Category Archives: REVELATION 1

The Book of Revelation gives details of the way in which theLord Jesus will manifest Himself in the future.

REVELATION 1

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The character and purpose of the Book of Revelation is simply stated by John when he tells us that he is passing on the revelation that God gave to Jesus Christ. So the book is not a series of predictions by John himself. The title “Revelation of St. John the Divine”, as given in some Bibles, is completely off the mark. That is a title added by man, for the true title is the first phrase of the book, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”. John is setting out of things given to him through the agency of an angel, and which those who serve God need to know.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 1, VERSES 1 TO 20:

1:1  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:

1:2  Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

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.

1:4  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;

1:5  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. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,

1:6  And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

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. Even so, Amen.

1:8  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.

1:9  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.

1:10  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

1:11  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.

1:12  And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

1:13  And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

1:14  His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire;

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.

1:16  And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

1:17  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:

1:18  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.

1:19  Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

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 which thou sawest are the seven churches.

Structure of the chapter
We may divide chapter 1 into seven sections as follows:

Verses 1-3

John’s introduction

the character of the book.

Verses 4-5(a)

John’s benediction

the blessing of the book.

Verses 5(b)-6

John’s adoration

the object of the book.

Verse 7 

John’s exclamation

the theme of the book.

Verse 8 

John’s accreditation 

the endorsement of the book.

Verses 9-11

John’s commission

the communication of the book

Verses 12-20

John’s appreciation

the basis of the book.

 

Verses 1-3        John’s introduction    The character of the book.

1:1  The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John:
 
The revelation of Jesus Christ-
the word for revelation is “unveiling”, being a combination of the pronoun “apo” meaning “away from”, and “kalupsis” meaning “veiled”.  It is the taking away of a veil, so that something or someone may be revealed and manifest.

Jesus Christ has been hidden from the sight of men since He ascended back to the Father.  As He said, “I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more”, John 16:10.  This was spoken to the disciples who, later on, as they stood on the Mount of Olives, watched Him ascend to heaven, “and a cloud received Him out of their sight”, Acts 1:9. 

Hebrews 6:19,20 describes the ascension in terms of the Lord Jesus entering in within the veil, a reference to the starry heavens which God has stretched out like a curtain, Isaiah 40:22.  Like Joash the boy-king, He has been hidden in the sanctuary until it is appropriate to show Him to the world, 2 Chronicles 22:12.  God is going to bring His First begotten into the habitable earth again, Hebrews 1:6, and give Him the opportunity to show in His own times “who is that blessed and only potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords”, 1 Timothy 6:13-16. 

So there shall be a revelation in the future, and John anticipates it in verse 7 with the words, “Behold He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him; and they also that pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth shall wail because of Him.  Even so, Amen”.  We may capture by the word “behold” something of the excitement in John’s heart at the prospect of Christ’s return.  It is good for all believers to “love His appearing”, 2 Timothy 4:8, and look for it, Titus 2:13.

John describes the return of Christ to earth in Revelation 19:11-16, but the major body of His book is taken up with the way the events preceding His return reveal Him.  These previews, taken together, make up the revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave unto Him.  It is given unto Him in the sense that He has been given authority to reveal beforehand to His servants what His revelation in glory will involve.  So it is not a revelation given to Jesus Christ as if He does not know until He is told. (After all, much of the content of the Book of Revelation is anticipated in the Old Testament prophecies). Rather, it is a revelation that He is authorised to give.

John was on the island of Patmos when he wrote the book, and he might have been depressed and frustrated, being forced by the Roman authorities to do hard labour in the quarries.  He, and we, are encouraged by this fore-view of things yet to come, for we are thereby assured that God is still in control.
Which God gave unto Him- the Father is said in Scripture to give several things to the Son.  These include the following:
1.    The Son has been entrusted with the task of giving eternal life- “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand.  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him”, John 3:35,36
2.    The Son is given to have life in Himself for others- “For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself”, John 5:26.
3.    The Son has authority to judge men- “And hath given Him authority to execute judgement also, because He is Son of Man”, John 5:27. 
4.    The Son was given works to finish- “But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which My Father hath given Me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father hath sent Me”, John 5:36.
5.    The Son has been given commandment by the Father as to what He should say- “For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak”, John 12:49.
6.    The Son has been given power over all flesh- “As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him”, John 17:2.
7.    The Son has been given glory- “And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one”, John 17:22.
8.    The Son was given the cup of suffering to drink- “Then said Jesus unto Peter, ‘Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?’” John 18:11.

The fact that these things are given to Christ in no way suggests that He is inferior to the Father.  Rather, they confirm the equality of the Son with the Father.  (Notice that all of the above quotations come from the Gospel of John, which particularly emphasises the Deity of Christ).  Only one who is Himself God could be entrusted with these responsibilities.  The giving is not an act of Divine grace, but of Divine administration, as God works out all things after the counsel of His own will.  That counsel means that it is the good pleasure of the Godhead to allot certain functions to the Son. 

To show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John- this revelation of Christ is given to Him by God the Father, 1:1, and is then transmitted to John by means of the angel described as “His angel”, (see also 22:16), and then is written down, and sent in letter form to the seven churches listed in 1:11.  The whole of the book is sent to each of these seven churches, 22:16.  His angel refers to the angel who is entrusted with the task of communicating on behalf of Christ. it may be that this angel is the personal representative of Christ in the Old Testament. So the giving of this revelation to the Son is so that God’s servants may be intelligent as to His ways in the future.  With the implication that they will be able to serve better if they know these things than if they did not.

1:2  Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

Who bare record of the word of God- there are three things which tell us further about the book John is about to write.  John testifies or bears record about the word of God, which would be the occasional statements God makes throughout the book, verse 8 being one of them. 
And of the testimony of Jesus Christ- this is either that which Jesus Christ testifies about Himself in the book, such as in verses 17 and 18, or the testimony John bears to Him on the basis of what he sees. 
And of all things that he saw- the main body of the book, which gives details of the visions John had, and which he recorded.

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.

Blessed is he that readeth- so there is a blessing attached to this book, just as there is a curse attached to it in chapter 22.  In the latter place a curse is pronounced on those who add or take away from it, such is the importance of what is written.  In this chapter, however, there is a threefold blessing.  For the one who publicly reads the book, with the implication he does it carefully and with reverence.  Notice that the one who reads is singular, whereas the hearers and keepers are plural, thus telling us that the reader is reading to others in the first instance.  In apostolic times copies of the Scriptures were few in number, and one person would have the task of reading to the whole company.  The apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians, “and when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans”, Colossians 4:16.  Those who undertake to read the Scriptures publicly should do so with care and accuracy, to the glory of God.  As Paul exhorted Timothy, “Give attention to reading”, 1 Timothy4:13.
And they that hear the words of this prophecy- this is a blessing for the one who hears it read, and does so with attention and interest. 
And keep those things which are written therein- these are they who keep and treasure what is written therein.  It might seem strange to take delight in a book that is mainly about judgement, but those who have Christ’s interests at heart will rejoice that He is eventually to be vindicated in the earth, and will bring in universal blessedness, as well as a new heavens and new earth.  His judgements are a means to an end, and it is the end they rejoice in.  A right understanding of God’s various dealings with men is part of the keeping spoken of here.  We do not “keep” when we misunderstand Scripture.
For the time is at hand- John had learnt to think of time as God thinks of it, so he is able to say that the time is at hand, for a thousand years to God are like a single day to us.  Coupled with this is the fact that the coming of the Lord for the church can be at any moment, so His coming is always near from that perspective.

Verses 4-5(a)    John’s salutation    The source of the book.

1:4,5(a)  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 to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace- John is able to send greetings to the seven churches which will result in them having an enhanced appreciation of the grace and peace which alone comes from God.  The world is destined for wrath and war, but the believer’s expectation is completely different.
From Him which is- these blessings come from the God who is ever there, ever attentive to the needs of His people, something John was no doubt comforted by as he languished in his banishment to the isle of Patmos.  God is unaffected by the passing of time.
And which was- throughout the ages of the Old Testament He had showed Himself to be faithful.
And which is to come- He will always be the Coming One, revealing Himself to His people for all eternity.
And from the seven Spirits which are before His throne- Divine blessings can only come from Divine Persons, so this rather strange description of the Holy Spirit is startling.  But it is a description of the Holy Spirit that is appropriate for the Book of Revelation to use, for it graphically presents to us the idea of fullness of spiritual power, such as is invested in the Spirit of God.  The Hebrew word for seven means fullness or completeness. The verb ‘are’ is in the singular, so just as in the first book of the Bible we find a singular verb ‘created’ used with a plural noun ‘God’, so here, the seven spirits, plural, are one in power, aim and essence, being expressions of the one Spirit of God, Ephesians 4:4.
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness- the fact that He is associated with the God of heaven by being, equally with the Father and the Spirit, the source of Divine blessings, is clear testimony to His Deity.  But He is man as well, and when on earth He maintained a faithful witness to the truth of God. 
And the first begotten of the dead- now that He is back in heaven He is there as the First-begotten from the dead, whose resurrection is a sure sign that God is well-pleased with Him, and that He is entrusted with administering for God both in heaven and on earth. 
And the prince of the kings of the earth- as the coming ruler that this book so clearly shows Him to be, He, with princely dignity, will rule over kings in a day to come.

Verses 5(b)-6    John’s adoration    The object of the book.

1:5(b),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.

Unto Him that loved us at the thought of Christ’s faithful witness, John cannot restrain himself, but breaks out into an expression of praise and worship.  The word witness gives us the word “martyr”, and John is reminded of the sufferings of Christ as He maintained a faithful witness to God and His truth to the very end.  John sees in this the expression of Christ’s deep love for His people.  John was “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, not because Christ did not love the others, but because John returned that love with enthusiasm.  Despite that, he says “loved us” and not “loved me”, because he wants to draw out from his readers the same expression of adoration as is in his heart.  The fact that Jesus Christ was the first begotten from the dead reminds John of the lengths, and depths, to which His love took Him.
And washed us from our sins in His own blood- the idea of being washed from sins in literal blood is not found in the Old Testament rituals.  However, Greek prepositions not only have physical meanings, but also moral meanings suggested by the physical.  “In” considered morally, signifies “in the power of”.  The blood of Christ has the power to cleanse because it is the blood of one who is free of sins Himself, and whose sacrifice is accepted by God on our behalf.  The effect of the Day of Atonement ceremonies was that the uncleanness of the children of Israel was dealt with, “for on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord”, Leviticus 16:30.  Allied to this is 1 John 1:7, “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin”.

Notice that the loving comes before the washing, for this is the order of God’s purpose.  He loved, then sent His Son to die, so that sins might be cleansed.  As the hymn-writer puts it, “How hopeless and helpless lost sinners had been, if He never had loved us till washed from our sin”.  Divine love and Divine Light have both been satisfied in Christ’s dealings with us.

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father- John is deeply grateful that believers have been made kings and priests to God and His Father.  He sees this as something that Christ has done for His Father, and this gives character to the Christian priesthood, whose task is to gratify the heart of Christ’s Father too.  The Father seeks worshippers, John 4:23.  It was God’s original intention that the nation of Israel should be a kingdom of priests, Exodus 19:6, but they forfeited that privilege by worshipping the golden calf.  As a result, only one family, that of Aaron, could officiate as priests before God.  Now all is different, and all believers are Christian priests.  No believer needs a mediator from among men.  The only mediator he needs is Christ.
The believer is made a king as well. This has a two-fold aspect, present and future. As to the present, the apostle Paul writes, “they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ”, Romans 5:17. Instead of sin reigning over him, the believer himself is in control, under God, and can live a life of kingly dignity even now. But there is a future aspect, for the apostle Paul writes elsewhere, “if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him”, 2 Timothy 2:12.
To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen- John realises that such is the value of Calvary, that only eternal glory is enough to recompense for it.  And such is the decisive victory gained there, no opposition shall succeed, but Christ and His Father shall reign unopposed for all eternity.  Every believing heart will join with John in saying Amen to that.

Verse 7        John’s exclamation    The theme of the book.

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.  Even so, Amen.

Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him- John had watched the Lord Jesus return to heaven, and a cloud had received Him out of sight, but He is coming back, as the angel said He would.  Only the disciples saw Him ascend, but when He comes to reign every eye shall see Him.  He will come secretly for the church, but even those in hell shall see Him come to earth, as the Lord indicated to Caiaphas, Matthew 26:64.  In contrast to the worship the coming of Christ for the church evokes, we now learn the wail and lamentation of sinful men.
And they also which pierced Him- the coming of Christ to reign will have special relevance for the nation of Israel, who, two thousand years after the event, are still characterised here as being “they also that pierced Him”.  That wicked sin has not been removed yet, but one day will be, for “they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.  In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem…in that day there shall be a fountain opened to the House of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness”, Zechariah 12:10,11; 13:1.

John had quoted some of these words when he recorded what had happened at Calvary.  A soldier with a spear had pierced Christ’s side, so that it might be fulfilled in the future that “they shall look on Him whom they pierced”, John 19:37.  John also records what did not happen, for His legs were not broken so that the scripture which said “a bone of Him shall not be broken” could be fulfilled.  The latter scripture is fulfilled already, the former scripture awaits His coming.  It is interesting to notice the change of pronoun in Zechariah 12:10.  “They shall look upon Me…they shall mourn for Him”.  The personal pronoun Me is remarkable, since it is Jehovah who is speaking, 12:1, and yet He describes Himself as pierced.  How can this be?  Only because there is one who is equal to Him, who is the “Him” of the next phrase, the one mourned for as only begotten sons are mourned for.

If it be asked why persons living 2000 years after Calvary are held to account for what happened then, the answer is two-fold.  First, they will have had their guiltiness as a nation pressed home to them by the 144000 sealed evangelists spoken of in chapter 7.  And also, they will have had opportunity to choose between Christ and Antichrist, and because Daniel 9:27 (margin) speaks of “the many”, we know that the majority in Israel will choose antichrist, and in effect re-affirm what they did to Christ long before.
And all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him- what trouble shall fill the hearts of men as they realise their great mistake in rejecting the Messiah when He came the first time.  Now they will have to meet Him as their judge, whereas before they could have met Him as Saviour.
Even so, Amen- at the end of the book the apostle anticipates the coming of Christ for the church, and says “Even so, come, Lord Jesus”, 22:20. He was responding to the words,  “Surely I come quickly”. Notice , however, that he does not ask that Christ may come to earth quickly to judge, for he knows that before that time great judgements will fall upon the dwellers upon the earth.  Nevertheless he does express his desire that it should happen, for Christ’s glory’s sake, but refrains from asking that it come quickly, because he had a concern for those as yet not saved.

Verse 8        John’s accreditation    The endorsement of the book.

1:8  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 am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord- as John begins to write he is reminded by God Himself of the importance of what he is penning.  John will use the Greek alphabet to write the word of God, but he must remember that God is the source of language, and more than that, is the source of the thought behind the language.  If there is no God, there is no thought, reason or logic.  All is random chaos. The fact that we are able to think logically and coherently is proof of the existence of God.

As the Alpha, (the first letter of the Greek alphabet), God is the beginning of all that is worthwhile and meaningful.  As the Omega, (the last letter), He brings all things to a conclusion.  He is the cause and root of all, and the goal and consummation of all.  The letters of the alphabet are indispensable, we cannot do without them if life is to be meaningful.  So with God, we cannot do without Him in spiritual things.  They are also inexhaustible, for there is no limit to the thoughts that may be expressed in words using letters.  There is no limit to God’s thoughts either, and He is pleased to reveal them to His people in the measure in which they are able to understand.  They are also immutable, for words are fixed in meaning, and can be used to express timeless truths.  God has unfolded His eternal counsels to us in His word, and in this way we may become intelligent as His purpose.
Which is, and which was, and which is to come- He is not only the Alpha and the Omega in the realm of thought, but also in the realm of time also, for in the past He was there, in the present and future too, He imposes Himself on every situation.  And because He is the Almighty, none can stay Him in His onward course; none can resist the finalising of all He proposes within Himself.

How encouraging these things would have been to John, for as he writes he is conscious of writing the words of God, which bear the impress of His nature upon them.  Conscious, too, that even though it may take centuries, God’s purpose shall be realised, for He is always there as the Almighty, and nothing and no-one can ruin His plans.  So it is that at the end of the book, with Christ speaking this time, He can declare Himself to be the Alpha and Omega still; and not only the beginning and the ending, as in this chapter, but also the first and the last, the one who stands at the forefront of everything, and who stands as the climax too, 22:12.  It is such a God that endorses the book, and indeed John himself.

Verses 9-11    John’s commission    The communication of the book.

1:9      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 John, who also am your brother- in verses 1-3, John is referred to using a pronoun in the third person, as the one who received the truth contained in the book.  In verses 4-6 he simply names himself and then goes on to speak of God.  In verse 9, however, he begins with an emphatic “I”, not to enhance himself, but to enhance his ministry as one commissioned by the Lord.  He describes himself in a three-fold way- as brother, as companion in tribulation, and as companion in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. 

In his gospel John wrote as a disciple, John 21:24; in his first epistle as an apostle, (“manifest unto us”, 1 John 1:1:3, refers to the apostles as a company); in his second and third epistles as an elder, 2 John 1; 3 John 1.  Here he writes as a brother.  Proverbs 17:17 says “a brother is born for adversity”, and he knows that those to whom he writes are suffering for the sake of Christ.  As a true brother, he is writing so that they may be encouraged in their adversity.
And companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ- John calls himself a companion or fellow-partaker in three things.  First, in their tribulation.  He will write later of “the great tribulation”, an expression which has two definite articles, so that we may understand it to mean “the tribulation, the great one”.  This is the unparalleled period of trial to come upon the world in the last three and half years before the end of the age.  No church believer will go through that period, for then God’s dealings will be with Israel and the world, not the church.  The tribulation John refers to here is that which the Lord Jesus fore-warned His disciples about when He said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation;  but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”, John 16:33.  John was certainly experiencing this tribulation, and so were his readers, and until the Lord comes would constantly do so, for the world never changes.

But he is also companion in other things, namely, the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.  Even though the kingdom of Christ is not yet manifest in the world, John was part of it.  Hebrews 3:14 describes believers as partakers or companions of Christ, 3:14.  As such we share His prospects.  And we share His hopes too, for He is patiently waiting for His Father’s time for Him to set up His kingdom. When His disciples asked Him, just before His ascension, “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power”, Acts 1:6,7.  So Christ is patiently waiting for that time, and so should we be also. Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians believers was, “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ”, 2 Thessalonians 3:5.

John encourages his readers with the thought that although men and devils may seem to have the upper hand now, it will not always be so.  They should not make the mistake of trying to set up that kingdom prematurely.  Peter was rebuked by the Lord Jesus for trying to prevent His arrest by the authorities.  When Pilate questioned Christ about His kingship, He was able to point out that if His kingdom were of this world, His servants would “keep on fighting”, (literal translation), whereas He had rebuked them for this in Gethsemane, John 18:36.  The wars this world engages in are no business for the Christian, whether as conscripts or volunteers.
Was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ- John is of clear conscience in his banishment.  He was not slaving in the stone-quarries as a convicted criminal.  His only “crime” was to serve Christ, and he was found where he was on account of his loyalty to the word of God, and the testimony it gave about Jesus Christ.  It is good for believers if they are only located where the word of God can be upheld, and Jesus Christ honoured.

1:9,10    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.

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day- as he mused upon the return of Christ to reign, in spirit John projected his thoughts to the time when the day would rightly be called the Lord’s.  As the apostle Paul made clear in 1 Corinthians 4:3, (where “judgement” may be understood as “day”), today is man’s day, whereas in the future this will change.  Then the will of Christ will be paramount.  It will truly have the stamp of His lordship upon it, which is the sense of the adjective “Lord’s”. 

So why did the apostle not use the well-known expression “Day of the Lord”?  The expression “Day of the Lord” includes part at least of the tribulation period, as is shown by a comparison between Joel 2:2, “there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be ever after it”, (a reference to the Day of the Lord), with Matthew 24:21, “then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be”.  So it is perfectly proper for John to use a different phrase, since he has just spoken of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, and Him coming in clouds to reign.  John’s phrase applies after man’s day has finally come to an end.  During the first part of the Day of the Lord Antichrist the usurper will still be holding sway with the Devil’s power behind him.  Joel 2:31 speaks of “the great and the terrible day of the Lord”, which is perhaps a specific 24-hour day at the end of the tribulation period.
So we may distinguish:
1.    The Day of the Lord, which lasts more than a thousand years, including as it does part at least of the Tribulation Period.
2.    The Great and Notable Day of the Lord, which lasts 24 hours.
3.    The Lord’s Day, which begins with Christ’s coming to earth, and lasts just 1000 years, and is followed by the Day of God, 2 Peter 3:12.

There are those who will strongly advocate that the first day of the week should be called the Lord’s Day, and that we should be in the Spirit on that day to serve the Lord.  Several things should be borne in mind:
First, every true believer is in the Spirit on every day, whatever condition he is in.  This is the plain testimony of Romans 8:9, which states that “ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit”.  The true believer may walk after the flesh or after the Spirit, and it is this that determines whether he is carnal, (fleshly), or spiritual. But every true believer is in the Spirit, for that is his standing before God, which does not depend upon behaviour, but should influence it. So if every believer is characteristically “in the Spirit”, he cannot become in the Spirit on a particular day or occasion, for it is the normal and constant position of a believer.
Second, nowhere in the New Testament is the first day of the week called the Lord’s Day.  It would be strange indeed if after some 60 years of Christian testimony a new name was to be adopted.  Colossians 1:25 indicates that the ministry of the apostle Paul fulfilled the word of God- there was nothing to add as to principles after his writings were finished. 
Third, it was not until Constantine professed Christianity and introduced paganism into Christendom that the first day of the week began to be called the Lord’s Day.  The “lord” in question originally being the sun god.
Fourth, the day upon which the Christians met to partake of the Lord’s Supper was called “the first day of the week”, Acts 20:7.

And heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last- John’s musings in spirit on the future reign of Christ over the earth were interrupted, for a voice behind him arrests his attention.  We learn from verse 12 that he turns back.  Before he writes of the way the kingdom will be introduced into the world he must write of the seven churches.  So he is brought back from the future to consider the present.  Again the thought of God as Alpha and Omega is presented as John is about to write, and again the thought that Christ is the first and the last, being totally in command of every situation, and in particular, the situation in individual churches.

Verses 12-20    John’s appreciation    The basis of the book.

1:12        And I turned to see the voice that spake with me.  And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me- John was clearly aware that the voice as of a trumpet was the voice of Christ, for the one who spoke announced who He was, so he turns to see Him.
And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks- we ought not to think of these vessels as being holders for candles, but holders for lamps, those lamps being bowls into which olive oil could be poured to feed the light.  The candlesticks are not branches of a lampstand as in the tabernacle or temple, but individual stands. 

When God made a covenant with Abraham, He was one party to the covenant, and Christ was the other, Galatians 3:17, and He was represented in Genesis 15:17 by the burning lamp that passed between the parted pieces of covenant sacrifice.  Isaiah later on stated that as far as Jerusalem was concerned, the Messiah would be “the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth”, Isaiah 62:1, (where the word for salvation is “yeshua”, the equivalent to “Jesus”).
David was prevented by his followers from going out to battle when he was older, “that thou quench not the light (lamp) of Israel”, 2 Samuel 21:17.  So the lamp was a symbol of rule, as found ultimately in the Messiah.  In the Old Testament, before Christ had come, this principle of rule was vested in the kings of Judah.  Now that Christ has come to earth and been rejected, His rule is exercised only amongst His people, hence the churches are depicted as lamps.  Once He has returned to earth as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, rule will once again be exercised by the true Prince of Judah, the Lord Jesus Himself.

1:13    And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of Man- in his gospel John emphasises the Lord Jesus as Son of God, for He came to reveal the Father.  As the Son He is uniquely able to do this, and also to impart the life of God to those who believe on Him.  The title Son of God links Him to heaven, and God, whereas the title Son of Man links Him to earth, and men.  It is entirely appropriate, then, that He should be revealed in this way, for God is about to have dealings with the earth, and He entrusts the task of judging and administering the earth to His Son.

This title of Son of Man also has relevance to John himself, and the churches to whom he writes.  John was banished to the isle of Patmos  because of his stand for Christ.  He would be greatly encouraged by a vision of the ascended and glorified Christ.  One, moreover, who stood ready to judge the earth, and vindicate His people.  Others of God’s servants had been encouraged in this same way also.  Isaiah, grieving after the death of King Uzziah, is granted a vision of the True King, and is delivered from despondency by the sight, Isaiah 6:1.  Ezekiel, about to learn that the glory has depart from Israel, would be fortified by a sight of heaven’s throne, and “a man above upon it”, Ezekiel 1:26.  Daniel, troubled by the thought of fierce Gentile despots crushing his people, would be strengthened by seeing one like the Son of Man approaching the throne of God to receive a kingdom, and then coming in the clouds of heaven to exercise His kingship on the earth, Daniel 7:13,14.  And Stephen, too, with stones about to rain down on his head, is heartened no doubt by the sight of Christ in glory, Acts 7:55,56.
Clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle- this would speak of His dignity as the prince of the kings of the earth.  Not girded at the waist with a towel so that His long robes can be tucked into it for servant activity, stooping to wash the disciples’ feet, (as John had seen Him in the Upper Room), but girded about the breasts so that the whole garment in its beauty is visible.  He still has a girdle, however, but this one is of gold, telling of the Deity of the one who shall serve as King in the earth.  As already mentioned, the Son of Man who is seen coming to reign in Daniel 7 is also called the Ancient of Days, a Divine title.

1:14    His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire;

His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow- it is said of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9, that “the hair of His head” was “like the pure wool”, and here the description is the same of Christ.  The scripture says that “a hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness”, Proverbs 16:31, and this is certainly the case here.  He is “Christ the wisdom of God”, 1 Corinthians 1:24, and was always found in the way of wisdom and righteousness.  He can be relied upon to give a wise and righteous verdict on everything He is called upon to assess.  This gives great confidence to those who are true to Him, but cautions those who are not. 
And His eyes were as a flame of fire- this would speak of penetrating insight, coupled with a readiness to burn up that which is worthless.  When the tabernacle had been constructed it is said that Moses looked upon it, Exodus 39:3.  So is it with all that men do, including believers.

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.

And His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace- “burned in a furnace” could be understood as “glowed white-hot in a furnace”.  Brass speaks of that which can stand the test of the fire, and this one has certainly done that, whether the fire is that of the testings of Satan, or the supreme test of Calvary itself.  He retains that character, for His feet still glow.  Having passed through the ultimate testing Himself, He is able to judge in the light of that experience.
And His voice as the sound of many waters- Enoch prophesied as follows- “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him”, Jude 15.  Daniel foretells that the Antichrist will have a mouth “speaking great things”, and shall “speak great words against the Most High”, Daniel 7:8,25, but he will be silenced by Christ.  “Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure”, Psalm 2:5.  The Son of Man is coming with a voice that can drown out the ungodly speeches of men.

1:16    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 He had in His right hand seven stars- these seven stars are said in verse 20 to be the angels of the seven churches.  This is the Divine explanation, so we do not need a further one, such as human messengers.  Just as the living creatures of chapters 4 and 5 are representative of life on earth, so these stars would represent those angels who have been allotted a special superintendence over individual churches.  (Note that the apostle Paul wrote of elect angels in connection with the behaviour of elders, in 1 Timothy 5:21).  We should not be surprised at this, given the kind of way the churches are looked at, namely as those who are in a place of profession, entrusted with the task of maintaining the rule of God in the earth.  God’s rule is not acknowledged by men in the world, but it should be by believers.  This idea of there being a heavenly counterpart to earthly rule is confirmed by the fact that each nation on earth has its own angel.  We learn this from Daniel 10:13,20, which speaks of the princes of Persia and Grecia, and also in chapter 12:1 where Michael is described as the “great prince that standeth for the children of thy people”. 
And out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword- this is a figurative expression of course, and signifies that Christ’s way of exercising His authority is by His word.  We know from Hebrews 4:12,13,  that the word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword of men, for it can divide between the non-material parts of man, and discern thoughts and intents, which are quite out of the range of earthly, physical swords.  So when He judges, the Son of Man will not do so by assessing externals, but motives and thoughts.  “He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes”, Isaiah 11:3.  This applies to men generally, and also to His professed people.  He cannot be deceived. 
And His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength- this tells of the severity of His wrath against all that opposes righteousness.  Psalm 19:6 says of the sun that “there is nothing hid from the heat thereof”, and James 1:11 speaks of the sun “rising with a burning heat”.  Nothing can escape the wrath of the Son of Man.

1:17    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:

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead- the cumulative effect of these various features was enough to strike extreme fear into the soul of the apostle, who, we must remember, was the one who leant on Christ’s bosom as His beloved disciple.  This change of aspect causes him great dread.  What then shall it do to sinners when they see Him?
And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last- the right hand of authority now becomes the right hand of strength for the apostle. Nothing is beyond the bounds of His control, so there is no need for fear on the part of those who are truly the Lord’s, who seek to do that which is pleasing to Him.  There is everything to fear for those who are against Him. 

1:18    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. 

I am He that liveth- seven things are calculated to dispel the apostle’s fear.  The first and second are in the previous verse, for He is the first, and also the last.  Third, He is the Living One, “that eternal life which was with the Father”, 1 John 1:2, eternal life personified, 1 John 5:20, and was manifested on earth in manhood, Jesus Christ come in the flesh.  As such He was able to go into death. 
And was dead- so real was this experience that He actually became dead, such is the force of the expression “was dead”.  The fact that He was prepared to go into death is a sure sign that He was confident that He could deal with it, and is the fourth reason why John should not fear.
And, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen- The “behold” arrests the apostle’s attention so that he takes in the tremendous implications of the fact that the Son of man is alive for evermore.  This must mean that the power He has will never be taken away from Him, for He has defeated death itself, and has risen triumphantly over it, to die no more.  This is the fifth reason why John should not fear.  If the “behold” is to arrest John’s attention, the “amen” is to affirm Christ’s assertion; none can deny Him His position. 
And have the keys of hell and of death- these are the sixth and seventh reasons not to fear.  John will be greatly encouraged by the fact that Christ has the keys of the realm of the dead.  He locks hades, so that no believer of this age shall go there; He has the key, so that Old Testament saints may be released from there at the appropriate moment; He has the keys of death so that none of His saints shall go into death without His permission and control.  Anyone who has such authority must be master of all, and so He is.

1:19    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.

Write the things which thou hast seen- This verse may very well be thought of as giving the plan of the Book of Revelation.  The things John saw were the things of chapter 1.  He had already been told to write about what he saw, in verse 11, and this is repeated here. 
And the things which are- these are the things that pertain to the conditions prevailing amongst the seven assemblies in particular, but in the Christian profession as a whole, represented by them. 
And the things which shall be hereafter- these are the things which shall be after the present things, namely the events to take place from the beginning of chapter 4, after the rapture of the church.
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- there is a mystery about the seven stars, for they need to be explained.  There is nothing in the New Testament previous to this that will indicate what their significance is, for even John does not know.  This is why the mystery needs to be explained here, so that John may learn that there are angels allotted to each church.  There is a mystery about the seven lamp-stands, too, for they represent, (as we have suggested when considering verse 12), companies of believers as those responsible to recognise the rule of Christ, and to uphold that rule in the churches.  Failure to do this will result in the lamp being removed.  If a company of supposed believers fails to uphold the principles of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit”, which are the essential features of the kingdom, Romans 14:17, then their lamp will be removed.  The assembly is in a location on earth, but the lamp-stands are in heaven, where Christ can walk amongst them.  A company may seem to flourish on the earth, but if they pass the point beyond which Christ is no longer prepared to tolerate them, then the lamp will be removed in heaven.

The vision of chapter 1 has relevance to the seven churches to whom John is commanded to write.  For in six cases out of seven, the Lord introduces Himself to the individual churches using features found in Him in chapter 1, as follows:

Ephesus

He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand”.

Smyrna

The first and the last, which was dead and is alive”.

Pergamos

He which hath the sharp sword with two edges”.

Thyatira

Who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass”.

Sardis

He that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars”.

Philadelphia

Features not found in chapter 1.

Laodicea

These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God”.

Because He appears as the Son of Man, and that title is never used in the church epistles, we understand that profession is being tested.  In church epistle terms an assembly only consists of believers, but because He is presenting Himself to them as Son of Man, there is the possibility that some are not genuine.  This is why certain phrases are used which may cause disquiet.  For instance, “him that overcometh, I will not blot out his name from the book of life”, 3:5.  This need cause the true believer no alarm, but the false professor is to be startled by this possibility, and to react by coming to true faith in Christ.  So it is that the way the Son of Man will present Himself to the world is used in these two chapters to caution and awake the counterfeit Christian.  In this way the Son of Man reveals Himself before His revelation to the world at large at His coming to earth. These three revelations together, to John, to the churches, and to the world, make up the revelation which God gives to Him to make, and which He communicates through His angel to His servant John.

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