Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Synopsis: The introduction of the book prepares us for what lies ahead in the book.

Let us begin by reading chapter 1. There are 20 verses with 469 words in the original Greek text.

1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants — things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,

2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.

3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

4 John, to the seven churches which 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,

5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in
His own blood,

6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

9 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God
and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,

11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”

12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,

13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.

14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;

15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;

16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.

18 “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

19 “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.

20 “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 which you saw are the seven churches.

Here the book begins and it immediately gives us instructions on how to handle its message. There is a considerable amount of relevant information provided in these first few words which will help us understand the book. In the first few verses It answers the who, what, when, where, how and why. Who wrote it? John (verse 1). Who is it written to? The seven churches of Asia (verse 4). What is it? It is the revelation of Jesus Christ given by signs (verse 1) . How did it get here? It came from the Father, to the Son, to an angel and then given to John (verse 1). Where was John when he wrote it? On the Island of  Patmos (verse 9). When was it written? On the Lords Day (verse 10). When will these things take place? These are “things which must shortly take place” (verse 1). Why is it given? Inside Revelation is a message vital for Christians that they must keep (verse 3). Why is it relevant to me? There are blessings offered to any who read, hear and keep the things in this book (verse 3). All of these questions are answered in the first ten verses in only 240 Greek words in the original text.

You may have noticed the question, “When was it written?” This is answered, “on the Lords Day” (verse 10). There is great debate on the date of Revelation. In what year was it written? I know what I think but my thinking can be wrong, just as anyone’s thinking can be wrong. I have used only the text to show when it was written – John said this began on the Lord’s Day. I refuse to get into any argument on the year since it usually detract from the lesson of Revelation. One can get bogged down in useless arguments and miss what is important.

2 Timothy 2:23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.

Let it be known that Revelation was written during the lifetime of the apostle John and after the seven churches of Asia were established, namely: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea (1:11). We know that Paul helped establish the church in Ephesus in Acts 18 on his second missionary journey. Paul also spoke of the church in Laodicea in Colossians 2:1, 4:13,15 and 16.

Colossians 2:1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,

Colossians 4:13-16
13 For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.
14 Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.
15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.
16 Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

Paul had contact with the church in Laodicea  since he writes them a letter, but Paul had not been there. Exactly when the other churches in Asia were established is not found in the text of the New Testament. It is possible that since the other five congregations are not mentioned by Paul (or any others except Christ in Revelation) these may have been established after Paul’s death. Paul is thought to have been executed at about 67 A.D.

In chapters 2 and 3 there is a history mentioned with each congregation. Christ recites things done in their past and judges them according to each congregational history. They are also judged on what they were currently doing. Christ uses words which describe situations like “persevered and have patience” (Revelation 2:3), “I gave her time to repent” (Revelation 2:21), and “in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr” (Revelation 2:13) which all suggest a relatively long history with some of these congregations. The following are the words of Christ describing the past of each church. He knows their history. In most of the statements there is what would appear to be events suggesting many earlier years.

Ephesus – a deep history is referenced. This congregation goes back to Acts 19.
Revelation 2;2-3
2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;
3 “and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.

Smyrna – the words “works,” “tribulation,” and being spiritually “rich” are not likely to describe a short congregational history.
Revelation 2:9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

Pergamos – The words “in the days” speaks of a time past.
Revelation 2:13 “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.

Thyatira – There is a history here that is not composed of current events only.
Revelation 2:19-20
19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.
20 “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.
21 “And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.

Sardis – this speaks of a reputation which can only be formed through time.
Revelation 3:1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘ These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

Philadelphia – Perseverance is not done in one brief moment.
Revelation 3:8-10
8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
9 “Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
10 “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

Laodicea – this would appear to be an attitude which developed over time. Paul wrote them and also spoke of them in Colossians chapters 2 and 4.
Revelation 3:15-17
15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
16 “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
17 “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked —

Revelation was probably written well after all seven churches of Asia were established. None of the judgments of Christ toward the seven churches appear to address any congregation as new and without a significant past. It is also of note that the church at Hierapolis is never mentioned by Christ. Paul referenced this congregation in Colossians 4:13. Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians in or after 60 A.D. Hierapolis was only a few miles from Laodicea and is definitely in Asia. Why is this congregation missing in Revelation? It may have ceased to exist by the time Revelation was written. As time moves from decade to decade congregations rise and congregations fall. it is a process that is repeated through history. Things are constantly changing.

Jesus addresses the churches of Asia as the seven churches of Asia. Before this point a number is never assigned to these churches. From Acts to Jude one cannot count seven churches in Asia. In 1 Corinthians 16:19 Paul speaks of the churches in Asia but does not provide a number.

1 Corinthians 16:19 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

Before Revelation is written there is no exact number given to the churches of Asia. Also note that on the three occasions where the words “the seven churches” appear in Revelation (1:4, 11 and 20) the word “the” is involved. This could mean there were no other churches in Asia at that time Revelation was penned. This idea is reinforced further in Revelation 1:20 by the words “the seven stars” and “the seven golden lampstands.” The seven stars are the seven angels (messengers) of the seven churches. The seven lampstands are seven churches which have already been identified as the seven churches of Asia.

If we all understand that Revelation had to have been written in the latter portion of the first century there is little reason to debate.

Chapter 1 prepares us for the rest of the book. It sets the tone: the reason for the book, the form of literary devices used and it introduces how it is to be handled. It would be very difficult if the book started without this chapter designed to help. It is prepping us in multiple ways. Let us look at verse 1.

1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants — things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,

Verse 1 tells us where this originated. It did not originate with John but from God. For anyone to question the authorship of Revelation is foolish. It was John inspired by God. Is there better proof than verse 1? What other evidence would anyone need? What proof is there of someone else being the author? For anyone to make assertions about the intent of the author of Revelation would have to be assertions on the intent of God and not of John – it originated with God. John does only as he is told to do – “”Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this” (1:19). It cannot be said that John has any intent except to write down what he is told to write, and as we can see in 10:4 there are things he hears he is not permitted to record and they remain a mystery.

The process in the production of this book or the line in which it was given to man is clearly stated in verse 1. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ. The phrase, “God gave Him to show His servants” may mean that God gave Christ the information that was then to be passed on to His servants. This would mean that Christ is both recipient and revelator. That would certainly not be a new idea as stated through the book of John.

John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

 John 3:35 “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.

 John 5:20 “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.

 John 7:16 Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.

 John 8:28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.

 John 12:49 “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.

 John 16:15 “All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

 John 17:2 “as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.

 But it is also possible that this means God granted the authority (the Greek word edwken can mean to grant) for Christ to give this to His servants. God authorizes Christ (or gives permission to Christ). Christ gives it to an angel. This angel gives it to John through signs or visions. John then records it and sends it on to the seven churches of Asia (Christ’s servants).

The chain of events is this: God to Christ, Christ to an angel, an angel to John, John to other servants of Christ.

God – Christ – angel – the servant John – other servants of Christ

Christ plays an active part in this. He is “to show His servants” – that is to point out, to explain, or to reveal. He sent the message and also signified the message. Jesus is the one who reveals this. It is His revelation. It is He who testifies that all the information is true and that not only is it relevant it is vital.

Revelation 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The use of the word “signified” gives us an early notice that we must take care with the meaning of the text. It is letting us know that not everything should be taken literally, but everything will have a meaning. Figurative language will be used from visions or signs that John will witness and record. So we must ask the question: Why is it written in signs? Why is it written in apocalyptic form? There is a reason. It is not a new reason. It has the same objective as Matthew 13:10-16.

Matthew 10:10-16
10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”
11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
12 “For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
13 “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
14 “And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’
16 “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;

In Matthew 24:3-28 Jesus gives a warning. Jerusalem is going to be destroyed. He gives the signs and the assurance it would happen. Those who took Him at His word were prepared. Those who rejected Christ faced the Roman army of General Titus. Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. exactly as Christ said it would. From the records there were no Christian in Jerusalem when Rome pounded their way in. Why? Those who believed God believed the words of God and left when they saw the signs. To the rest it would seem as meaningless rantings. The words of Matthew 24:15 should stand out: “whoever reads let him understand.”

Matthew 24:15 ” Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),

It required more than a casual hearing. One has to take a little bit of time (considering the Christ’s words to be serious enough to take the time) and read Daniel 11 since Christ referenced that book as part of understanding His message concerning Jerusalem. This requires a desire to know the meaning of what Christ said knowing that whatever Christ says will be important. The wayside hearer (Matthew 13:19) would never do that. The wayside hearer is ignorant and speaks against what he does not know. The faithful hearer will never abandon the word of God as though it were some trivial matter.

It should be noted that the Book of Revelation is purposely composed in a coded language. It is set on biblically based vocabulary, ideas and principles which only the matured Bible student could actually understand. It should be stated again that this is not a new idea used exclusively in Revelation. The Bible has already introduced us to the concept in other books. One’s knowledge of the Bible affects ones understanding of Revelation. The understanding of the Bible as a whole and the understanding of Revelation is directly proportional. The less one knows the more unintelligible Revelation becomes. To a Roman or Greek pagan (with no knowledge in the Bible) the words of Revelation are completely irrational – small sections of clearly stated sentences followed by bizarre, world-crushing imagery. It would appear to be a message from the incoherent meanderings of an unhinged lunatic. John’s letter would be seen as fantastic but of no consequence to the security, will, or political direction of Rome. How could this level of profound madness pose a threat, or stir subversion, or sedition in any way? It simply could not. It would be considered harmless and befuddled rantings. Thus this letter would be allowed to pass to the intended recipients. There were (and are today) people who were not meant to understand Revelation. Why? Because they have made themselves enemies of the truth and of God. They have no interest in giving the word of God a fair trial. It can be through apathy, arrogance, materialism, or any other barrier. A heart caught in worldliness labels the truth as undesirable and inconvenient. Any excuse to disbelieve and avoid is used. The one who looks at the words of God in disdain will never comprehend and never consider it serious enough to take time to look further.

Understanding Revelation does not take outside help. It takes the very book that the enemies of God avoid – the Bible.

Let us return back to our verse:

1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants — things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,

Note that this first verse tells us where this came from (God and Christ and written by John the apostle), what it is (a signified revelation), and it also tells us when these things would begin – “things which must shortly take place.” The word translated “must” is from the Greek word “dei.” This word means that “something will absolutely happen” and happen soon. It means a necessary outcome decreed by law or command. There is also the idea of a moral or legal obligation (oughtness). When the verse says, “things which MUST shortly take place,” it means that nothing could possibly stop or even delay them. These things will happen by the decree of God and they will happen in a short period of time (soon after John finishes the book).

This same Greek word (dei translated must) is used in other verses which can help us understand just how imperative the word “must” is.

Matthew 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He MUST go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.

 John 3:7 “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You MUST be born again.’

 Now let us look at the Greek word translated “shortly” – “things which must shortly take place.” This Greek word (taxei) means a speedy fulfillment. It means there is something that will come soon, at once, quickly and without delay. If we consider the words “must shortly take place” then we have to come to the conclusion that all these things are obligated to happen not long after this book is written by John and then read by the seven churches of Asia. Just in case we missed this message Jesus repeats this two more times in this chapter.

Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Revelation 1:19 “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.

The question is now: How many times does Jesus have to say something for it to be true? The answer is obviously “once of course.” He tells us three times in chapter one that these things will begin: after this, the time is near, and must shortly take place. Jesus continues to repeat this through the book – these things must/will start soon.

 Revelation 4:1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”

 Revelation 22:6 Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true.” And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.

Revelation 22:10 And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.

in order to get a perspective on this wording all we have to do is go into previous scripture. The wording “must shortly take place” can be a bit subjective or relative. How short is short? If we look into 2 Timothy we can find where Paul used the same Greek word.

2 Timothy 4:9 Be diligent to come to me quickly;

Then Paul explains how quickly (taxei) in verse 21.

2 Timothy 4:21 Do your utmost to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, as well as Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brethren.

Paul cannot be writing this letter in winter otherwise he would tell Timothy to “come before next winter.” He is asking Timothy to get there in a matter of months (or even weeks) before winter sets in. We can know why he wants Timothy before winter because in verse 13 he asks Timothy to bring his cloak that he left with Carpus at Troas. Thus it is very possible that the events of Revelation would occur within months or weeks after it is written and read. First and foremost Revelation is written to encourage Christians in that time. Christ is encouraging and warning Christians of that day. The words “must shortly take place,” cannot mean centuries or even decades but as we have seen may very well mean weeks or within the year. The Book of Revelation deals with real and current problems of real and current congregations – these are your problems now; this is the solution so you can solve your problems now.

Let us turn to Joseph in Genesis where we find visions and their interpretations introduced. When Joseph was seventeen he was given two dreams (Genesis 37). This pair of dreams carried one meaning: his brothers would bow down to him. But there was never any indication of the time of fulfillment or that this would soon come to pass. In fact it would be a little over twenty years before it would be fulfilled when his brothers bow to him in Egypt for the first time (Genesis 42:6-9) and Joseph remembers his dream.

When pharaoh had visions given to him in Genesis 41 there is a clear time of fulfillment given in the interpretation. It is identical language and pattern found in Revelation chapter 1. Pharaoh’s dreams concern the seven years of plenty followed by the seven years of famine. This was a period of fourteen years. Thus the complete fulfillment would take fourteen years. The question to ask is: when did the fourteen years start? Let us look at the verses.

Genesis 41:25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do:

Genesis 41:28 “This is the thing which I have spoken to Pharaoh. God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do.

Genesis 41:32 “And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.

Obviously the fulfillment of the visions began soon after it was given to pharaoh since he did not waste time but promoted Joseph and immediately took Joseph’s advice. It is possible the seven years of plenty began the next growing season. Neither Pharaoh nor Joseph made any delay but everything was set into action. It would appear the dreams were given to Pharaoh with enough time to respond adequately to the message and get ready. Certainly centuries did not pass nor did decades. One could bring out the argument that if the next season did not start the seven years of plenty then Joseph and Pharaoh would be left guessing. When would it start and how would you know when it did? Joseph states the dream was repeated because it was established by God. It was set to occur. The dream was sent in two forms (cattle and grain) but had the same message. That is why Joseph said “The dreams of Pharaoh are one.” The two visions had the same meaning. Then Joseph brings in the next fact “and God will shortly bring it to pass.” There is the sense of urgency. It is set to occur soon. They would not have to wait long for this to start. Why would God want them to wait for long periods of time if He said He would shortly bring it to pass?

Nothing in the Bible is given by accident. This wording and pattern in Genesis helps teach us the wording and pattern in Revelation. Joseph repeats three times (Genesis 41:25, 28, 31) that God would start the fourteen years soon. In Revelation God repeats the same kind of message three times in Revelation chapter 1 – Revelation 1:1, 3, and 19. The events of Revelation would begin soon after it was revealed to John. Then He repeats it in Revelation 4:1, 22:6, and 10. The events in Revelation would soon begin. How many times does God have to say it for it to be true? For our sake He repeats it and follows a pattern He set up at the beginning of the Bible.

There are other scriptures which hold an element of when a prophecy would be fulfilled. Please consider the following methods and words God employed. What if God gave a prophesy that would not be fulfilled for centuries? How would He explain the distance from the time it was given to the time it would be fulfilled? We go no further than Daniel 2:44. A dream is given to Nebuchadnezzar which showed him the events and empires hundreds of years before they would be come to be. Inside the last empire in the dream God shows Nebuchadnezzar the establishment of the kingdom of God. This is a perfect example of God’s wording when He explains that something will occur centuries away.

Daniel 2:44 “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.

What if God gave a prophesy that would not be fulfilled for decades? How would He express the distance from the time it was given to the time it would be fulfilled? This concerns the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Matthew 24:34 is an example of what Christ says when something is about forty years away. This is how He said it:

Matthew 24:34 “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

What if God gave a prophesy that would not be fulfilled for a few years? How would He word the timing to fulfillment? Matthew 4:17 and Mark 9:1 are examples of what Christ says when something is about three years away. This is how He said it:

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mark 9:1 And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”

What if God gave a prophesy that would not be fulfilled for a few days How would He express that? This also concerns the kingdom of God. Jesus is answering the apostles question from Acts 1:6. In these verses is an example of what Christ says when something is ten days away.

Acts 1:6-8
6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.
8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end
of the earth.”

Jesus answers their question but not in a way they may have realized. What does the Holy Spirit coming upon them have to do with the kingdom? Everything. When He affects them then they will know the kingdom has arrived. His answer would imply that the kingdom would come in their lifetime and rather soon – how could they possibly go to those places if they have to wait decades for the kingdom to start?

In this last example in Acts 1 Christ does not employ any of the methods or wording in Revelation. The things He describes in Acts 1:6-8 would begin in ten days time. By logic the events of Revelation cannot begin to be fulfilled in a period of ten day since this is not being spoken to the seven churches of Asia but is written to them. No doubt It would take longer than ten days to get the book off Patmos, to Ephesus then all the way to Laodicea. But the wording of Revelation 1:1 is nothing like Daniel 2 which concerned centuries nor as Matthew 24 which concerned decades nor even Mark 9:1 which concerned about three years. The Christians reading this book for the first time – the seven churches of Asia – would face these things as they soon began to take place. This wording is identical to that of Genesis 41:32.

It should be said that though the events of Revelation would be set into motion soon after it was written not all the events described could be completed in one short moment. Looking back to words of Genesis 41:32 – God would “shortly bring” the matters of Pharaoh’s dream “to pass.” It would soon begin though it would take fourteen years to complete. Concerning Revelation: Final judgment is described beginning in Revelation 20:11. That has not happened yet. It should also be mentioned that most of Revelation chapter 12 are descriptions of events predating the book of Revelation. Revelation chapter 12 is a short history (in vision form) of the righteous upon the earth going from before the Christ to after He is crowned King. It also gives reveals things which happened off this earth, but they are still as a matter of history not future.

Let us move to verse 2.

2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.

Verse 2 now begins a detailed description that was very real and as far as John is concerned, very personal. Let us begin with him since he is the subject of verse 2. John is a real person and is an actual apostle. He bore witness to the word of God. He bore witness to the testimony of Jesus Christ. He bore witness to the things he (John) saw. This is a faithful record of what he experienced, what he heard, what he was told, where he was taken. John is described in verse 9 as a brother to those who are Christians in Asia. He is described as being their brother and companion in the tribulation, in the kingdom and in the patience of Christ. He is exiled on the Island of Patmos when this occurs and it is the Lord’s Day. This is beautifully detailed and there is nothing figurative in this information.

Verse 3 gives us the reason why we should care for the book of Revelation. Why do we need this? Why should I read this? Why should I care?

3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Something a bit unusual now happens. John addresses the book to the seven churches of Asia. He does so because that is what Christ tells John to do. But John does not relate the commission by Christ to write a book to the seven churches of Asia until verse 11. In the first few verses John explains what the book is and who it is for and then relates how it is that he was called to write the book. This is by design of God, not John, and this is not exactly new. Jeremiah begins writing his book and then tells how God called him to his duty.

4 John, to the seven churches which 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,

After the pronouncement of blessing in verse 3 (why we should read the book) John begins the letter with salutation.

In verse 11 Christ now gives John the commission to write the Book of Revelation. Christ describes Himself by two designations that mean the same thing: Alpha and Omega, First and Last. he tells John what he is to write and who he is send it to.

11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”

This will be very experiential for John. He is told here to write what he sees. John will witness quite a bit. This message is to go to the seven churches of Asia. It would be impossible for us to actually know where these churches might be in Asia except that Jesus gives us their locations by city: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. The order in which these city names are given actually follows a rough arch clockwise from Ephesus to the west to Pergamos in the north and to Laodicea in the east. Some may suggest these seven churches of Asia are not literal churches at all but may be figurative stated representing the church or types of congregations in general. The seven churches of Asia have to be literal as we will demonstrate in our examination of the text.

…to be continued

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