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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Revelation 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-20

Revelation 1:1-2. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

John was a most suitable person to see and to bear record of the Word of God, for in his gospel (John 19:35) he describes himself at the cross as both seeing and bearing record. So now that his once-crucified Lord is in his glory, it seemed meet that the same beloved disciple should both see him and bear record concerning him. No eyes were so fit to see the glory of Christ as those which had looked with so much love into the eyes of Jesus of Nazareth in the days of his humiliation. The head that had rested upon his Master’s bosom at the supper table was prepared thereby for all the glory that should afterwards be revealed. The nearer your communion with Christ is, the more will you be permitted to know of him. Our perceptions of Christ, if they are true, will be spiritual; and in proportion as our spiritual life is in a right condition, shall we be able to know more and more of him.

Revelation 1:3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

I do not perceive that John says, “Blessed are they that understand this Book,’ for, surely, they would be very few. I do not doubt that there are portions of Scripture which are not meant to be understood as yet, —things concerning the future which are wrapped up in a phraseology which will be plain enough when that future arrives, but which for the present are not intended so much to gratify our curiosity as to stimulate our watchfulness. To keep us constantly on the look out, is the main object of every revelation concerning the future. So far, then, we have the proem or preface of this great Book of the Revelation.

Revelation 1:4-5. John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.

John’s benediction to the seven churches of Asia is like that of Paul when he is writing to a Christian church, “Grace be unto you, and peace.” You have probably noticed that, when Paul is writing to a minister individually, his greeting is, “Grace, mercy, and peace;” for they who have the solemn charge of souls need “mercy” above all other men. May they find mercy of God in that day! But to the churches themselves, it is simply this double benediction, “Grace be unto you, and peace.” These blessings, coming in their proper order, grace first, and peace afterwards, are very precious. That peace which is not founded upon grace, and does not follow grace, is a false peace. “Grace be unto you, and peace.” But if you have grace, peace ought to follow; you have a right to it, it is a logical sequence to the possession of the grace of God. Well does Dr. Watts sing, —

“If sin be pardon’d, I’m secure;

Death hath no sting beside.”

If grace be given, glory will follow. Wherefore, beloved, “Grace be unto you, and peace.” And this grace and peace must come from the Lord Jesus: “from him which is, and which was, and which is to come.” This grace and peace must come from the eternal Father, the self-existent Jehovah, and from the ever-blessed Spirit. God alone is the Lord and Giver of grace and peace. And this double blessing must come from a realization of the Lord Jesus Christ in his glorious character as “the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth.” Never forget, dear friends, that even today Christ is the Prince of the kings of the earth. The Queen reigns, and the Czar reigns; but it is still more true that “The Lord reigneth.” There is One who is higher than the highest of all earthly kings, even “the Prince of the kings of the earth.”

Revelation 1:5-6. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Do not all of us, who truly know our Lord, say that? Do we not wish for him glory and honour beyond anything that we can conceive? May all dominion be his for ever and ever, for it is his by right!

Revelation 1:7. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him. and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.

They have crucified him; all kindreds of the earth have, alas! had a share in Christ’s death, and dying unforgiven, or being found alive at his coming without repentance, they “shall wail because of him.”

Revelation 1:7. Even so, Amen.

Though the wicked shall wail at Christ’s appearing, the saints must give consent to the judgments of God as well as to his mercies: “Even so, Amen.”

Revelation 1:8-12. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me.

This was a very natural thing for John to do. We always feel a desire to see who it is that addresses us, and especially would this be the case if we heard such a sentence as this, spoken with a trumpet voice by One who could truly say it, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” Who would not have turned to see such a Speaker? I am sure that John would, for he must have recognized that voice, though it was pitched in a higher key than usual, and was full of more sonorous force than when he last heard it. He must have known the voice of the Start Here Well-beloved as he spake again to his highly-favored servant.

Revelation 1:12-13. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, —

It was the very same Son of man, but John could only say” like unto the Son of man,” — like unto the One whom he had known long before, and whom he had loved with undying affection, — like him, but, oh! how unlike him, notwithstanding. The Christ in every position is still discernible as “like unto the Son of man.” As John sees him, with his face shining like the sun in its strength, yet still he is “like unto the Son of man.” In the manger, he was like to what he was afterwards upon the cross; on the cross, he was like to what he is now upon his throne; and when he comes again in all his glory, he will still be like unto what he was and always is, — “ the Son of man.” “In the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man,” —

Revelation 1:13-18. Clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

That dear familiar touch of Christ’s right hand had quickened John into sensibility again, and brought him back from his swoon when he was lying at Christ’s feet as dead. O Master, if we are dead in a worse sense than John was, if we have fallen into a spiritual swoon, if we have come into a fainting fit, lay thy pierced hand upon us now, and we shall live! Come near us, O Lord, come nearer, nearer still, and touch thy servants with thy hand of love and power, and we shall be able to hear what thou hast to say, and our heart shall be strong to obey thy command!

Revelation 1:19-20. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks.

Then he proceeds to explain what he meant, just after the manner of the Son of man who, when he pronounced a parable in public, opened it up to his own disciples in secret, even as he does still. Oh, how blessedly is “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever”! His characteristics never change what he was, he is, and that he ever will be, blessed be his holy name.”

Revelation 1:20. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

The Lord bless to us all the reading of this precious passage from his Word! Amen.


Verses 15-20

In the first fourteen verses we have given to us part of the glowing description of the glories of the ascended Christ, and here it is completed.

Revelation 1:15. And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

Seas lashed to tempests, cataracts leaping from their stupendous heights —such was the voice of Christ.

Revelation 1:16. And he had in his right hand seven stars: And out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword:

For his word is a killing thing.

Revelation 1:16. And his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

What magnificent figures put together! We are well prepared to find that John could not long endure this majestic representation of the Lord.

Revelation 1:17. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.

He was not only brought to the posture of reverence, but he was so overawed that he became unconscious. It is the same person upon whose breast John had leaned his head, yet now he is represented as John had never seen him before. He was not so at the last supper; he was not so upon the cross; he was not so on the Mount of Transfiguration; he was not so even when he had risen from the dead, and, perhaps, he will not be so when we see him in his glory. This was a specially instructive representation of Christ, and it was too much even for the trained and educated spirit of John the Divine.

Revelation 1:17-18. And he laid his right hand upon me. saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

This is the great consolation of the people of God when they are brought very low — that Jesus lives, that Jesus reigns, that Jesus still comforts us and draws near to us in all the majesty of his power.

Revelation 1:19-20. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; 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 which thou sawest are the seven churches.

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 77; Revelation 1:15-20.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Revelation 1:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/revelation-1.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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