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Bible Commentaries

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
Revelation 1



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Questions For 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 be 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 testhnony.

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.Ten 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" of9th verse?

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 (0 write?

62. Tell what the seven stars represent.

63. And the seven candlesticks

Verse 1

The word revelation occurs12times 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 SEMAINOO, which Thayer defines, "To give a sign, to signify, indicate." (See the comments on "symbols" in General remarks[in eSword see Book Notes] 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 kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 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 he 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.

Verse 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 hcar 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 Isaiah , the general program that was to extend down through the centuries was soon to begin.

Verse 4

Let the reader note the statements at the close of General Remarks [in eSword see Book Notes], 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 salutat.ion 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 Isaiah , ices 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.

Verse 5

The faithful witness does not imply there are no other witnesses who tell the truth since we 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.

Verse 6

Made us kinggs 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 difliculty 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.

Verse 7

Behold is a call to attention because something of great importance is about to be said. He cometh in the clouds. The two men in white apparel ( Acts 1:9-11) announced the same thing, and Jesus 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 see 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 he exclaims even Song of Solomon , Amen; both terms mean virtually the same in effect.

Verse 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). Isaiah , was and is to come has the same meaning as in verse4. 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.

Verse 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 premillennialists. 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 lies20 miles south of the island of Samos, 24miles west of Asia Minor, and about70 miles southwest of Ephesus. It is about20 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.

Verse 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 Day. The New testament religion has no holy days as did that of the Old. However, the Lord arose from the dead on the first day of the week ( Mark 16:9), the church was started on the first day of the week ( Leviticus 23:16; Acts 2:1-47), 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 tilt:-1!ftri.s said of no other day. The conclusion is clear that the same day is what is meant by the Lord': 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 verse12says he 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.

Verse 11

Before turning round the voice delivered the names of the churches to which he said in verse4he was writing. The remarks were repeated that are at the beginning of verse8. 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.

Verse 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.

Verse 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.

Verse 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.

Verse 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.

Verse 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 Revelation 1:20 what the seven stars represent. Sharp two-edged sword is 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.

Verse 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 Hebrews -that was the first and the last. Verse8 tells us that the phrase refers to the Lord who is being represented by this angel.

Verse 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 be 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. "

Verse 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.

Verse 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 estabilshed 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.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 1:4". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 26th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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