Verse 1: It Is a Revelation
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God [the Father] gave unto Him [Jesus Christ], to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He [Jesus Christ] sent and signified it by His angel [Gabriel] unto His servant John.” Revelation 1:1
This last book of the Bible is a revelation; it is a disclosure, an uncovering, a revelation about the return of Jesus. It is a detailed, behind-the-scenes account of what Jesus has been doing and is currently doing in saving man from his sinful condition before He returns.
It has been well said, “In the Revelation are portrayed the deep things of God. The very name given to its inspired pages, ‘the Revelation,’ contradicts the statement that this is a sealed book. A revelation is something revealed. The Lord Himself revealed to His servant the mysteries contained in this book, and He designs that they shall be open to the study of all. Its truths are addressed to those living in the last days of this earth's history, as well as to those living in the days of John. Some of the scenes depicted in this prophecy are in the past, some are now taking place; some bring to view the close of the great conflict between the powers of darkness and the Prince of heaven, and some reveal the triumphs and joys of the redeemed in the earth made new.” E. G. White, Acts of the Apostles, 584
“which God [the Father] gave unto Him [Jesus Christ]
There is a chain of communication that has made this prophetic book available to us. It first comes from the Father to Jesus, then from Jesus to an angel, then from the ministering angel to John, from John who is in the Spirit to the reader, and from the reader to the obedient listener. As obedient listeners, we must by God’s grace obey its instruction and share its wonderful message with others.
While the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct Personalities that are fully divine, it seems that the Father holds the greatest authority, and all things are said to originate with Him. As Jesus said:
“Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth: and He will shew Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.” John 5:19, 20
“Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent Me.” John 7:16
“Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things.” John 8:28
“For I have not spoken of Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” John 12:49
“Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works.” John 14:10
Jesus prayed to the Father, saying, “Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given Me are of Thee. For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me.” John 17:7, 8
As Jesus said to Phillip, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.” John 14:9-11
While the Revelation originates with the Father, it is Jesus that declares the Revelation to John.
“The instruction to be communicated to John was so important that Christ came from heaven to give it to His servant, telling him to send it to the churches. This instruction is to be the object of our careful and prayerful study; for we are living in a time when men who are not under the teaching of the Holy Spirit will bring in false theories. These men have been standing in high places, and they have ambitious projects to carry out. They seek to exalt themselves, and to revolutionize the whole showing of things. He bade John write in a book that which should take place in closing scenes of this earth’s history.” Ellen G. White, Testimonies to the Church, volume 8, page 301
“to show unto His servants”
Who are the “servants” of God? According to Daniel 6:20, the servants are those who continually serve God, which reads, “And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?”
However, it is possible for the servants of God to be deceived, as it is written, “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” Revelation 2:20.
If a servant of God falls away and then becomes a servant of sin, then they are no longer a servant of God. As Paul wrote, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” Romans 6:16-18
In the end of time, it will be the servants of God, not those who wonder after the beast, who will receive the seal of the living God, as it reads:
“Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” Revelation 7:3
God will judge all the apostate forces that have persecuted the servants of God. He will avenge their blood, as it is written:
“For true and righteous are His judgments: for He hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of His servants at her hand.” Revelation 19:2
The servants of God will reside with God forever in the New Jerusalem and serve Him, as it is written, “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him.” Revelation 22:3
“things which must shortly come to pass”
Jesus was not going to show John everything that would transpire upon the earth. But He would show John the things that His servants must be aware of. The Revelation of Jesus Christ is concerned with those things that mostly affect the eternal destiny of man. It is these things that will be revealed.
Some of these things were to happen in John’s day. Others things would occur in the distant future. But they would nevertheless be things that God wants us to know. There are things that. . .
“must shortly come to pass.” Revelation 1:1
“the time is at hand.” Revelation 1:3
“the things which are.” Revelation 1:19
“and the things which shall be hereafter.” Revelation 1:19
Many of these events were already taking place. Other events were at hand, ready to be disclosed. You might say, the Revelation of Jesus Christ has already been set in motion. All that the Revelation declares will take place. There is nothing the devil can do to stop it. He can only deceive. He can mislead men and women in their understanding of last day events and their understanding of this great prophetic book. In fact, Jesus warned us of such a deception.
In answering the question of the disciples concerning the destruction of the temple, the sign of His coming, and the end of the world, the first thing Jesus said was:
“Take heed that no man deceive you.” Matthew 24:4
There is much deception concerning last day events. The devil deceived and misled the Jewish nation concerning the first advent of Christ, and he is busy deceiving the church concerning the second advent of Christ. But we need not be deceived. The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is an unveiling of those events surrounding the apocalypse of Jesus Christ.
As many students of the Revelation know, the book of Revelation is filled with sevens. There are seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven last plagues. There are many other sevens in the Revelation. Consider the following seven references to the shortness of time.
1:1 “shortly come to pass”
1:3 “the time is at hand.”
3:11 “Behold, I come quickly”
22:6 “things which must shortly be done.”
22:7 “Behold, I come quickly”
22:12 “And behold, I come quickly.”
22:20 “Surely, I come quickly.”
God’s people have generally lived in anticipation of Christ’s first or second advent. Adam and Eve had hoped that their firstborn son would had been the promised Messiah. We find the church of the Old Testament, “travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.” Revelation 12:2. For centuries and millennia, the people of God awaited the coming of the Messiah. In like manner, we await the soon return of Jesus at His Second Coming.
“and He [Jesus Christ] sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John”
By signifying the Revelation, Jesus would use signs and symbols to communicate the truths He desired to teach. And it would be the angel Gabriel that would present to John a panoramic view of the future through signs and symbols.
Angels have often been used to communicate truth. Jesus commissioned Gabriel to help the prophet Daniel, saying, “Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.” Daniel 8:16
Gabriel comes to Daniel another time and says, “O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.” Daniel 9:22
Again, Gabriel says at another time, “O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent.” Daniel 10:11
Luke wrote, “Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.” Acts 7:53
This opening verse of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, tells us that all of heaven is interested in the salvation of man. But it also makes plain that man has a part to play. For it says that the angel gave this revelation in signs and symbols unto John, the servant of Jesus Christ. Who himself would bare record of the word of God, and delivered it unto the seven churches.
We are to cooperate with heavenly agencies to proclaim all of the words of this prophecy. It cannot be done simply by human effort. Rather, it must be communicated by the cooperation between the human and the divine.
Note these very insightful words:
“The whole Bible is a revelation; for all revelation to men comes through Christ, and all centers in Him. God has spoken unto us by His Son, whose we are by creation and by redemption. Christ came to John exiled on the Isle of Patmos to give him the truth for these last days, to show him that which must shortly come to pass. Jesus Christ is the great trustee of divine revelation. It is through Him that we have a knowledge of what we are to look for in the closing scenes of this earth's history. God gave this revelation to Christ, and Christ communicated the same to John.
“John, the beloved disciple, was the one chosen to receive this revelation. He was the last survivor of the first chosen disciples. Under the New Testament dispensation, he was honored as the prophet Daniel was honored under the Old Testament dispensation.
“The instruction to be communicated to John was so important that Christ came from heaven to give it to His servant, telling him to send it to the churches. This instruction is to be the object of our careful and prayerful study; for we are living in a time when men who are not under the teaching of the Holy Spirit will bring in false theories. These men have been standing in high places, and they have ambitious projects to carry out. They seek to exalt themselves, and to revolutionize the whole showing of things. God has given us special instruction to guard us against such ones. He bade John write in a book that which should take place in the closing scenes of this earth's history.” Manuscript Release, Number 1453; Testimonies to the Church, volume 8, page 301; Review and Herald, August 31, 1897
Verse 2: John bare record
To “bare record” is to testify or to witness. John is going to testify all that God the Father had revealed.
He would testify of the Word of God, of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
There are seventy-three references to things that John saw in the Revelation. There are thirty-eight things that he heard. That is a total of 111 things that he saw and heard. And all of these things that John saw and heard are awaiting our study of them.
Verse 3: The First of Seven Beatitudes
There is a pronounced blessing upon those who read, hear, and keep the sayings of this book:
“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.”
Notice that there are exactly seven pronounced blessings, and the seventh emphasizes obedience to God’s commandments. See Revelation 22:14.
The seven beatitudes:
We are pretty good at reading, but are we hearing what we read? Am I thinking about what God is trying to say to me personally? Then beyond reading and hearing comes keeping. Am I cooperating with God to keep the things written in this book? Until God has a people who read, hear, and keep the things of this prophecy, we will continue to delay the coming or the apocalypse of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Greek form of the word “keep,” refers to habitual keeping. In other words, God’s people may habitually keep the “words of this prophecy” as the norm of their life. This is, of course, made possible by divine power. Why should we keep those things written therein? Because the time is at hand. This gives us the sense that God never wanted sin and suffering to go on as long as it has.
Implicit in the word “prophecy,” is future events. This is to teach us that we are to keep all that God reveals to us. We are to live up to all the light we have today, and we are to live up to all the light we will receive in the future. This is how we grow in Christ. This is how Jesus becomes a revelation to us and through us. We are to be an ever-progressive revelation of His sinless life.
Verses 1, 3, 19: Present and Future Applications
As we have seen, there is an immediate application of this book, and a future application. In fact, the book as a whole covers the entire Christian era.
“… things which must shortly come to pass.”
“… the time is at hand.”
“… the things which are.”
“… and the things which shall be hereafter.”
Verses 4–6, 8: The Heavenly Trio
John introduces the Heavenly Trio. He begins with the eternal Father “which is, and which was, and which is to come.”
Then he introduces the Holy Spirit as “the seven Spirits which are before his throne.” There are not literally seven spirits before the throne of God. The number seven is being used to represent completeness. For example, there are seven days in a complete week. There are seven churches to represent the complete Christian dispensation. In the same way, the Holy Spirit is completely able to reproduce us into the image of God’s dear Son. There are other references to the Holy Spirit as the “seven Spirits.”
In the book of Isaiah, we gain insight valuable insight in the complete work of the Holy Spirit.
“And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him [Jesus, as the Branch from the stem of Jesse, see Isaiah 11:1], 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
Notice the sevenfold description of the Holy Spirit.
1. “the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him”
2. “the spirit of wisdom”
3. “and understanding”
4. “the spirit of counsel”
5. “and might”
6. “the spirit of knowledge”
7. “and the fear of the Lord”
We need the Holy Spirit to rest upon us, that we might receive the spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord. If we receive these things, we shall be made complete in Christ Jesus.
Now John introduces Jesus with a sevenfold description.
“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. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.… 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.”
This sevenfold description of Jesus teaches us not only that Jesus is a complete Savior but that we may become complete in Him. Let us now consider this sevenfold description of Jesus.
Jesus is the Faithful Witness
For Jesus came to our world in order to “bear witness unto the truth.” John 18:37. And the greatest truth that He revealed was the true nature of His Father. Satan has misrepresented the true nature of God. Therefore, Jesus came to show us the Father. As Jesus said, “he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” John 14:9
Satan had led Eve to doubt God’s Word, and he deceived her to take of the forbidden fruit. See Genesis 3. As we near the end of time, we need Jesus more than ever as the Faithful Witness. There is so much deception and error in our world, that millions, nay billions, will be led astray.
The title “Faithful Witness” implies that there is opposition. In the face of the fiercest opposition, Jesus was the True and Faithful Witness.
Do we still need that faithful witness of Jesus today? Absolutely! The Revelation tells us that “all the world wondered after the beast. . . And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the first beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:3, 8
Those who worship the beast will be lost. Only those who faithful follow the Faithful Witness will be saved.
Jesus is the First Begotten of the Dead
Jesus is the “first begotten of the dead” by virtue of His preeminent resurrection. Jesus was not the first person raised from the tomb; however, all other resurrections hinge on His resurrection. If Jesus had not been raised, then no one else could be raised. See 1 Corinthians 15:17.
Jesus was the eighth person raised from the dead. The number eight represents going from old to new, or something being resurrected. For example, there were eight people on Noah’s ark going from an old world to a new world. The Earth will be made new at the commencement of the eighth millennium. There has been six thousand years of sin. Then the earth will lie desolate for one thousand years after the devastation of the seven last plagues and the Second Coming of Christ. See Revelation 19:11-20:15. It is at the eighth millennium that the Earth is recreated.
The eighth head in Revelation chapter seventeen is a resurrected power, as it says, “And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.” Revelation 17:11. The eighth head was one of the original seven heads or world empires. It had reigned in the past, but it will reign again. This is why it says the beast “was” a political power, and “is not” [meaning, that it lost it’s political power], “and he [the beast] is the eighth” [meaning, that he comes back to political power]. It is a resurrected power.
Therefore, Jesus’ as the eighth one resurrected from the dead, is our assurance that we will go from this old world of sin to a new world of righteousness. Because of His resurrection, we have the promised of the resurrection at His coming.
We serve a living Savior. As Jesus said to John, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Verse 18. Of the original twelve disciples, John was the only one yet alive. However, on the island of Patmos he was an old man. He had hoped that Jesus would have returned by then. When would He return? When would God’s saints be raised from their dusty graves? What a comfort it must have been for John to hear Jesus come to him and say, “I am he that liveth, and was dead.”
Very soon, Jesus will use those keys to unlock the graves of all who have believed and trusted in Him. For more study on the resurrection, see the following passages: John 5:28–29; 6:40, 47; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 21:4.
Today, God needs a people who live by the power of Christ’s resurrection. We are to die to the old man, and live a new life unto Christ. See Romans 6:1-7
Jesus is Prince of the king’s of the earth
Jesus is prince, or ruler of this world. The Greek word for “prince” is archon, which means chief, magistrate, or ruler. He would not simply be a ruler, but the first or highest ruler.
As our Creator, He would automatically be the rightful ruler of this world. By His sinless life, death, and resurrection, is the Prince of Peace, and there is none other. So we are His by creation and redemption. When He returns, He comes as “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:16
“The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to naught: He maketh the devices of the people of none effect.” Psalm 33:10
“And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth He even the unclean spirits, and they do obey Him.” Mark 1:27
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of tine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Daniel 3:17, 18
Even though God rules, we still must recognize that we live in a world where bad things do happen. But do not allow these things to rob you of your joy. As the Bible says, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12, 13
God does not take away every consequence to sin. If He did, no one would choose to follow God. While God does not cause bad things to happen, He does permit them. By permitting sin, He does not lose any of His authority over this world. The day is coming when God shall finish His judgment of the living and the dead.
Unto Him that loved us
When the Romans sent John to the island of Patmos, they had hoped that the Lord would not find him and communicate with him there. Yet it was on Patmos that John received the most glorious of all revelations given to man. And it was on that desolate island that John could say, “He loves us.” Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
“While we review, not the dark chapters in our experience, but the manifestations of God’s great mercy and unfailing love, we shall praise far more than complain. We shall talk of the loving faithfulness of God as the true, tender, compassionate shepherd of His flock, which He has declared that none shall pluck out of His hand.” Ellen G. White, Testimonies to the Church, volume 6, page 367
Christ washed us from our sins with His own blood
John ever remembered how Jesus frees us from our sins by His own blood. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13. And Paul wrote, “God commendeth [shows] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.
When the Son of God pays the penalty for our sins with His own blood, how can we continue to live such selfish and self-centered lives? When Jesus endured the insults, lashings, beatings, and the cruel cross, how can we continue to be attracted to flattery and self-glory?
We need to spend time each day contemplating the sacrifice made on our behalf. If we fail to commune with our loving and self-sacrifice Redeemer, we will eventually be drawn to the self-centeredness of the world.
He Has Made Us Kings and Priests
Part of the description of Jesus is His ability to change us. He is the Creator-Redeemer. He makes us priests that we may serve others. He makes us kings that we may make the best use of our resources to bless others.
We are more than pardoned for our sins. We are made kings and priests to be a blessing to others. In addition, we will have the blessed opportunity to share our testimony here in this present world and also throughout the eternal ages.
He is Alpha and Omega, the Self-existent Son of God
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, … which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty,” Revelation 1:8.
The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet are alpha and omega. In other words, Jesus is the first and the last, the beginning and the ending. The same description is made of the Father, therefore, both the Father and the Son share the divine attributes of timelessness and self-existence.
Christ is also everything that we need. He is what we need first and what we will always need up to the last. As the Almighty, He is more than able to deliver us from evil and to empower us to live godly in this present fallen world.
In this sevenfold description, we are to:
Trust Jesus completely
Commune with our living Savior and have no fear of death
Know that nothing can happen to us unless Jesus permits it
Believe that no circumstances can separate us from the love of Christ
Understand that Jesus made the supreme sacrifice for us in dying for our sins
Cooperate with Him in blessing others
Know that He is truly the Son of God sent from the Father above.
Verse 7: The Second Coming
Here is the promise of Christ’s return. His promise is good (John 14:1–3), and He will come the second time. But who will witness this great and awesome event? We are told that even those who pierced Christ will witness His second coming. Is this referring to a special resurrection?
Let us begin by noticing that there are two separate resurrections:
Jesus said, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto a resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28, 29.
Paul said, “There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.” Acts 24:15.
John spoke of these two resurrections as being one thousand years apart, saying,
“I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, … and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4–6.
At Christ’s second coming, the righteous are raised in the first resurrection, the resurrection of life, or the resurrection of the just. At the end of the thousand years the wicked are raised in the second resurrection, the resurrection of damnation, or the resurrection of the unjust.
However, in Revelation 1:7, Jesus spoke of a resurrection when certain of the righteous and the wicked are raised together. At Christ’s trial, Jesus said to the wily Caiaphas, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Matthew 26:64.
Caiaphas was one of the men most responsible for the crucifixion of Christ. Along with many others, Caiaphas will witness the second coming of Christ. The prophet Daniel spoke of this special resurrection, saying,
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:1–2.
Here we have a description of many, not all, of the righteous and the unrighteous that will be raised in a special resurrection to witness the second coming of Christ.
John writes, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.” Revelation 14:13
Certain saints which die “from henceforth,” from a certain point in time until the Second Coming of Christ will be “blessed.” Who might these saints be? The context for this blessing is a description of the 144,000 in verses 1-5, and the last message to the world described in verses 6-12. Therefore, those who die while proclaiming this threefold message described in verses 6-12, will be blessed with a special resurrection to witness the Second Coming of Christ.
The 144,000 never see death, so they are not part of the saints who “die in the Lord from henceforth.” But those who took part in preparing a people for the Second Coming of Christ will be raise to witness that climatic event.
When will this special resurrection take place? It seems that it will take place at the end of the sixth plague. These saints do not go through the time of the seven last plagues as do the 144,000. But they are resurrected just prior to Christ’s appearance and after the sixth plague.
There will be:
The Special Resurrection just prior to the Second Coming of Christ.
The First Resurrection when all the saints from every age are raised at Christ Second Coming.
The Second Resurrection when all the wicked are raised one thousand years later.
We will study more on this topic when we cover Revelation chapter twenty.
I would like us to notice that verse 7, which refers to the Second Coming of Christ, is placed between the sixth and seventh description of Jesus. This is a common structure throughout the Revelation. For example, we have chapter seven of Revelation placed between the sixth and seventh seal. We have chapter ten placed between the sixth and seventh trumpet. All of these parenthetical chapters, that are placed between the sixth and the seventh, focus on the Second Coming. In fact, these insertions between the sixth and seventh, point to special events that must take place before Jesus returns the second time.
In Revelation 1:7, we learn that a special resurrection must occur before Jesus returns. The seventh chapter of Revelation, teaches us that a special group of saints, called the 144,000, must be made up before Christ’s Second Coming. And Revelation chapter ten, teaches us that there needs to be a special revival and movement amongst God’s professed people, before His returns.
Verse 9: Steadfast to the End
John was a “brother, and companion in tribulation” because many others Christians were suffering for their faith. John was on the isle of Patmos because of his lifelong commitment to the preaching of God’s Word and his testimony (or witness) of his faith in Jesus Christ.
We are told that “John was cast into a caldron of boiling oil; but the Lord preserved the life of His faithful servant, even as He preserved the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace.” Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, page 569, 570
How were the three Hebrews preserved in the fiery furnace? They did not burn at all. Only the ropes that bound them burned. So too, John was preserved from the destroying power of boiling oil.
Paul declared that “all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12
John is the only surviving disciple as he writes the Revelation. He is also the only disciple that died a natural death. Consider those who have gone before us.
Our brother John the Baptist was beheaded.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was beaten and crucified.
Our brother Stephen was stoned.
Our brother James was beheaded.
Our brother Philip was scourged, imprisoned, and crucified.
Our brother Matthew was killed with a halberd.
Our brother James the less was stoned.
Our brother Matthias was beheaded in Jerusalam.
Our brother Andrew was crucified in Edessa.
Our brother Mark was dragged to death in Alexandria.
Our brother Peter was crucified.
Our brother Paul was beheaded in Rome.
Our brother Thaddeus was crucified in Edessa.
Our brother Bartholomew was crucified.
Our brother Thomas was speared.
Our brother Luke was hanged from an olive tree.
Our brother John was imprisoned on Patmos.
This should encourage us to remain steadfast even if it costs us our life. What a privilege to be a servant of our Lord Jesus Christ in these closing days of Earth’s history.
The isle of Patmos was located in the Aegean Sea just 50 miles from the coastal city of Ephesus. The isle was ten miles long and six miles wide. It was barren, with virtually no trees. John would have been part of a labor camp working in the mines. His bed would have likely been the hard-cold ground. He was banished to the isle of Patmos in 94 AD by the emperor Domitian. When Domitian was assassinated in 96 AD, John was released. Therefore, he likely penned the Revelation in 95 AD.
Though John was captive to a barren isle with virtually no trees, he did see the most wonderful and spectacular scenes given to any man. He saw Jesus in His glorified body. See Revelation 1:12-16. He saw God’s throne. See Revelation 4:1-4. He even saw the glorious future of the saints. See Revelation 14:1-3. He also saw the destruction of the most abominable apostate system of all. See Revelation 17:16-18; 18:1-8; 19:17-21. He saw the final judgment. See Revelation 20:11-15. And he saw the Earth made new. See Revelation 21, 22.
Indeed, John saw all these things while exiled on the barren isle of Patmos. But this should not surprise us. Many of God’s servants received great blessings while in exile. Jacob was converted and became Israel while fleeing from his brother Esau. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and was eventually imprisoned. Yet, he rose to greatness to rescue his countrymen. It was while Moses was a fugitive that he became the world’s most humble man. It was while David was in flight from the hatred of Saul, that David wrote some of his most beautiful psalms. Elijah heard that “still small voice” while he was in exile from the hatred of Jezebel. Daniel was exiled to Babylon at the tender age of eighteen, but God inspired him to write the book of Daniel while he was in Babylon. Tyndale and Luther translated the Bible in the language of their countrymen while in exile from the Papal power.
What led these men to greatest during the time of duress? They had received the “patience of Jesus.”
John himself stood in the “patience of Jesus Christ.” The need of patience implies pressure from the outside. It also suggests that John could have escaped persecution by denying his faith in Christ.
In the end, God’s people are described, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12
God’s last day church will face economic boycott and even a death decree. See Revelation 13:15-17. While the world wonders after the beast, worships the beast, worships the image of the beast, and receives the mark of the beast, God’s true church will patiently keep the commandments by the faith of Jesus. This implies that the opposition against God’s true church is over the commandments of God. And only by the patience of Jesus and the faith of Jesus, will God’s people maintain their fidelity to God in such great opposition.
The word “patience” means to endure under pressure. James writes, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:3, 4
Consider these precious words in the midst of Revelation chapter thirteen, “Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” Revelation 13:10.
Verse 10: The Lord’s Day
John received this special revelation on the Lord’s day. Which day is the Lord’s day? Jesus identified the Sabbath as His day, saying, “The Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” Mark 2:28. When He gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, He made the same claim that “the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Exodus 20:10.
Mark wrote that Jesus was crucified on the “day of preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath.” Mark 15:42. Luke wrote that on the Sabbath, His followers “rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.” Luke 23:56. Matthew said that “in the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week,” the women came to anoint His body and found the tomb empty. Matthew 28:1. In summary, Jesus died on Friday, the day before the Sabbath, and rose on Sunday, the day after the Sabbath. Of course, the gospels were written years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, the early church continued to keep the seventh-day Sabbath. In fact, throughout the entire Bible, God’s people have only known one Sabbath day, namely, the seventh-day Sabbath.
Therefore, on the Lord’s day, the seventh day Sabbath, while John would have been in prayer and the contemplation of God’s Word, Jesus came to Him to declare the Revelation. In the same way, it is important for us to be in a prayerful, worshipful, and studious mindset to receive the rich blessings of the Revelation.
Some have suggested that the Lord’s day is Sunday. Historically, we know that no Christian were keeping Sunday as the Sabbath in the first century. Keeping Sunday as the Sabbath was not even a thought in the first century. However, a power would arise that thought to change the Sabbath to Sunday. According to The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, page 50, “We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church in the Council of Laodicea (AD 336), transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.”
Did you note the date when the Catholic Church thought to change the Sabbath to Sunday? It was in the year of 336 AD, over three hundred since the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The purpose for the change was to ascertain some outward authority over all the churches. It was her attempt to exercise ecclesiastical power. As Cardinal Gibbons wrote, “You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.” The Faith Of Our Fathers, 92ndedition, 89.
It is clear that the observance of Sunday was never initiated in honor of Christ’s resurrection, but was transferred by the Church of Rome to demonstrate her arbitrary power over all the other churches. Consider a few more of these statements:
“The [catholic] Church is above the Bible, and this transference of the Sabbath observance is proof of that fact.” Catholic Record (September 1, 1923)
“Of course, the Catholic Church claims that the change [from Sabbath to Sunday] was her act. . . And the act is a mark of her ecclesiastical power and authority in religious matters.”Letter from C.F. Thomas, Chancellor of Cardinal Gibbons on October 28, 1895
Of course, those who are faithful to the Faithful Witness, will keep the seventh-day Sabbath as God instituted those sacred hours at Creation. See Genesis 2:1-3. They will keep the same Sabbath that is clearly delineated in the fourth commandment, as written by the very finger of Jesus. See Exodus 20:8-11. They will follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who faithfully keep the seventh-day Sabbath. See Luke 4:16.
It took the Church of Rome nearly three centuries to set up their false sabbath. Even then, nearly half of the Christian world still kept the seventh-day Sabbath in 1000 AD.
But today, we find nearly every denomination keeping the Papal Sunday. Perhaps, this is one reason why God gave this special revelation to John on the Lord’s day—the seventh-day Sabbath. After all, God’s true church is described as those who keep [all] of God’s commandments and the faith of Jesus. See Revelation 14:12.
Of course, John was himself a Sabbath-keeper, who definitely believed in the Creation account and in God’s creative power. Imagine how he felt when he was visited on the Sabbath day, by His Creator and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. What a blessed confirmation in God’s protection and power.
This special mention of the Sabbath of the Lord, also sets John apart from his Roman persecutors. The sun-worshiping Roman’s had their own pagan holy days, none of which, corresponded with the one and only true God. John, on the other hand, keep the holy day that God had set aside from the time of Creation. Clearly, John worshiped the true God, and the Romans worshiped a false god.
Verse 11: Letters to the Seven Churches
John heard “a great voice, as of a trumpet.” Verse 10. Trumpets are associated with great announcements. The “voice of the trumpet” preceded the giving of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 19:16
The opening of the daily temple services was preceded by the sound of the trumpet. The year of Jubilee was ushered in by the blasts of the silver trumpet. Ten days before the Day of Atonement was the Feast of Trumpets. And it is at the “voice of the Archangel and the trump of God” that the dead in Christ are raised from their dusty graves.
So what the great announcement that John hears? John hears Jesus say, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” The grand announcement is the divinity of Jesus Christ.
How important is the divinity of Christ?
“The divinity of Christ is the believer’s assurance of eternal life.” Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, page 530
Only God could have paid for the penalty of man breaking the divine law. It had to be Someone equal to the divine law. That Someone is none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Therefore, the divinity of Jesus means everything to us. Imagine the Creator of the universe, becoming the Redeemer for sinful man!
But John sees something. In verse 13, John sees the voice that was speaking to him. And what does John see? He sees the Son of man. He sees Jesus in a glorious, but fully human form. Our blessed Creator and Redeemer has put on human form for eternity.
Imagine the comfort we should derive from such a glorious scene. What are we to fear, when Jesus, the Son of God, still maintains His human form? In fact, Jesus tells John, “Fear not; I am the first and the last.” Revelation 1:17. What is there to fear, when He who is fully God also became fully man? What is there to fear, when the one and only Mediator between God and man, communes with us?
God the Father “so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” John 3:16. If the Father has given to us His only Son, and Jesus forever bears the human form, then we are the most blessed intelligences in the universe. And if the Father gave us His only Son, will He not also give us all things that pertain to eternal life?
John was instructed to write down what he saw. He was to send this recorded revelation to the seven churches in Asia. To each one of these seven churches Jesus had a special message for their spiritual condition. In Revelation 1:20, we learn that these seven churches are represented symbolically by seven candlesticks. Candlesticks are used to give light. Therefore, these messages to the seven churches are to encourage us to shine brighter for Jesus.
We are also told in Revelation 2:1 that Jesus “walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” This is to show that Jesus desires to be in our midst.
Who are the seven churches? These seven letters were sent to seven churches in Asia that existed in John’s day. For example:
“You in Ephesus have left your first love.” See Revelation 2:4.
“You in Pergamos have those that hold the doctrine of Balaam.” See Revelation 2: 14.
“You in Thyatira tolerate the woman Jezebel.” See Revelation 2:20.
“You in Philadelphia have kept my word and have not denied my name.” See Revelation 3:8.
These statements must have been true to these local congregations in John’s day, otherwise, when these letters arrived they would have been confusing. In fact, John would have been considered a false prophet. However, the fact that these letters had local applications does not lessen their application on a wider scale.
These are seven messages for seven different individual conditions. Each letter ends with the words, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” They are for anyone who “has an ear” and is willing to listen. These messages are for anyone and everyone facing similar pressures and trials. We should listen to what God has to say to each one of these churches. After all, each one contains a promise for “him that overcometh.”
While these letters are for anyone who has an ear to hear, they are addressed to entire church congregations today. Local churches today would equally benefit from these same remedies as those in John’s day.
These seven churches also represent the complete Christian era, from the early church to God’s last day church. Here are three reasons supporting this supposition:
First, in the same way that Daniel’s prophecies represented the succession of world empires, these seven churches take us from the early church (represented by Ephesus) to God’s last-day church (represented by Laodicea).
Second, certain elements, especially in the messages to Smyrna and Philadelphia, are predictive. For example, believers in Smyrna are informed that “the devil will cast some of you into prison, . . . and ye shall have tribulation ten days [or ten prophetic days, representing ten literal years].” Revelation 2:10.
The ten days of persecution during the Smyrna era occurred prophetically from AD 303–313, under Diocletian. This doesn’t infer that the Smyrna Christians of John’s day did not face ten literal days, or years of fierce persecution. In fact, they probably did. However, we do know that there is a future application beyond John’s day that perfectly describes the second period of the Christian dispensation.
Third, the number seven is the number for completeness. These seven churches are describing something complete about the Christian church. Since there were many more churches in Asia than the seven listed here, we may then understand that these seven churches are used symbolically to represent the true spiritual condition of God’s church through the centuries. In fact, these seven churches were chosen from among many churches because they represented the condition of the complete Christian era.
Verses 12–16: John Sees Jesus in His Glorified Human Form
John wanted to turn around and see the voice that was speaking to him. He first saw seven golden candlesticks, which represent the seven churches. The fact that they are gold shows that the church is very precious to Him. Then John saw Jesus walking in their midst, showing the closeness of Jesus to His saints. See also Matthew 28:20; Colossians 1:18.
These seven golden candlesticks, remind us of the seven-branched candlesticks found in the Holy Place of the Sanctuary. We know that the earthly Sanctuary was but a copy of the heavenly Sanctuary. See Hebrews 8:1–5. We also know that Jesus serves as our High Priest in the heavenly Sanctuary. See Hebrews 2:17, 18; 4:14–16. The fact that Jesus is seen among all seven golden candlesticks shows that Jesus will serve as our High Priest throughout the entire Christian era. When Christ was crucified, He ascended into heaven as our heavenly High Priest in the Holy Place. He serves there until He enters the Most Holy Place of the heavenly Sanctuary. When the seventh church era begins, Jesus enters into the Most Holy Place in the heavenly Sanctuary to perform His special work of judgment. This is why the seventh church, Laodicea, means a people judged.
In the midst of these candlesticks, John sees the Son of man, Jesus Christ. He is clothed with a garment down to His feet, representing dignity. This description of Jesus is almost the same as that which Daniel gave in Daniel 10:5–12. Both saw a “man” who was “girded with fine gold,” who had “eyes as lamps of fire,” “feet like polished brass,” and a voice as the sound of many waters. Both Daniel and John fell before Him as dead men, and to both Jesus said, “Fear not.”
In Jesus’ right hand, representing His power to sustain, He holds the seven stars, which are the angels or messengers to the seven churches. See Revelation 1:20. Jesus is able to sustain and strengthen His messengers who are to proclaim the message for their time. The words that He bids them speak are powerful and full of life. They are also like a two-edged sword, which represents Christ’s authority to judge, and to execute judgment.
Jesus says to John, “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen: and have the keys of hell and of death.” The eternal Son of God, who possesses “life, original, unborrowed, underived,” encourages His persecuted saint. Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, page 530.
Imagine how precious these words must have appeared to John. He is the last surviving disciple. He is a prisoner on the Isle of Patmos. But it doesn’t matter, Jesus is alive. The Savior possesses that life which will not end. He who was crucified, now stands as Mediator between God and man. He who had been judged unjustly, will judge the world in righteousness.
Jesus “hold the keys,” not the pope. The keys in the hands of Jesus are a symbol of His power and authority. Imagine having power over the grave! No pope, priest, or pastor has that kind of power. But Jesus, the Eternal One, has the power to call forth His saints from their dusty graves. And when He comes the second time, He will certainly use that power and authority.
Let us take a closer look at the glorified human form of Jesus.
“His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow.” We associate white hair with wisdom and righteousness. See Proverbs 20:29; 16:31. In Christ, is all wisdom. He is to be our Great Counselor.
“His eyes were as a flame of fire.” The Son of God sees all. Job 34:21, 22; Hebrews 4:13. He knows what is in man, and He alone knows how to save man. No mere man has the eyes as a flame of fire. They do not even know their own hearts. But Jesus is able to search the reins and hearts. Revelation 2:23. We are to ask Jesus to search our hearts with His perfect eyesight, and reveal what is in our hearts, that we might be cleansed of all unrighteousness.
“His feet” are “like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace.” When brass is burned in the furnace, it gives of the most indescribable glory. Jesus walked through the furnace of affliction and came forth with indescribable glory. As He hung upon the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
It is this self-sacrificing love, like fine brass burned in the furnace, that makes God’s kingdom stable, everlasting, and able to weather the fiercest storm.
“His voice as the sound of many waters.” It is not voices plural, but the voice of Jesus that is majesty, harmonious, and full. As the voice, Jesus is the Spokesperson of the Father to fallen humanity.
The psalmist wrote, “The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.” Psalm 29:4
“And He had in His right hand seven stars.” We are told that the “seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.” Revelation 1:20. These seven angels are seven messengers which represent the ministers or elders of the seven churches. More on this later.
Generally, the right hand represents power, authority, and honor. For example, God delivered the Hebrews with His “mighty hand” (Exodus 3:19, 20), “out of the hand of the Egyptians (Exodus 3:8). God’s right hand would be the place of salvation, refuge, and protection. As the psalmist wrote, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” Psalm 16:8. The Lord has placed His people in His right and to protect and to lead.
According to Paul, a right hand extended to another was a welcome to fellowship. As Paul wrote, “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” Galatians 2:9. In the right hand of Jesus, is the invitation to have fellowship with God.
“Out of His mouth went a two-edged sword.” This is a sword with two edges. With on edge we are convince of our sinfulness. With the other edge, we are converted as He cuts away the dross. “Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.” Hosea 6:1
It could also be interpreted to mean that with the one edge the one seeking for truth is converted, and he who rejects the light of truth is condemned. “But with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.” Isaiah 11:4. See also 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:21
“His countenance was as the sun shineth in His strength.” Nothing in the natural world has a greater brightness than the sun. While it is true that we may shine as stars forever and ever (See Daniel 12:3), Jesus is as the sun as noon day, or at full strength. He is the “Sun of Righteousness.” Malachi 4:2. He is the fullness of righteousness, or absolute righteousness. He is so full of righteousness that the wicked try to hide from Him when He returns the second time. See Revelation 6:16.
He is the Light of the world, who created the world, and sustains the world. But man was created, and we shine only as we reflect the rays of His altogether beautiful character.
Verses 17, 18: The Effect of the Glory of Jesus upon John
As John behold Jesus in His glorified human form, as our High Priest in the Heavenly Sanctuary in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, he is overwhelmed with this
Verses 19–20: Again, John Is Instructed to Write
John is told a second time to write down the things that are about to happen and the things that will take place in the future.
The mystery of the seven stars is not a mystery to those who are earnest seekers of truth, but is to those who fail to surrender their life to Christ. The seven stars are the seven angels to the seven churches. The Greek word, aggeloi, from where we get the word angel, literally means messenger, and can refer to either heavenly or human beings. The following are passages where aggeloi is applied to human beings: Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:24; 9:52; 2 Corinthians 12:7.
It is reasonable to assume that the seven angels to the seven churches are the elders and leaders of the church. If so, these letters were addressed to the elders so that they could then read the messages to their congregations. It would seem unlikely that John would try to send these letters to seven angels living in heaven.
It would also seem reasonable that the elder was not simply to read the letter to the congregation, but to help the church apply the remedy to their situation.
Throughout the Revelation we will be introduced to a heavenly scene before we view an earthly scene. For example, we have this beautiful description of Jesus in chapter one, before we are shown the seven churches here on earth. In chapter four, we are shown the beautiful throne room of God, before we are shown the condition of the churches in the seven seals beginning in chapter five.
This is to teach us that our first thoughts of the day should be of Jesus and heavenly themes. Make a commitment now to begin each day with thoughts of Jesus and His love. Choose to see the face of God before you see the face of man. Decide even now what you will read tomorrow morning for your personal devotion time.
Take the time to review the seven pronounced blessings found in the Revelation. What do each one of these beatitudes mean to you?
The seven beatitudes:
Take the time to review the sevenfold description of Jesus. How can each one of these descriptions of Jesus help you to appreciate Him even more?
Jesus is the Truth
Jesus is the first begotten of the dead
Jesus is the Prince of our world
Jesus loves us
Jesus shed His blood for us
Jesus will make us kings and priests
He is Alpha and Omega