The Introduction To This Book…
Rev 1:1-6 KJV
(1) The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew 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 for ever and ever. Amen.
John opens his letter with a description of:
1. How this letter came into existence (v1-v2)
2. The special blessing associated with the reading of this letter (vs 3)
3. Christ’s opening address to the 7 church recipients of this letter (vs 4-6)
In lieu of an introductory lesson or two on this book, I have opted to simply use the divinely inspired introduction as the only introduction to this book. I believe this introduction covers all of the necessary information we will need for this series.
THE EXPOSITORY STUDY:
Revelation 1: –
(1) The Revelation of Jesus Christ,
This book is described as the revealing, or uncovering, of Jesus Christ. The intent of this book is to reveal Christ to us. Therefore, as we study this book, our only goal will be to see Christ within its pages. Along the way, we may learn truths about historical, contemporary and future events, but these will reveal Christ to us. This is the purpose of the book and we will, by God’s grace, be faithful to this purpose.
Also, please note it is one “Revelation” not “Revelations”. This helps us to understand that, although the book of Revelation contains a series of visions given to John when taken together, they make up one unified uncovering of Christ. It is much like a book made up of different chapters that, when taken together, present the unified message of the book.
which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass;
God, the writer of this book, gave this book to our Mediator Jesus Christ. Christ is the One who stands between God and man and, therefore, was the One to receive this book… “For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” (1 Timothy 2:5)
His purpose was for Christ to show the contents of this book to His human servants (those who were members of the seven church of Asia). This book is filled with “things which must shortly come to pass” and through these events Christ would be revealed… “…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10)
What is the idea behind the phrase “must shortly come to pass”? This phrase teaches us that the events we will be looking at in this book would, within a very brief period of time, come into existence. In other words, they “must soon take place” (ESV). We should never look at Revelation as a group of prophecies with no practical application to our lives today, but only refer to events that will take place sometime in the future. This is not the case. Most of these events referred to in this book would take place very quickly (within that generation of believers who lived during John’s lifetime).
Keeping this in mind, helps us to know that some of the events we will study have already taken place, and many more are continuing to take place in today’s time.
and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
God gave the Revelation to Christ as our Mediator. Christ gave it to His angel, who then gave it to the Apostle John.
It is important for us to understand HOW Christ gave this message to His angel…
1. He gave it AUTHORITATIVELY. The idea behind “sent” is “to send with authority”.
Christ, who is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” has placed His authority behind the deliverance of this book to mankind. We should never question the recipients of this message nor the way in which it was revealed to man… the full authority of the Lord stands behind it.
2. He gave it SYMBOLICALLY. In other words, He revealed it to man through the use of symbols.
The meaning of the word “signified” is “to indicate through marking” or “to reveal using signs (or symbols)”. As we progress in our study, we will see that the Book of Revelation is a book that is filled with marks that indicate truth (signs and symbols revealing truth). It will be through an understanding of these signs and symbols that we will see Christ in all His fullness.
(2) Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that
John is said to “bear record”. This is an interesting term. It comes from the same word from which we get “martyr”. It means, “to bear a personal witness” or “to give personal evidence”, just as the martyrs stood and personally told the world they were Christians in the face of great abuse and mistreatment.
Basically, this is telling us that the information we find in this book was personally received by John (through visions) and, then, personally penned by him. There was no scribe involved in the process. This helps to assure us that the information we are about to read is extremely accurate because the writer was the one who has personally received these visions.
But above that, this book being a part of the divinely inspired Word, can be counted upon as perfect… no errors, no contradictions, and no false teachings. It has, and will continue to stand the test of time as a part of the infallible Word of God.
Of what did John bear record? There are three different ways we can describe the entire contents of Revelation:
1. “The Word of God” – the Book of Revelation is God’s Word given to man through John.
2. “The Testimony Of Jesus Christ” – The Book of Revelation is the personal evidence or record of Jesus Christ
3. “All Things That He Saw” – The Book Of Revelation is what John saw in a series of visions originating from God.
(3) Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein:
Now we find a very special blessing given to those who are faithful in reading, understanding and applying the truths found in Revelation. Keep in mind the word for “blessing” means “to be happy”. Folks, when we come to a greater understanding of Christ, and apply those truths to our lives, we have many blessings and happiness awaiting us. The more we learn about Christ, the easier it is to trust Him in the difficult times, see His hand intervening in our lives and praise Him for simply being who He is.
for the time is at hand.
In other words, the time when this information about Christ is needed has come to pass….
1. The Apostle John was banished on the isle of Patmos… now he needed this message of encouragement.
2. The seven churches would be entering into great times of persecution… now they needed this message.
3. The saints were and would continue to flee abuse by the Roman govmnt… they needed this word of the truth of Christ.
4. For today’s saints, as His second coming draws closer and the condition of the world becomes more sinful… we need these truths about Christ to comfort us, give us hope and strengthen us.
5. We are living in the last days, the second coming of Christ is now within our grasp. It is 2000 years closer to us now than it was in the days of the Apostles.
Truly, the time is at hand for us all to study and come to understand Revelation!
(4) John to the seven churches which are in Asia:
John explains the identity of the recipients of this message. This message was intended for the members of the seven churches of Asia: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. As we will see in coming lessons, each of these churches had different physical and spiritual needs and yet they all would benefit from this book.
How can this be? How can one book meet the needs of so many various churches and individuals? It is because a greater knowledge of Christ will benefit all churches and saints, no matter what their level of spirituality, or their individual issues they face, or the spiritual needs they might possess.
Why these seven churches? The number seven is the number of fullness. Not only does this letter apply to the seven churches of Asia, but also it applies to all churches of every area at any time throughout history. This book is truly meant for all generations that have existed between John’s writing of it until our Lord comes back at the second coming and time comes to an end.
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;
John’s desire for the assemblies, and their members was two-fold:
1. “Grace” is speaking of divine benefits coming upon the undeserving.
It is only through grace that the blessings of God flow. None of us deserve anything short of an eternity in the Lake of Fire. Apart from the grace of God, we are nothing, we can do nothing and deserve nothing…but with God’s grace in our lives, we have a wonderful eternity to look forward to, and can be faithful servants properly equipped to bring glory to His name.
2. “Peace” is speaking of harmony and unity between two parties.
We are naturally at enmity with God. As fallen mankind, we are destined to live selfish lives that put ourselves first and others second. But with the gift of peace, we enter into a personal relationship with our Lord, we put others first in our lives and begin working with them for their benefit ahead of our own.
With the receipt of these two blessings from the Lord, all of the needs of local assemblies and saved individuals are obtained.
John understood that the source of these two blessings was the eternal God, in the person of the Father, who forever lives to bless His assemblies and His people. This same eternal God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, personally intervenes in His assemblies and His people. It is through the intervention of the Holy Spirit into our lives that the blessings of grace and peace flow to man.
Why is the Holy Spirit described as “the seven Spirits”? The number seven is the number of fullness. In the Bible the Holy Spirit is identified by 7 different titles which represent the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s ministry among men. Each title helps us to understand about the His person and workings among men. The prophet Isaiah gives us a listing of these seven titles of the Holy Spirit for us… “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;” (Isaiah 11:2)
John sees the seven Spirits standing before the throne of God, much like the servants of a King would stand awaiting instructions for their next act of service to the King. In this we can see the readiness and desire of the Holy Spirit to intervene in the lives of God’s people to bless them and equip them for service to God.
(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.
The same eternal God, in the person of the Son (Jesus Christ), is also active in blessing His people with grace and peace. It is through Christ’s work on the cross that these blessings flow to mankind. Based upon His finished work on the cross, Christ became the Intercessor and Mediator that stands between a Holy God and sinful man, bringing them into fellowship and communion. This cannot occur without the blessings of God’s grace and peace being given to His people.
In these verses (vs 4 & 5), John helps us to understand that all three persons of the Godhead are active in blessing us with grace and peace…
1. “him which is, and which was, and which is to come;” – The Father
2. “and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne” – The Holy Spirit
3. “and from Jesus Christ” – The Son
The second person of the Godhead is described as:
1. Jesus – Savior
2. Christ – the Messiah (the Anointed One), the One promised to come in the OT scriptures.
3. the Faithful Witness – the One who dependably revealed God and His Word to man through His teachings, actions and lifestyle. He holds the Office Of Prophet
4. the First Begotten of the Dead – the first One to be resurrected from the dead and to receive a glorified body. He holds the Office Of Priest
5. the Prince of the Kings of the Earth – the ultimate eternal authority Holder over all earthy rulers. He holds the Office of King
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 for ever and ever. Amen.
The work of the second person fo the Godhead is described as:
1. Him that Loved Us – Christ loved His people with the ultimate type of love… He gave His life for His people.
2. He Washed Us from Our Sins in His Own Blood – His work is the basis of our salvation. He took upon Himself our sins, suffered the wrath of God upon Himself, so that we might be freed from the debt of our sin.
3. Hath Made Us Kings – Through His work we will be ruling with Him in eternity.
4. Hath Made Us… Priests Unto God – Through His work we are accepted by God and be given access to Him.
Because of who He is and what He has done for us, He deserves all the praise, honor and authority throughout eternity.
John ends this section with the term “Amen”… in other words, “so be it” or “the words that I have written are trustworthy and accurate”.
In this text, we can very easily see many descriptions of the Person and Work of Christ. Some of these include:
1. Christ is the central theme of the book of Revelation (vs 1-3)
2. The Person of Christ (vs 5a)
3. The Work of Christ (vs 5b-6a)
May we all come to a greater understanding of Christ as we enter into this study. Especially, in this text, we can see the loving sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, securing a multitude of blessings for us.
Just as John wrote in vs 6, let us all praise and honor Him for who He is and what He has done for us. Finally, may we recognize that, based upon His sacrifice for us in obedience to the will of His Father, He has been given the authority to rule eternally over all!
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION (SUMMARY):
Just as with any other portion of Scripture, we are to treat this book with exceptional care and diligence as we study its contents. Think about it… this is the very Word of God, centering on the person and work of Christ, given through John to His seven churches, which has been protected through the ages for our benefit. It contains wonderful blessings upon anyone who might come to read, understand, and apply its teachings. What privilege and blessing it is to own a copy of this book and to be able to search through its pages in search of the many truths of God that it holds.
May we all with thankful, reverent hearts open its pages and come to a greater understanding of its teachings.
May the Lord bless us as we seek to see Jesus in the pages of the book of Revelation.