A. Revelation Chap. 1

Here are the notes to date:

Chapter 1

1.The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.

  • 404 verses, 278 allude to O.T. scriptures.
  • Revelation” (apokalypsis; GK G637) means to expose in full view what was formerly hidden, veiled, or secret (When used of a person, it means that person will be clearly visible). In the NT this word occurs exclusively in the religious sense of a divine disclosure. It may refer either some to present or future aspect of God’s will (Lk 2:32; Ro 16:25; Eph 3:5) or to persons (Ro 8:19) or especially to the future unveiling of Jesus Christ at his return in glory (2Th 1:7; 1Pe 1:7, 13). In the only occurrence of this word in John’s writings, the meaning is not primarily the appearing or revealing of Christ—though certainly the book does this—but rather the disclosure of “what must soon take place.”
  • This book contains truths that were concealed/hidden but are now revealed.
    • It warns the church of the danger of sin and instructs it about the need for holiness.
    • It reveals the strength that Christ and believers have to overcome Satan.
    • It reveals the glory & majesty of God and depicts the reverent worship that constantly attends His throne.
    • It reveals the end of human history, including the final political setup of the world, the career of the Antichrist, and the climatic Battle of Armageddon.
    • It reveals the coming Glory of Christ’s reign during the millennial kingdom, the Great White Throne judgment, and depicts the eternal bliss of the new heaven & the new earth.
    • It reveals the ultimate victory of Jesus Christ over all human & demonic opposition.
    • The book of Revelation describes the ultimate defeat of Satan and sin, and the final state of the wicked (eternal torment in hell) & the righteous (eternal joy in heaven).
  • In short, this is a front page story of the future of the world written by someone who has seen it all.
  • But this book mainly reveals the majesty and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. It describes in detail the events associated with His second coming, revealing His glory that will one day blaze forth as strikingly & unmistakably as lightening flashes in a dark sky. Matt. 24:27
  • Servantsdoulos1, servant, slave; in the NT a person owned as a possession for various lengths of times (Hebrew slaves no more than seven years, Gentile slaves without time limit), of lower social status than free persons or masters; slaves could earn or purchase their freedom. Ex. 21.5 “But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’  6 then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.
  • 1 Cor 2:14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. This is why the unbeliever finds the book of Revelation to be utter chaos and fantasy. He cannot understand it. But the devoted, loving, bondservants of Christ will be able to understand the unveiling prophetic truth about the future of the world.
  • “what must soon take place” implies that the revelation concerns events that are future (cf. Da 2:28-29, 45; Mk 13:7; Rev 4:1; 22:6). In eschatology and apocalyptic literature, the future is always viewed as imminent without the necessity of intervening time (cf. Lk 18:8). “Soon” does not, in other words, preclude delays or intervening events, as Revelation itself suggests. In ch. 6 we hear the cry of the martyred saints: “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you . . . avenge our blood?” They are told to “wait a little longer” (vv. 10-11). Therefore, “soonness” means immanency in eschatological terms. The church in every age has always lived with the expectancy of the consummation of all things in its day. Immanency describes an event possible any day, impossible no day.
  • This should motivate us to live a life holy and obedient. 2Pet 3:14

He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,

  • Two more focal points of the book are introduced by the words “by sending his angel to his servant John.
    • (1) They introduce us to the significance of angels in the worship of God, in the revelation of God’s Word, and in the execution of his judgments in the earth. John refers to angels sixty-seven times.
    • (2) The word “servant” (GK G1528) is important. All of God’s people are known in Revelation as his servants, described as such at least eleven times (e.g., 2:20; 7:3; 22:3). John is one servant selected to receive this revelation and communicate it to other servants of God. “Servant,” used throughout the NT to describe those who are designated as the special representatives of the Lord Christ himself, becomes a beautiful title of honor for God’s people.

2. who testifies to everything he saw — that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

  • Two elements in the book are of chief importance: “The word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
    • In referring to his visions as the “word of God,” John emphasizes his continuity with the prophets in the OT as well as the apostles in the NT (see 1:9; 3:8, 10; 6:9; 12:11; 17:17; 19:9; 20:4). In 19:13 Jesus is himself identified with the name “the Word of God.” Here, in ch. 1, the reference is not directly to Christ but to the promises and acts of God revealed in this book that are realized through Jesus, the Word of God incarnate (cf. Jn 1:1-2; 1Jn 1:1). The church needs to be reminded that this book is the very Word of God to us.
    • While John’s literary activity is evident throughout, he claims that what he presents he actually “saw” in divinely disclosed visions. And in the book God himself bears witness to the readers that these things are not the product of John’s own mind (1:1-2; 21:5; 22:6; cf. 2Pe 1:21).
    • Testimony” (GK G3456) can mean “witness,” “validation,” or “verification” (cf. 1:9; 6:9; 12:11, 17; 19:10; 20:4; 22:16-20). While “the testimony of Jesus” can mean John’s own testimony about Jesus, here it means the testimony that Jesus himself gives. John testifies both to the Word of God received in the visions and to the validation of his message from Jesus himself.

3 Blessed 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.

  • The one who reads” reflects the early form of worship where a reader read the Scriptures aloud on the Lord’s Day.
  • Those who hear” are the people of the congregation who listen to the reading. “This prophecy” is John’s way of describing his writing and refers to the entire book of Revelation (10:11; 19:10; 22:7, 9-10, 18).
  • he twofold benediction “blessed” (GK G3421), pronounced on the reader and the congregation, emphasizes the importance of the message in that they will be hearing not only the word of John the prophet but the inspired word of Christ (see other beatitudes in 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14).
  • All must listen carefully and “take to heart what is written” because “the time is near,” the season for the fulfillment of the return of Christ (v. 7; cf. Lk 11:28, 21:8) and for all that is written in this book (cf. 22:10). The season for Christ’s return is always imminent—now as it has been from the days of his ascension (Jn 21:22; Ac 1:11). This same word was used in Daniel 5 times. (Dan 8:17, 11:35, 11:40, 12:4, 9)

Rev. 1.4 John, 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 before his throne,

  • the epistolary form of address (John) immediately distinguishes this book from all other Jewish apocalyptic works. John writes to actual, historical churches, addressing them in the same way the NT letters are addressed. These churches actually existed in the Roman province of Asia (the western part of present-day Turkey).
    • APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE A type of prophetic literature that communicates the ultimate triumph of God over evil through dreams, visions, and symbols. Daniel and Revelation and parts of Ezekiel and Zechariah are canonical apocalypses. Many non-canonical apocalypses appeared between c. 200 B.C. and A.D. 200 in the style of Daniel, also claiming to have been written by a famous OT character. Major examples are 1 and 2 Enoch, Jubilees, Assumption of Moses, 2 Esdras, Apocalypse of Baruch, The Testaments of the Twelve Prophets, and the Psalms of Solomon.
  • Grace and peace” are the usual greetings in NT letters: “grace” (GK G5921) represents a traditional Greek greeting, and “peace” (GK G1645; cf. G8934) represents a traditional Hebrew greeting. The source of blessing is described by employing an elaborate triadic formula for the Trinity:
  • “From him who is, and who was, and who is to come,” i.e., the Father;
  • “From the seven spirits before his throne,” i.e., the Holy Spirit;
    • the seven spirits. Revelation presents the Holy Spirit as one person (3:6, 13; cf. Eph. 4:4), but he also appears as “seven spirits” (cf. Rev. 3:1; 4:5; etc.), representing perfection, and as “seven torches of fire” (4:5) and “seven eyes” (5:6) to express his omnipresence and omniscience.
  • “From Jesus Christ,” i.e., the Son (v. 5).

5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

  • He is the “faithful witness.” His credibility is proved by his earthly life of obedience in the past; it is proved in the present by his witness to the true condition of the churches; and it will be proved in the future by the consummation of all things in him. In the past he was loyal to the point of death (cf. Jn 7:7; 18:37; Php 2:8; 1Ti 6:13), as was his servant Antipas (2:13). That Christ was a reliable witness to God’s kingdom and salvation—even to the point of suffering death at the hands of the religious-political establishment of his day—is an encouragement to his servants who also are expected to be loyal to him, even to their death (2:10). See John 18:37
  • The fact that he is “the firstborn from the dead” brings further encouragement. As Christ gave his life in faithfulness to the Father’s calling, so the Father has raised Christ from the dead, pledging him as the first of a great company who will follow (cf. 7:13-14). John nowhere else refers to Christ as the “firstborn” (GK G4758), though Paul uses it in Ro 8:29; Col 1:15, 18 (cf. also Heb 1:6). In Col 1:18, this same expression is associated with words of supreme authority or origin such as “head,” “beginning,” and “supremacy.” In Col 1:15 Paul refers to Christ as the “firstborn over all creation,” meaning that he is the source, ruler, or origin of all creation (see comment on that verse). So for Christ to be the “firstborn” of the dead signifies not merely that he was first in time to be raised from the dead but also that he was first in importance, having supreme authority over the dead (cf. 1:18). He is the premier one!
  • “The ruler of the kings of the earth” virtually connects John’s thought with Ps 89. Christ’s rulership of the world is a key theme of John (11:15; 17:15; 19:16) Phil 2:9-11. Who are the “kings of the earth”?
    • John could mean emperors such as Nero and Domitian, territorial rulers such as Pilate and Herod, and their successors. In that case John was affirming that even though Jesus is not physically present and the earthly monarchs appear to rule, in reality it is he, not they, who rules over all (6:15; 17:2).
    • Another approach holds that Jesus rules over the defeated foes of believers, e.g., Satan, the dragon, sin, and death (1:18).
    • A third possibility sees believers as “the kings of the earth” (2:26-27; 3:21; cf. 11:6); in the immediate context John refers to Christ’s redeeming activity, and in v. 6 he refers to believers as a “kingdom.”
  • All three ideas are true; so it is difficult to decide which was uppermost in John’s mind. We should be careful, however, not to read into the term “king” our own power concepts but to allow the biblical images to predominate.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,  6 and 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.

  • Of Israel it was said that they would be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex 19:6; cf. Isa 61:6 Col1:13, 1Pet 2:9-10). As Israel of old was redeemed through the Red Sea and was called to be a kingdom under God and a nation of priests to serve him, so John sees the Christian community as the continuation of the OT people of God, redeemed by Christ’s blood and made heirs of his future kingly rule on the earth (5:10; 20:6). Furthermore, all believers are called to be priests in the sense of offering spiritual sacrifices and praise to God (Heb 13:15; 1Pe 2:5). While John sees the church as a kingdom, this does not mean that it is identical with the kingdom of God. Nor do the new people of God replace the ancient Jewish people in the purpose of God (cf. Ro 11:28-29).

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.

  • What Christ will do in the future is summed up in the dramatic cry: “Look, he is coming”— “behold= used 25 times, a clear reference to his return (22:7, 12, 20). The preceding affirmation of Christ’s rulership over the earth’s kings and the Christians’ share in the messianic kingdom leads to tension between the believers’ actual present condition of oppression and suffering and what seems to be implied in their royal and priestly status. So the divine promise of Christ’s return is given by the Father, and the response of the prophet and congregation follows in the words “So shall it be! Amen.” Or we might think of Christ as saying, “So shall it be!” and the prophet and the congregation responding, “Amen” (cf. 22:20). The promise combines Da 7:13 with Zec 12:10. Daniel 7 provides a key focus for John throughout the whole book (there are no fewer than thirty-one allusions to it).
  • Christ’s coming will be supernatural (“with the clouds”) and in some manner open and known to all (“every eye”), even to those who put him to death (Zec 12:10 13:6). “Those who pierced him” might be those historically responsible for his death (e.g., Pilate, Annas, and Caiaphas) and the Jewish leaders of the Sanhedrin who pronounced him guilty. Yet, when he comes, there will be mourning among “all the peoples of the earth.” From the NT point of view, Pilate, Annas, Caiaphas, and the others were acting as representatives for all humankind in crucifying Jesus. Thus the mourning mentioned here is probably that which results from the judgment Christ brings upon “all the peoples of the earth.”
  • 1 Thes 4:16-17 cry of command … voice of an archangel … trumpet of God. The three noises summon the dead to wake from their slumber. The only “archangel” identified in the Bible is Michael (Jude 9). Trumpets in the OT proclaimed the Lord’s presence (Ex. 19:16; 1 Chron. 16:6; Ps. 47:5; Joel 2:1; Zech. 9:14); in Jewish tradition, the “trumpet” was associated with battle, the day of the Lord, and the resurrection (cf. 1 Cor. 15:52). first … Then. Dead Christians rise from their graves to the realm of the living, and then the living and the dead together are caught up from the earth into the air to meet Christ. The Greek for “caught up” (harpazoœ, “to grab or seize suddenly, to snatch, take away”) gives a sense of being forcibly and suddenly lifted upward (see John 6:15; Acts 8:39). together with. The dead Christians would suffer no disadvantage (cf. “we who are alive … will not precede,” 1 Thess. 4:15). clouds. Probably not earthly rain clouds but the clouds of glory that surround the presence of God (cf. Ex. 13:21; 33:9–10; 40:38; Num. 12:5; 1 Kings 8:10–11; Ps. 97:2; Dan. 7:13; Matt. 17:5; Mark 13:26; Acts 1:9; Rev. 14:14). to meet. The Greek term apanteœsis is often used of an important dignitary’s reception by the inhabitants of a city, who come out to greet and welcome their honored guest with fanfare and celebration, then accompany him into the city (cf. Matt. 25:6; Acts 18:15; a related term hypanteœsis is used in Matt. 25:1; John 12:13). It may indicate that the subsequent movement of the saints after meeting Christ “in the air” conforms to Christ’s direction, thus in a downward motion toward the earth. However, some interpreters caution that the vivid symbolism of apocalyptic language must be kept in mind to avoid over-interpretation of the apocalyptic details. in the air. The sky.

Rev. 1.8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

  • Such a stupendous promise requires more than the prophet’s own signature or even Christ’s “Amen.” God himself speaks and, with his own signature, vouches for the truthfulness of the coming of Christ. Of the many names of God that reveal his character and memorialize his deeds, there are four strong ones in this verse.
    • (1) “Alpha and Omega” are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Their mention here is similar to the “First” and “Last” in v. 17 and is further heightened by the “Beginning” and the “End” in 21:6 and 22:13. Only this book refers to God as the “Alpha and the Omega.”
    • (2) He is the absolute source of all creation and history, and nothing lies outside him. Thus he is the “Lord God” of all.
    • (3) He is the one “who is, and who was, and who is to come” God is eternal, and in Christ he will come at the end of history to judge and save.
    • (4) He is continually present to his people as the “Almighty” (lit., “the one who has his hand on everything”; GK G4120; cf. 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22; 2Co 6:18).

Rev. 1.9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

  • This verse begins a third introduction in which the author again identifies himself as John and adds significant information about where and when the visions took place together with their divinely appointed destination. John stresses his intimate identification with the Asian Christians and the reason for his presence on Patmos.
  • Patmos lies about thirty-seven miles west-southwest of Miletus, in the Icarian Sea. Consisting mainly of volcanic hills and rocky ground, it is about ten miles long and six miles wide at the north end; it was used for Roman penal purposes. It was “because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” that John was on Patmos (cf. 1:2; 6:9; 20:4). He was not there to preach that Word but because of religious-political opposition to his Christian faith.
  • John sees his plight as part of God’s design and says he is a partner with the Asian Christians in three things.
    • Both share with Christ and one another the “suffering” (GK G2568) or agony that comes because of faithfulness to Christ as the only true Lord and God (Jn 16:33; Ac 14:22; Col 1:24; 2Ti 3:12).
    • They also share with Christ in his “kingdom” (i.e., his power and rule; GK G993). In one sense they already reign (1:6), though through suffering. Yet, in another sense, they will reign with Christ in the eschatological manifestation of his kingdom (20:4, 6; 22:5).
    • The present hidden rule of Christ and his followers is manifested through their “patient endurance” (GK G5705). As they look beyond their immediate distresses and put full confidence in Christ, they share now in his royal dignity and power. Whether those distresses were imprisonment, ostracism, slander, economic discrimination, hostility, disruption of the churches by false prophets, and the constant threat of death from mob violence or judicial action, believers are to realize their present kingship with Christ in their faithful endurance. Such endurance produces conflict with the powers of the world, and it calls for long-suffering as the mark of Christ’s kingship in their lives (2:2, 19; 3:10; 13:10; 14:12; cf. Lk 8:15; 21:19; Ro 2:7; Col 1:11; et al.). Christ uses suffering to test and purify the loyalty of his servants. His strength is revealed through their weakness (2Co 12:9).

10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,

  • I was in the Spirit” describes John’s experience on Patmos. The words imply being transported into the world of prophetic visions by the Spirit of God (4:2; 17:3; 21:10; cf. Eze 3:12, 14; 37:1; Ac 22:17). Also see Ezek 2:2, 3:12; Acts 10:10, 11:5, 22:17-18.
  • At least the first vision—if not this whole book—was revealed on “the Lord’s [GK G3258] Day.” Since this is the only place in the NT where this expression is used, its identification is difficult. Some feel that John was transported into the great future day of the Lord, but John nowhere uses the common expression “the day of the Lord.” Most commentators, both ancient and modern, have taken the expression to mean Sunday, the first day of the week. This usage occurs early in the apostolic fathers. Tendencies toward recognizing Sunday as a day designated by Christ to celebrate his redemption occur even earlier in the NT (Ac 20:7; 1Co 16:2). Such a reference would bind the exiled apostle to the worshiping churches in Asia through his longing to be with them on Sunday. More specifically, John may have had an Easter Sunday in mind.
  • Another thought is the fact that in the O.T. there is no adjectival form of “Lord” therefore, this is “The Day of the Lord” not Sunday.

11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

  • All the books of the New Testament were written by the will of God; but none were so expressly commanded to be written. In a book—So all the Revelation is but one book: nor did the letter to the angel of each church belong to him or his church only; but the whole book was sent to them all. To the churches—Hereafter named; and through them to all churches, in all ages and nations. To Ephesus—Mark. Thomas Smith, who in the year 1671 travelled through all these cities, observes, that from Ephesus to Smyrna is forty-six English miles; from Smyrna to Pergamos, sixty-four; from Pergamos to Thyatira, forty-eight; from Thyatira to Sardis, thirty-three; from Sardis to Philadelphia, twenty-seven; from Philadelphia to Laodicea, about forty-two miles.

Rev. 1.12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands,

  • The churches receive their light from Christ and the gospel, and hold it forth to others. They are golden candlesticks; they should be precious and pure; not only the ministers, but the members of the churches; their light should so shine before men, as to engage others to give glory to God.

13 and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.

  • 13 Evidently the words “someone `like a son of man’” are to be understood in connection with Da 7:13 as a reference to the heavenly Messiah who is also human. Jesus preferred the title “Son of Man” for himself throughout his earthly ministry, though he did not deny, on occasion, the appropriate use of “Son of God” as well (Jn 10:36; cf. Mk 14:61). Both titles are nearly identical terms for the Messiah. The early church, however, rarely used the title “Son of Man” for Jesus, except when there was some special connection between the suffering of believers and Christ’s suffering and glory (e.g., Ac 7:56; Rev 14:14).
  • “Dressed in a robe” begins the sevenfold description of the Son of Man. This vision creates an impression of the whole rather than of particular abstract concepts. John saw Christ as the divine Son of God in the fullest sense of that term. He also saw him as fulfilling the OT descriptions of the coming Messiah by using terms drawn from the OT imagery of divine wisdom, power, steadfastness, and penetrating vision. The long robe and golden sash were worn by the priests in the OT (Ex 28:4) and may here signify Christ as the great High Priest to the churches in fulfillment of the OT Aaronic priesthood, or, less specifically, it may indicate his dignity and divine authority (Eze 9:2, 11).

14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.  15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.

  • 14 In an apparent allusion to Daniel, Christ’s head and hair are described as “white like wool, as white as snow” (Da 7:9; cf. 10:5). For John, the same functions of ruler and judge ascribed to the “Ancient of Days” in Daniel’s vision relate to Jesus. In Eastern countries, white hair commands respect and indicates the wisdom of years. This part of the vision may have shown John something of the deity and wisdom of Christ (cf. Col. 2:3). Christ’s eyes were like a “blazing fire,” a detail not found in Da 7 but occurring in Da 10:6. This simile is repeated in the letter to Thyatira (2:18) and in the vision of Christ’s triumphant return and defeat of his enemies (19:12). It may portray either his penetrating scrutiny or fierce judgment.
  • 15 The Son of Man’s feet appeared like shining bronze (cf. 2:18), as if it were fired to white heat in a kiln (cf. a similar figure of glowing metal in Eze 1:13, 27; 8:2; Da 10:6). In both Ezekiel and Daniel the brightness of shining metal like fire is one of the symbols connected with the appearance of the glory of God. This image may represent Christ’s triumphant judgment (i.e., his trampling down) of unbelievers.
  • His voice . . . like the sound of rushing [lit., many; GK G4498] waters” (cf. 14:2; 19:6) describes the glory and majesty of God in a way similar to that which Ezekiel heard (Eze 1:24; 43:2). Anyone who has heard the awe-inspiring sound of a Niagara or Victoria Falls cannot but appreciate this image of God’s power and sovereignty (Ps 93:4).

16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

  • 16 “In his right hand he held seven stars.” The right hand is the place of power and safety, and the “seven stars” Christ held in it are identified with the seven angels of the seven churches in Asia (v.20). This is the only detail in the vision that is identified. The seven angels are those to whom the letters to the seven churches are addressed (chs. 2-3). Stars are associated in the OT and in Revelation with angels (Job 38:7; Rev 9:1) or faithful witnesses to God (Da 12:3). The letter to Ephesus includes in its introduction a reference to the seven stars (2:1), and in 3:1 they are associated closely with the “seven spirits of God.”
  • John sees a “sharp double-edged sword” going forth from the mouth of Christ. The metaphor of a sword coming from the mouth is important for three reasons:
    • (1) John refers to this characteristic of Christ several times (1:16; 2:12, 16; 19:15, 21);
    • (2) he uses a rare word for “sword” (GK G4855), one found only once outside Revelation (Lk 2:35); and
    • (3) there is no scriptural parallel to the expression except in Isa 11:4, where it is said that the Messiah will “strike the earth with the rod of his mouth” and “with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.”
  • The sword is both a weapon and a symbol of war, oppression, and political authority. But John intends a startling difference in the function of this sword, since it proceeds from the mouth of Christ rather than being wielded in his hand. Christ will overtake the Nicolaitans at Pergamum and make war with them by the sword of his mouth (2:12, 16). He will strike down the rebellious at his coming with such a sword (19:15, 21). The figure points definitely to divine judgment, but not to the type of power wielded by the nations. Christ conquers the world through his death and resurrection, and the sword is his faithful witness to God’s saving purposes. The weapons of his followers are loyalty, truthfulness, and righteousness (19:8, 14).
  • Finally, the face of Christ is likened to “the sun shining in all its brilliance.” This is a simile of Christ’s divine glory, preeminence, and victory (Mt 13:43; 17:2; cf. Rev 10:1. His countenance was like the sun, when it shines clearly and powerfully; its strength too bright and dazzling for mortal eyes to behold. The apostle was overpowered with the greatness of the lustre and glory in which Christ appeared

Rev. 1.17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.

  • I fell at his feet as though dead” indicates that John saw a supernatural being and was stricken with trembling and fear, as had prophets before him (Eze 1:28; Da 8:17; 10:9)

18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

  • Christ is also “the Living One” in that he, like God, never changes. Probably this expression is a further elaboration of what it means to be “the First and the Last,” i.e., he alone of all the gods can speak and act in the world (Jos 3:10; 1Sa 17:26; Ps 42:2; Rev 7:2). These divine qualities of his person are now linked to his earthly existence in first-century Palestine—
  • I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!” John’s view of Jesus and his kingdom revolves around the Cross and the Resurrection, i.e., around atonement theology—an interpretation that sets the tone for all the visions that follow.
  • It was through Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection that he won the right to have the “keys of death and Hades.” Keys grant the holder access to interiors and their contents, and in ancient times the wearing of large keys was a mark of status in the community (cf. 3:7; 9:1; 20:1; 21:25). “Hades” (GK G87) translates the Hebrew term Sheol (“death” or “grave”; GK H8619) almost everywhere in the LXX. In the NT the word has a twofold usage: in some cases it denotes the place of all the departed dead (Ac 2:27, 31); in others, it refers to the place of the departed wicked (Lk 16:23; Rev 20:13-14). Since Christ alone has conquered death and has himself come out of Hades, he alone can determine who will enter death and Hades and who will come out of them. He has the “keys.” For the Christian, death can only be seen as the servant of Christ.

Rev. 1.19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.

20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.


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