Revelation - Chapter 1
Revelation is the last book of the Bible. The divine program of the redemption of mankind started in Genesis is brought to completion in this book. The title, Revelation means “unveiling “or disclosure of things previously hidden. This book is the unveiling of the character and the glory of Jesus Christ. This is the revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to Apostle John to show the events that is going to take place suddenly. Jesus is the subject and the source of this revelation. Apostle John identifies himself as the author of the book of Revelation (1:4). This book was written to Christians who were suffering persecution for their faith under Roman Emperor Domitian (A.D. 81-96). God sent an angel to communicate this to John when he was exiled to the Island of Patmos by Emperor Domitian. Following the death of Domitian, John returned to Ephesus. Scholars suggest that John wrote the book of Revelation from Ephesus to encourage the suffering Christians. This book centers on the resurrected and the glorified Christ. He alone has authority to judge the world. Revelation is the only New Testament book that focuses primarily on prophecy. The holy name of God is vindicated in this book.
The book Revelation contains many visions and symbols. This is the revelation of Jesus Christ. John indicates the seven blessings on those who speak, hear and keep the things that are written in Revelation (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7,14). Chapter 1:19 gives the division of the book. "Write the things that you have seen(Chapter 1); the things that are now happening (Chapter 2&3); and the things that will happen (Chapter 4-22). Chapter 4-22 describe the events which will take place after the church age. The book of Revelation is a difficult book to interpret. Some hold the view that this book as a record of conflicts early church with Judaism and pagan religions. Others hold the idealistic interpretation. They think that this book points out mostly spiritual lessons to encourage the believers. The third interpretation holds the view that Revelation covers the history starting with the early church to the coming of Christ. The first three views fail to fit the facts of this book. So many scholars hold the view that Christ will return for His church before the futuristic events recorded in this book from chapter 4-22.
Revelation is the open Book for everyone to read:1:1-3.
Many believers find it difficult to understand the book of Revelation. Some even consider it fanciful. But God does promise great blessing to those who read, hear, speak and obey the things written in Revelation (Rev 1:3). God said that this book should remain open to everyone to understand (Rev 22:10). This understanding does not come by natural process of our own thinking but from an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. From Genesis to Revelation every verse of the Bible ultimately speaks of Jesus Christ. Chapter 1, verse 19 gives the divisions of Revelation. “Write the things which you have seen and those that are and the things that will happen”. The thing John has seen was the vision of the glorified Christ (1:9-18). John presents this book as the revelation of Jesus Christ (1:1). The events of chapter 2 and 3 refer to entire Church age. The events which take place from chapter 4 through the end of Revelation will happen after the Church age is over. Since these things soon to take place, this urgent message should prepare God’s people for the future. The purpose of the study of Revelation is not to satisfy our curiosity or to engage in some intellectual speculation but to know Christ as our glorified Savior and King. It was written to prepare us for what lies ahead. John pronounces the seven blessings on those who speak, hear and obey the things that are written in this book (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14). Jesus now reigns and blesses those who are faithful to him to the end. This book is the closing commentary on the person and work of Christ.
Greetings to the seven Churches: 1:4.
John now addresses the seven Churches in Asia Minor (Modern Turkey). Paul wrote seven letters to seven Churches. John wrote one letter to seven Churches. The entire book of Revelation is actually one letter that was distributed to the seven churches. The opening chapters describe Jesus as being in the midst of the churches, actively engaging with these churches. When John wrote his letter, spiritual condition of these churches was in decline (2:4). These seven churches may represent the entire church age. When we experience suffering and heartache, this book can strengthen us to stand firm in Christ. God did not promise His blessing to those who simply read or hear this book but to those who obey what is written in it. These seven churches were located in a circle stating with Ephesus and ending with Laodicea. John greets them with a standard greeting (1:4, 5). Grace and peace are the blessings everyone who trusts in the Lord can enjoy in this life. Grace is God’s love and kindness revealed in Christ Jesus (John 1:14). It is the undeserving favor from God which cannot be earned by good work. Peace includes the idea of complete well-being. Peace flows from the God's matchless grace. John gives a graphic description of God the Father who is without beginning or end, and the seven spirits who is before his throne and Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness, the first born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev 1:4, 5). The seven Spirits is a reference to the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:1, 2). Thus Christ is not only the object of the book but also the co-originator.
Christ deserves our Praise and Worship: 1:5, 6.
Following the greeting, John gives the personal description of Christ. He is the faithful witness of the Father. We know the Father only through Christ (John 14:9). He fulfilled the law and the prophets. He is the end of the law (Rom 10:4). Christ revealed what the future hold for His people. He is the first begotten from the dead. He conquered death, sin and Satan by His death and resurrection. Jesus is referred as the firstborn of the dead because His resurrection guarantees the future resurrection of all believers (1 Cor 15:20-22). Jesus loved us and has freed us from our sins by his blood (1:5). He is risen from the dead. This is the message of the gospel. Now He reigns in the hearts of all who believe in Him. He demonstrated his love for us on the cross when He died. Someone has said “There no love like the love of a dying Savior “. How wonderful to know that Jesus keeps on loving us! Christ sets us free from our sins. It was the divine love that motivates him to give his life as a ransom for our sins. We are saved from judgment of sin. Christ lives to free us from the grip of sin. He has made us kingdom of priest to serve God (1 Pet 2:9). He is worthy of our praise and worship. This is the wonder of the gospel!
Behold Christ is Coming: 1:7, 8.
Christ is coming in glory to reign in righteousness and truth. It is an obvious reference to Christ’s second coming (Matt 24:30). Once in every 25 verses it is mentioned in the New Testament. His coming was anticipated by the Old Testament prophets (Zachariah 12:10). Christ Himself promised about it (John 14:3). It was confirmed by the angels (Acts 1:11). Christ’s coming was attested by apostles (1 Cor 15:51, 52). Christ is coming with clouds. He will come in glory and power. He will bring His redeemed ones with Him. At his coming with clouds every eye will see him, even those who pierced Him (1:7). They will weep because of their treatment of Him. And those who rejected Jesus will share the same destiny as those who demanded his death. No wonder there will be great wailing and weeping on earth. Christ is the eternal one. “I am Alpha and Omega”. He was before all things and nothing existed before him (Col 1:17). The past, present and future are eternally present in Christ (John 1:1). Christ is the Almighty God. This speaks of His absolute sovereignty. It means Christ has absolute supremacy in all things. In His sovereign purpose He controls everything. He is in control of all our situations (James 5:11). He always has been and always will be God. These titles apply to both God the Father and God the Son. Bible does not give a physical description of Christ, yet allows us to see the glorified Christ full of power and majesty in the pages of Bible. Because of the salvation Jesus has accomplished, He is worth of praise. For now Christ is revealed by the Holy Spirit. Pray God to use us to share the glorious gospel of Christ with others. May the Holy Spirit open their eyes to see the reality of Christ.
John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day: 1:9-11.
John introduces himself to the seven Churches as their brother and partner in tribulation and the kingdom of God. John was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. He was one among the three key apostles. John was known as the disciple whom Jesus loved. He was an eye witness of the glory of Jesus. John alone remained near the cross with the faithful women at the time of Christ’s crucifixion. John was asked to take care of Mary, the mother of Jesus. He was a true witness of Christ. Tradition tells us that John was exiled by Emperor Domitian to the island of Patmos because of the testimony of Jesus Christ. Probably it is a reference to his personal gospel ministry. All those who embrace gospel will face tribulation (John 16:33). Patmos was rocky volcanic island on the Aegean Sea and also it was a Roman penal colony. In the midst of John's suffering, the risen Christ appears to him in glory (1:10). Suffering is inescapable in Christian life (Act 14:22). John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. There is no indication that it was Sunday. The day of Christ 's resurrection is referred as "the first day of the week" in the scripture. Every day is the Lord's day because He is the Lord of all things. The day of the Lord indicates a period of judgment. Some suggest that John might have received a future view of coming judgement on that day. He was alone yet his focus was on Christ. Only those who seek Christ will receive the vision of the glorified Savior. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to reveal Christ to believers (John 16:14). John heard behind him a trumpet like voice saying “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches”.
Vision of the Son of Man: 1:12.
Four times the phrase “in the Spirit” is used in Revelation (1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10). John received four different visions of Christ. First he saw Christ as the High priest, the sovereign King and the Prophet standing in the midst of the seven Churches (1:11, 12). Secondly John saw Christ as the Lamb that was slain (5:12). Thirdly he saw Jesus as the glorious King (19:1). Fourthly John saw the glorified Christ sitting on the throne in the New Jerusalem making all things new (21:5). True worship takes place only when God reveals the glorified Christ to his servants. The Lord’s Day is different from the first day of the week. The day of the Lord is the period of time when God judges the world and triumphs over His enemy. John was given the vision of the coming judgment (Rev 6-20). Some scholars suggest that the Lord's day may a reference to the first day of the week when Christ has risen from the dead (Acts 20:7; Rom 1:4). When John turned to see the voice that spoke, he saw seven golden lamp-stands and Jesus is standing in the midst of them. They symbolize the seven churches in Asia Minor (1:20). Each church stands to bear it own witness.
Graphic description of the Glorified Christ: 1:13-18.
John saw among the lamp-stands one like the Son of Man walking in the midst of them. This is a reference to the Son of Man mentioned in Daniel 7:13. Christ used this title more than any other titles in the Gospels. The graphic description of Christ here clearly displays his deity. Christ is dressed in a long robe with a golden sash around his chest. This speaks of His royal priesthood and authority (Ex 29:5). His head and his hairs were white like wool. This is the description of the Ancient of days (Daniel 7:9). Christ is eternal God and He is before all things. His eyes were like flaming fire. Nothing is hidden from Him. All things are naked and opened to him (Heb 4:13). His feet are like unto fine brass. Christ executes divine judgments on His enemies. His voice is like the sound of many rushing waters. This is a reference to Almighty God in Judgment (19:6). In His right hand he held seven stars. These Seven stars are seven messengers of the seven Churches (1:20). Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword. This is symbolic of the word of God. Christ will judge His enemies with the Word of His mouth (Heb 4:12). His words are true and absolute. His face was like the sun, shining in all its brilliance. On the mount of transfiguration Christ’s face shone like the sun (Matt 17:2). When John saw the glorified Christ he fell at His feet as dead. Jesus said to him "Fear not , I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died and behold I am alive forevermore" (1:17-18). Those who are in Christ have nothing to fear. Jesus is the loving and living Savior who is able to strengthen us in our difficulties.
John’s Assurance to Write: 1:19-20.
John was assured that the Christ is alive and He is in sovereign control of all things. Only Christ can set us free from fear because He was raised from the dead and death no longer has mastery over him. Christ holds the keys of death and Hades. Death and hell cannot bind the followers of Christ. John was commissioned to write the things he had seen, the things that are now happening and the things that will happen. And the seven stars are the messengers of the seven Churches in Asia Minor. Here is a perfect example of scripture interpreting scripture (1:12). The seven lamp-stands are the seven Churches. Christ loves the church and strengthens her by His presence. Only Christ can set us free from sin and gives victory over sin. He is our source of comfort in suffering. With these verses John ends the record of the things he has seen. Christ is worthy of our devotion and worship.