December 29, 2002
Salutation and General Introduction, Revelation 1:1-8
1:1 VApoka,luyij VIhsou/ Cristou/ h]n e;dwken auvtw/| o` qeo,j dei/xai toi/j dou,loij auvtou/ a] dei/ gene,sqai evn ta,cei kai. evsh,manen avpostei,laj dia. tou/ avgge,lou auvtou/ tw/| dou,lw| auvtou/ VIwa,nnh| 1:2 o]j evmartu,rhsen to.n lo,gon tou/ qeou/ kai. th.n marturi,an VIhsou/ Cristou/ o[sa te ei=den 1:3 maka,rioj o` avnaginw,skwn kai. oi` avkou,ontej tou.j lo,gouj th/j profhtei,aj kai. throu/ntej ta. evn auvth/| gegramme,na o` ga.r kairo.j evggu,j 1:4 VIwa,nnhj tai/j e`pta. evkklhsi,aij tai/j evn th/| VAsi,a|\ ca,rij u`mi/n kai. eivrh,nh avpo. tou/ o` w’n kai. o` h=n kai. o` evrco,menoj kai. avpo. tw/n e`pta. pneuma,twn a] evstin evnw,pion tou/ qro,nou auvtou/ 1:5 kai. avpo. VIhsou/ Cristou/ o` ma,rtuj o` pisto,j o` prwto,tokoj evk tw/n nekrw/n kai. o` a;rcwn tw/n basile,wn th/j gh/j Tw/| avgaph,santi h`ma/j kai. lou,santi h`ma/j avpo. tw/n a`martiw/n h`mw/n evn tw/| ai[mati auvtou/ 1:6 kai. evpoi,hsen h`ma/j basilei/j kai. i`erei/j tw/| qew/| kai. patri. auvtou/ auvtw/| h` do,xa kai. to. kra,toj eivj tou.j aivw/naj tw/n aivw,nwn\ avmh,n 1:7 VIdou. e;rcetai meta. tw/n nefelw/n kai. o;yetai auvto.n pa/j ovfqalmo.j kai. oi[tinej auvto.n evxeke,nthsan kai. ko,yontai evp auvto.n pa/sai ai` fulai. th/j gh/j nai, avmh,n 1:8 VEgw, eivmi to. A kai. to. ?W avrch. kai. te,loj( le,gei o` ku,rioj o` w’n kai. o` h=n kai. o` evrco,menoj o` pantokra,twr
VApoka,luyij VIhsou/ Cristou/ h]n e;dwken auvtw/| o` qeo,j dei/xai toi/j dou,loij auvtou/ a] dei/ gene,sqai evn ta,cei kai. evsh,manen avpostei,laj dia. tou/ avgge,lou auvtou/ tw/| dou,lw| auvtou/ VIwa,nnh|
A revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him to reveal to His slaves things which will come to pass before long. And He made it known by sending through His angel to His slave, John,
First of all we know that this is a revelation, which God gave to His Son, Jesus Christ. The purpose of this revelation is to show to the slaves of Jesus Christ, all of the things that are to come to pass before long. This seems to be a reasonable place to pause. There are many who believe that the relelations have all been fulfilled by now. There are others who believe that some of the revelation will appear soon, result in the church being removed, and then resume with Israel in focus. I wish to point out one thing here. The phrase used in the KJV is “which must shortly come to pass”. However, the actual text (evn ta,cei), lends a little flexibility. Since it is in the dative case, it can mean several things; but it renders itself most likely as “before long”. We have to be carefull not to introduce any form of dispensational teaching as we examine these scriptures. If there are ramifications, which can only be explained by such device, then so be it. For now we’ll just deal with the text as much as possible.
Going back to the text, we have seen that this revelation is for Christ’s slaves. The beloved of God, also known as the elect, are slaves to Christ. Actually the term used here, as well as frequently by the apostles, is toi/j dou,loij. It means the willing bond slaves. There are a couple of trends in modern evangelical Christianity concerning this matter. There are those who have coined the term “lordship salvation” to connote the idea of a work salvation. In other words they believe that one can be saved, but not yet submissive to the lordship of Jesus Christ. These same people often believe and teach that the natural state of the Christian is somewhat fallen; that by default, the Christian is carnal and backslidden; and that with a little work can actually live in a more spiritual state. There are yet others that teach a compliance with God’s law, moral and otherwise, is a necessity in order to be saved. The scriptures are always quite clear on such matters when examined in their original language. The revelation is given to all of the willing bond slaves of Jesus Christ and for their sake. While there is no suggestion of a legalistic salvation, there is also no room for those who live to themselves. The Christian will not live unto Christ to be saved. Likewise, he cannot help but live unto Christ because he is enslaved to Him. He is willing and enabled to do such.
o]j evmartu,rhsen to.n lo,gon tou/ qeou/ kai. th.n marturi,an VIhsou/ Cristou/ o[sa te ei=den
who testified of both the Word of God and the witness of Jesus Christ, as much as he saw.
John’s ministry was very purposeful as he recorded the detailed accounts of Christ’s life and the way He carried out His Father’s ordinances. Only in John’s gospel do we see a detailed account of Christ’s prayer to His Father in John 17. Only in his gospel do we see how Christ is the embodiment of God’s Word. Not to take away from the other gospels, but John’s gospel is so intimate to us and so vital to us understanding the Father’s will concerning His Son. Here in verse 2, we are reminded of these things as we’re told why God sent His revelation through His slave John. What a faithful slave he was with so daunting a task. Yet we too can hope for such faithfulness in our tasks, for it is still God which works in us both the “to will” and the “to work” for the sake of His good pleasure (Phil 2:12-13).
maka,rioj o` avnaginw,skwn kai. oi` avkou,ontej tou.j lo,gouj th/j profhtei,aj kai. throu/ntej ta. evn auvth/| gegramme,na o` ga.r kairo.j evggu,j
Blessed is the one reading and the ones hearing the words of the prophecy and keeping the things having been written in it; for the time is near.
What a benediction for the Christian! He shall be blessed for reading, hearing and keeping the revelation, which God has provided in this glorious epistle. Yet I often wonder how misunderstood this epistle, and even this blessing, is. As I examine the text I cannot help but notice that there is no equitive verb. There is no “is”. Instead, we have an unusual construction of three present participles preceded by their definite articles: o` avnaginw,skwn and oi` avkou,ontej kai. throu/ntej. This blessing goes out to the one reading and to the ones hearing and keeping the words of the revelation. But the blessing is not to some who read, and to some who hear and to some who keep. These participles are virtually inseparable from the blessing. In other words, it’s all or nothing. The believer either embodies these traits and is therefore blessed or he doesn’t. There really is no middle ground.
What I also find interesting is the use of the definite articles. They show the number of the verbal. So, we have the reading one. It’s addressee is singular. We also have the hearing and keeping ones. These are plural in number. It is not until the next verse that we are able to obtain a little better context of why this is possibly so. Why not place everything in the singular? Or in the plural? Then we could have the reading, hearing and keeping one(s). It is because the blessing and the fulfillment is to filter through local churches. This is not to speak ill of those who have been put out of their churches for taking a stand on doctrine, as has been the case in history. It is to quiet the one who feels that he can operate indefinitely outside of the local church. God promises to bless through it. So, it would stand to reason that the overseer is the constantly reading one. Furthermore, the overseer and the membership of the local church are the constantly hearing and keeping ones. Together, these will undoubtedly be blessed. How important a doctrine as this reminds us of what God has provided. We live in a day where churches are divided in doctrine, where professing believers believe they don’t have to keep, or obey, God’s Word. How can they feel so confident of God’s promises? How can such people feel confident that they even know God? God has provided this revelation for the benefit of the slaves of His Son, who will undoubtedly continue reading, hearing and keeping His revelation.
For the time is near. Literally this phrase is “the for age (or time) on the verge of”. On the verge of what? Closing. So, we can say that the blessing extends to those who observe this revelation for the close of the age. Again, there is no verb “to be”. I do not believe this is a warning that time is running out and God is going to shift His focus on us. It is not saying that. It is saying that all of the things contained in the prophecy must be kept until the end of the age. This leaves very little room for all of today’s dispensational view points. There is so much messy theology about the church age, the time of the Gentiles, the time of the Jews, etc. People have Christ coming and going and coming again. Pastors are afraid to read this book, lest their eschatology be found full of holes. However, it must be stated again that all of the things written in this prophecy will come to pass before long and certainly before the end of the age.
VIwa,nnhj tai/j e`pta. evkklhsi,aij tai/j evn th/| VAsi,a|\ ca,rij u`mi/n kai. eivrh,nh avpo. tou/ o` w’n kai. o` h=n kai. o` evrco,menoj kai. avpo. tw/n e`pta. pneuma,twn a] evstin evnw,pion tou/ qro,nou auvtou/
John to the seven churches in Asia: grace to you and peace from the One who is, and who was, and who is coming and from the seven spirits which are before His throne;
John now makes a transition in his address. He is now personalizing the mandate given to him by the One sending him and equipping him with the revelation. John is making it known that his immediate address is to seven specific churches within Asia— the churches at Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. He brings the message with grace and with peace from God the Father, as well as from the Holy Spirit, who’s company is expressed in the completeness of His operations by the number seven, including the operation of providing peace to those who hear and keep the Words of God.
kai. avpo. VIhsou/ Cristou/ o` ma,rtuj o` pisto,j o` prwto,tokoj evk tw/n nekrw/n kai. o` a;rcwn tw/n basile,wn th/j gh/j Tw/| avgaph,santi h`ma/j kai. lou,santi h`ma/j avpo. tw/n a`martiw/n h`mw/n evn tw/| ai[mati auvtou/
Even from Jesus Christ, the witness, the faithful, the first born out of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To the One having loved us and having washed us from our sins by His blood,
Last, but certainly not least, John reminds us that he comes on behalf of Jesus Christ. Now we have the message brought on behalf of the entire trinity. Our Lord, here, is described by several key descriptions. He is the witness and the faithful; but He is also the first born of the dead. This is an important point. Enoch and Elijah were translated from this earth prior to tasting death. So, neither of them can hold such a title. However, Lazaraus did taste death and was raised again. So, this description cannot possibly mean that Jesus was the first to be raised from the dead and that’s that. Lazarus may have been raised from the dead, but he did die again. This has to be a reference to the resurrection. Christ was the first to die, be raised from the dead, and to be glorified. All other believers are awaiting glorification. This will occur after Christ’s second return; but it will occur. We have this great assurance in Romans 8:28-30.
The last part of this verse introduces a blessing of Christ. We should frequently do likewise and bless the one who redeemed us. Here we have two aorist participles— avgaph,santi and lou,santi. Christ loved us and washed us in His blood at Calvary. This is not a perpetual act. The act of His atonement was made complete when he rose again from the dead. Therefore, armed with this reminder and with the knowledge that we will be like Him when we see Him, we have hope. It is a great hope, which no other religion can boast. Now there are certain dispensationalists who would like for us to wrap our hope up in the translation of the church out of this world. But our hope needs to always remain in Christ. He is the faithful one and the first born out of the dead.
kai. evpoi,hsen h`ma/j basilei/j kai. i`erei/j tw/| qew/| kai. patri. auvtou/ auvtw/| h` do,xa kai. to. kra,toj eivj tou.j aivw/naj tw/n aivw,nwn\ avmh,n
and made us a kingdom and priests of God, even His Father. To Him (is) the glory and the dominion from eternity to eternity. Amen.
What a glorious duty we have been given. We have been made both a kingdom and priests to almighty God. There are those among us who haven’t yet grasped this concept for they still seek another kingdom. And yet others will seek another priest to make intercession on their behalf. However, God has ordained us and equipped us to a higher calling. Those who think that the normal state of the Christian is barely above condemned, would do well to read this verse again. As priests we have been made the keepers of the Word of God. We have been entrusted as vessels of God to bear His sacrifice to all who will hear and believe. As our Lord has been faithful, will we be faithful in these assignments? Will we tear down the false idols that have been set up around us?
Finally, John declares to all that Christ, our Lord and redeemer, is to have all of the glory and dominion from eternity past and for all eternity. There is never a time that Jesus has not had glory and dominion. And there never will be. Again, there is no verb in this sentence. It plainly says “to Him— grace and dominion for ever”. There is coming a day when all will bow down to Him.
VIdou. e;rcetai meta. tw/n nefelw/n kai. o;yetai auvto.n pa/j ovfqalmo.j kai. oi[tinej auvto.n evxeke,nthsan kai. ko,yontai evp auvto.n pa/sai ai` fulai. th/j gh/j nai, avmh,n
Look! He comes with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and whoever pierced Him, and all the nations of the earth will wail over Him. Indeed. Amen.
Would to God that we would so eagerly anticipate His return. He is coming already. The verb e;rcetai is in the present tense. Though we cannot see Him in the clouds, His return is in process. There is much anticipation on the part of man regarding this issue. When He returns, all the nations will wail. The elect will believe and repent. The reprobate will curse and cry out. But all will take note. There will not be a single eye that does not behold His return. Because of this, we are commanded to Look with all urgency. The imperative, here, is in the aorist tense. This denotes more of the urgency and not so much the idea of keeping our heads in the clouds. Rest assured, when He returns we will all notice. In the meantime we should long for and anticipate His return.
VEgw, eivmi to. A kai. to. ?W avrch. kai. te,loj( le,gei o` ku,rioj o` w’n kai. o` h=n kai. o` evrco,menoj o` pantokra,twr
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, Beginning and Ending”, says the Lord, “the Is and the Was and the Coming One, the Almighty.”
Christ is the origin and the conclusion to all matters. He is the one coming back for us. He is the one who will strike fear in the hearts of all who opose Him. He is Almighty God. To say that He is to have preeminence is an understatement. Here we have great emphasis on His person. In the construction, VEgw, eivmi, we have the emphatic personal pronoun “I” followed by the first person singular of the verb “to be”. More accurately rendered, we have “I, make no mistake, I am the Alpha and the Omega”.