Revelation Chapter 1
Rev 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
This first verse is critical to our understanding of
what is being taught in the book of Revelation.
There are generally three different approaches to the
study of Revelation, which are contrary to what is
taught in verse 1 and therefore should be rejected as a
means to study revelation. The first approach is that
the book is a record of events that will transpire
sometime in the future near the end of time or just
prior to what some say is the millennial reign of
Christ. This is known as the futurist view of
revelation. The phrase, "must shortly come to
pass," negates such a view of revelation. The
second view is that the book is a record of events that
will gradually unfold over the history of mankind on
earth. This view is also negated in the word
"shortly." The third view is that everything in
revelation was fulfilled by the events leading up to and
including the destruction of Jerusalem around 70 A.D.
However, this is the revelation of Jesus Christ, and
there are many things that are taught in the bible and
in the book of revelation about Jesus Christ that point
to the eternal salvation and resurrection of God's
people which, of course, has not yet transpired in time.
The key to our understanding of revelation is found in
the word "signified" which means to show by signs.
In other words, the book of Revelation is written in
sign language. The Lord demonstrated the use of
this sign language in the first chapter of Revelation in
that he gave us a sign and then gave us the meaning of
the sign. He gave us the sign of seven golden
candlesticks and seven stars. He then told us that
the seven candlesticks are the seven churches of Asia
and the seven stars are the angels (messengers) of the
seven churches. We are not left to look at carnal
history for an understanding of the signs (a mistake
that many have made), but God himself gives us the
meaning of the signs in the scriptures. Our task
is to search the scripture for the sign and its meaning.
This book is the "revelation" of Jesus Christ. The
word revelation means to disclose and manifest.
This is exactly what this book does. It discloses
and manifests Jesus Christ. The author of the
content of this book is often said to be John.
However, God himself is the author of the content of
this book. Christ sent an angel (messenger) unto
John to show unto his servant, John, things which must
shortly come to pass. John is not the revelator,
God is the revelator. John is the messenger of the
message that was sent to him. John's task was to
deliver that message as it was delivered unto him.
Thus, as with all the scripture, the book of revelation
is God's message to his servants. It is not
intended to everyone, but only to those who are his
servants. Today if we are to benefit from the book
of Revelation or from the scriptures in general, then we
must be the servants of Jesus Christ. A servant is
one who is under the rule and direction of his master.
He is not free to do his own will, but the will of his
master. A servant must be humble and submissive.
A servant must also be diligent to accomplish the task
that is assigned to him by his master.
A casual reading of Revelation will not give one much
understanding of the book. The task at hand is to
dig out the signs and their meanings in the word of God.
This, however, cannot be accomplished by intellect
alone. In John chapters 14 thru 16 we read of a
Holy Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, who will guide
us unto all truth. The Holy Spirit is to be our
guide and only thru the guidance of the Holy Spirit are
we able to come to an understanding of the signs and
their meanings and thus learn more about what God has
uncovered and manifest to us about our Lord Jesus
Christ. I pray that God will bless this work that
if anyone gets anything beneficial out of it that He may
receive all the praise.
Our approach to this study will be to first look at the
signs in each chapter and their meanings and then, if
necessary, to take a narrative overview of the
contextual lessons of that chapter. I am sure that
I will hardly scratch the surface of the depths of
teaching contained therein. May God bless his
people with understanding and knowledge and wisdom to
know more about his word.
"Who bare record of the word of God, and of the
testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he
saw. 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."
A record of something is evidence of that thing and to
"bear record" is to give testimony or witness of
something. John gave record of three things. He bare
record of the word of God. Lest anyone think that the
book of Revelation is just fanciful writing of
fictitious things, this is just as much the word of God
as the book of Matthew. There is nothing fanciful or
fictitious about it. John also gave record of the
testimony of Jesus Christ. Jesus is called the faithful
witness. As we will see a faithful witness is one that
will not lie. According to the scriptures it is
impossible for God to lie. John's record is his
testimony of what Jesus Christ testified to him. John
also gave record of all things that he saw. This
certainly teaches us that John did not leave anything
out of what God showed unto him, but told us everything
that God told him. This does not mean that John
necessarily understood all of it, but it certainly
assures us that we got the complete testimony of both
what Jesus said and what he showed to John.
There is a blessing pronounced in v. 3. Some have said
that it is a blessing just to read the book of
Revelations. However, this is not what that verse say.
There are three things that are necessary before one
receives the blessing. One, they must read the book,
two, they must hear (understand) what is written therein
and, three, they must keep the things that are written
therein. Then as they have accomplished those three
things they receive the promised blessing. Also, the
time of the blessing was said to be at hand, thus,
teaching us that everything that was necessary for
reading, understanding, and doing was present at the
time that this book was written of John. There weren't
future events necessary to come to pass before a servant
of Jesus Christ could read the book, understand what was
written therein and do what was written therein.
I find way too many people say that they can't
understand what is written in the book of Revelation and
that it is too difficult to understand. God has promised
a blessing to us and we as his servants should give a
diligent effort to understand and do the things
contained in the book of Revelation. Surely it takes an
effort, just as it takes an effort to understand the
rest of the scriptures. As God's servants we need to put
forth that effort to understand and pray to God for
wisdom and understanding. There is a promised blessing
in it for all of us.
Rev. 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; 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."
The book of Revelation is
written in the form of a letter. John is the
writer of the letter and the seven churches of Asia are
the recipients of the letter. The salutation is
the rest of the above. This as well as the rest of
the scriptures is not written directly to us today, it
is written for us. It is written directly to the
seven churches, but it has application to us today.
Seven is the bible number of completion. While
there were actually and literally seven churches of Asia
to which John wrote, yet its application is complete to
all the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ for all the
gospel age. Paul in all the letters he wrote to
churches began his salutation with the mention of God's
grace and peace to each church. He went on to
mention where that grace and peace came from: it came
from God, the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
God's grace was the grand theme of Paul's writings as he
mentioned God's grace in the salutation and closing of
every letter that he wrote, except to the Hebrew's where
he only mentioned God's grace at the closing.
Grace is defined as the unmerited favor of God. As
we will see in our study of Revelation God's grace is
often manifest throughout these writings. Grace is
directed to a specific people (God's people).
Peace is one of the end products of God's grace.
Just as God is the source of grace, God is also the
source of peace. Peace comes from God.
Without the finished work of Jesus Christ there would be
no peace between God and his people. Without that
finished work, we could find no inner peace in the
knowledge of salvation from our sins.
That grace and peace is said to come "from him which is,
and which was, and which is to come." This phrase
speaks to us of an eternal God and an unchanging God.
Heb. 8: 8 also tells us "Jesus Christ the same
yesterday, and to day, and for ever." The eternal,
unchangeable attributes of God are illustrated in these
passages of scripture. Another phrase used in the
scriptures that illustrates God's eternal, unchangeable
attributes is the phrase for God, I AM. Of course
this phrase was often found in John's writings in the
book of John. Seven times Jesus said, "I amů"
This gives us great comfort to know that God's grace and
its resulting end products such as peace are founded in
one who never changes and is eternal.
This grace and peace is said also to come "from the
seven Spirits which are before his throne." Some
have concluded that there are seven Holy Spirits, but
this is not what is being taught. There are seven
manifestations of the one Holy Spirit. These seven
manifestations are found in Is.11: 2 "And the spirit of
the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and
understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the
spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD," and in
Is. 28: 6 "And for a spirit of judgment to him that
sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn
the battle to the gate." Thus the seven
manifestations of the Holy Spirit mentioned above are
wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, fear
of the Lord, and judgment." All seven of these
manifestations of the Holy Spirit were present in giving
us grace and peace.
That grace and peace is also said to come from Jesus
Christ. While there are many words used to
describe the Son of God, each one is significant and is
placed in its proper place throughout the scriptures.
Here we have two words used to describe the Son of God.
The first word is Jesus, which means Saviour. It
was said of the angel to Joseph to "fear not to take
unto thee Mary, thy wife, for that which is conceived in
her is of the Holy Ghost and she shall bring forth a son
and thou shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save
his people from their sins." Grace and peace to
God's elect is dependant on the work of Jesus in saving
his people from their sins. The word, "Christ,"
means "anointed one." There were two groups of
people who were anointed in the Old Testament: kings and
high priests. God has anointed Christ to be both
the King of kings and the High Priest after the order of
Melchisedec. Christ in his kingly office rules in
his kingdom and rules over all creation. In his
high priestly office he is the one who made the atoning
sacrifice for his people. Without that atoning
sacrifice there would be no peace or grace.
Next, Jesus Christ is said to be the faithful witness.
Prov. 14: 5 tells us, "A faithful witness will not lie:
but a false witness will utter lies." We read also in
Ps. 116: 11 "I said in my haste, All men are liars."
Thus the only true "faithful witness" is Jesus Christ"
for he has as a characteristic the total inability to
lie. Thus his testimony is totally reliable and
Jesus Christ is also said to be the "first begotten from
the dead." Acts 13: 33 also tells us, "God hath
fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he
hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the
second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten
thee." The term, "first begotten," speaks to us of
priority in that there were others who were raised from
the dead, such as Lazarus, the young maiden, the widow
woman's son, Tabitha, the young man who fell out of the
loft, etc. However, all of these were raised back
to mortal lives and later fell on death again.
Jesus was resurrected to never die again. In his
resurrection our hope rest that we will one day be
resurrected as well.
Jesus is also said to be the "prince of the kings of the
earth." Who those kings are is stated for us in
verse 6. We will have more to say about that when
we get to verse 6. The fact that he is called the
prince speaks to us about his role as the representative
of his people. In the Old Testament there were 12
princes of the twelve tribes of Israel and they each
represented one of the tribes. What they did was
on behalf of the tribe they represented. Jesus
represented us on the cross. His death on the
cross was as our representative representing us in God's
judgment of our sins. His sufferings and death was
accomplished as our representative.