1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
Greeting to the Seven Churches
John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Vision of the Son of Man
I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Revelation 1 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Turn on any news cycle and we’re bombarded with political haggling, distraught emotions, murder, and rage among so many other negative things. If we were to have faith in people or governments we surely would have no hope. But for Believers, there is an expectation and confidence that the world as we know it does not have the final say. For at the right time, Jesus will return and have the final victory over evil and oppression.
Believers and nonbelievers alike are fascinated with this 22 chapter book. It’s brought all kinds of speculation, theories, and theology. Even the most secular person has turned to these words attempting to figure out what is going on. But there is one thing that stands out – Jesus wins. For at the appointed time by God, Jesus will burst onto the world scene where every knee will bow and every tongue confess He is Lord. There will no longer be speculation for His Lordship will be evident to all.
This book has graphic imagery of evil unleashed against God’s people. It gives fair warning to the spiritual war we as Believers are in. But this book, by all means, is that of hope. It is what we can cling to that when Jesus returns to vindicate and reward His followers and exact judgment of the wicked. For believe this: Jesus will win the battle and reign in victory! Jesus, this humble Servant is also the powerful conquering King!
A couple things before we dig in. There are many different thoughts concerning the words written in Revelation and what they mean. Where need be, we will present different points of view and beliefs to the best of our ability after digging into other commentaries. In many instances, we will not necessarily weigh in on our own opinions unless it’s relevant. We also don’t want to get bogged down with that but stay as an encouragement to all to keep up the fight and live for Jesus.
So let’s dig in!
The first 3 verses speak powerfully to the purpose of the book.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, 2 who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.”Revelation 1:1-3
Consider – the purpose of this book is not to reveal the timetable of God. It is to reveal Jesus. It’s the Revelation of Jesus – the all-powerful, all-conquering King. The full context of this book is Jesus Christ – and only Him. From the first words recorded, this is the most important truth about this book.
Yes, it shows the Antichrist. Yes, it reveals graphically the horrors of the end. Yes, it shows God’s judgment. But the most important aspect is this is the Revelation of Jesus Christ to us.
Let me tell you, how we need such a revelation of Jesus today. For so many, Jesus is simply found as a written character in Scripture. This is not the case. For Jesus is alive and well, sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding for His people but also in waiting for when He’s told it’s time to return. He’s more than just a historical person but it is by Him and Him alone we are saved. We all need such a fresh Revelation of Jesus in our daily lives. What a difference it makes when a person takes Jesus from merely thought to active living for Him.
Blessed are those who hear it and heed the things written. This is the first of 7 beatitudes found in Revelation. They specifically are found in Revelation 1:3, 14:13, 16:15, 19:9, 20;6, 22:7, 22;14.
The purpose behind these is the blessing that comes to Believers who read and take to heart.
The questions to consider are you embracing the absolute revelation of Jesus today? Or are you allowing circumstances, hardships to dictate your response? If Jesus is the reigning King, (which is absolutely true) how is this aspect helping you wade through the junk that has bombarded you? We all need a fresh revelation of Jesus the Christ in full control of our lives. As the blessing comes with heeding the things written of Jesus, we must take to heart and change our ways and thought processes in order to believe the truth of this statement.
He is the reigning King over your situation. He is fully aware of all you are going through. He will bolster your faith as you turn to Him. Believe it. Live it. Own it.
Revelation 1 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
The comparison game. We all do it. When life throws us unpredictable storms, (and especially when we wrestle with why God would allow such things) we feel sorry for ourselves. We ask ourselves questions like, “Why me? Why can’t I be this person or that person?” The grass always seems greener next door.
In John 21, Peter begins to play the comparison game with Jesus. Right after Jesus has resurrected, He meets with Peter individually because Peter had previously denied Jesus three times. So, three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him. Three times Peter says yes. The next words from Jesus’ lips rattle Peter to the core.
Jesus foreshadows the end of Peter’s life. Following Jesus will result in excruciating martyrdom. Peter will die for his faith. We read Peter’s response in John 21…
Peter turned around and saw behind him that other disciple, whom Jesus loved—the one who had leaned close to Jesus at the meal and had asked, “Lord, who is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he asked Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus answered him, “If I want him to live until I come, what is that to you?
Follow me!” 23 So a report spread among the followers of Jesus that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say he would not die; he said, “If I want him to live until I come, what is that to you?” 24 He is the disciple who spoke of these things, the one who also wrote them down; and we know that what he said is true.John 21:20-24 GNB
The man Peter inquired about is John, the author of the Gospel we just read because he identifies himself as the author in verse 24. Legend states that Roman emperor Domitian commanded that the apostle John be boiled to death in oil, but John only continued to preach from within the pot. As the story goes, John survived and on a separate occasion, he was forced to drink poison. As promised by Jesus in Mark 16:18, it did not hurt him.
And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”Mark 16:17-18 ESV
Jesus’ words to Peter would ring true as John would not die as a martyr like many of the early church leaders. When they failed to kill John, who was the head of the church in Ephesus at the time, he was finally banished to island of Patmos around A.D. 97. Enter, John’s Revelation.
Simply put, the message of the Apocalypse was written by John through a divine revelation. It was meant for the early church who was facing immense persecution from the Roman Empire and beyond as they persevered in proclaiming the message of Jesus. The problem that arises with the book of Revelation is that it is difficult to draw a concrete application from it until we establish what kind of literature it really is. On the spectrum of interpretation, we read scholars who go from irrational literalism to fantastical subjectivity… and everywhere in between.
I am a centrist in many avenues of life, and though I would never claim to have all the answers about any book of the Bible, you will probably get a more “middle of the road” interpretation from my writings. I also tend to believe the original readers of this book would have heard the message somewhere in this same context.
However, just like any book of Bible, you as the reader will have to reconcile the interpretation of the text through the influence of the Holy Spirit. My goal with the book of Revelation is not to present a dogmatic view but to dig into the original context and from there branch out into a solid application for us today.
The revelation of Jesus Christ which was shown to John classifies this book as Apocalyptic. This does mean we can tend to read the text more symbolically and less literally. However, it is also surely prophetic as it states this directly in verse 3.
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.Revelation 1:3 NASB
This is the first great encouragement to the believer. Just by reading the words and hearing the prophecies, our minds are opened to a new realm which would never have been revealed. Jesus Christ is the only one with the power to open this type of knowledge to us. He is a mediator, not just with our sin debt to the Father, but with all the riches of true knowledge and wisdom.
The book is specific in addressing the 7 churches of Asia which is modern-day Turkey. John’s vision of Jesus lines up with many of the same characteristics that describe Him in other places of Scripture. Daniel 7 states “one like the Son of Man,” and Jesus calls Himself the Son of Man in Matthew 20. There are actually many similarities between the description here and the one in Daniel 7. I won’t go into all the details, but the main point is that Jesus is the source of this vision and the one who is opening this knowledge to His 7 churches (and to us as well).
The 7 stars represent the 7 angels. There is one is assigned to each church. Some say the 7 stars represent human messengers to the churches but it would be unlikely that stars would symbolically represent angels which would symbolically represent human messengers. It’s possible they are actual angels assigned to a specific location. It’s also possible that the type of angel assigned was given due to the overall spirit of the church as we find out later from Jesus that each had different struggles and different successes.
“As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.Revelation 1:20 NASB
Verse 20 of Revelation 1 also explains the mystery which removes the symbolism and speaks to the literal interpretation of this vision. The overall hope of this chapter is the powerful abiding presence of Jesus Christ in the church! The passage draws our attention away from the natural world into the supernatural spiritual warfare taking place within each church body. Jesus cares for His church. He loves His church. He is actively watching over His church. He will protect His church. He will impart knowledge and wisdom to His church. These overlying principles are timeless. They give us great hope in a world that is disgustingly rotten!