back is to the Church and his face toward the kingdom. Ecclesiastical ruin foretold by Paul (Acts 20:28-32; Romans 11:1-36; 2 Timothy 3:1-17) had already set in. The polemical element in the writings of John was chiefly directed against Cerinthus (contemporary with the apostle) and others, who had commenced a vigorous and satanic crusade against Christianity. Certain Gnostic heresies, the principles of which were denounced by Paul in his Corinthian and Colossian epistles, were more fully developed in John’s day, and in the second century had their distinctive schools, all in open and flagrant opposition to the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Added to these Church dangers was the persecuting power of the world. Little wonder, therefore, that the gaze of the aged and honoured prisoner was directed onward to the glory and strength of the kingdom, when right would be vindicated and wrong punished. But the Lord was not done with the Church, if John in spirit had turned his back upon it. He was to hear and see, and so must turn round and get occupied with that which was present to the Lord.

The "great voice as of a trumpet" would intimate that a matter of public importance had to be communicated, one in which the whole Church was interested. Moreover, the vision which John was called to witness behind him is introductory to the whole series subsequently revealed, thus fixing the commencement of these revelations. How fitting that the first vision presented to the rapt gaze of the Seer should be Christ in manhood, yet in power and majesty in the midst of the churches.

Revelation 1:11


Revelation 1:11. The divine titles, "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last," should be rejected as forming no part of what John wrote. The first title was probably inserted from verse 8, and the second from verse 17;*Archdeacon Lee remarks: "The English version of the Apocalypse represents a Greek text which does not rest upon the same authority as that of the other books of the New Testament" ("Speaker’s Commentary"). All competent Bible critics concur in this testimony. It is based on the Greek text (fifth edition) published by Erasmus, the most distinguished scholar of the 16th century. But Erasmus had only one Greek MS., found by Delitzsch in a German library in 1861 before him, and that so defective and mutilated that he actually supplied the last six verses wanting in his copy from the Vulgate. Besides which, it was too hurriedly done. There are fewer uncial MSS., that is, the oldest Greek copies, than of any other of the books of the New Testament. But the text has in recent years been recovered to almost the state of purity in which it was originally written, so that God’s mind in the Apocalypse is a matter of absolute certainty. besides which, the speaker is not revealed, nor His titles declared till John turns round. "I turned to see the voice that spake with me."

11. "What thou seest write in a book, and send to the seven assemblies to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea." There were other assemblies of importance in proconsular Asia besides the seven specified. But the Spirit of God had a moral end in view in the choice of those particular churches, hence the definite article, "the seven assemblies." The order, too, in which they are named is worthy of notice. Hengstenberg in his commentary remarks, "Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamos must stand together, and be separated from the rest. For these three cities, and these alone, contended for the primacy in Asia." In the separate addresses to the churches (Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22) there is a marked division into three and four. Thus the call, "He that hath an ear," seven times repeated, occurs in the addresses to the first three churches before the word to the overcomer (Revelation 2:7; Revelation 2:11; Revelation 2:17); whereas in the last four the call to "hear" comes after the promise to the overcomer (Revelation 2:29; Revelation 3:6; Revelation 3:13; Revelation 3:22). The assemblies are separately named. The independence of each is thus fully assured, and the responsibility of each to Christ is as distinctly taught. The vital unity of the Church as "one body," and the mutual dependence of its members, are truths exclusively taught by Paul. In the first three chapters of the Apocalypse the Church is, on the other hand, viewed in her public position on earth as God’s light-bearer and witness. "The seven assemblies," without doubt, exhibited certain distinctly marked characteristics which separately stamp their character on the Church universal in successive stages of her history, while these same features collectively distinguish the Church throughout the earth at any given time, then and now.

Two of them, Smyrna and Philadelphia, are commended without a word of reproof. Suffering characterised the former, weakness the latter. Mingled praise and blame are meted out to Ephesus, Pergamos, Thyatira, and Sardis. Laodicea is the worst of "the seven." Her state is hopeless, all is blame without one word of commendation. In Thyatira a remnant is for the first time recognised.

(1) Ephesus,

the renowned capital of the Asia of the Apocalypse, the "Light of Asia," was the main seat and centre of heathen idolatry. It was the stronghold of Satan’s power, and from it idolatry spread all over the known world (Acts 19:1-41). The small silver shrines representing the goddess Diana were eagerly bought by strangers, and set up as household deities in their distant homes; while the huge temple of the goddess, adorned and beautified by the wealth of Asia, was counted one of the seven wonders of the world. Ephesus became the scene of a fierce conflict between the powers of light and darkness. The devoted Aquila and Priscilla laboured for some time in this idolatrous city; previously twelve of John’s disciples had helped in a small degree to break in upon the darkness, but their efforts must have been feeble owing to their own imperfect state (Acts 19:1-41); then the eloquent Apollos gave a further impetus to the work. Paul it was, however, who seems to have broken the power of darkness and roused to fury the devotees of idolatry and superstition, as they saw the whole system, like Dagon of old, trembling before the soul-emancipating truths of Christianity; lastly, the beloved John, after leaving his Jerusalem home, took up his residence in Ephesus, and for fully thirty years made it the centre of his work for Christ. The glory of Ephesus has departed, and the once proud heathen city is now but a miserable village known as Ayasalook.

(2) Smyrna

lay about 40 miles north of Ephesus, and is now one of the most important cities of the Turkish empire; its estimated population is about 200,000. It was anciently, in some respects, the rival of Ephesus. Its natural and commercial situation, its wealth and commerce, and the splendour of its buildings caused it to be termed "the beautiful." It was not much, if at all, behind Ephesus in idolatry. Smyrna is not named in the Acts, nor in the Pauline epistles, and we have no means of ascertaining conclusively how or when the Gospel was introduced there. The stringent imperial laws against Christianity were rigorously enforced in Smyrna, chiefly through the Jews and heathen combined, who pressed the unwilling hands of the local authorities to carry into execution the persecuting edicts. Polycarp, the friend of John, was, it is said, slain here in his ninetieth year, A.D. 168, the last disciple who had personally conversed with the apostle. The fierce persecution which raged in Asia Minor had its centre in Smyrna, and is no doubt referred to in the extended address to that assembly (Revelation 2:8-11).

(3) Pergamos

lay still further north. This city had little or no commerce, but was remarkable for its learning, refinement, and science, especially medicine. A long succession of kings made Pergamos, or Pergamum, as the Greeks termed it, their royal residence. Its celebrated library, only second to that in Alexandria, with which it was ultimately incorporated, consisted of 200,000 books. It was here that the art of preparing skins of animals for writing upon was perfected, and from which our word parchment is derived. Thus the name of this scripturally ill-omened city (Revelation 2:12-17) has been handed down through the Christian ages, and no doubt many a literary pergamena MS. of value had been prepared in Pergamos. The worship of Artemis characterises Ephesus. Dionysos was the distinguishing deity of Smyrna. These two cities were evil, but Pergamos was pre-eminently so in its idolatry. The epithets, "Satan’s throne" and "where Satan dwelleth" (Revelation 2:13), must have had, in the first instance, a local application to Pergamos. The most conspicuous object in the celebrated temple of sculapius was the wreathed serpent, behind which was "Satan, that old serpent." The noble science of medicine was thus early identified with the worship of Satan, who usurped the place, functions, and titles of Christ. The names of "Preserver" and "Saviour" were applied to sculapius, and the cures wrought were ascribed to this chosen deity. It was, in short, substituting Satan for Christ.

(4) Thyatira

lay south-east from Pergamos. "The road from Thyatira to Pergamos is one of the most beautiful in the world." The three cities previously named were much more noted than Thyatira, which, however, has an interest of its own. Indirectly, it connects itself with Paul’s missionary labours in Europe. His first convert was a woman of Thyatira, engaged in selling the celebrated purple for which her city was famous (Acts 16:14). Inscriptions, yet extant, show that the guild of dyers formed the most important trade of the city, and to this day the brilliant scarlet cloth dyed here is largely used throughout Asia and Europe, a weekly supply being sent to Smyrna. Thyatira is at present a flourishing town with a population of nearly 20,000.

(5) Sardis

lay about 27 miles due south from Thyatira. Sardis was anciently a proud and wealthy city, and the capital of the kingdom of Lydia. This once royal city, spite of the valour of its inhabitants, fell before the conquering hero, Cyrus. With the fall of the city the Lydian monarchy came to an end. The present name of the former capital is Sart. What a commentary on human greatness is furnished in the now degraded city of the wealthy, wise, and able Croesus. "Two or three shepherds inhabited a hut, and a Turk with two servants, at the time of Mr. Arundel’s visit in 1826. In 1850 no human being was found dwelling in the once mighty and populous Sardis."*"Imperial Bible Dictionary," article, "Sardis."

(6) Philadelphia

is derived from its founder, Attalus Philadelphus, king of Pergamos, and it is situated about 25 miles south of Sardis. Its modern name, Allah Shehr, "city of God," is significant, although the Turks do not regard the city with any degree of veneration. The present town is large, and contains about 15,000 inhabitants, of whom a fair proportion are Greek Christians. The remains of early Christian times are more numerous here than in any of the other Asiatic cities named by John; the ruins of no less than twenty-five churches are pointed out, while several marble pillars, almost entire, remind us of the apocalyptic reference (Revelation 3:12), probably to these very pillars. Its freedom from blame in the message to its angel (Revelation 3:7-13) is worthy of note in connection with the fact that it had the longest duration of any of the seven cities named. Says the sceptic Gibbon: "Among the Greek colonies and churches of Asia, Philadelphia is still erect; a column in a scene of ruins, a pleasing example that the paths of honour and safety may sometimes be the same."

(7) Laodicea

was situated about 40 miles east of Ephesus, and derived its name from Laodice, wife of Antiochus II., the Syrian monarch. It was an exceedingly wealthy city, so much so, that although overthrown by an earthquake in the reign of Nero, A.D. 62, it quickly recovered from the blow, and from its own resources soon assumed its pristine glory, and at the date of the Apocalypse was a magnificent city. The assembly was infected with the "gold fever," being "rich and increased with goods" (Revelation 3:17). Pride, luxuriousness, and self-satisfaction characterised the general life of the population, and evidently stamped their character on the Church as well. The pride of Laodicea has been humbled, its wealth scattered amongst strangers, and its splendour laid in the dust. The site of the once opulent city is a scene of utter ruin and desolation.*Paul’s references to the Church in Laodicea (Colossians 2:1; Colossians 4:13-16) afford a fine example of Christian love and interest to saints personally unknown. "Likewise read the epistle from Laodicea" (Revelation 1:16) probably refers to the epistle to the Ephesians, then going the round of the assemblies. From the fact that there are no salutations to individuals, and from the character of the epistle generally, we consider it extremely probable that the epistle to the Ephesians was a circular letter, then at Laodicea. It is certain that the epistle to the Colossians was intended by the apostle to be read to the Laodicean assembly. What more fitting than the truths contained in these epistles to rescue the saints in Laodicea from the grave perils which beset them! The cross in the Roman and Galatian epistles was the emancipating truth of the sixteenth century. The heavenly glory of Christ in the Ephesian and Colossian epistles is the grand and delivering truth of the twentieth century.


A special, but by no means exclusive, application of the first three chapters to the Asiatic assemblies named must be admitted. Thus, John greets "the seven assemblies which are in Asia" (Revelation 1:4); he has them equally in view in Revelation 1:11; while to each of "the seven" a special epistle is addressed (Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22). But while a primary application to the seven Asiatic assemblies is undoubted, it is equally clear that they were representatives of the whole Church, not only at any given moment, but also in the successive moral stages of her history. After the third chapter we meet with no allusion to these Asiatic assemblies. "He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches," seven times repeated, intimates a direct application of these addresses to the individual hearer, also to every company of professed believers on the earth at any given time. The present day application is of immense value and profit.

Questions have been raised as to John’s ability, as a prisoner, to write and communicate with the assemblies. We hold that the Apocalypse as a whole was written in Patmos, and, further, that the seven assemblies had each their respective epistles sent to them from thence. We see no reason for the supposition put forth by some that the visions were seen in Patmos, and afterwards written in Ephesus on the Seer’s release from banishment under Nerva. The supernatural characterises a large portion of the book, and hence difficulties disappear like melting flakes of snow.

Commentary on Revelation 1:9-11 by E.M. Zerr

Revelation 1:9. John says he is in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. It is impossible to be in something that does not exist, hence the kingdom of Christ was in existence in John’s day; that disproves the heresy of pre-millennialists. Patmos. A number of reference works give a description of this place which agrees in substance. I shall quote from the Rand-McNally Bible Atlas as follows: "Patmos, to which the apostle John was banished. This lies 20 miles south of the island of Samos, 24 miles west of Asia Minor, and about 70 miles southwest of Ephesus. It is about 20 miles in circumference, and is rocky and barren. Its loneliness and seclusion made it a suitable place for the banishment of criminals; and to it the apostle John was banished by the emperor Domitian, near the close of the first Christian century." John says he was in this isle for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. The word for is from DIA, which the Englishman’s Greek New Testament translates "because of." In other words, John was banished to this lonely spot as a punishment by the Roman emperor, because of his preaching the word of God.

Revelation 1:10. In the Spirit means he was in a spiritual rapture in which he could hear and see things that could not ordinarily be heard and seen. Lord’s (lay. The New testament religion has no holy days as did that of the Old. However, the Lord arose from the dead on the first (lay of the week (Mark 16:9), the church was started on the first (lay of the week (Leviticus 23:16; Acts 2), the disciples met on the first day of the week to break bread (Acts 20:7), and the congregational collection of money was made on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). These facts would give the first day of the week some distinction that is said of no other day. The conclusion is clear that the same day is what is meant by the Lord’s day in our verse. As of a trumpet. The comparison is made because that kind of instrument had a vibratory sound that was intense in quality and far-reaching in volume. John does not mean he thought he heard a trumpet, for verse 12 says lie turned to "see the voice." But the voice was so impressive that John likened it to a. trumpet. Heard behind me is significant. By coming up behind John he could hear the voice before seeing the tremendous display of spiritual imagery accompanying it.

Revelation 1:11. Before turning round the voice delivered the names of the churches to which he said in verse 4 he was writing. The remarks were repeated that are at the beginning of verse 8. What thou seest, write. This did not mean only what his eyes would behold, but also what he would hear, for later he is told what to put in the letters to the seven churches.

Commentary on Revelation 1:9-11 by Burton Coffman

Revelation 1:9


I John, your brother and partaker with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

I John ... See introduction for comment on the authorship of Revelation. Although an apostle, and possibly the last surviving apostle, he here identified himself with his readers as their brother and a fellow-member of Christ’s kingdom. All of the sacred writers hesitated to flaunt their authority; and even Paul, who, in a sense, was compelled to do so by circumstances, proclaimed himself the chief of sinners and the least of saints.

Partaker with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patience ... "These are a present experience and possession"[24] of John and his readers. As Lenski put it: "We (Christians) are the kingdom, in it, partakers of it, lifted to royalty in it!"[25] All theories that deny the present existence of the kingdom of Christ are contrary to the New Testament.

Which are in Jesus ... It is surprising that Moffatt would perceive this as primarily "A Pauline concept."[26] While true enough that Paul did stress this conception, it surely antedates him. All of the New Testament authors wrote of it, and it goes right back to Christ himself who gave the analogy of the true vine in John 15. This corporate conception of Christ’s kingdom as being composed of those who have been baptized into Christ dominates the New Testament. The kingdom itself, as stated in this verse is "in Jesus." Those who are "in Jesus" are the kingdom. The New Testament knows nothing of some far-off time when the kingdom will come. It is a present reality. The thousand years’ reign with Christ is going on right now, and has been going on, since the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ is reigning and will continue to reign until all enemies are vanquished. His holy apostles are reigning with him (Matthew 19:28). This reign is identified in Matthew as occurring during the times of "the regeneration," that is, the times of the new birth, meaning that it is going on right now. As for the saints reigning with Christ, John includes his readers in this very passage as being fellow-partakers with himself in the kingdom of Christ. The trouble with many is that they have lost a sense of exaltation through being ’tin Christ" and have started longing for something different from the glorious salvation already available "in Christ," that is, in Christ’s precious kingdom.

Was in the isle that is called Patmos ... This is a small island, only about half the size of Manhattan Island, ten miles long, with a maximum width of six miles, and with an area of only 13 square miles. "It is an island of the Dodecanese group, Greece, in the Aegean sea about 28 miles south-southwest of Samos (37 degrees 20 minutes north latitude and 26 degrees 35 minutes east longitude). It is volcanic, bare and rocky, rising to an altitude of 800 feet with a deeply indented coast."[27] The 1951 population of Patmos is given as 2,613; but in John’s day it is said to have been principally a rock quarry and used as a place of banishment for certain types of offenders.

Regarding the tradition that the apostle John was banished to Patmos, living in exile there when he received the Revelation, both the event of his banishment and the date of it are uncertain. The usual tradition that he was banished to Patmos by Domitian (circa 95 A.D.) and released 18 months later by Nerva[28] is incapable of any dogmatic proof. Even if accepted, the question of the date would still be in doubt.

The complicating factor is that Domitian was the de facto emperor for a year or so in 69-70, following his father Vespasian’s elevation as Emperor, July 69 A.D. He was hailed by the army in Rome as Caesar and continued to administer the affairs of Italy until his father’s return.[29] Vespasian was not pleased by the high-handed behavior of his son. Josephus stated that he was ruler until his father returned.[30] He moved into the royal residence, signed all edicts and proclamations in his own name, being in every sense, during that period, Emperor. Vespasian returned to Rome, however, in the latter part of 70, and promptly appointed Nerva as one of his chief administrators, who moved at once to quash some of the measures taken by Domitian. Thus we have the strange fact that Nerva, in a sense, succeeded Domitian in authority both in 70 A.D. and in 96 A.D. For this reason, the tradition that John was banished by Domitian and released by Nerva does not even touch the problem of WHEN such events occurred. The events might have taken place either in 70-71 or in 95-96! Robinson preferred the early date, writing: "So, he was banished by Domitian and restored by Nerva, as the tradition says, but in 70-71 A.D.!"[31]

Regarding the theory of John’s having been banished to Patmos, the New Testament gives no hint of any such thing, but the mention of tribulation in the same verse certainly seems not opposed to the tradition. If indeed John was an exile, it would be in keeping with the experience of some of God’s other great prophets. When Jacob saw God at Bethel, when Moses saw God in the burning bush, when Elijah heard the still small voice, when Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord by the river Chebar, and when Daniel saw the ancient of days in Babylon, all of them were exiles. Wallace, however, was of the opinion that John was not an exile, but that, "His reason for being in Patmos was no other than to receive the Revelation."[32] Certainty in the matter is impossible.

For the word of God and the testimony of Jesus ... The language here could mean either (1) that John was in Patmos to preach the gospel or for the express purpose of receiving the Revelation or (2) that he had been banished to Patmos as punishment for his loyalty in proclaiming the word of the Lord. There is no way to tell exactly which understanding of the words is correct.

[24] G. R. Beasley-Murray, op. cit., p. 1282.

[25] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 55.

[26] James Moffatt, op. cit., p. 341.

[27] Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago: William Benton, Publisher, 1961), Vol. 17, p. 383.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid., Vol 7, p. 521.

[30] Flavius Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book IV, Chapter 11,4.

[31] John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976), p. 250.

[32] Foy E. Wallace, Jr., op. cit., p. 74.

Revelation 1:10

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.

In the Spirit ... Not much is known of this state of being "in the Spirit"; but, evidently, all of the Scripture writers were in such a state when they received their divine revelation. Jesus said of David, "How then doth David in the Spirit call him Lord?" (Matthew 22:43). Many speculations about this have yielded little or no valuable information.

On the Lord’s day ... This expression is found only here in the New Testament, "and beyond all reasonable doubt it means on Sunday."[33] "There is every reason to believe the church used the word in protest against Caesar-worship."[34] Some have thought this means the day of judgment, indicating that John was transported by the vision to the time of the final judgment; but the judgment is invariably "the day of the Lord" in the New Testament. Here, "Lord’s day" is a similar construction to "Lord’s supper" (1 Corinthians 11:20). "It means `belonging to the Lord’, or `consecrated to the Lord’."[35] The Greek construction rules out the interpretation that would make this mean the judgment.[36] According to Deissmann, from A.D. 30 and continuing until 98-117, one day of every month was called "Augustus Day" ([@hemera] [@Sebaste]); and it certainly could have been that the Christians started referring to the first day of the week as "the Lord’s day" in opposition to the current idolatry directed toward Roman emperors. It is preposterous to suppose that "the Lord’s day" is a reference to the Jewish sabbath. Saturday was a day of the week upon which Jesus spent the entire twenty-four hours of it in the tomb! On the other hand, Sunday was the day Jesus rose from the dead, the very same day the apostles met him in the upper room, and a week later on another Sunday the Lord appeared to his assembled apostles again. Sunday was the day the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost; it was the day the disciples came together to break bread (Acts 20:7); it was the day the collection was taken up (1 Corinthians 16:2); and, added to all of this, the invariable Christian tradition of more than nineteen centuries makes Sunday the day of Christian assemblies, a custom still observed all over the world. "The Lord’s day" is thus an exceedingly appropriate title for the day.

A great voice, as of a trumpet ... "This voice was presumably that of the Son of man."[37] Dake counted over sixty usages of the word "great" in the Book of Revelation.[38] Bruce, however, did not believe the great trumpet-like voice mentioned here was that of the Lord, basing his opinion on the fact that the Lord’s voice is said to be like the sound of many waters (Revelation 1:15).[39] He viewed it as a herald-like prelude to the appearance of the Great Conqueror. This would appear to be the better interpretation.

[33] T. Randell, op. cit., p. 5.

[34] Finis Jennings Dake, Revelation Expounded (Lawrenceville, Georgia: Dake, 1950), p. 32.

[35] Ralph Earle, op. cit., p. 479.

[36] Ibid.

[37] G. R. Beasley-Murray, op. cit., p. 1282.

[38] Finis Jennings Dake, op. cit., p. 33.

[39] F. F. Bruce, A New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 535.

Revelation 1:11

Saying, What thou seest, write in a book and send it to the seven churches: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamum, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

We shall give particular attention to each of these churches in connection with the letter addressed to each. "It is difficult not to feel that SEVEN CHURCHES are chosen because of the sacred nature of that number."[40] Full agreement with this view is felt, as noted under Revelation 1:4, above. There is, furthermore, a sense in which the seven here selected represent a diversity of conditions prevailing in congregations throughout history. We do not believe that these seven churches stand for seven successive periods of the history of the church throughout the current dispensation; but that, in any given age, there may be congregations exhibiting the same characteristics as those found in any one, or all of the seven churches mentioned here. This very day, there are "Philadelphia churches," and "Laodicean churches," and even "Sardis churches." All seven churches lay relatively close to each other in western Asia Minor; and they have the same sequence in Revelation that would normally be followed by a person visiting all seven.


[40] G. R. Beasley-Murray, op. cit., p. 1282.

Commentary on Revelation 1:9-11 by Manly Luscombe

9 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. Brother - As a member of the church, we are in the family of God. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are family. We share a common faith, love and hope. Companion in tribulation - John understands their hardship and persecution. He, too, is suffering persecution. He has been sent to a prison island called Patmos. In the kingdom - The church is the kingdom of God. (Matthew 16:18-19) This verse is one of three in the New Testament that speaks of the kingdom in the present tense. The kingdom was already in existence in the first century. (Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 12:28). Patience - Here is the heart of the message of this book. God is aware of the suffering of His people. He will deal with this evil, in His time. We must be patient to wait for God. Patmos - This small island in the Aegean Sea was used to exile prisoners. There were no other islands near by. The only escape was to be taken by boat. Most of the prisoners lived here in caves, grew small gardens and struggled to survive. For the word of God - The reason John is here is not because he committed a felony or was guilty of some terrible crime against humanity. He is here because he preached the word of God. For the testimony of Jesus Christ - The Roman government saw the rapid spread of Christianity as a real threat. It had to be stopped.

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet. In the Spirit - John was in tune with the Spirit of God. The message was being delivered but John had to be aware of its message, importance and willing to record the vision. Some believe John was in a trance like Peter was in Acts 10:10-11. Others think John was in a spiritual frame of mind on this Lord’s Day. Lord’s Day - Sunday, the first day of the week, was called the Lord’s Day by many in the first and second centuries. Many of the church fathers used this term to tell when the church would worship together and partake of communion. Remember - It was on Sunday (Lord’s Day) that Jesus was raised from the dead. He appeared to the men on the road to Emmaus. He met with 10 apostles on a Sunday. He met with 11 apostles, including Thomas, the following Sunday. The day of Pentecost, when the church began, was on a Sunday. The early church assembled to partake of communion on Sunday. The church was to give as part of their assembly each Sunday. Great voice, trumpet - Here, the drama starts. John does not just hear a voice. He hears a great voice. Then he describes that voice. It was like a trumpet in his ear.

11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” Write what you see - John is instructed to record the events as they are revealed to him. Send it to the seven churches - This was not to be a private journal for John to keep. It was to be copied, read, studied, distributed, and obeyed. List of the seven churches - We will introduce each church as we come to them in chapters 2 and 3. The order of the churches listed here follows the location of the churches in a circular motion.

Sermon on Revelation 1:9-11
Brent Kercheville

As we approach Revelation 1:9, John is beginning his explanation as to why he is writing this book. John is going to let his readers know that he did not sit down anddecide to write a letter to the seven churches in Asia Minor. Rather, John was instructed to write these words. John begins his explanation for writing in verse 9 of the first chapter.

John, Your Partner (Revelation 1:9)

John does not begin this letter by announcing his credentials. John could say, “I, John, the apostle of the Lord.” John identifies himself as their brother and their partner. John is joining himself with the Christian readers in three areas. John is a sharer in the suffering, in the kingdom, and in the patient endurance.

John’s sharing in the tribulation seems to be explained in the rest of the verse. John was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. This is all that is told to us. It is believed that the island of Patmos was used by the Roman Empire as a place of exile, but there is little evidence of anyone being banished there. So we must be careful not to make too much of John’s condition while on the island of Patmos. John appears to be telling his readers that he is on Patmos because he is suffering on account of the word of God and testimony of Jesus. John’s preaching of the word of God concerning Jesus has landed him in trouble. This persecution could have been brought about by the Jews or by the Romans. We read through the book of Acts that the Jews were trying to use the Roman authorities against Christians (see Jews take Jesus to Pilate for trial, Jews take Christians for judgment with the city authorities in Thessalonica, Jews take Paul to the Roman tribunal in Corinth). We also read Paul and Silas getting into difficulties with Roman authorities in Philippi because, “They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice” (Acts 16:21). John could be on Patmos because of the Romans directly dealing with him or because of the instigation of the Jews. Either way, John is telling the Christians that I am with you in the suffering. We are together in this.

Not only does John share in the suffering, but he shares in the kingdom with them. You are suffering but you are in Christ’s kingdom. It is hard to feel that truth of being in the kingdom of Christ when we are suffering. John says that he is suffering with us and we are partners and partakers in the eternal kingdom. John also shares with his audience their steadfastness. John has not given up but continues to serve the Lord in the face of suffering.

In The Spirit (Revelation 1:10)

What happens to John was extraordinary and special. It is the Lord’s day. By the second century, “the Lord’s day” was the customary way of referring to Sunday. Sunday was the day when Christians gather for worship and for partaking the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7). It was Sunday when our Lord Jesus rose from the dead (Luke 24:1). It was on Sunday when Jesus made his appearance to his disciples (John 20:19). Sunday is the Lord’s day.

John is in the Spirit. This is the way the scriptures speak of someone having a divine vision. One example is in Ezekiel. “The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones.” (Ezekiel 37:1 ESV) Ezekiel did not physically transport to a valley because he was in exile in Babylon. The scriptures are telling us that Ezekiel is in a visionary state. So also with John. John is in the Spirit which tells us that the divine vision has begun.

Command To Write (Revelation 1:10-11)

Finally, John is commanded to write what he sees in this vision in a book and send it to the seven churches. Notice the power with which the command comes. John hears a loud voice like a trumpet. We read this event happening at Mount Sinai in the giving of the ten commandments (Exodus 19). This is the voice of the Lord, speaking with authority and power. We are partners and sharers in the kingdom. Suffering and persecution may come upon us at any time. Christians participate now in Christ’s rule over the earth, as well as in the future. We are called to be steadfast during his reign.

Verses 12-18

Rev 1:12-18


Revelation 1:12-18

12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me.-- Turning to see who was speaking was the natural thing to do. The text says to "see the voice." By a common figure of speech the voice is put for the one speaking.

And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks; --Here the vision proper begins. In the tabernacle and temple there were golden candlesticks. Each had seven prongs with a lamp on each prong. But in this vision there appeared seven distinct lampstands. This is evident from the following verse where Christ is represented as being "in the midst of" them. Neither is there anything said about these candlesticks having more than one lamp. Being made of gold probably represents their great value as well as their enduring qualities. In this book there are a number of things described as golden or made of pure gold. Each will he noted in its proper place

13 and in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man,--There is no question but that the one John saw in this vision represented the Lord. The King James Version translates "the" Son of man. Christ often applied this title to himself. (Matthew 8:20; Matthew 9:6.) A like expression is found in Daniel 7:13, also referring to Christ. Commentators have disagreed as to whether John saw Jesus himself or the appearance of a human to represent him. Such controversy is useless. Both would lead to the same truth. This part of the vision clearly was intended to represent Christ’s relationship to churches. Whether he really appeared or a form of man to represent him affects not the case. The fact that John was looking at a picture favors the Revised Version and the latter view.

clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle.--The robe reaching to the feet and the girdle around the breasts are supposed to represent the dignity that belonged to both priesthood and kingship. Girdles were then worn around the body to fasten down the flowing robes, but one richly ornamented with gold, placed about the breasts, indicates royal dignity. This is what should naturally be expected, as the vision was intended to show Jesus as one having both the power and authority to open the seals--reveal the things that the church should know. As the great Prophet, he would know exactly what was to transpire that should be told; as Priest and King, he would have full authority to make such revelations as were needed to give any commands necessary to the doing of his will.

14 And his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; --It is perfectly evident that the language here used is not intended as a natural description of the Lord as he lived on the earth ; for being in his thirty-fourth year when he ascended he was a young man, and probably in physical appearance not greatly different from others. Neither is it necessary to conclude that the description here correctly represents his glorious appearance in heaven. It seems more probable that the appearance of the one John saw was assumed to impress the apostle with a sense of Christ’s majesty and glory. White as a color indicates purity and victory; the expression white as wool and snow means that it was perfectly white. The intention here is not to indicate age, but to show that Jesus was perfectly sinless and fully able to do what was proposed. The eyes appearing as a flame of fire indicates their penetrating power, probably meaning that the Lord was able to look into the future as well as into men’s hearts and reveal both the true and false.

15 and his feet like unto burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace; and his voice as the voice of many waters. --The feet of the one speaking to John looked like burnished brass that had been fully refined. Perhaps there is no special significance in this more than that it harmonizes with the majestic splendor of Christ as able to do the work proposed. The voice John heard was like the sound of many waters, the roar of the ocean or a great cataract. God himself is referred to in a similar way. "And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shined with his glory." (Ezekiel 43:2.) See also Ezekiel 1:24; Daniel 10:6. Representing the sound of the voice as the roar of many waters is another sublime way of expressing divine majesty and power.

16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword:--In verse 20 these seven stars are said to be the angels of the seven churches. Here we have in this book the first direct explanation of the symbol used, being definitely told what the stars represent. When the book itself explains a symbol, there is an end of controversy on that point whether we understand it or not.

Being held in the right hand probably indicates that the angels were to be sustained and protected by the Lord--would receive their support and instruction from him. The appearance of a sword proceeding from his mouth must in some way refer to his words. This is perfectly natural when we note that the word of God is said to be "living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword." (Hebrews 4:12.) Isaiah said that Jehovah had made his "mouth like a sharp sword." (Isa. 49 2.) The words proceeding from the Lord’s mouth would not only comfort and instruct the saints, but would also terrify and destroy the ungodly. Through a prophet Jehovah said "I have slain them by the words of my mouth." (Hosea 6:5.) Paul said that Jesus at his coming would slay the lawless one "with the breath of his mouth." (2 Thessalonians 2:8.) The word "sharp" indicates the penetrating power of Christ’s words, while the two-edged nature represents the thoroughness of its work.

and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.--The hair, eyes, mouth, and voice have already been described. This expression is evidently intended as a general description of his appearance; it was as the sun in its full strength and not obscured by any clouds. It was probably like his appearance on the mount of transfiguration. (2 Thessalonians 2:8.) The entire description most appropriately presents the majesty, power, and authority of Jesus to make the revelation intended, and most solemnly to impress John with the necessity of giving heed to what was revealed to him.

17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; --John was overwhelmed by the divine majesty and the suddenness with which the vision came. Losing consciousness, he fell as one would who was really dead. The overpowering influence of supernatural events was not an uncommon thing. (Daniel 8:18; Daniel 8:27; Daniel 10:9; Ezekiel 1:28; Acts 26:13-14.) John, remembering Jesus as he saw him here on earth, probably did not recognize the being in the vision as representing the Lord. The explanation that follows immediately is further proof that he did not at first know who was represented by the vision. Laying his right hand upon John was doubtless for the purpose of raising him up. Compare Daniel 8:18. The command to "Fear not" was intended to give John assurance to hear what would be revealed to him. Once Jesus gave a similar command to his apostles, saying, "It is I; be not afraid." (Matthew 14:27.) In the midst of manifestations of divine power man needs assurance from God to calm his fears:. Jesus gave it when he was here in person (Luke 9 34, 35); his words supply the same assurance now (Hebrews 6:18-20).

I am the first and the last, 18 and the Living one and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore,--Alpha and Omega, which mean the first and the last, probably refer to God in verse 8; here the words first and last clearly refer to Christ. They declare his existence from eternity which is also asserted by both John and Paul. (John 1:1-2; Col. 1 16, 17.) If of eternal existence, John could well afford to depend implicitly upon his word and power; hence no reason why he should fear. Referring to Christ as the "Living one" means he was in his very nature the source and fountain of life. Jesus said: "For as the Father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son also to have life in himself." (John 5:26.) Saying that he had been dead, but was now alive effectively identified the one represented in the vision as the Lord. This was evidence that John’s faith in the Lord’s resurrection had been no delusion. Jesus had died once, hut never could die again. This should remove all fear and give perfect assurance that he is able to fulfill all his promises.

and I have the keys of death and of Hades.--Hades is a Greek word and means the "unseen." It refers to the state between death and the resurrection, the place of abode of disembodied spirits of both bad and good. This is evident from the Savior’s use of the word in Luke 16:23. The expression "keys of death and of Hades" is closely related to the preceding statements in reference to Christ once being dead, but now being alive. That Christ’s spirit went to Hades while his body was in the tomb is certain from Peter’s words in Acts 2:27. Keys mean authority or power. Since Christ’s body was raised and his spirit returned from Hades, he has power to abolish death and bring the waiting spirits from the Hadean world. This he will do when he comes again and the judgment takes place. (Revelation 20:11-14.)

Commentary on Revelation 1:12-18 by Foy E. Wallace

(5) The Son of man in the midst.

1. “In the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man"—Revelation 1:12-13.

When John turned to see the voice, he saw one who had the appearance of Jesus. From his own memory John knew Jesus. He could recognize the countenance of the Lord and his personal appearance by his constant association with him in the days of his flesh. And he had seen him in majesty, glory and power in his ascension. Now he beheld in the vision One who was like him--he had known his incarnate person; he saw him in ascended glory; he knew his coronated majesty; he knew his kingly power--and he recognized the Son of man!

2. “He was clothed with a garment."-- Revelation 1:13.

The royal garment was in keeping with appropriate royalty, a royal garment which was indicative of monarchial dignity.

3. “And girt with a golden girdle”-- Revelation 1:13.

It represented the source and sway of the truth, as the girdle of truth suggests in Ephesians 6:14.

4. “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow"-- Revelation 1:14.

These figures symbolized his sinless purity and his sublime majesty, as employed in Isaiah 1:18 : “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

5. “And his eyes were as a flame of fire"-- Revelation 1:14.

The same symbols are used in the prophetic apocalypses to designate divine omniscience, that He is the penetrator and the discerner of all things.

6. “And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned it in a furnace"-- Revelation 1:15.

The reference here is to the method of refining metals and minerals in a crucible, and it is the emblem of untarnished and unmingled truth of which Jesus Christ is the source and the administrator.

7. “And his voice as the sound of many waters”-- Revelation 1:15.

In this metaphor John saw Jesus as the combination of unison and rhythm in its perfect flow, signifying the accord and harmony of divine utterance, set to the melody of divine love and grace and blessing.

8. “And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword"-- Revelation 1:16.

The same theophany is presented in the flaming sword of Eden. It stood for divine justice, and here it means that Jesus Christ was, and is now, the executor of righteous judgment and justice.

9. “And his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength”-- Revelation 1:16.

The sun of the solar system is the light of the world. As the monarch of the universe it rules the solar system as the earth and all planets revolve around it. So was the Son of man in this high point in the vision. In all his grandeur, as in the last prophetic glimpse of Malachi, he was the sun of righteousness, with all the spiritual benefits to mankind that the sun can bestow in its rays upon the earth.

10. "I am alive for evermore . . . and have the keys of hell (hades) and death"-- Revelation 1:17-18.

This is the awe-inspiring declaration that by his own death of the cross, he became Lord of Death, and of the hadean world, because its gates could not prevail against him. He is therefore the Lord of “both the dead and the living” (Romans 14:9)--by his death and resurrection, of which his appearance to John was the visible proof.

Commentary on Revelation 1:12-18 by Walter Scott


Revelation 1:12. "I turned back to see the voice which spake with me; and having turned, I saw seven golden lamps." The Seer on turning round to see the voice of the speaker necessarily turned round to the east, the scene of immediate interest. The first object he beheld was "seven golden lamps." What these signified we are informed in Revelation 1:20 : "The seven lamps are seven assemblies." The numerical value of the number seven points to what is morally complete. Gold, the most precious of metals, signifies divine righteousness. The founding and constitution of the Church, whether viewed in relation to Christ as His body, or to God as His house, is the display of divine righteousness of the character of God. It could not be otherwise. In the symbol of "seven golden lamps" we have the Church in its completeness and perfection on earth, as in the thoughts of God, in its public position as His witness. It is not what the Church has become, but viewed in its origin and character as set up by Him. While the whole Church is in view it is here regarded as separate assemblies.

The seven golden lamps evidently allude to the seven-branched golden lamp-stand which stood at the south side of the outer compartment of the sanctuary of old. Here the lamps stand in the east. There, the seven lamps had one stem and one stand, while each lamp threw its clear light on the beautifully ornamented shaft or stem, discovering its beauties during the dark hours of night (Exodus 25:31-40; Numbers 8:2-4), so only in the divine presence are fully expressed the moral glories of Jesus, God’s beloved Son. Here each lamp rests on its own base. They represent separate and independent assemblies, each one in its place responsible to cast its beams of light athwart the gloom. It is the serious and urgent responsibility of every professed company of saints to be in its own locality a witness for God, and what, of course, is true of local assemblies is equally so of the Church universal. The seven Asiatic lamps have long since been removed according to the divine threat (Revelation 2:5), and a similar judgment, although expressed under a different symbol, is about to overtake the professing Church as a whole (Romans 11:22). Where are the golden lamps to-day? This is a solemn and searching question for us all.

Revelation 1:13-16

THE VISION OF CHRIST (Revelation 1:13-16).

The thing which first arrests the attention of the Seer is the seven golden lamps, not simply lamp-stands.*The "candle" is distinguished from the "candle-stick," or, as in the Revised Version, the "lamp" from its "stand." It is the "lamp" which gives the light (Luke 8:16; Luke 11:35-36 : Matthew 5:15). There is prominence given to the "stand" in the ancient sanctuary, as in its chaste ornamentation, under the sevenfold light of the Spirit, were set forth the beauties of Jesus to the worshippers within. But what is the Church apart from Christ? The distinguishing glory of this introductory vision is not the churches in their divine standing on earth, but the grandeur and majesty of the One Who has deigned to be in their midst. Who is He? "One like unto (the) Son of Man." The omission of the definite article in the original, as also in Daniel 7:13, is to be noted. Both the Prophet and the Seer beheld the Son of Man without doubt, but what morally characterised Him as bearing that Name or title is the thought presented in the omission of the article, not so much the person known as the Son of Man; but one is seen in Heaven by the Hebrew Prophet, and on earth by the Christian Seer, in the moral characteristics belonging to Him who bore that title. It is characteristic, not personal.

13 "The Son of Man" is a title used of Ezekiel about one hundred times, and once of Daniel (Daniel 8:17), the only Hebrew Prophet so spoken of. The Lord alone in the Gospels uses the title of Himself, about seventy times. John 12:34 is only an apparent exception. The title is one which expresses a wider range of dominion and glory than that of king of Israel (compare Psalms 2:1-12; Psalms 8:1-9). As Son of God He quickens the dead, spiritually (John 5:25) and physically (v. 28). As Son of Man He judges (v. 22), and also executes His judgment (v. 27). It is a title of peculiar delight to the Lord.

13. "Clothed with a garment down to the foot," i.e., to the feet of the glorious One, but not so low as to cover them (v. 15). Neither the material nor colour of the robe is specified. There is an evident allusion to the ephod, the pre-eminent garment of the high priest.*Exodus 28:31 in the LXX. has the same word for "ephod" as in Revelation 1:13 for "garment." Hence we infer the sacerdotal application of the word here. But the long flowing garment is neither girded about the loins (Luke 12:35) nor laid aside (John 13:4) as the activity of service would require, "rather dignified priestly judgment" is expressed thereby.

13. "Girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle." The materials in the girdle of the high priest were "gold" and "linen," in which latter the colours "blue, purple, and scarlet" were displayed (Exodus 28:8), thus intimating the union of divine and human righteousness in Jesus our great High Priest, while the colours set forth His heavenly character (blue), sufferings (purple), and glory (scarlet). But the girdle here is one wholly of gold, divine righteousness. Girt about at the breasts instead of the loins (Daniel 10:5) would intimate calm repose. The girdle in itself sets forth righteousness and faithfulness, attributes which ever characterised the Lord in all His ways (Isaiah 11:5). The angels of judgment (Revelation 15:6), like our Lord, are girded with golden girdles at their breasts. The usual order, girt about the loins, is departed from in their case, as the place of the girdle at the breasts denotes that judgment to be executed is according to what God is in His nature.

Revelation 1:14. "His head and His hair were white as white wool, as snow." "The Ancient of Days" (Daniel 7:9) is similarly described. There are certain characteristics common to both Son of Man and Ancient of Days. They are distinct persons, yet so identified in action and character that it is not always possible to distinguish them. The identification of Jesus with Jehovah; of the wearied Man (John 4:6) with the unwearied Creator (Isaiah 40:28) is a subject of profound interest. Divine wisdom in absolute purity seems, in the main, the thought intended by the dazzling whiteness of the head and hair. In the passage in Daniel the whiteness of the head is not mentioned. Here the head is uncovered. Personal attributes are in question, and not official or relative glories, which latter are found in verse 16.

14. "His eyes as a flame of fire," keen, penetrating judgment, which searches out, and exposes in all its nakedness, evil, however covered up. Who or what can escape the scrutiny of those eyes as of fire?

Revelation 1:15. "His feet like fine brass, as burning in a furnace." An emblem of the most awful unyielding strength in judicial judgment (compare with Revelation 10:1).

15. "His voice as the voice of many waters" (compare with Ezekiel 43:2). The grandeur, the majesty of His voice is beyond the ceaseless roar of many cataracts. "The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea" (Psalms 93:4). The sign of His supreme sovereignty and majesty over all the waves of human passion, over the circumstances of a wrecked world and a ruined Church, is declared to be "His voice as the voice of many waters." It was His voice "God said" ten times repeated, which brought order out of chaos, light out of darkness, and life out of death (Genesis 1:1-31). It was His voice which stilled the angry Galilean sea, and hushed its boisterous winds and waves into the calm of a sleeping child (Matthew 8:23-27).

Revelation 1:16. "Having in His right hand seven stars." The stars are declared to be the angels or representatives of the churches (v. 20). The "stars" as a symbol are the expression, first, of countless multitudes (Genesis 15:5); second, eminent persons in authority, civil and ecclesiastical (Daniel 8:10; Revelation 6:13; Revelation 12:4); third, lesser or subordinate powers in general (Genesis 37:9; Revelation 12:1). All Church authority, all ministry, and all spiritual rule in every assembly are vested in Christ. His competency to give or withhold, to preserve and sustain every true minister of God is the fundamental idea in the stars being held in His right hand. When the eternal security of believers is in question they are said to be in His hand, and in the Father’s hand, from whence no power can pluck them (John 10:28-29). But they are not said to be in His "right hand," as here. Spiritual rulers we do not say official ones, for all such have not been set in the Church of God are held and maintained in the right hand of the Son of Man. "The right hand" betokens supreme authority and honour (Psalms 110:1-7 : l; Ephesians 1:20; Revelation 5:1; Revelation 5:7). What a responsible, yet withal honourable position every ruler in the Church occupies! Daniel 12:3 points to a future class of Jewish ministers or rulers. Judges 1:13 refers to a class of Christian apostates.

The responsibility of a star is to shine. During the night of the Lord’s absence the assemblies are God’s light bearers through the darkness, and are collectively the light of the world. But each Christian ruler or guide is also to shine in his appointed sphere. The darker the night the greater need to shine, and to reflect the light of Heaven upon the increasing darkness around.

16. "Out of His mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword." The execution of divine judgment by the simple force of His Word judgment, too, which cannot be warded off for the sword as two-edged is the force of the figure. We never read of our Lord personally putting His hand on His enemies. He speaks, and it is done. His personal word is the point here, as the written Word in Hebrews 4:12. The ungodly in the Church are the first to be threatened with judgment, which it is hopeless to escape unless they repent (Revelation 2:16). At the commencement of the millennial reign we witness one of the saddest sights on earth, the congregated nations of the west, etc., under their leaders in open defiance of the Lamb of God (Revelation 19:19-21). The sword of the Almighty Victor, the resistless energy of His Word, finds out His enemies, and the universal slaughter of the multitudinous hosts of Gentiles glorifies His righteousness "in taking vengeance" on those who refuse to own His sceptre.

16. "His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength." Once the vile spittle of men rested on His patient face (Matthew 26:67), now divine glory, more brilliant far, more resplendent than the midday tropical sun, is here seen in the face of the Lord. "The sun in his strength," on which no mortal eye can gaze, images forth the supreme glory of Jesus, Son of Man. We may remark that Christ is spoken of as the Light of the World (John 8:12), as the Sun of Righteousness to Israel (Malachi 4:2), and as the Bright and Morning Star to the Church (Revelation 22:16). Hengstenberg draws a contrast between the glory of the sun and that of the stars (1 Corinthians 15:41), applying the lesson to the transcendent glory of Christ (the sun), to that of His ministers (the stars). The stars are mere reflectors. They have no independent light of their own. In the matchless yet simple story of creation (Genesis 1:1-31) the distinguishing orbs for day and night are appointed their place in relation to this earth, and then it is added as a matter of small import, "the stars also" (v. 16). Would that every servant would lay it to heart. Is there not in this a lesson to every minister? We are but of trifling importance save as held in the right hand of Christ. It is the servant’s connection with the Lord which alone imparts dignity.

What a glorious vision of Christ we have had, so totally unlike the Christ of the Gospels. There, His attributes are those of tenderness, holiness, and love; here, He is seen clothed in majesty and power. There, the Man of Sorrows; here, in combined deity as the Ancient of Days, and humanity as Son of Man. He was, of course, ever Divine, always God, but on earth He veiled His eternal glory, or as Paul expresses it, "emptied Himself" (Philippians 2:7, R.V.). Here His glory shines in the midst of the churches, a strength and consolation to every true heart, a terror to all morally opposed to it.

Revelation 1:17-18


17. "When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead; and He laid His right hand upon me, saying, Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I became dead; and behold, I am living to the ages of ages, and have the keys of death and of hades."

The effect of the glorious vision of Christ was over-powering. The same John who had pillowed his head on his Master’s bosom (John 13:23), outran Peter in the race to the sepulchre (John 20:4), worshipped Him risen from the dead (Matthew 28:17), witnessed with rapt gaze His ascending Lord (Acts 1:9-10), now fell at His feet as dead. Christ transfigured on the holy mount was an object of fear to the favoured three of the apostolic band (Matthew 17:6-7). Isaiah, who above all the Hebrew prophets revelled in the glorious future, was broken down in the presence of the glory of Christ; while seraphim covered face and feet, the glory too bright to look upon, and the place too holy to tread upon (Isaiah 6:1-13 with John 12:41). Ezekiel fell on his face before that same glory (Ezekiel 1:28), and Daniel more than once did the same (Daniel 8:17-18; Daniel 10:7-10). But Christ is here beheld, not in the native region of glory, His palace-home in the heavens, but in the midst of the churches in the full display of attributes betokening power and majesty. Here we behold the incarnate Son of Man glorified. Hence, as answering to this representation of Christ, the effect is more marked than that hitherto produced. John fell at His feet as dead. Probably the most loving and loved of the disciples was John, but what avails even the strength of human affection in light of the overwhelming glory of Jesus, Son of Man! But human weakness is answered by divine consolation. The glorified Saviour and High Priest is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities." His grace and tenderness are equal to His majesty and greatness.

17. "He laid His right hand upon me," relates the Seer. The hand of power. On the mount the touch of the hand and the voice of Jesus instantly dispelled the fear of the disciples (Matthew 17:6-7). Here, too, the hand and voice of the glorious One restores the disciple from his death-like swoon. It was more than a touch, "He laid His right hand upon me." How the pressure of that hand in its life-giving energy and strength would thrill "the disciple whom Jesus loved," the very same Jesus in time and eternity, in earth and in Heaven.

17. "Fear not" was the glorified Saviour’s reassuring word as an accompaniment to His right hand. Both were needed. The "fear not," so often repeated on earth amidst its dreads and circumstances, again breaks on the ear of the apostle, for Jesus is unchanged. His circumstances are totally altered, but the heart that beat in Galilee is the same that now throbs in tenderest love toward His own.

17. "I am the first and the last." This is essentially a divine title. Jehovah claims it three times exclusively for Himself in the prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12), and Christ correspondingly three times in this book (Revelation 1:17; Revelation 2:8; Revelation 22:13). The application of this Jehovah title to the Son of Man is an absolute proof of His Deity. Eternal Self-Existence, with its necessary correlative, Absolute Supremacy, is thus intimated. As the "FIRST," He is before all, and above all, and from whom all proceed. As the "LAST," He is after all, and in Him all things centre. He is the source and sum of universal creation. What cause for fear then? In the calm contemplation of this magnificent title, claimed and borne by Jesus of Nazareth glorified in the heavens, fear disappears like mist before the rising sun. Here is a rock of strength for wearied feet and for life’s heaviest burdens.

Revelation 1:18. "The Living One" is the next divine title. He was, is, and ever shall be the source of life. He is the Living One independently of the creature. The incarnation of the Lord did not originate life, but manifested what previously existed (1 John 1:2). "The Living One in particular was the designation used by the Hebrews to distinguish the true God from all false ones." The eternal life of believers, the eternal existence of unbelievers, and the immortality of angels have each their source in Christ, "the Living One." What is predicated of God in the Old and New Testament Scriptures (Jeremiah 10:10; 1 Timothy 3:15) is equally true of Christ.

18. "I became dead." Even as man, death, the wages of sin, had no claim upon Him. But in grace to us He voluntarily "became dead," not merely died, but became truly and really dead. He laid down His life. Matthew writes, He "yielded up His spirit" (Matthew 27:50, R.V.); Mark, "He gave up the ghost" (Mark 15:37); Luke, He committed His spirit to His Father and "gave up the ghost" (Luke 23:46); John, He bowed His head and "gave up His spirit" (John 19:30, R.V.). The moral grandeur of the statement, "I became dead," is enhanced as we reflect on the divine glory of the speaker. He, "the First and the Last," stooped from the glory of eternal existence to become a man, whose brief life here was measured by little over thirty years; and "the Living One," the life and originator of all intelligence, stoops down into death, that thereby He might annul him that had the might of death, the devil, and deliver his captives (Hebrews 2:14-15). This victory over death is complete. Death’s bands are broken. "He tore the bars away." The angels, though not seen at the cross, were witnesses, both outside and inside the tomb, of Christ’s victory over death (Matthew 28:2-7; John 20:11-13). Our translation to the heavens will be announced by the shout of triumph, "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55, R.V.).

18. "Behold, I am living to the ages of ages." The Victor over death calls attention to the fact that He ever lives, He will die no more. He has emerged from the domain of death, and announces to His saints and Church for their everlasting strength and consolation that He lives, no more to die. The "Amen" in the Authorised Version is unanimously rejected by the critics.

18. Then follows the fitting conclusion to this grand declaration of combined divine and human glory: "And have the keys of death and of hades." In our English Bibles the order is reversed, hades preceding death. But clearly this is a mistake, and contrary to the general order in which the words are found in other parts of the book (Revelation 6:8; Revelation 20:13-14). Death demands the body; hades claims the soul. The Lord became subject to the one, and entered the other. Our English word "hell" should be discarded, and "hades," signifying the unseen, substituted. Efforts have been made to fix the locality of hades. It is impossible to do so. It is rather a state than a place, and refers to that condition in which all, good and bad, are found after death and previous to the resurrection. For believers, hades is to be with Christ; for unbelievers, hades is to be in torment. Thus both the Lord and the rich man went to hades (Acts 2:27; Luke 16:23). Christ has come out of it; the rich man will do so when raised for eternal judgment. Hades as a state exists between death and resurrection. The word does not in itself signify either blessing or misery. The state is one of conscious blessedness for believers, and one of conscious misery for unbelievers.*The reader desirous of studying this and kindred subjects would do well to procure "Facts and Theories as to a Future State," by F. W. Grant. The work contains a masterly expose of current and wide-spread errors on questions affecting the eternal destiny of the race.

The "keys" denote Christ’s complete mastery over the bodies and souls of all. The right to "open" and "shut" intimates His absolute authority over death and hades, the respective jailers of the dead, and is exercised at His sovereign pleasure. Satan has not now the power of death (Hebrews 2:14). For the force of "key" as a symbol of undisputed authority, see Isaiah 22:22; Matthew 16:19.

Commentary on Revelation 1:12-18 by E.M. Zerr

Revelation 1:12. Turned to see the voice. That is he turned to see the source from which the voice was coming, and when he did he saw something more than the speaker. Candlesticks (or lampstands) for the purpose of light were used in the tabernacle services (Exodus 25:31-37), but in that case there was only one unit that had seven parts to it. In the present the candlesticks are separate pieces, the reason for which will be seen in the next chapter.

Revelation 1:13. Like unto the Son of man. Much of the language addressed to John is worded as if Christ did the talking personally. That is not the case, for He has been on his throne in heaven since his ascension and will remain there until He comes to judge the world (Hebrews 10:12-13). All that is said as coming from and concerning Christ is done through the instrumentality of an angel. (See Revelation 22:8.) The long garments were worn by the priests, and the girdle of gold around the breast betokened a king. All this was very appropriate because Christ is both High Priest and King (Zechariah 6:13), and this angel was representing Him.

Revelation 1:14. When white is used as a symbol, it indicates purity and glory. Flame of fire. The first word indicates that the eyes are active and penetrating. Fire will consume dross and rid a situation of that which is objectionable.

Revelation 1:15. The original for brass is defined by Thayer as follows: "Some metal, like gold if not more precious." As if they burned in a furnace is said to indicate the brightness of the appearance. When used figuratively many waters means great numbers of people. The significance of this and the preceding verse is to show the dignity and authority of Christ as represented by this person.

Revelation 1:16. Had in his right hand denotes the ability to grasp and support the things named. It is similar to a familiar saying that "God holds all things in the hollow of His hand." We will learn in verse 20 what the seven stars represent. Sharp two-edged swordis the word of God (Hebrews 4:12). The original for countenance means the appearance in general, but in this passage Thayer defines it, "Face, countenance." In comparing this person’s face to the shining sun (a condition when the sun is not obscured by clouds), the purpose is to indicate the penetrating brilliance of the Lord’s face.

Revelation 1:17. The sight and sound of this wonderful being so overcame John that he was prostrated with fear. Not that he was rendered unconscious for then he could not have been benefited by encouraging words which were spoken to him. Fear not indicates that John was affected with a feeling that perhaps something was about to happen for which he was not prepared. Hence he was given this assurance that the one who was before him was He that was the first and the last. Verse 8 tells us that the phrase refers to the Lord who is being represented by this angel.

Revelation 1:18. This verse gives further items of the dignity and power of the person speaking to John. Liveth, and was dead identifies him as Christ since the Father was never dead. Alive for evermore is further proof that it is Christ because that is declared of him (Romans 6:9). The person who holds a group of keys has the power or authority to open and shut. The places where Christ can use these keys will next he named. Hell is from HADES, which is the abode of departed spirits. Death is from THANATOS, which is the state of the body after the spirit leaves it. The passage as a whole means the Lord has the power or control over the bodies and souls of men. That is why Jesus said what he did in Matthew 10:28.

Commentary on Revelation 1:12-18 by Burton Coffman

Revelation 1:12

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle.

I turned to see the voice ... "As in Genesis 3:8, the voice is put for the speaker."[41] One of the big things in Revelation is the voice so frequently mentioned. The voice from heaven is one of the principal focal points in the whole book.

Seven golden candlesticks ... Caird has a remarkably perceptive interpretation of this, thus:

Once again John is asserting that the church is the new Israel, the true people of God, but with this difference: whereas Israel was represented by a single candelabra with seven lamps, the churches are represented by seven separate standing lamps; for, according to the teaching of the New Testament, each local congregation of Christians is the church universal in all its fullness.[42]

For a discussion of the Jewish candlestick, its connection with Zechariah 4, and its symbolism, see in my Commentary on Hebrews, pp. 181-183.

One in the midst of the candlesticks ... This, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ, here represented as walking amidst his congregations, only the seven here mentioned? Of course not, but amidst all the congregations of his people throughout history. This is one of the truly great messages of the whole prophecy. Christ is with his congregations! He is fulfilling the promise of Matthew 18:20; Matthew 20:28.

One like unto a son of man ... This rendition could be greatly improved by reading it "the Son of man," for, as Beckwith pointed out, "the article before "son" is omitted";[43] and this could be rendered "the Son of man." "That Christ is meant and not an angel is shown by Revelation 1:17 f."[44]

Garment down to the foot ... golden girdle ... Most commentators see these things as symbols of the high priesthood of Jesus Christ; but, as Beckwith said, "That office of his is not mentioned in our book."[45] We believe that Christ is here presented as the Judge of all people. The sword in his mouth a moment later in the text is no part of the trappings of a priest. The garment down to the foot and the golden girdle are marks of rank and dignity. "Neither shows Christ to be represented here in his priestly character, as many commentators interpret."[46]

[41] A. Plummer, The Pulpit Commentary, Volume 22, Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 6.

[42] G. B. Caird, op. cit., p. 24.

[43] Isbon T. Beckwith, op. cit., p. 437.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

Revelation 1:14

And his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire.

This description of the white hair is a "deliberate reminiscence of Daniel 7:9, where it belongs to the Ancient of Days."[47] This application to Jesus Christ of the attributes of deity is a recurring phenomenon in Revelation. There are also a number of other reflections of the Book of Daniel, not only in this passage, but throughout the book.

His eyes were a flame of fire ... This indicates the omniscience of Christ, the ability to penetrate all disguises and to judge things as they are, not as they might pretend to be.


[47] G.R. Beasley-Murray, op. cit., p. 1282.

Revelation 1:15

And his feet like unto burnished brass, as it had been refined in a furnace; and his voice as the voice of many waters.

"The sense is that the feet of Jesus resembled gold-bronze, not as this is when it is cold, but as it appears when it is glowing in the intense heat of a furnace. Where such feet tread, they utterly blast and instantly turn to ashes everything they touch, or even approach.[48]

Here again, we have a figure that is utterly incompatible with the priestly function of our blessed Lord. It is in his character as Judge that he appears in this introductory vision and throughout the book of Revelation.


[48] R. C.H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 66.

Revelation 1:16

And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

Two-edged sword ... A most unlikely symbol of any priestly function. As Wallace said:

This sword stands for divine justice, and means that Jesus Christ was, and is now, the executor of righteous judgment and justice.[49]

Sun shining in his strength ... Here is a reflection of the imagery of Malachi regarding the "sun of righteousness" that shall rise with healing in his wings. Christ as the light of the world; Christ as the center around which everything else revolves; Christ the omnipresent one (who could hide from the sun?); and Christ the omnipotent one - all of these are appropriately symbolized by this glorious countenance.

Despite the fact of so much of Revelation using terminology and imagery found in the Old Testament, the essential teaching of Revelation is not derived. "It conveys a conception of the Messiah which is unique, for Christ is endowed with a splendor and authority which hitherto had been ascribed only to God."[50]

Before leaving this verse, it should also be pointed out that the mouth is a very abnormal place from which a sword might appear; the symbolism, therefore, includes the meaning that the gospel which came from the mouth of Jesus is the two-edged sword. And why two-edged? As Bruce expressed it: "It proclaims grace to those who repent and put their faith in God, with the corollary of judgment upon the impenitent and disobedient."[51]

Seven stars ... For comment on this, see under Revelation 1:20 where the key to understanding them is revealed.

[49] Foy E. Wallace, Jr., op. cit., p. 80.

[50] Martin Kiddle, The Revelation of St. John, "The Moffatt New Testament Commentary" (New York: Harper and Brothers, n.d.), p. 16.

[51] F. F. Bruce, op. cit., p. 636.

Revelation 1:17

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last, and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

I fell at his feet ... Paul fell at the feet of Jesus revealed to him as a supernatural person (Acts 26:14); and the phenomenon occurs frequently throughout the Bible, especially in connection with receiving visions. See Ezekiel 1:28; Daniel 8:17; Daniel 10:9; and Matthew 17:6.

Fear not ... How fully in the character of the beloved Jesus are these blessed words to the terrified apostle. With similar words he comforted the apostles that night when they were struggling to navigate Galilee, and on the night of his betrayal, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." This is the message that heaven has often shouted to earth, but the need to hear it is perpetual. The night the shepherds beheld the angelic band speaking of "Good tidings which shall be to all people," their message began with, "Fear’ not."

I am the first and the last, and the Living one, etc. ... Again, we are reminded of that holy Being who IS and WAS and SHALL BE for ever. See more on this under Revelation 1:8.

This writer has made a practice for many years of reading these two verses as the final committal at the graveside, with only one deviation from the text here, using J. B. Phillips’ translation "death and the grave" instead of "death and of Hades," as here.

The Living one ... This is particularly interesting, because it is a title of God himself. This is really the most important title in the verse, because it is as the Living one that Christ holds the keys of death and of the grave. Christ, like the Father, possesses life in his essential nature. "As the Father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son to have life in himself’ (John 5:26).

Commentary on Revelation 1:12-18 by Manly Luscombe

12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands. I turned - John wanted to see who was speaking. He turned toward the trumpeting voice. Seven golden candlesticks - John does not see the source of the voice. Instead, he sees the ultimate recipients of his writings.

13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. In the middle - Walking around among these candlesticks (churches) John sees the Son of man. Son of man - One of the terms used to describe Jesus was the Son of man. Jesus often used this term. While “Son of God” described his relation to the Father, “Son of man” referenced his relationship to the human race. Long garment, golden girdle - John is describing the Son of man. The golden girdle was a part of the garments worn by a Jewish High Priest.

14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; Hair - white like wool - Generally, white is a symbol of purity. Here it may just be part of the drama he is about to tell you. White hair was also a symbol of wisdom and maturity of mind. Eyes - flame of fire - Most do not take this in a literal sense. Flaming eyes would bring to mind a sense of his power, authority and fear.

15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; Feet - fine brass - His feet had been burned in a furnace. They had been through all types of torture. They were not the soft feet of a king who sat on a throne. These were the calloused feet of one who walked dusty roads all the way to Calvary. Voice - sound of many waters - Earlier, his voice was described as a trumpet. Here the tone is softer, gentler, and kinder. It is the sound of a babbling brook. It is the sound of water cascading down a mountainside. His voice is authoritative.

16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. Seven stars in right hand - The stars are the angels (messengers) to the seven churches. Each of these stars was given a copy of this revelation. Each star was to deliver the book to the various churches. Mouth - sharp sword - Jesus speaks with a two edged sword. The Word of God cuts both ways - coming and going, like it or not, in season or out of season. The Roman soldiers carried double-edged swords. (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12) Countenance - sunshine - His strength was glistening in the brightness of the sun. The whole appearance was a glow, brilliance, and brightness.

17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. Fell as dead - How would you react? It was clear that John was in the presence of deity. He was filled with fear and awe. All he knew to do was to fall down at the feet of Jesus. Right hand - Jesus extends his hand to offer assurance and comfort. Fear not - Jesus used these words when the apostles thought they were going to die in the storm on Galilee. The word “fear” in this passage refers to being afraid. Jesus was offering comfort. There is no reason to have any fear of harm. First and last - This is a parallel phrase to those in Revelation 1:11.

18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. He that lives - Jesus begins to describe himself. He is the one that lives. He has always lived. He is now alive. He will be alive forever. Was dead - As the Son of man, Jesus lived on earth, suffered and died a physical death. Alive forever - Jesus is still the eternal one. Keys of Hades - “Hades,” the grave, the world of the unseen. It may be that Jesus is saying, “I can open the graves.” It may be that Jesus meant, “I am in control of all the departed spirits.” Either way, Jesus is assuring John that those who died are in his care and control. He is aware and is with them. He has the power to resurrect. Of death - Jesus was the first to be raised to immortality. He has the key to overcome death. He can raise us from the dead.

Verses 19-20

Rev 1:19-20



Revelation 1:19-20

19 Write therefore the things which thou sawest, and the things which are, and the things which shall come to pass hereafter;--In verse 11 is the general command to write what he saw; in this verse the command is repeated with more definite instruction about what was to be written. He was to record what he had seen--the initial vision described in verses 12-18. This would show by what power and authority he wrote. The things "which are" would include the state of the seven churches then, which necessitated the instructions and rebukes found in the second and third chapters. Of this fact the contents of these chapters is sufficient proof. The things which were to come to pass "hereafter" must mean the future events from the time that John wrote. They are presented in the symbols found in chapters 4 to 22. The contents of these chapters furnish proof of this fact. That the things recorded in this third division extended into the future is evident because the last two chapters of the book unquestionably describe the final judgment and the heavenly state. Of course the symbols used to portray the future events were given to John in visions that came after he received the command to record them.

20 the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks.--The word mystery does not mean something that cannot be understood, but something that is secret, hidden, or will not be understood, till its meaning is revealed. To find the hidden thing or make known the secret means that the symbols were to be explained. When the explanation was given the symbols were understood and the mystery known.

The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks are seven churches.--John was told that the seven candlesticks "are seven churches." This language means that they represent or denote seven churches. Without this explanation the candlesticks would have been an unrevealed mystery, for it is evident that the word is used symbolically. A candlestick is intended to give light. Nothing is more certain than that God’s people, individually and as congregations, are to be light bearers. Jesus told his disciples that they were "the light of the world (Matthew 5:14); Paul told the Philippians that they were "seen as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:15). Since Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12), and is represented in this vision as being in the midst of these seven churches, the light shed abroad by the churches came from him. He alone supplies the true light; faithful congregations reflect it to those about them.

The seven stars are called the "angels of the seven churches." There is much difference of opinion regarding the proper application of the word "angels" in this instance. As a word it means "messenger" and would appropriately apply to any kind of messenger, heavenly or human. In the Old Testament it referred to either priest or prophet. (Malachi 2:7; Haggai 1:13.) It also referred to John the Baptist who announced the coming Messiah. (Malachi 3:1; Matthew 11:7-10.) In the cases being considered it must refer to beings to whom these short letters were addressed and by whom they would be delivered to the churches, not to heavenly angels. Addressing "the angel" (singular number) of each individual congregation is the reason for such divergence of views among commentators. The angel could not refer to the modern denominational "Bishop," exercising authority over a diocese, for "the angel" of each congregation is addressed. Elders, bishops, and pastors are words referring to the same class and each congregation had a plurality. (Acts 14:23.) There is no scriptural authority for any elder or bishop havingpreeminence over his fellow elders. Without reference to the various views in detail, the following seems most probable as well as in harmony with known Bible teaching. Seven candlesticks represent the seven congregations; each candlestick (singular) must therefore represent one congregation. But the congregation is made up of a plurality of individuals. In like manlier, as the eldership is made up of a plurality of persons, the star--angel--of each congregation may mean the whole eldership, the word being used collectively to describe the medium through which the messages would be delivered to the congregation. The position of the elders collectively as teachers and shepherds of the congregation lends much plausibility to this view. It can do no violence to any true scriptural teaching. The value of the seven letters, however, will not be affected by any failure on our part to determine with certainty the proper application of the word "angel" here. No plain facts regarding the apostolic churches must be set aside by any fanciful interpretations.

Commentary on Revelation 1:19-20 by Foy E. Wallace


(1) The import of the mystery.

1. “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter” –Revelation 1:19.

Underlining the word things, used three times in this verse, it gives emphasis, first, to the past--the things thou hast seen; and second, to the present--the things which are; and third, to the future--the things which shall be hereafter. But in each case it has reference to the revealed things of Revelation itself, not to the known events of the past, or present. The things seen were not optical or perceptive, but revealed, they were seen by Revelation. The things which are, were not the knowledge of present things, but a reference to that part of the vision, or the revelation, which involved the present. The things which should be thereafter were declared to be immediate-shortly to occur. It would not require an apocalypse to reveal the past events, but it was imperative that the churches should know the present, and those things which were immediately at hand.

2. “The mystery of the seven stars . . . and the seven golden candlesticks"-- Revelation 1:20.

The use of the word mystery in Revelation comports with the meaning of the word as used elsewhere in the New Testament--that is, the spiritual truths not discoverable by human reason; understandable, but hidden from human knowledge until revealed. The word has the connotation of “secret doctrine,” hence, prior to revelation it was a hidden thing; but when revealed, it was brought within human intelligence and understanding.

The gospel mystery imbedded in the old dispensation, as in Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:3-9; and Colossians 1:26, was hidden beneath the types and sacrifices of the law and the prophecies and promises, which were radiant with hope and joy to a guilty world, but were rather concealed than revealed, because of the metaphorical costume and figurative style they could not be discerned, and had to await revelation.

The word mystery did not mean mysterious. It meant that which could not be known until it was made known, or revealed, and in the references cited, it meant the gospel plan of salvation. The doctrine of the New Testament is in this sense called a mystery--“the mystery of the gospel,” as in Romans 11:25; Romans 16:25; 1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Timothy 3:9; Ephesians 3:9. The truths thus requiring revelation and elucidation are classed as mysteries, as numerous other passages could be used to exemplify. But let it be emphasized, that in all of these examples the basic meaning inherent in the word mysteryis that which cannot be known by the human mind, until by superhuman source it is made known to it.

(2) The explanation of the mystery.

The seven golden candlesticks denoted, that as organized bodies, a congregation receives light and reflects it. It is a significant illustration of the functions and the ministries of the local churches. The emblem of gold underscored the evaluation Jesus Christ makes of his church, and the estimate he has placed upon it. The seven stars were representative of position, such as Christ at the right hand of God, indicating that there is something in the symbol that has this representative place in the right hand of Christ. The figure calls for pause and reflection, by all who hold position in the church, lest we should become falling stars!

The angels of the churches are not to be taken as single representatives of the respective congregations, but rather the individual spirit of each church. It is the same in meaning as the description elsewhere of “the seven spirits before his throne.” It is a symbolic angel, and it refers to the spirit of the church itself.

When Paul commanded the Corinthian church to exclude the incestuous person from their congregation, he gave the reason: “that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” It seems the apostle’s reference to the spirit applied to the Corinthian church--that it might be saved from corruption, and thus to receive approval in standing before him. It is well to consider the spirit that is manifested in a congregation, and that motivates and controls all of its worship and service.

The connotation of the word angel may signify various ministries of physical and spiritual beings, both earthly and heavenly. It is used in Matthew 24:31 in reference to the emissaries of the gospel; and in Hebrews 1:14 it refers to immaterial and spiritual but intellectual beings whom God employs to execute the orders of divine providence, as also employed in Revelation 1:1; Revelation 22:8. The apostle Paul applied the word, in 1 Corinthians 11:8-10, to the venerable men in the Corinthian church; and the angels (spirits) of little children are said by Jesus, in Matthew 18:10, to behold the face of the Father in heaven. In Judges 1:6 it is used as an appellation for the early representatives of the race of man in an unnamed period, who forfeited their high estates by apostasy, and were condemned to darkness and judgment, and in Matthew 25:41, and 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, it is used to describe the devil and his demons. But in Revelation 20:1 the word applies to Jesus Christ himself.

This is rather a wide classification of the word angel, but it is used in all of these senses. In the vision of the first chapter of Revelation it seems evident that the word refers to the spirit of each church.

The stars in the vision are its members, every member --all members in the body of Christ, of the true spirit, are stars in His hand. There is no teaching that exalts one class in the church to any position above all the others, as all the members of Christ stand in equal relation to Him. For one to be exalted above another would “not be so among you,” Jesus said to his disciples, in Matthew 20:26.

As each of the seven churches was individual in character and conduct, they were so in spirit also, and the letters of Jesus to these seven churches were addressed to the angel or spirit of each congregation respectively. The word angel, therefore, does not designate a representative person, but symbolically the representative spirit of each church-- the spirit of the church.

(3) The central figure.

Jesus Christ was Himself the abiding presence in the churches, directing their work, walking and dwelling in their midst, as the centrifugal and the centripetal spiritual force in each congregation. He was holding the stars in his hand; he was walking among the candlesticks; he was the guiding presence, the moving energy, the inspiring influence, the infinite indweller in every faithful churchand that is true of every true and faithful church of Christ today.

The threefold description of the church was as gold in purity and worth--a golden candlestick; and as stars of glory in his possession, shining in his hand; and He Himself in the midst, as the sun around which the spiritual planets revolve.

Commentary on Revelation 1:19-20 by Walter Scott



Revelation 1:19. "Write therefore what thou hast seen, and the things that are, and the things that are about to be after these things."

It will be observed that between the first command to write (Revelation 1:11) and the second (Revelation 1:19), we have the glorious appearance of Christ beheld by the Seer in vision (Revelation 1:12-16), and this he is to record. The word "therefore" (omitted in the Authorised Version) is important here, as connecting the command to write with the dignity of the speaker. Divine greatness, combined with human tenderness in the Lord, have done their mighty moral work in the soul of John; hence the introduction of the word "therefore" as linking the command with the divine consolation, conveyed in two of the most precious verses (Revelation 1:17-18) in the Apocalypse.


The great divisions of the book are here written for the instruction of the Church of God. "What thou hast seen" refers to the vision of Christ just beheld Revelation 1:12-16). "The things that are" refer to the several successive, broadly-defined features of the professing Church, and of Christ’s relation thereto, till its final rejection, not yet accomplished (Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22). "The things that are about to be after these things." In this third division the world and the Jews, and, we may add, the corrupt and apostate Church, i.e., that which is to be "spued out," are embraced in this strictly prophetic part of the Apocalypse (Revelation 4:1-11; Revelation 22:5).

Nothing has more contributed to throw discredit on prophetic studies than the erroneous principle on which it has been sought to understand this book. Here is the key for its interpretation hanging at the door. Take it down, use it, and enter in. There is simplicity and consistency in apportioning the main contents of the book to a past, a present, and a future. You cannot consistently lift events out of the future, or third division, and place them in the second. Each division has its own group of events, and to transpose them is to wrest Scripture. The breaking of the Seals, the blowing of the Trumpets, and the pouring out of the Vials are, with numerous other prophetic events, embraced in the third division, i.e., are comprised within the time contemplated in Revelation 4:1-11; Revelation 22:5, and that supposes the close of the Church’s sojourn on earth.

The divisions do not overlap. The first is a complete vision by itself. The second is as distinct as either the first or third. The successive phases of Church history, traced from the close of the first century, are a full and comprehensive account by themselves. The third division is so plainly a prophetic outline that neither its details nor principles can be made to fit into the present. "The things that are" are running their course. The Church is yet publicly recognized and owned of God, and it is its history which is chronicled by the Spirit of inspiration in chapters 2 and 3, and not that of Jews and Gentiles to which the Seals, Trumpets, and Vials apply. Introduce these now and you make the Church the present subject of judicial judgment, which, in point of fact, it is not. It is the loathsome rejection of the professing Church (Revelation 3:1-22; Revelation 16:1-21) which terminates its history as God’s public witness on earth, and introduces us into the prophetic scenes of the last days. The Church fills up the gap between the break with Israel and the resumption of divine dealing with the ancient people. Ecclesiastical history forms, in brief, "the things that are," whereas a prophetic crisis of but a few years is the period covered by the "things that are about to be after these things." History characterises the second division. Prophecy is the distinguishing feature of the third division. Ecclesiastical history for nearly nineteen centuries is graphically and energetically sketched in chapters 2 and 3.

The great political consummation is unfolded: in Revelation 6:1-17; Revelation 7:1-17; Revelation 8:1-13; Revelation 9:1-21; Revelation 10:1-11; Revelation 11:1-19; Revelation 12:1-17; Revelation 13:1-18; Revelation 14:1-20; Revelation 15:1-8; Revelation 16:1-21; Revelation 17:1-18; Revelation 18:1-24; Revelation 19:1-21. The apostate civil power, guilty and rebellious Judah, and the whore, the corruptness of the earth, are the special subjects of God’s providential dealings in judgment. It has been sought to distinguish between "fulfilled" and "unfulfilled" prophecy. All prophecy is concentrated in the close of the seventieth week of Daniel (Daniel 9:25-27), although it may have commenced centuries before. The desolation of Jerusalem by the Gentiles, foretold by the Lord thirty-seven years before its capture by Titus (Luke 21:1-38), culminates at that great gathering point of all prophecy, the Coming of the Son of Man (v. 27). Hence no prophecy has had an exhaustive fulfilment. The broken threads of prophecy are resumed with Israel at the close of the Church period. The principles of the coming apostasy are actively at work; the circumstances are forming, and it may be some of the main actors of the prophetic crisis are presently alive and ready for action when the devil begins to play his terrible role. But so long as the Church is recognised of God the full development of evil is hindered. The Holy Ghost in the Church is the main check to the awful outburst of evil, i.e., the denial of all divine authority (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8). The "things that are" must necessarily terminate before any of the prophetic events embraced within the "things which shall be after these" can have their place. The character of the present forbids any application of the future save in present moral power.

Revelation 1:20


Revelation 1:20. "The mystery of the seven stars which thou hast seen on My right hand, and the seven golden lamps. The seven stars are angels of the seven assemblies; and the seven lamps are the seven assemblies." The word "mystery" alone used in the New Testament signifies what is secret and hidden till revealed, then, of course, it ceases to be a mystery. But certain truths after their revelation are yet spoken of as mysteries, as none but those taught of God can understand them or know them. Thus the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 13:1-58) are wrapped up in parables clear as sunlight to disciples, but dark as midnight to unbelievers (vv. 11, 13). Take another instance. The mass of Christendom dream of an improved and improving world, and actually pervert the word "leaven," which ever denotes evil (1 Corinthians 5:8; Galatians 5:9; Matthew 16:6), to signify its exact opposite to good. The numerous scientific, educational, and religious agencies are spoken of as "leaven," which will in time effect the moral regeneration of the world. Yet on this the Scriptures speak with no uncertain sound: "The mystery of iniquity doth already work," not "the mystery of good," but "of iniquity." The secret working of evil till it fully ripens and the "man of sin" appear, its public development and living expression are to believers well-known and established truths, while the mass, who only bear the Christian name, ridicule them. "Mystery" then signifies what has been kept secret or hidden, and which those only who have the mind of Christ understand.

The seven stars are said to be in His right hand in verse 16, and on His right hand in Revelation 1:20. The thought seems to be that in the former is denoted their security and blessing, while in the latter their public relation to Christ is expressed; He upholds them.

But why are the stars termed angels? In commenting on verse 16 we saw that the stars set forth spiritual rulers in the churches, eminent persons responsible to witness for God in the present dark night of the Church’s history. But additional thoughts are suggested by the stars being termed angels. The word "angel" in itself does not denote nature, but office; it signifies a messenger. The context and the special use of the word can alone determine its application to persons or to spiritual beings. In Luke 7:24; Luke 9:52; 2 Corinthians 12:7; James 2:25 the term "angel," or its plural, is used of those sent on messages of various kinds. Service is the great characteristic of the race of spiritual beings spoken of as "angels" (Psalms 103:20-21; Hebrews 1:13-14).

But there is another sense in which the word angel is employed, namely, as a representative. Thus in Matthew 18:10, "See that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in Heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in Heaven" (R.V.). The word "angels" in this case cannot mean "messengers," but signifies those who in Heaven represent the little ones who belong to God. Representation is the thought. "It is his angel" (Acts 12:15).

20. "The stars are the angels." That is, not only do they witness for God in the Church as the stars do in the terrestrial heavens, but they are also angels, or messengers from God to the churches and from the churches to God, and, further, they morally represent the separate churches in their state, trials, failures, and general condition before God. The angel of the Church is "the symbolical representative of the assembly seen in those responsible in it, which indeed all really are." Thus in the full position occupied by the stars we have combined a threefold thought: spiritual rule, channel of divine and human communication, and moral representation before God.

The seven golden lamps signify that the Church is spiritually complete before God, that its original constitution and standing is according to God’s very nature, and that its mission is to shine for Him.

20. "The seven lamps are seven assemblies." There can be no doubt in the mind of the careful reader of the first three chapters of the Apocalypse that while the seven churches of Asia as a whole are representative of the Church universal, at the same time the separate assemblies are viewed as each resting on its own base, and all sufficiently apart for the Lord to walk in the midst. He is amongst them for reproof, for correction, for encouragement. Every ecclesiastical act of a high-handed character is witnessed by Him Who never slumbers nor sleeps. The arrogancy of many of the "clergy" on the one hand, and the democracy of the "laity" on the other, are rapidly destroying the Church in its outward character, so that scarce a trait of the true Church is presented to the world. Thank God that that which Christ builds is impregnable (Matthew 16:18) and loved (Ephesians 5:25).

Commentary on Revelation 1:19-20 by E.M. Zerr

Revelation 1:19. The subject matter of what John is to write is divided into three parts, namely, what he hast seen, are, and shall be; past, present and future. However the past goes back only to the things he had seen since coming as an exile to Patmos.

Revelation 1:20. A mystery is anything not revealed or understood, and it is here applied to some of the things which John hast seen and which until now had not been explained to him. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven candlesticks represent the churches. Since the angel is telling John what are represented by the stars and candlesticks it is foolish for men to offer speculations on the subject. Angels of the seven churches. The word for angel in the New Testament is ANGELOS, which means primarily "a messenger." But it has several shades of application and each case must be considered separately. We should adhere to what the text says and then we will be on safe ground. The angels of these churches are spoken of in the singular number for each church. The churches were established ones and hence had elders who are always spoken of in the plural. Therefore all we know and all we need to know is that these angels were not elders but were persons who were responsible for getting the letters before the respective congregations. For that reason John was instructed to write the letters to these angels, and they in turn would see that the documents would be delivered to the churches in the proper way to make them responsible for the admonition and/or encouragement contained therein.

Commentary on Revelation 1:19-20 by Burton Coffman

Revelation 1:19

Write therefore the things which thou sawest, and the things which are, and the things which shall come to pass hereafter.

This is John’s commission to write the vision for the benefit of the seven churches, and for all generations. Of course, the three things mentioned which John was to write have often been understood as an outline of the book, the things which he saw referring to Revelation 1, the things which are pertaining to Revelation 2 and Revelation 3, and the things that shall be "hereafter" referring to the balance of the prophecy. However, we agree with Smith who said, "This classification does not help much in interpretation."[52] Furthermore, he pointed out that the word "hereafter" is used eight other times in Revelation 4:1; Revelation 7:1; Revelation 7:9; Revelation 9:12; Revelation 15:5; Revelation 18:1; Revelation 19:1; Revelation 20:3! It is very difficult to reconcile this repeated use of "hereafter" with the theory that everything in the book was fulfilled "shortly" after it was written. Erdman also objected strongly to the "popular view" that this verse gives us a three-fold outline of Revelation.[53] Caird also thought that, "It is better to take the words "things which thou sawest" to mean the whole of John’s vision."[54] It is the view of this interpreter that in each of the cycles covered by the prophecy there are things past, present, and future in all of them. For example, the judgment, mentioned over and over again, is a future event; and it is mentioned no less than seven times, each mention of it coming in a different section of the book.

[52] Wilbur M. Smith, Wycliffe Bible Commentary, New Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 1059.

[53] Charles R. Erdman, The Revelation of John (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1936), p. 42.

[54] G. R. Caird, op. cit., p. 26.

Revelation 1:20

The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks are seven churches.

Seven stars are the angels of the seven churches ... All kinds of efforts have been made to identify these "angels" of the seven churches as the ruling bishop, the pastor, the chief elder, or other human representative of the church; but such a view cannot be otherwise than incorrect. As Plummer said:

Whatever may be the exact conception, "the angel" is identified with and made responsible for the church to a degree wholly unsuited to any human officer ... he is punished with it; he is rewarded with it.[55]

Erdman, Earle, Plummer, and many many others have understood the angel to be a personification of the church itself; but the best explanation this student has uncovered is that of R. H. Banowsky, thus:

The angels are the symbolical representatives of the churches ... in toto. The angels then are all those members of the church who are actively engaged in carrying out God’s commands ... in any or all congregations throughout the world. Christ holds them in the hollow of his hand and gives them the strength and protection that only He can give.[56]

In keeping with this interpretation is the fact that in spite of the seven letters being directed in each case to "the angel" of the church, it is not an angel, but the church itself which is addressed. "Hear what the Spirit saith to the churches" is the injunction repeated no less than seven times, applying in each case to the message that was written to "the angel" of the various churches. It is clearly the members of the church who are addressed; hence, the conclusion must be that in some kind of metaphorical language, the members are individually represented under the figure of an angel, that is a star, in Christ’s right hand.

The consideration should also be noted that, if any such thing as a metropolitan "bishop" had been intended by this, there can be no doubt whatever that the primitive church would have preserved this title for "bishop."

The seven candlesticks are seven churches ... It was noted under Revelation 1:13 that in the vision, these churches are not joined in one corporate unity, as was the case with the Jewish candlestick, familiar to all as depicted on the Arch of Titus. No. They were separate and independent, indicating the autonomy and completeness of each local unit of the church of Christ. Also, there is another lesson to be received from this, when the illustration is compared with the words of Jesus who warned that a person’s religious life, his spiritual life, should not be hidden under a bushel, under a bed, or under a vessel; but that it should be put "on a stand!" (Luke 8:16 and its parallels). The application is that a truly spiritual life is always identified with the local congregation of the Lord’s people. In plain words, this simply means that every Christian should "put his membership in the church." If he does not do so, he is not likely to have any spiritual life whatever within a very short time.

It is characteristic of Revelation that, even after it has been "explained," the mystery and uncertainty often remain. It must be admitted that the interpretation we have received concerning the "angels" of the churches still leaves many questions about it. Significantly, this is true even after the heavenly voice has itself told us what the stars in Jesus’ hand represent. For those interested in a further pursuit of this, Beckwith has given a somewhat extensive review of the various solutions proposed by scholars. He concluded the review with the solution that both the lampstand and the angels represent the churches. "The lampstand represents the outward organic life of the church; the star symbolizes the angel which is the invisible spiritual life of the congregation."[57]

[55] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 8.

[56] R. H. Banowsky, The Revelation of the Holy City (Fort Worth, Texas: The J. E. Snelson Printing Company, 1967), p. 12.

[57] Isbon T. Beckwith, op. cit., p. 446.

Commentary on Revelation 1:19-20 by Manly Luscombe

19 Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. Write - John will record what he sees and hears. He will write under the inspiration and direction of Jesus. The things which are - Jesus is going to show John the current situation. Remember, John is isolated in exile. He will learn what is happening back in Ephesus and the other cities. Things which shall be - Jesus will show John what is going to happen shortly. This is a clear statement that this work is prophecy. It has a predictive element.

20 The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches. Mystery - This book is full of symbols. Some of them are explained. Some of them we can figure out by the context. Some of them we may not know. Some of the imagery was not intended to be symbolic, just for dramatic effect. Stars - The stars represent the messengers who will deliver the book to the various churches in Asia Minor. Candlesticks - The candlesticks, stands of shining light in a dark world, are the churches to whom this book is addressed.

Sermon on Revelation 1:12-20
Seeing Jesus

Brent Kercheville

John tells his audience that he is on Patmos, suffering for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. It is the first day of the week, Sunday, which John calls the Lord’s day and John is seeing a vision. John hears a loud voice behind him and the voice sounds like trumpets. Imagine the sound of the trumpet in your mind. Hear that powerful sound in your mind. The voice instructs John to write the things he sees in a book and send it to the seven churches in the Roman province of Asia. As we read what John sees, I ask you to visualize and imagine the descriptions given. The book of Revelation is a picture book. The images are intended to teach and to spark an emotion upon seeing the things John sees.

What John Saw (Revelation 1:12-16)

John turns to see who is speaking. When he turns, John sees seven golden lampstands. Recall that we learned in verse 1 that these images represent something. This is a book that is written in symbols and we must understand what the symbols mean. In Revelation 1:20 we are told what this symbol means. The seven lampstands represent the seven churches who were to receive this letter. In the middle of the seven lampstands is one like the son of man. We mentioned in our last lesson that the voice of trumpets reminds us of Exodus 19 when there was a loud sound like trumpets as God came to Mount Sinai to give the ten commandments. We know the divine is speaking. With the additional statement that John sees one like the son of man, we know what John sees the Messiah, Jesus. Recall in Daniel 7:13-14 we read about the Messiah, called “one like the son of man,” who comes in the clouds to the Father, called “the Ancient of Days.” The one like the son of man, Jesus, is standing in the middle of the seven lampstands, wearing a long robe with a golden sash around his chest. This is clothing that is similar to the description of the clothing for the son of man in Daniel 7. However, it is also the same description of the clothing of angels when they appear in a vision (Daniel 10:5-6; Ezekiel 9:2). This clothing is also similar to the priestly attire of the old covenant. This makes for an interesting combination since these clothes were worn by the high priest, but also worn by dignitaries, rulers, and heavenly beings. This is an image of authority in all cases. Jesus is pictured with authority in the midst of these seven churches. Christ is not absent, but stands in the middle of the churches. He knows what they are going through (as will be specifically stated in chapters 2-3) and he is with them in their tribulation.

The description of Christ continues. Continue to visualize the imagery of Jesus. The one like the son of man is seen with white hair on his head, eyes like a flame of fire, his feet like burnished bronze, and his voice like the roar of many waters. These descriptions continue to copy the imagery found in Daniel 7:13-14 and Daniel 10:5-6. His eternal nature is revealed with the white hair, just as it is symbolized in Daniel 7. The eyes like a flame of fire and feet like burnished bronze emphasize the coming of judgment (see Revelation 2:18). Fire pictures his righteous wrath and his feet as having been fired in a furnace are ready to trample the enemies. His voice as the roar of many waters reflects the power Christ possesses. Christ is seen with power, rule, authority, and ready for judgment has he stands in the middle of the seven churches.

The powerful image continues in Revelation 1:16. In Christ’s right hand are seven stars. Coming from Christ’s mouth is a sharp, two-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining at full strength. We will examine these descriptions in reverse order. You know what it is like to look into the sun at full strength. The sun is immediately blinding and causes us to look away. We cannot stand the heat nor the brightness of the sun at its full strength. This is why we are so fascinated with an eclipse. It is the only way to get a glimpse of the sun because some much of it is covered. Yet even though covered by the moon, we can still be blinded during the eclipse because the sun is so strong. John sees Jesus and his face is shining in the full strength of his divinity and it is blinding.

Out of Christ’s mouth comes a sharp two-edged sword. The sword symbolizes the power and the force of his message. His words of judgment are as sharp as any sword. The word of God searches the hearts and it is the word of God that carries judgment (Hebrews 4:12). Isaiah prophesied this characteristic of the Messiah.

And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shallstrike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. (Isaiah 11:3-4 ESV)

Christ is also pictured as holding seven stars in his right hand. In Revelation 1:20 we are told, “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches….” The right hand is a common symbol that depicts might and power. The right hand is the strong hand. Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power, your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy. (Exodus 15:6 ESV) The seven stars are in his right hand and we are told that the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. Who are these angels?

There are two main ways to take this reading. The word translated “angels” is the Greek word aggelos which has two meanings, according to the BDAG lexicon. The first meaning is, “A human messenger serving as an envoy, an envoy, one who is sent.” The second meaning is, “A transcendent power who carries out various missions or tasks, messenger, angel.” Are the seven stars representing human messengers for these seven churches or do these stars represent spiritual beings (angels) who act for these seven churches?

There are a number of difficulties with understanding the seven stars to be seven angels. First, why is Christ holding these seven angels in his right hand? It is hard to determine the meaning of this symbol if seven angels are in view. Second, why would these seven angels be instructed to write a letter to each church? This is not an action that we see in the scriptures. Third, there is no evidence in the scriptures that every local church has an angel watching over it.

It is easier to understand these seven stars as seven human messengers operating on behalf of each local church and represent each church. Epaphroditus worked as a messenger and represented the church at Philippi (Philippians 2:25; Philippians 4:18) and Epaphras was a teacher and represented the church at Colossae (Colossians 4:12). One could certainly see messengers from these seven churches coming to John on Patmos and receiving this revelation from John and the particular message about each local congregation. Therefore, these seven human messengers are depicted as being held in the right hand of Christ. It is a picture of protection and love as Christ holds them even during the suffering that is coming upon them. Christ is protecting the people of God in his right hand while he judges the enemies with the sword of his mouth.

What John Did (Revelation 1:17-20)

When John saw this image of Christ, John falls down at his feet as though dead. John is completely overwhelmed at the sight before him. This is not uncommon in the scriptures. When Ezekiel sees in vision the likeness of the glory of God, he falls down on his face (Ezekiel 1:28). When Daniel sees a powerful spiritual being he fell on his face in a deep sleep with his face on the ground (Daniel 10:9). When Gabriel comes to Daniel, Daniel was frightened and fell on his face (Daniel 8:17). It is this passage that has a strong parallel to Revelation. Gabriel touched Daniel and made him stand up and then reveals a prophecy about the things to come. John experiences the same thing as Christ lays his hand on him and begins to give John his instructions.

Christ then explains to John was he is seeing. It is the Christ. He is the first and the last and the living one. He died and is alive forever. Notice that the eternal nature of Christ is emphasized. He is the first and the last (eternal). He is the living God. He died but now is living forever and ever. Christ is the eternal Lord.

Christ also has the keys to death and Hades. Hades is the realm of the dead, the place of departed souls. Christians do not have to fear death or the grave because Christ has power and authority over both. Christ has defeated the powers of evil and has gained control over these twin powers. Do not fear death. Be assured that your perseverance in Jesus will be rewarded with victory over the grave because Christ has died and rose from the dead.

In Revelation 1:19 John is instructed by our Lord Jesus to write. Revelation 1:19 is a very important verse because it tells us how the rest of the book is laid out for us. John is to write all the things that he has seen. This is a broad description that parallels the commission given to John in Revelation 1:11, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches….” In Revelation 1:19 we are told more about the contents of what John saw and what John will write. John will write about things that are and things that are to take place after this. There is a two part picture to the things that are to be revealed to us in this book. John is told to write the things that he has seen. There are two things that he is seeing. He is seeing the things that are currently going on and he is seeing things that will take place after that. Many take this statement to mean that the things that are refer to Jesus’ message to the seven churches and the things that will happen after that refer to chapters 4-22. However, I would advise us to consider that the letters to the seven churches are not things that John has seen. The letters to the seven churches are instructions given to the messengers of each church. There are not visions in the letters to the seven churches. The letters to the seven churches follow the form of describing how each church is doing, what they are lacking, and what is about to take place. The commission in Revelation 1:19 is looking past chapters 2-3. Christ is telling John to write down all the things he is going to see in these visions in the book. There are things that the book is describing that are happening now and will have an immediate impact. This fits why the preface to the book told us that the book of Revelation is about things that must soon take place and that the time is near (Revelation 1:1; Revelation 1:3). However, John is also going to see things to write about that will happen after the things that are currently happening. We must be prepared to observe in the book of Revelation the things that were currently happening in the first century when the book was written and observe the things that would happen afterthose first century events. The book is giving a linear description of the things immediate and the things after that.

We have already explained Revelation 1:20 earlier in this lesson but I will summarize its meaning as we close. The seven stars in Christ’s right hand are the human messengers that have come to John to receive this revelation. These human messengers represent the local church they are from and are pictured in the Lord’s powerful right hand, protected and safe. They are instructed to write the words of Christ about their churches. The instructions to these churches are found in chapters 2-3. The seven lampstands represent the seven churches. Christ is in their midst. He knows what they are doing. Christ is not inactive but is with them through the tribulation.


We need to see Jesus as he is described in this chapter. He is in the midst of his churches, holding the people of God in his hand, and bringing judgment of those who harm his people. It is a visual reminder that if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

We also need to see Jesus for his power, glory, and might. At the sight of Jesus in this vision, John falls down as dead. We must not lose that awe and respect for who Jesus is. While this picture of Jesus is a comfort, it is also a reminder how great he is and how little we are.

When we see Jesus as the one who has the keys of death and Hades, we will have nothing to fear in this life. We will not fear tribulation or persecution because Jesus is in control. Jesus died and rose from the dead. If we die for the cause of Christ, we also will be raised from the dead. Do not fear your enemies for Christ is with you and will raise you up if anything happens to you.



Read Revelation 1:1-8

1. What does the word "Revelation" mean? Ans. When applied to the Scriptures it means a making known or manifest, an uncovering of divine truth.

2. Give instances where Paul used the word in this same sense. Ans. Romans 16:25-26; Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 3:3.

3. By whom was The Revelation written? Ans. Revelation 1:1; Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:9; Revelation 22:8.

4. By what other name may the words of the book of Revelation be called? Ans. Revelation 1:3.

5. What did Peter say about the interpretation of prophecy? Ans. 2 Peter 1:20.

6. Why is prophecy not of "private interpretation?" Ans. 2 Peter 1:21.

7. What other books of the Bible did John write? Ans. Search the New Testament. 8. Unto what office had Jesus appointed John? Ans. Matthew 10:2-4.

9. Where was John when these things were revealed to him? Ans. Revelation 1:9.

10. To whom is the book of Revelation addressed? Ans. Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:11; Revelation 22:16.

11. From whom did John receive the Revelation? Ans. Revelation 1:1; Revelation 1:17-19.

12. Of what three things does John bear witness? Ans. Revelation 1:2.

I3. What does Christ "show unto his servants" in this book? Ans. Revelation 1:1.

14. Were these things signified, shown by signs and symbols unto John, or were they revealed without symbolic language? Ans. Revelation 1:1.

15. Give two other instances where John uses the term "signify" in the same sense. Ans. John 12:33; John 21:18-19.

16. Name three things man must do to receive the blessedness of this book. Ans. Revelation 1:3.

17. What assurance do we have of the truth and trustworthiness of this book? Ans. Revelation 19:9; Revelation 21:5; Revelation 22:6.

18. Name thre e titles which were applied to Christ. Ans. Revelation 1:5.

19. What has he done for us? Ans. Revelation 1:5.

20. What did he make us to be? Ans. Revelation 1:6.

21. How will Jesus come? Ans. Revelation 1:7; Acts 1:9-11; Luke 21:27.

22. Who shall see him at his coming? Ans. Revelation 1:7; Matthew 24:30.

23. What will all the tribes of the earth do? Ans. Revelation 1:7.

24. Who are "they that pierced him?" Ans. Psalms 22:16; Jno. 19: 33-37.

25. Can you show that "they who pierced him" will be alive and able to see him at his coming? Ans. Revelation 1:7; John 5:28-29.

26. What is the meaning of Alpha and Omega? Ans. Revelation 1:8; Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:13.


1. Has it ever been possible for man to discover the fulfillment of a prophecy without the aid of inspiration? That is, did Peter, or John, or the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32 ), or the eunuch ( Acts 8:26-35), or any one else know that Jesus had fulfilled prophecy before the fulfillment was divinely revealed unto them?

2. Discuss the difference between a prophecy and a mere warning of an impending calamity as a consequence of man’s disobedience.



Read Revelation 1:9-20

1. In what three things did John say he was a partaker with other brethren? Ans. Revelation 1:9.

2. What kingdom were John and others in at that time? Ans. Colossians 1:13; Matthew 16:18-19.

3. How do we know that John in Revelation 1:9 refers to the present kingdom or church? Ans. Revelation 1:6 (American Standard Version).

4. Give passages where the word "kingdom" means the final state or heaven. Ans.Acts 14:22; 2 Peter 1:11.

5. Why was John in the isle of Patmos? Ans. Revelation 1:9.

6. On what day of the week was John "in the Spirit?" Ans. Revelation 1:10.

7. Give the only other passage in which the Greek word translated "Lord’s" in Revelation 1:10 occurs in the New Testament. Ans. 1 Corinthians 11:20.

8. On what day of the week did Jesus arise from the dead? Ans. Matthew 28:1-6; Luke 24:1-3.

9. Why did the early Christians meet on the first day of the week? Ans. Acts 20:7.

10. What did "a great voice" tell John to do? Ans. Revelation 1:10-11.

11. Name the seven churches of Asia. Ans. Revelation 1:11.

12. How many golden candlesticks did John see? Ans. Revelation 1:12.

13. What do the candlesticks represent? Ans. Revelation 1:20.

14. What was in the midst of the candlesticks? Ans. Revelation 1:13.

15. Describe the person John saw in the midst of the candlesticks. Ans. Revelation 1:13-15.

16. What did he have in his right hand? Ans. Revelation 1:16.

17. What do the seven stars represent? Ans. Revelation 1:20.

18. Who are the "angels of the seven churches"? Ans. No one knows; it has not been revealed.

19. What proceeded out of the mouth of the majestic person of this vision? Ans. Revelation 1:16.

20. What is the "sword of the spirit"? Ans. Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12.

21. What effect did this vision have on John? Ans. Revelation 1:17.

22. How was John given assurance to hear the things which would be revealed? Ans. Revelation 1:17-18.

23. What three classes of things was John told to write? Ans. Revelation 1:19.


1. Discuss the expression, "Keys of death and Hades." (See Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27; Revelation 20:13; Matthew 16:18-19.)

E.M. Zerr

Questions on Revelation

Revelation Chapter One

1. What did God give to Jesus Christ?

2. It was to show what?

3. To whom were they to be shown?

4. By whom was it signified?

5. Unto whom was it signified?

6. What did he hear?

7. Tell what should he read and heard.

8. If so what is the promise?

9. What should be done with things written?

10. Where were the seven churches?

11. Tell who was to write to them.

12. What benedictions were they to receive?

13. From what person were they to be received?

14. From where did the spirits proceed?

15. What other person was united in giving these?

16. Tell what is said of his testimony.

17. In what sense was he the first?

18. Among whom is he the prince?

19. What has he done for us?

20. He has made us to be what?

21. What is to be ascribed to him forever?

22. With what will he come?

23. How many eyes shall see him?

24. What about the ones who pierced him?

25. Tell what all kindreds of the earth will do.

26. State John’s attitude toward this matter.

27. Who is meant by Alpha and Omega?

28. What is associated with Alpha and Omega?

29. How many tenses describe his existence?

30. Who is the "I" of verse 9?

31. State his relation to the churches.

32. In what was he a companion?

33. In what kingdom was he their companion?

34. Tell in what isle the apostle was.

35. Why was he there?

36. In what condition was he placed?

37. On what day of the week was it?

38. What did he hear behind him?

39. Tell what he was saying.

40. What was John told to write?

41. To whom was he to send it?

42. Name the different churches.

43. Why did John turn himself?

44. Tell what he saw.

45. Who was in the midst thereof?

46. How was he clothed?

47. By what was he girded?

48. Describe his head and hair.

49. And also his eyes.

50. Describe his feet. 51. What was his voice like?

52. Ten what was in his right hand.

53. What came out of his mouth?

54. Describe his countenance.

55. Seeing him what did John do?

56. Tell what he did for John then.

57. What assurance did he give him?

58. State the brief history he gave of himself.

59. What did he say he had?

60. State the three things John was to write.

61. Of what mysteries was he to write?

62. Tell what the seven stars represent.

63. AnNow John was given a measuring rod,

To measure the altar and the temple of God.

The outer court was left to be pitted

for the Gentiles would tread the Holy City.

Revelation Chapter One

Ralph Starling

John the “servant of God” wrote the book of Revelation.

To the 7 churches of Asia about their spiritual obligations.

God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were sorely concerned

That these churches might lose all they had earned.

So with figures and symbols for purpose of clarity…

John graphically describes God’s warnings and charity.

With repeated warnings and pleadings please respond

By “reading, hearing and keeping.”

For things are to come in this old world,

If we’re not prepared they will take us for a whirl.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Revelation 1". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/revelation-1.html.
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