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Revelation Chapter 1

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Different schools of Interpreters:

  1. The Preterist School- Claims that the Revelation was fulfilled in the struggles of the Jews and early Christians and in the conquests of Greece and Rome.

  2. The Historical School Ė insists that the prophecies herein are being progressively fulfilled and that the greater part has been fulfilled since Christ.

  3. The Spiritual School Ė believes that the Revelation depicts the spiritual conflict between Christ and Satan, between good and evil. They do not take it literally.

  4. The Futurist School Ė believes that the Revelation is yet future; that is, that the first three chapters described the present Church Age in John's day and that the remainder of the prophecy will be fulfilled after the the rapture of the Church.

The last interpretation is the most logical and Scriptural method of interpretation. All other explanations lead to confusion and disorder.

There are also 4 different explanations for the seven churches.

  1. All seven churches were literal churches that existed in Johnís day

  2. All seven churches were typical of the different types of churches in that day and age.

  3. All seven churches were typical of different churches in existence throughout the world since the time of the writing of Revelation and all seven represent the different kinds of churches existing today.

  4. The seven churches represent seven church age periods. We can only guess about the time periods. Only the Lord could possibly know what the periods were for sure. If the Lord tarries His coming, the period would extend and in our thinking, we would have to keep changing the time frame.

I personally see the possibility of all four views being true. 

This is not the Revelation of the apostle John but the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The word Revelation means to unveil or uncover what previously was hidden. It is meant for us to understand or our savior would never have had it written. It is a book in the bible that specifically promises us a blessing if we not only read it but if we keep the words written within its pages. It is not a book to fear unless one is totally apostate and rebellious against the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no reason to fear these things because God has everything under control and He knows what He is doing. If we ever fear anything we discuss, we can go to the last chapter and see the final end.

 Key to understanding: Verse 19: Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

  • The things John had seen was the vision of Christ in the 1st chapter.

  • The things which are in Johnís day was the seven churches at that present time. The things which are: Those described in chapters 2 and 3. Those that teach the church age theory believe the things which are: The present church age until the beginning of the last seven year tribulation period.

  • The things which shall be hereafter are the things that happen in the future after the church age is over or after the things present in the time of John. Chapter 4 in Revelation could be where John's vision of the future starts.

The things after the churches start in chapter 4. Notice that the church is not mentioned after chapter 4 of Revelation. I personally believe that is because the focus has turned back to Israel and the church by the time chapter 4 takes place is already with Jesus. I believe the rapture takes place between chapter 3 and 4. A lot of good people disagree with that but we will get into that discussion later. We do not know the day or hour of the Lord's coming so it is not a subject churches should be divided over and split but at the same time we should never let the fear of division cause us to avoid teaching and discussing bible prophecy. It is strange that the church is not mentioned after chapter 3 until the very last chapter in Revelation when all things are finished and the final victory over all evil is completed.

Lets read chapter 1.

  • Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
  • 2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
  • 3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
  • 4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
  • 5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
  • 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
  • 7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
  • 8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
  • 9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle 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 heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
  • 11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
  • 12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
  • 13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
  • 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
  • 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
  • 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
  • 17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
  • 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
  • 19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be 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 which thou sawest are the seven churches.

We will start with the introduction. This Revelation is given by God to Jesus Christ to show to his servants things that will shortly come to pass. God gave this to Jesus and Jesus gave this to John by an angel. The Revelation belongs to Jesus. We see here a different picture of Jesus than the meek and mild savior who died on the cross. Now we see Jesus ready to bring warning and judgment to those who take lightly His word and reject His salvation that was paid for by His own blood. He is ready to take vengeance on those who persecute and put to death His servants. His servants are given this prophecy. It is not given to the world nor to the enemies of the gospel but to His servants.

Servants of Christ are those that have their sins washed by the blood of Jesus and who obey His calling. The beloved disciple John was chosen to receive and write this prophecy. John was banished to the isle of Patmos for preaching the word of God. Tradition tells us that he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil in which he miraculously survived and then was banished to this island. This island is seen on the map near the part of Asia Minor where the seven churches are located. The purpose of this book is to show his servants what is to come to pass. This book was written for us to read and understand if we call ourselves servants of Jesus Christ. Iíve always believed that God never brings a severe judgment without first warning His faithful remnant of what is to come.

The first three centuries after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, most Christians believed in that the Lord would return sometime in their day. Since it seemed as if Jesus delayed His coming or it seemed that He wasnít coming back, many began to think this book was just an allegory which is a fictional account based on apparent truth, such as a fable. Unfortunately some today are ignoring this book and assuming that it isnít for us today just like some ignore the gifts of the spirit assuming it is not for today.

This type of thinking came from Augustine. Augustineís thinking is what started the movement in the Middle Age Church to conquer the world and bring the people into the church by strong persuasion and sometimes by force instead of by the spirit of God converting the soul and bringing people into the kingdom by being born again by the spirit of God. They stopped relying on God's spirit and used manmade persuasion instead. During this period in history and in all periods in the future God will always have a remnant body of believers that stay faithful and do not get into false teaching but not all get in the history books or is written about. We just know there were always faithful believers in existence somewhere because we know the power and nature of God, we know Jesus didn't die in vain, and we know because the gospel somehow spread to many parts of the world and exists today.

This ďKingdom NowĒ teaching also called Dominionism was that the church was to bring in the kingdom of God on the earth. They were to politically set up the kingdom themselves and then the Lord would come. Some do not believe in the literal coming of the Lord but that the church is to run the whole kingdom of Christ in His stead. There are some today that are starting to teach this way because they think the Lord has delayed His coming again. In the past, like I said, the church of that day used this type of thinking and tried to build their kingdom by the use of force. History has a way of repeating itself if we start getting away from God's timing and purpose and try to do it our way.

They were building their own kingdom though, because by that time they were not building God's kingdom. This common thinking invaded all of the Christian church and they no longer taught the rapture or the tribulation. We are blessed if we read and keep what applies to us by obeying what is written in this book. This book is definitely the very word of God. This book contains sound doctrine and truth straight from the throne of God. I emphasize that not to take away from the other books but to make sure that we understand that this book is not to be ignored and passed off as an allegory.

When I was a child, all I heard was about the coming of the Lord. Now I hear more about what God can do for me and what I personally can get out of God. Whatís in it for me, seems to be the common cry to get people to accept the gospel. This is not how the apostles preached the gospel. 

The apostle John is the one who wrote these words down and sent it to the seven churches in Asia which is around the area of modern day Turkey. The letter is from Him who is, who was and who is to come. This shows us that God truly is eternal as is the Son of God, Jesus who is our Christ (Messiah). The seven spirits are really the whole completeness of the Holy Spirit. The full ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Then we see Jesus seen as the faithful witness referring to His ministry on earth in teaching, preaching, and healing as the prophet and witness of God. He represented God and spoke for God. He is then seen as the first begotten of the dead. Actually the resurrection starts with the resurrection of Jesus. He is the first fruits. Our resurrection will actually be a continuation of what Jesus began when He was resurrected.

We know Enoch, Elijah and Moses are in heaven but I donít believe they have their new resurrected bodies yet or at least they didnít during the time before Christ was resurrected or else Christ wouldnít have been the first fruits. Some believe Enoch and Elijah are being preserved in their natural bodies in order to come as the two witnesses in Revelation who will be killed. Some believe Moses is one of them but in that case, since he died a natural death, he would have to die twice. The bible does say in one place that we die once and after that the judgment. However, there are others who do not take the words about just dying once to mean that we can't die more than once, claiming the literal meaning doesn't really imply that. These are things to consider and think about. Who the two witnesses are at this time or the time of this writing is speculation.

We will get to the two witnesses later when we get into the book of Revelation further. The best we can say though is that we do not know for sure. Some believe the apostle John didnít really die and he is one of them. Since they were seen as the two olive trees in the book of Zechariah, some believe they are two men who had lived before that point in time and that would not include John.

The word trinity is not used here but we can see that there is a Father, Son and Holy Spirit in heaven from these verses. We also see that that Jesus is He who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. Here is the verse that contains the price paid for our salvation. Surely with such a price, there is no other way of salvation. He is eternal as is the Father.

He made us kings and priests unto God. From now on there is no need for earthly priests to intercede on behalf of any believer because once the blood of Jesus is applied to us, we become kings and priests to God. Since the apostle Paul said that in Christ there is neither male nor female, bond or free, Jew or Gentile, it means all of us who believe and obey the Son of God are to be kings and priests. Since we are recreated in His image, how much more of a responsibility do we have to live holy and be a better representative of His spirit living within us?

"Behold He comes with clouds." Some bible theologians believes the clouds mentioned here are the raptured saints that return with Him at His second coming. That would mean that He came for them a few years or months earlier than His coming to set up His kingdom on earth. Here is how the Second coming is described in the book of Jude.

  • Jude 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
  • 15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

Notice that the saints or believers are with Jesus when He returns to set up His kingdom. Those who deny any rapture do not interpret clouds as saints but that He returns in the literal clouds. Some believe Jude's reference to saints means angelic beings. My personal view is that they are saints (followers of Jesus who have been redeemed at the time of the rapture).

Every eye shall see him and the descendants of those who pierced him.

  • Zechariah 12:9 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
  • 10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

Jesus is eternal with no beginning or end just like the Father. Alpha means beginning and Omega means ending. Jesus was with God in the beginning and is now at the Fatherís right hand.

We already mentioned that John was the writer and that he was banished to the isle of Patmos because of his testimony or because he was preaching the gospel. He was in the Spirit which means He was in a spiritual trance or had a vision of this. Most bible scholars believe the Lordís day means simply a Sunday. Many believe this to be the case since Sunday was believed to be the day of the resurrection of Jesus. Others believe it refers to something similar to the future day of the Lord. I hold this view. 

I personally have a little trouble with the Sunday explanation. I donít see how Sunday is any more the Lordís Day than any other day of the week. Since we worship on a Sunday, I usually set aside that day to do nothing else that doesnít involve the church but if we had church on a Thursday, I would do the same thing. I know the tomb was empty when they visited it early in the morning on the first day of the week and discovered Christ was gone, but we just don't know for sure at what time He was resurrected between the time He was laid in the tomb until the women came out to anoint His body.  Most assume He was resurrected that morning but it doesn't actually say that.

The calendar has changed since then so I donít know if we really know which day the Resurrection was but I do not take this as something to dispute. He was resurrected and that is what counts. There are a few that claim His resurrection was on the true Sabbath day which was Saturday. We do know for sure that He was resurrected because the guards were placed there to make sure no one could steal the body of Jesus and claim His resurrection. Another proof of His resurrection was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. 

The Lord's day just might have been referring to the day of the Lord which is the day of judgment rather than any week day. Peter speaks of the day of the Lord. So John could have been referring to the time of the vision He saw.

  • 2Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

Getting too deep into side issues can get us off the main topic of what John was writing down so I'll only throw in a few more verses and move on.

  • 1Thessalonians 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
  • 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
  • Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
  • 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

We see then that the day of the Lord is one of judgment.

John is clearly a prophet and he was instructed to write this in a book and send it to the messengers of the seven churches in Asia. Many churches preach the positive part of the gospels but neglect this important message from Jesus Himself. Not all the words of Jesus are positive. He speaks many negative messages. If we only teach the positive things we are not truly representing Jesus.

I will quote from the book "Know your Bible Series" by White Wing Publishing House,

ďMany of the evils and shortcomings which exist in the church today are a direct outgrowth of neglect of the solemn instruction given to these seven churches.Ē

Key to interpretation, Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; verse 19.

In verse 12 we see John turning toward the voice he heard speaking and saw seven golden candlesticks and Jesus in verse 13 standing in the middle of the candlesticks. Here we see Christ the foundation of the church and one who walks in the middle of the churches. The seven candlesticks are the churches.

Do you think we meet every week in our assemblies and the Lord does not know what goes on? In verses 14-16 we see not a gentle Jesus meek and mild but a glorified Jesus who is God with power and glory, honor and strength like no other John had ever seen. His head and hair was white and pure, His eyes were a flame of fire that sees all things. His voice like many waters and feel like fine brass. Here is power and authority. We want to be on the side of this one. I wouldnít want to face judgment on the wrong side of Jesus Christ. This is awesome.

In His hand was seven stars or the seven messengers to the church. Most probably the pastors because how could John send a letter to a literal angel? However, that is where some disagree and some believe they are literal angels. Seeing that the word angel sometimes mean messenger, it could mean someone appointed to lead a church and deliver messages from the Lord by the Holy Spirit.

He (Jesus) was very bright and hard to look upon. He was once humiliated but now He comes with judgment. Out of His mouth went a sharp two edged sword. Double in strength of the word of God. We are judged by the word of God.

That is why we continually stress the need to study and read the word of God.

  • Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged 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.

We see here the importance and the awesome power of the word of God. Wow.

  • John 12:47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
  • 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

In John 12 we see that the first coming of Jesus was to save, heal and present the true way of salvation. Then He fulfilled the plan of salvation by dying on the cross and resurrecting from the dead showing the power of the resurrection to and eternal life that is also offered to all who believe in Him and receives this powerful gift of God. To reject Jesus is to face judgment. The words that Jesus spoke will judge all who have rejected and refused the gospel.

In verse 17, Johnís reaction was to fall down and was like he was dead. He was overwhelmed by the awesome presence of God. We too would react this way. Daniel also reacted this way in the book of Daniel.

Jesus reminds us here that He is the same Jesus who was flesh and lived as a natural man and was dead but resurrected forevermore. He has the keys to hell and death. No man has these keys but Christ alone. No man can say whether we enter heaven or hell. In verse 20 the mystery is explained. If we search, God usually explains His own mysteries. In the Seven churches of Asia book, is quoted: ďThe churches as candlesticks indicates their responsibility as dispensers of the light of Godís word and will.Ē  

What a responsibility. Do we really think we can just go out and teach anything and waste Godís precious time with nonsense? This is awesome. The stars also represent light or bearers of light. To be called to pastor a church is an awesome responsibility. We should do everything in our power to help them and make their load easier. What a heavy task they must have.

 Revelation 2