Revelation Studies & Charts
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Revelation 1 (web)

Christ's Revelation to John

1:1 This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ,
which God gave him to show to his servants the things which must happen soon,
which he sent and made known by his angel to his servant, John,
1:2 who testified to God's word,
and of the testimony of Jesus Christ,
about everything that he saw.
1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy,
and keep the things that are written in it, for the time is at hand.

1:4 John, to the seven assemblies that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace, from God,

who is and who was and who is to come;
and from the seven Spirits who are before his throne;
1:5 and from Jesus Christ,
the faithful witness,
the firstborn of the dead,
and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us, and washed us from our sins by his blood;
1:6 and he made us to be a kingdom, priests to his God and Father;
to him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

John's Anticipation of Christ

1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him, including those who pierced him.
All the tribes of the earth will mourn over him. Even so, Amen.

1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega,"
{TR adds "the Beginning and the End"}
says the Lord God, {TR omits "God"}
"who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

John's Confrontation with Christ

1:9 I John, your brother and partner with you
in oppression, kingdom, and perseverance in Christ Jesus,
was on the isle that is called Patmos because of God's Word and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, like a trumpet
1:11 saying, "{TR adds "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last."} What you see, write in a book and send to the seven assemblies {TR adds "which are in Asia"}: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and to Laodicea."

1:12 I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. Having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands.
1:13 And among the lampstands was one like a son of man,

clothed with a robe reaching down to his feet, and with a golden sash around his chest.
1:14 His head and his hair were white as white wool, like snow.
His eyes were like a flame of fire.
1:15 His feet were like burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace.
His voice was like the voice of many waters.
1:16 He had seven stars in his right hand.
Out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword.
His face was like the sun shining at its brightest.
1:17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man.
He laid his right hand on me, saying, "Don't be afraid. I am the first and the last,
1:18 and the Living one. I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.
Amen. I have the keys of Death and of Hades.
1:19 Write therefore the things which you have seen,
and the things which are, and the things which will happen hereafter;

1:20 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 assemblies.
The seven lampstands are seven assemblies.

Discussion Questions

Previously in Acts 1:7 Jesus said his apostles: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority." And so also Paul instructed the Thessalonians saying, "Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." In view of these instructions what concern should the time frame of the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Lord's coming be to the Christian? What phases in this section give the sense of the imminency of the fulfillment of this revelation? And why does John, and later Jesus, speak of the imminency of these things if they time frame is not our business?

vs 5-6 What verbs does John use to describe what Christ has done for us?

vs 7 What other places in the Bible allude to the information in this verse?

vs 8 Taking this verse along with Rev 2:8 and Isaiah 44:6 what may be infer about Christ?

vs 16 What does the double-edged sword represent?


vs 1 This book is not John's revelation, but it is Jesus Christ's revelation which he received from God the Father and which he is passing on to John to be passed on to the churches.

"must soon take place" indicates that this book is not simply to be interpreted as one would a parable, which is a story illustrating a moral or religious lesson, but whose events may be fictional. But rather this book is speaking of actual events which are to take place.

vs 2 "Testimony" is a major theme in the NT. In his book of 1st John, John makes much of eye witness testimony. "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)" 1John 1:1,2 Seealso vs 9

vs 3 "The time is near" There are those who interpret the events in revelations as already haven taken place. Indeed there are the Preterists who say that Christ already returned and the resurrection already happened in the first century and the Jehovah Witnesses say he returned in 1914. But those positions are untenable in view of what the Bible says concerning the Lord's coming. For though Christ will return unexpectedly he will not return secretly as some groups say. It will be clearly evident when Christ returns.

If anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Matt 24:26,27

At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. Matt 24:30,31

"Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:11

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1Thess 4:16,17

The Preterists idea that the resurrection has already occurred could be characterized as godless chatter which can lead to destroying people's faith, as it is written, "Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some." 2Tim 2:16-18

Nonetheless, it appears that John was giving the impression that Christ would return perhaps even in his lifetime. And Jesus also uses the phrase "I come quickly" six times in Revelation. Yet he hasn't come. But perhaps the apostle Peter has the best explanation of this in 2Peter 3:1-10 in which he says,

"But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."2Pet 3:8,9
So from one perspective one could say that Jesus has only been away a couple of days. That's not too long. Furthermore as I noted in the dicussion questions that both Jesus and Paul that the issue of the time frame of the Lord's coming should not be the believer's concern, but rather to always treat it as potentially imminent - Perhaps that was John's point.

The Testimony of Irenaeus

Further evidence again Preterism is the fact that Irenaeus, an early Christian writer who lived about 150 AD, and who knew Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna,  who was a disciple of the apostle John, noted that Revelation was written near the end of the reign of Domitian (about 95 AD),
"...(John) who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign." Irenaeus (150 AD)
This was long after the destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD) and reign of Nero - who some preterists reckon as the anti-Christ. Irenaeus viewed the antiChrist's reign as occuring sometime in the future. In fact he speaks of thousands of years, saying:
.. and the number is six hundred and sixty-six," that is, six times a hundred, six times ten, and six units. [He gives this] as a summing up of the whole of that apostasy which has taken place during six thousand years. For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. And for this reason the Scripture says: "Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all His works." This is an account of the things formerly created, as  also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For  the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year. Irenaeus (150 AD)
And also he speaks of this future reign of the AntiChrist:
"But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father." Irenaeus (150 AD)
Notice in particular that he makes reference to the temple in the Jerusalem in future terms, yet the temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Thus like non-preterists today he believes the temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt prior to the coming of the Lord. Furthermore unlike preterists who view the resurrection as already have taken place - an that only spiritual and no bodily resurrection, Irenaeus believes in a future bodily resurrection.
it is manifest that the souls of His disciples also, upon whose account the Lord underwent these things, shall go away into the invisible place allotted to them by God, and there remain until the resurrection, awaiting that event; then receiving their bodies, and rising in their entirety, that is bodily, just as the Lord arose, they shall come thus into the presence of God. ... we also to await the time of our resurrection prescribed by God and foretold by the prophets, and so, rising, be taken up, as many as the Lord shall account worthy of this" Irenaeus
vs 4 The number 7 is used quite alot in Revelation. "7" symbolizes perfect or complete. It is often used as a figure of speech as in Pr 24:16 "For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.". This simply means that the righteous man is always falling down, but always getting back up again. So in writing to the "Seven" churches, John is writing to all the churches for all time. vs 5,6 John first mentions three characteristics of Christ Revelation contains much judgment and even can bring Christians to fear. But John starts his message with the reminder that Christ loves us and has freed us from the penalty of sin by his blood. But he didn't simply save us. He also gave us jobs to do. We don't serve in order to be saved. Rather having been saved, we serve.

vs 7 John is referring to a prophecy in Zechariah."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" Zec 12:10

Also, Jesus mentions:

Mt 24:30 "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."
vs 8 This seems to be God the Father speaking as vs 4 would also indicate. Yet in Rev 22:13 it seems as if Jesus uses this title to refer to himself. (See also the KJV note on Rev 1:11). Alpha is the first letter of the greek alphabet and omega the last. Thus Alpha and Omega means "First and Last". But yet again Jesus applies this to himself in Rev 2:8.
Re 2:8 "And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;"
But once again this is applied to God
Isa 44:6 "This is what the LORD says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God."
Jesus is the LORD of hosts, yet he also has the title of first and last!

vs 9 John was a prisoner on Patmos where he allegedly died because of his testimony of Christ and because he was one of the writers of the word of God (the Bible). Such persecution Christians faced at the time is rare today in Western society, and thus there is less basis for unity and without our faith having been tested then how do we know whether we actually believe? But the apostles would often make reference to their sufferings as evidence that they really believe the things they preach. Likewise for many Third World Christians today.

vs 10 "The Lord's Day" has traditionally been interpreted to mean "Sunday" on which day the Lord rose from the dead. This single verse has been used by many a institutional religious officials to force all Christians to treat Sunday as a holy day - contrary to Roman 14:5 "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."

What does John mean by "in the Spirit"? Are there times when he is not "in the Spirit"? He probably meant that he was meditating on spiritual ideas at the times as opposed to thinking about earthly practical things. It's easy to get caught up in matters of practical living. We all need time to sit back and meditate on heavenly things. Even Jesus spend time away from the crowds to pray and meditate.

Trumpets were used for announcements. A voice like a trumpet is one who speaks as if giving a public announcement.

vs 11 John is being given a vision. The book of Revelation is not a literal account of what will happen, but a symbolic account of what will happen. This concept affects the interpretation. The seven churches were located in Asia Minor - present day Turkey.

The KJV also includes the phrase "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last:" in this verse. Linked with vs 8, this proves the deity of Christ as he speaks of himself with the same title as the Father. (See also Proofs of the Deity of Christ)

vs 12-16 Jesus used to phrase "son of man" to refer to himself. And Daniel also had a vision of Christ's second coming also called him "son of man". "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him." Dan 7:13 His white hair symbolizes his purity. His blazing eyes is his perception - to look into people's hearts and judge. "Fire" is associated with God's wrath. Feet represent the sending of the message. The sound of his voice like rushing waters drowns out other sounds. The seven stars he explains in vs 20. The sword is the Word of God - as Paul mentions in Ephesians 6:17. His face being like the sun, shining is quite consistent with his role in the Trinity. God the Father is likened to the sun itself - that ball in space, separate and distant from the earth which represents his creation. But Jesus is like the light that comes from the sun. It transcends space to enter the earth and bring light on the earth. And when people say the sun is in the sky, they are actually referring to the light which comes from the sun. So is Jesus relationship to the Father.

vs 17-19 It is interesting that of all people, one would think that John had known Jesus quite well. You would have thought he had been living life as if Jesus were always present. But when Jesus suddenly appears - even though in a vision - he is suddenly fearful. I guess that's the way it is with all of us. Why don't we behave as if we were in the presence of Jesus right now? There are those who believe there should be no fear of God in the Christian life. But John was afraid.

By telling him not to be afraid he was indicating that he was not going to judge him. (Fear has to do with judgment - 1John 4:18) And by calling himself the first and the last who holds the keys to death and hades, he was indicating that he was the final authority in this matter.

vs 20 The lampstands are the seven institutional churches. They are the lampstands that hold the lamps that light to path to salvation through faith in Christ. The lamps are the redeemed within these institutional churches. (See also the parable of the lamp under a basket)

He may have seen a lampstand with seven arms like that used in the tabernacle as described in Exodus 25:31-39 rather than seven separate lampstands.

But what does it mean by the angels of the seven churches? I'll consider that in the next chapter when we see how the churches are addressed.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Mar 26,2005