1The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
Greetings and doxology
To the seven churches in the province of Asia:
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits[a] before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
7 Look, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.
8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
a guide to reading this post: if you want the gist, just read the bold. If you want explanations and applications of the bold, read everything else around it.
John tells of whom he received this testimony from, who it is addressed to, and why we should care.
WHY STUDY REVELATION (according to the testimony of this book)?
v. 3 John, through God, claims that those who hear and take to heart what is written in it will be blessed (happy, waterfall of goodness). why is it such a blessing? it says because “the time” is near. what time? the time of his return (see v. 7). how do i figure that? Because this book in particular makes at least one other explicit claim about itself being a blessing (rev. 22:7) and the other explicit blessing stated in the book (rev. 16:15) as well both relate this blessing to one’s readiness for Christ’s return. So then why is Christ’s return so important and why should I care for that? Because when he returns, that is it. for some it will mean mourning (v.7), for they must answer and pay for all that they have done – forever. for some though it will be joy-the joy of one longing for their lover and savior, since Christ alone can pay the price for our sins. then they can be with the one they have longed for – forever.
So as to the big question why should we care about the book of revelation?
1) you will be blessed by doing so
2) you will be more ready for eternity, and not caught unaware when Christ returns
*i want to experience this blessing that this book promises. i want to be ready for Him. not to be ashamed or with any regrets. my prayer is that i not only hear and even study this book but that i take to heart what is written in it.
WHY IS THIS JUST ADDRESSED TO SEVEN CHURCHES?
We know that there were more than seven churches in existence (at the very least the church in Jerusalem, as well as the other churches paul wrote to such as Corinth, Rome, etc). We know that what is referred to as Asia is modern day Turkey, and the seven cities mentioned are all in that area. We know that John was in Patmos, an island off the coast of this Asia. So why just these churches in Asia? Doesn’t God want to speak to other churches as well? Well, we know that as Christians there are things we can learn from what he speaks to other believers. Much like all the other letters in the new testament which were addressed to certain churches, but had issues that we could still relate to today. So truth is not exclusive. It just seems that God had a specific message for these churches at this time. Some things apply to us, some things won’t. The scholars that I have read (Keener, Fructenbaum) acknowledge that there were other churches in the area but that these seven churches were in strategic cities in Asia (which in fact became the home of the first Christian civiliation, under the reign of Constantine) from which his message could spread. Its interesting to note that numbers are very important in the bible (and the jewish culture in general), seven means the number of completion.
*wow, I think that’s so neat to be reminded that God knows each church. neat, but also scary. He recognizes that churches have responsibility to represent Him, to be an influence in their cities. if God would speak to my/your/our church what would he have to say? I hope we are a church, a people, that represents him well.
WHO ARE THE SEVEN SPIRITS?
V. 4-5 say that “Grace and peace” come from three persons all who seem to be given a special honor. true grace and peace only comes from God (it is a gift of God => Eph 2:8-9), and we know this testimony of John originated from God (v.1). We know that there is only one God (see 10 commandments). So is God one or three? Here we see the doctrine of the trinity: One God in three persons (an analogy that has been helpful for me to understand the trinity, albeit limited, is that of water. water is water; it is one. yet, water has three forms: solid, liquid, and gas. they are not three separate things or entities…it is still water made of the same elements, yet they can exist in different forms). The three persons of the one Godhead are seen in v 4-5 as follows:
1) v. 4 “him who is, and who was, and who is to come” – when moses asks God’s name, God replies “I am that I am.” He is the only one who simply exists (self-existent) whereas all other things derive their existence from something else and has a beginning. this is referring to God the Father
2) v. 5 “Jesus Christ” – ok this is pretty plain…this is Jesus. Jesus is not just another person below God, because Jesus is “ruler of the kings of the earth” (v.5) and to him is given “glory and power forever and ever” (v. 6). Jesus is then God the Son
3) v. 4 “the seven spirits before his throne” – now from the context two persons of the trinity are mentioned as the source of “grace and peace”. as a side note some have translated the above words as “the sevenfold spirit.” this 3rd person from whom “grace and peace” come must be the 3rd person of the trinity, God the Holy Spirit.
*when is the last time i have meditated on the wonder of the trinity? do i honor God in all these aspects of Him?
WHY IS JESUS SO IMPORTANT FOR US OR WHAT HAS HE DONE FOR US?
– He loves us (v.5). this is interestingly enough the only present tense verb, the rest have already happened for us who put our trust in Him.
*do we believe that he loves us NOW, even at this present moment?
– He freed us from our sins (v.5). we are free from our sins.
*do we believe that? do i? this is so hard for me to accept and live out of. i keep on living like a slave to sin when im already freed from it. why do i like my slavery to sin so much? he came so that i could experience this freedom. am i experiencing this freedom?
– He freed us by his blood (v. 5), meaning he secured our freedom, at the cost of his own life. the freedom we have is not a right, but a privilege…an expensive privilege.
*may we not treat his sacrifice cheaply, by not living in this freedom and taking it for granted.
– He made us to be a kingdom (v.6). he is our king and under him we are united for Him. we are to be ruled by Him. we must answer to Him. we have all the privileges that the king affords to his citizens.
*do we live ruled by the king or are we trying to be kings and queens?
– He made us to be priests (v.6). what are priests but those who are given the authority to be mediatory agents, representatives, between other humans and God. we can mediate God to others and we can mediate others to God. not mediators in the sense of people who actually save, for only Christ is our ultimate mediator. its as if Christ is our priest (saving mediator between God and humans) so that we can be priests (pointing mediators between God and humans).
*what kind of priests (pointer mediators) are we? do we draw others to God or do we push people away from God? do we lift up others to God or do we simply lift up ourselves?