January 5, 2003
A Vision of Christ, Revelation 1:9-20
1:9 VEgw. VIwa,nnhj o` kai. avdelfo.j u`mw/n kai. sugkoinwno.j evn th/| qli,yei kai. evn th/| basilei,a| kai. u`pomonh/| VIhsou/ Cristou/( evgeno,mhn evn th/| nh,sw| th/| kaloume,nh| Pa,tmw| dia. to.n lo,gon tou/ qeou/ kai. dia. th.n marturi,an VIhsou/ Cristou/) 1:10 evgeno,mhn evn pneu,mati evn th/| kuriakh/| h`me,ra| kai. h;kousa ovpi,sw mou fwnh.n mega,lhn w`j sa,lpiggoj 1:11 legou,shj VEgw, evimi to. A kai. to. W( }O prw/toj kai. o` e;scatoj\ kai. o` ble,peij gra,yon eivj bibli,on kai. pe,myon tai/j evkklhsi,aij tai/j evn VAsi,a|( eivj :Efeson kai. eivj Smu,rnan kai. eivj Pe,rgamon kai. eivj Qua,teira kai. eivj Sa,rdeij kai. eivj Filade,lfeian kai. eivj Laodi,keian 1:12 Kai. evpe,streya ble,pein th.n fwnh.n h[tij evla,lhsen met evmou/ kai. evpistre,yaj ei=don e`pta. lucni,aj crusa/j 1:13 kai. evn me,sw| tw/n e`pta. lucniw/n o[moion u`iw/| avnqrw,pou evndedume,non podh,rh kai. periezwsme,non pro.j toi/j mastoi/j zw,nhn crush/n 1:14 h` de. kefalh. auvtou/ kai. ai` tri,cej leukai. w`sei e;rion leuko,n w`j ciw,n kai. oi` ovfqalmoi. auvtou/ w`j flo.x puro,j 1:15 kai. oi` po,dej auvtou/ o[moioi calkoliba,nw| w`j evn kami,nw| pepurwme,noi\ kai. h` fwnh. auvtou/ w`j fwnh. u`da,twn pollw/n 1:16 kai. e;cwn evn th/| dexia/| auvtou/ ceiri. avste,raj e`pta, kai. evk tou/ sto,matoj auvtou/ r`omfai,a di,stomoj ovxei/a evkporeuome,nh kai. h` o;yij auvtou/ w`j o` h[lioj fai,nei evn th/| duna,mei auvtou/ 1:17 Kai. o[te ei=don auvto,n e;pesa pro.j tou.j po,daj auvtou/ w`j nekro,j kai. evpe,qhken th.n dexia.n auvtou/ cei/ra evp evme. le,gwn moi( Mh. fobou/\ evgw, eivmi o` prw/toj kai. o` e;scatoj 1:18 kai. o` zw/n kai. evgeno,mhn nekro.j kai. ivdou. zw/n eivmi eivj tou.j aivw/naj tw/n aivw,nwn avmh,n\ kai. e;cw ta.j klei/j tou/ a[|dou kai. tou/ qana,tou 1:19 gra,yon a] ei=dej kai. a] eivsi.n kai. a] me,llei gine,sqai meta. tau/ta 1:20 to. musth,rion tw/n e`pta. avste,rwn w=n ei=dej evpi. th/j dexia/j mou kai. ta.j e`pta. lucni,aj ta.j crusa/j\ oi` e`pta. avste,rej a;ggeloi tw/n e`pta. evkklhsiw/n eivsin kai. ai` e`pta. lucni,ai a[j ei=dej e`pta. evkklhsi,ai eivsi,n
VEgw. VIwa,nnhj o` kai. avdelfo.j u`mw/n kai. sugkoinwno.j evn th/| qli,yei kai. evn th/| basilei,a| kai. u`pomonh/| VIhsou/ Cristou/( evgeno,mhn evn th/| nh,sw| th/| kaloume,nh| Pa,tmw| dia. to.n lo,gon tou/ qeou/ kai. dia. th.n marturi,an VIhsou/ Cristou/
I, even your brother John, and sharer in the distress and in the kingdom and perseverance of Jesus Christ, came to be in the island being called Patmos because of the Word of God and for the sake of the witness of Jesus Christ
John’s comment here should not go unappreciated, as he shared in the tribulation endured by other of Christ’s slaves. Trials and tribulation are essential to the life of God’s children. As Peter states, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (1Peter 1:17)” It comes as the result of such terrible trials that we reveal whether we are in fact the Children of God. For trials, necessarily, manifiest our faith— and not our faith, but really the faith which can only come from above. Can the children of God exist without such faith and perseverance? Concerning the illegitimate children they “… have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.” John, as a co-sharer in such affliction, did not turn away. Here, he readily identifies with his audience by this common thread.
As I consider this passage, I cannot help but to think of the mixed blessing of our current generation. We live in a time where there is the appearance of so little opposition and oppression to our faith. Yet, shall we not take notice of “dia. to.n lo,gon tou/ qeou/ kai. dia. th.n marturi,an VIhsou/ Cristou/“? The Greek preposition dia. has a very important emphasis in the study of the original text. Whenever it is used concerning our faith and salvation experience, it is used in the genitive case, which denotes that we are never justified because we exercise faith, but rather that we are justified through, or by means of, faith that is imparted from God. Therefore, faith is the gift of God as stated in Ephesians. Here, however, it is used in the accusative case denoting an uncontrollable cause and effect. John was in Patmos, recording the revelation of God to the slaves of His Son, because the Word of God and the Witness of Christ placed him there. “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both (the) to will and (the) to work of his good pleasure. (Phi 2:12-13)”
In our day, we believe that our adversary, the devil, is trying to stop our forward march by ejecting prayer and any other semblance of our faith out of our schools, legislature, etc. I am persuaded that this is the case, but that it is having an effect that has gone pretty much unnoticed. Have you ever driven in such heavy traffic knowing that there must be some terrible accident well ahead, only to find out that the source of your impedance can be found in the onlookers in front of you making a spectacle of some minor fender bender on the other side of the freeway? In order to compensate for some minor resistance, we have let worldly wisdom, watered-down doctrine, and the dominance of music all replace doctrine. Likewise, denominations are stronger than ever, but very few professing believers have a legitimate understanding of their heritage. The examples seem limitless. Would to God that we could be driven to our own Patmos so that we too might have a revelation of God through His word. “Dear God, have mercy and pity upon us; and do not withhold your Spirit from us. Revive us that we might appear to the world to be your children.”
evgeno,mhn evn pneu,mati evn th/| kuriakh/| h`me,ra| kai. h;kousa ovpi,sw mou fwnh.n mega,lhn w`j sa,lpiggoj
I came to be in Spirit on the Lord’s day and I heard behind me a great voice like a trumpet blast
No doubt John’s experience is different than being filled with the Spirit, as every Christian is commanded to be. To be filled with the Spirit is to know God’s word and then to keep it. This is much more like the experience Paul describes in his second epistle to the Corinthians, when he was caught up to the third heaven. John may have been on the Isle of Patmos, but he was carried away, in the Spirit, to another place.
I do not believe it was an accident that this event took place on the Lord’s day. There’s much debate over whether or not we are to observe the Sabbath. There are those that teach that we do not celebrate the Sabbath but rather the resurrection day of Christ. In the text here, we do not see a construction as to suggest a “day of the Lord” where we render it as the Lord’s day. Instead the very word used, kuriakh/| (from the root word kuriako,j), shows possession. This is the “belonging to the Lord day”. Now, everything belongs to the Lord. But this is quite specific in its application. There is to be a day set aside to the Lord. I do not mean to be focused on trivial issues concerning this day; but I do believe this is an important point. In Mark 2:27 we are told, “… The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath”. The keeping of the Sabbath had two very important significances— possibly more. First, it identified man with God in the work of creation:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made (Genesis 1:27-2:3).
It is because God created man in His own image that He demands identification with all that He is and all that He has done and with all that He will do. Anything short of this falls into the category of idolatry. In creation, God established a pattern of six days’ work and one day’s rest. This was obviously not the result of Him tiring, for He is Almighty. Nevertheless, it is the pattern He chose. Because He did so, man has been commanded, in Exodus 20:8-11, to conduct himself in similar fashion. The problem is man is proud and arrogent in his fallen state and is forever serving the creature above the creator (Romans 1:25).
Again, the first significant point of the Sabbath is that it identifies man with God in the work of creation. Second, it identifies man with God’s redemptive work when He delivered the Hebrews out of Egypt:
Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).
The keeping of the Sabbath was central to the faith of the Jews for it was instrumental as a reminder of all that God had already done. Together, these two points served as a catalyst to cause the Hebrews to pause and consider God and to be thankful to Him. While the day may be different, or maybe even variable, for the Christian; the significance of keeping the Sabbath remains. One day out of seven, God’s children are to conduct themselves differently in order to refresh their appreciation to God and to reset their mindset concerning the ways of Him. The problem with not observing the Sabbath is that the children of God will inevitably try with all earnestness to keep the doctrines of God, but with the philosophy of humanism.
In his dedication and servitude to God, John received a revelation, consisting of several visions, from God. Had he not been steadfast on the Lord’s day, it is doubtful, and this is speculation, that God would have sent him the vision. But being taken away by God and placed out of the cares of his normal routines, John found himself in God’s sovereignty.
legou,shj VEgw, evimi to. A kai. to. W( }O prw/toj kai. o` e;scatoj\ kai. o` ble,peij gra,yon eivj bibli,on kai. pe,myon tai/j evkklhsi,aij tai/j evn VAsi,a|( eivj :Efeson kai. eivj Smu,rnan kai. eivj Pe,rgamon kai. eivj Qua,teira kai. eivj Sa,rdeij kai. eivj Filade,lfeian kai. eivj Laodi,keian
saying “I, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last”; also, “what you see write in a scroll and send to the churches in Asia, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamos and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea”.
Why these specific churches? Perhaps it is because of John’s proximity to them and because of his witness and teaching to them. Regardless, God had a message to send to them via his instrument. This message is sent with all of the authority of the Almighty— the beginning and end of their faith and the beginning and end of all that is in the universe. Just as this message was sent to these churches in word form and through His slave, so also is God’s message delivered to His slaves today— albeit without the special revelation. Today’s preachers, pastors, teachers and evangelists need to preach as if they have an urgent message from God. Too often it seems that the preacher’s sermon is wrapped up with colorful illustration or humor. This is not wrong, in and of itself. However, there still needs to be a fire within the message. Likewise, there needs to be light within the message. The preacher’s message can be full of passion and emotion, but if it imparts little truth, how will the people of God be brought to spiritual maturity?
Kai. evpe,streya ble,pein th.n fwnh.n h[tij evla,lhsen met evmou/ kai. evpistre,yaj ei=don e`pta. lucni,aj crusa/j
And I turned around to see the voice which spoke with me. And having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands,
The local church of God, the evkklhsi,a is aptly referred to as a lampstand. The word used here is lucni,aj. It is not a light source, but rather an instrument for exalting and displaying the light source. Jesus Christ and the Word of God is the fw/j. So, while the lampstand is never to be elevated above its source; so is the church never to be placed above our Lord Jesus and His word. The church is to be the pillar and ground of the truth (1Timothy 3:15). But all too often this truth is laid aside in favor of preaching convenience or to spur emotional decisionism. They may be present, but they should not be preeminent. Likewise, the church of the living God should not withhold its light from people. Too often, I find a cold spirit amongst many of my Calvinistic brothers. Without a doubt, they have a firm grasp of the tools. But their focus tends to be more on protecting Calvinism than on seeing souls converted. It is often as if they place the cart before the horse and expect to impart God’s word only where godly living is already present. Similarly, they are quick to point out inconsistencies, but slow to point the way. They would be wise to heed the Savior’s counsel, “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light (Luke 11:33).”
kai. evn me,sw| tw/n e`pta. lucniw/n o[moion u`iw/| avnqrw,pou evndedume,non podh,rh kai. periezwsme,non pro.j toi/j mastoi/j zw,nhn crush/n
and in the middle of the seven lampstands, One like the Son of Man having been clothed in a long robe and having been wrapped up with a golden belt near the chest.
In the midst of these churches was found the Lord. Can there be a greater sense than to know that He is not only near, but also readily accessible?
Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God (Psalm 84:4-7).
Here, Christ is clothed with a long robe, gird about Him, as a counsellor ready to counsel and ready to dispense help at the same time. To the church that seeks revival, do not look too far off; for Christ is in the midst and ready to counsel you back to His ways if only you will loose yourself from humanistic philosophy, pragmatism, and other idolatries and take on the mind of Christ.
h` de. kefalh. auvtou/ kai. ai` tri,cej leukai. w`sei e;rion leuko,n w`j ciw,n kai. oi` ovfqalmoi. auvtou/ w`j flo.x puro,j
Now His head and the hairs white like wool, like snow, and His eyes like flames of fire;
Daniel had a similar vision and called Him the Ancient of days (Daniel 7:9); only here the Lord has eyes like flames of fire piercing into and revealing the hidden things of the heart. Sincerity, hard feelings and all other types of emotional displays are never sufficient to demonstrate love and devotion to Him. “If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).” It is a life that is lived consistent with the Word of God that is truly submissive to Him. There is no other objective manifestation of a surrendered life, of a life bent towards Him; “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).”
kai. oi` po,dej auvtou/ o[moioi calkoliba,nw| w`j evn kami,nw| pepurwme,noi\ kai. h` fwnh. auvtou/ w`j fwnh. u`da,twn pollw/n
and His feet like polished brass having been refined in a furnace; and His voice like the sound of many waters;
How mighty are the feet of Him who has and will stomp out His enemy? “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment (Isaiah 63:3).” In similar fashion, our Lord will shortly bruise Satan under the feet of his saints (Romans 16:20).
kai. e;cwn evn th/| dexia/| auvtou/ ceiri. avste,raj e`pta, kai. evk tou/ sto,matoj auvtou/ r`omfai,a di,stomoj ovxei/a evkporeuome,nh kai. h` o;yij auvtou/ w`j o` h[lioj fai,nei evn th/| duna,mei auvtou/
and holding in His right hand— seven stars; and a sharp, two-edged sword coming from His mouth; and His face as the sun shines in its power.
How secure the ministers of God find themselves— in the right hand of the Almighty. But this security is available to more than the pastor of a church. It is available to all those who are faithful and dilligent with His Word. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword (Romans 8:35)?” All those that wish to serve the Lord, ought to simply preach the Word of God. This is an essential demonstration of faith for the believer. Yet when it is done, the hearers will undoubtedly be cut by God’s broadsword. May they, in the process, also see Christ shine forth in all His power.
Kai. o[te ei=don auvto,n e;pesa pro.j tou.j po,daj auvtou/ w`j nekro,j kai. evpe,qhken th.n dexia.n auvtou/ cei/ra evp evme. le,gwn moi( Mh. fobou/\ evgw, eivmi o` prw/toj kai. o` e;scatoj
And when I saw Him, I fell toward His feet like dead; and He put His right hand on me saying to me “Fear not. I, (make no mistake) I am the First and the Last”,
John, upon seeing the Lord could not help but fall to His feet. There is no hint of hesitation or even pre-meditation. It was if he was struck dead. This will be the case for all who see Him. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth (Philippians 2:10);” Yet, there is no fear of judgement for the apostle; for immediately the voice of the Lord comforts him. When we receive the imputed righteousness of Christ, we can have peace knowing that He will once again say to us, “Fear not”. This assurance comes with great authority for he is more than the Christ. He is also the First and the Last. He is both the source of judgement and the final authority. Therefore, there can be no condemnation for the Christian: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 8:1).”
kai. o` zw/n kai. evgeno,mhn nekro.j kai. ivdou. zw/n eivmi eivj tou.j aivw/naj tw/n aivw,nwn avmh,n\ kai. e;cw ta.j klei/j tou/ a[|dou kai. tou/ qana,tou
“and the Living One and I became dead; and behold! I am living to the ages of the ages. Amen. And I possess the keys to Hades and of death.”
Jesus Christ, the one who has always been and who will always be, died for us and in the process, washed our sins away by His blood. But though He died, He still lives. While our lives are temporal, Christ is truly eternal. And because He is eternal and has triumphed over the grave Himself, we have full assurance that He also holds the keys to both death and Hades.
Now, there are those who teach that Christ, after His death, went to hell and suffered a taste of eternal fire in order to complete His substitutionary atonement for His saints. Yet this text, as well as elsewhere, gives no such indication of this. Such teaching comes from both an improper doctrinal distinction between Hades and hell, and from the use of “hell” by English bible-versions for both words.
The two primary textual words used in both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament are “Sheol” and “Gehenna”. In the New Testament, the Greek word a[|dhj parallels the Hebrew word that is transliterated as “Sheol”. Sheol refers to the place of the dead. Sometimes it is even used to make reference to death itself. While it is not a final resting place for the wicked or for the righteous, Sheol does present finality in some respect. For the righteous, it marks the end of suffering and the end of battling indwelling sin and corruption. For the wicked, it marks the end of possible repentence. Upon entering Hades, the wicked man has his eventual outcome sealed. We have a picture of Hades (Sheol) in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man:
And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence (Luke 16:20-26).
While Sheol is the place of the dead— both righteous and unrighteous— ge,enna is used to describe eternal retribution for the wicked. It is derived from the transliteration of the Hebrew words “Ge” and “Hinnom”. Combined, these words denoted the Valley of Hinnom, which was known for the child sacrifices to Molech under the reigns of Ahaz and Manasseh. This place gained further infamy as the dumping ground for Jerusalem while under the reign of Josiah. However, it wasn’t until the time between the testaments and during Christ’s ministry that Gehenna gained prominence in describing the final resting place for the wicked.
The fact that Christ has conquered Hades and has the keys to both Hades and death is significant for one day Hades will give up all of its dead. Then, both death and Hades will be cast into Gehenna never to have occupants again. The righteous will find their place ruling and reigning with the Lord; whereas the wicked will not. Their fate can only be described by Gehenna.
gra,yon a] ei=dej kai. a] eivsi.n kai. a] me,llei gine,sqai meta. tau/ta
“Write what things you saw, and what things are, and what things are going to occur after these things.”
John fulfilled this command by recording his Gospel record while at Ephesus, some 40 years after Christ’s death.
to. musth,rion tw/n e`pta. avste,rwn w=n ei=dej evpi. th/j dexia/j mou kai. ta.j e`pta. lucni,aj ta.j crusa/j\ oi` e`pta. avste,rej a;ggeloi tw/n e`pta. evkklhsiw/n eivsin kai. ai` e`pta. lucni,ai a[j ei=dej e`pta. evkklhsi,ai eivsi,n
“The mystery of the seven stars which you saw on my right, and the seven golden lampstands; the seven stars are angels of the seven churches; and the seven lampstands which you saw are seven churches.”
It is quite appropriate that the pastors of these seven churches are referred to as stars; for stars, like the sun, are also sources of light. Likewise, these ministers, and all who know Him, are to be light givers supported by the church. “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15);” Here, in Philippians, the Greek word fwsth/rej is used, thus identifying the faithful believer to the fw/j of Jesus and the Word of God. God’s word should not only permeate the believer, it should shine forth from him with brilliance.