1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants, even the things which must shortly come to pass: and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John;
2 who bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, even of all things that he saw.
This message is not for John alone, so that he can be encouraged and his hope stirred; it is for all the servants of God. This book’s message is about Jesus. It is not the revelation of the future, the past, or the present nearly so much as it is the revealing of who Jesus is and what he has done and will do on behalf of his people.
3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein: for the time is at hand.
The book is also a reminder that the word of Jesus must abide in our hearts. It is not enough to memorize scripture; one must live scripture. With this attitude we will receive the blessing which God has in store for us. His blessings, His love, His grace thereby become present realities to us and they actually have an impact on our lives.
4 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 that are before his throne;
This book is not sent first to Jerusalem or Antioch- the chief churches of the day. It is sent to the churches suffering persecution on the west coast of Asia Minor. It is n'94 that God is concerned about- it is every Church, large or small. These 7 churches, relatively small and unknown, are the places where God is at work.
5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood;
When the Church looks around it sees lots of powerful folk seeking to destroy it. But it needs to remember that Jesus is its Lord, and theirs too! The throne of Jesus stands above all other thrones!
6 and he made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
The first, best, and most important gift that Jesus gives his Church is himself! He gives his pure, undefiled, and full love to her. He struggles on her behalf and he strives for her salvation!
7 Behold, he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him. Even so, Amen.
This is the central promise of the Christian faith; he is coming again- and everyone will stand before him.
8 I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
So, in consequence of this, what the emperor does is of no significance. He may order worship, he may imprison the faithful, he may steal their property, he may kill them; but he does not have the first word nor the last word. Jesus does because he is the first word and he is the last word.
9. I John, your brother and partaker with you in tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
They are unified in their service of Jesus and share tohey might be in prison; but they are still free in spirit to love and serve God. They may be chained, but they can still pray and sing and worship. Those without faith are the ones who are really enslaved.
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet
We are now, according the the author, taken from the realm of the material world to the realm of the spiritual world. What we find in the book from this point out is visionary in nature. That is, John is seeing a vision. Because of this we can expect the language and description to be highly symbolic. The material from this point is the stuff of visions and must be interpreted in that way. When we read of locusts from the abyss, and other strange and bizarre creatures we must constantly remind ourselves that John is seeing a vision. Are these events real? Yes, in a spiritual and visionary sense. If John had wished to describe events as other than visionary he would have done so. We must, then, take him at his word and not force his words into some other category; for this is a vision!
11 saying, What thou seest, write in a book and send it to the seven churches: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamum, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
So long as the Church keeps its eyes fixed on Jesus it will be able to receive his word. When it turns away from him, it can no longer see or hear him. These 7 churches are average. They represent all churches everywhere for there are no churches which are not like one of these.
12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks;
13 and in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle.
14 And his head and his hair wers snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
15 and his feet like unto burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace; and his voice as the voice of many waters.
16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
The church is not the light- it merely reflects the light and life of its Lord. The Church is the place where the light is brightest. Jesus is the high priest of this Church of his; that is why he is dressed as a priest. Jesus is the king of the Church; that is why he is dressed as a king. Jesus speaks to the Church and it must listen; that is why he is dressed as a prophet. Jesus is the prophet, priest and king of the Church. It belongs to him and not to the emperor or to itself.
The sword reminds us that Jesus will see to it that all evil is purged from His Church.
17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last,
18 and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.
19 Write therefore the things which thou sawest, and the things which are, and the things which shall come to pass hereafter;
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 are seven churches.
The text here interprets itself; for it is Jesus who teaches his church what his words mean. This also is the gift of Jesus. He makes His word work! He does what he says! He has the power to carry out his will in spite of the emperor or anyone else.
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