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Revelation Chapter 1
by Karl Kemp
8/15/2012 / Bible Studies
This article was taken (with some modifications) from the internet version of my paper titled "A Verse-by-Verse Study of Revelation Chapters 1-10," which was taken from the paper by that title which was published in July, 1999. I was able to use bold, italics, underlining, and footnotes in the original paper and the version on my internet site. Sometimes I will use double brackets [[ ]] and (( )) to make them more obvious. All quotations from the Bible were taken from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 edition, unless otherwise noted. Are you aware that you can click on my name beside any of my articles on this Christian article site and see a listing of all my articles on this site (so too for any author)?
Every verse of the book of Revelation is discussed in papers on my internet site, except for Rev. 11:1-14:5, which are discussed in a verse-by-verse manner in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." For a condensed version, see my paper titled "Twenty-Four Articles on the Mid-Week Rapture" that is available on my internet site. Those twenty-four articles are available individually on this Christian article site: "The Mid-Week Rapture, Part 1," and so on. Those twenty-four articles serve as a good introduction for my book and for the mid-week rapture viewpoint (that Christ will return and the rapture will take place right in the middle of the seven-year period that is sometimes called Daniel's 70th week). There is a fold-out Chronological Chart in the back of the book, and a chapter of the book explains the chart in some detail.
"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him [This Revelation (the book of Revelation) was given to the church (to all true Christians) by Jesus Christ. It came from Him, but as this verse shows, it was first given to Him by God the Father, who has the preeminent role in the Trinity. The book of Revelation is probably to be dated about AD 95.] to show to His bond-servants [[It seems that "His" here refers to Jesus Christ; we are His bond-servants (cf., e.g., Phil. 1:1; Rev. 1:1b; and 2:20). It's also true, however, that we are bond-servants of God the Father (cf., e.g., Acts 4:29 [with Acts 4:23-31]; Rev. 19:2, 5; and 22:3). On God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and the Trinity, see my papers titled, "Who Do We Worship?"; "Who Do We Pray To?"; "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son"; and "More on the Trinity." They are available on this Christian article site.]], the things which must soon take place [see "the time is near" (Rev. 1:3)]; and He [Jesus Christ] sent and communicated it by His angel [see Rev. 22:6, 16] to His bond-servant John [cf. Rev. 1:4, 9; 22:8], (2) who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ [["The word of God" here refers to the word of this revelation; it seems that the words "the testimony of Jesus Christ" here refer to the testimony that Jesus Christ gave to the authenticity and extreme importance of this revelation (cf. Rev. 22:20; 1:5 ["the faithful witness"]; and 3:14 ["the faithful and true Witness"]). But note how the words "the testimony of Jesus" are used in Rev. 1:9 and some other verses; see under Rev. 1:9.
The Greek participle translated "He who testifies [to these things]" (Rev. 22:20) was formed from the Greek verb "martureo," which was derived from the Greek noun "martus," which was translated "witness" in Rev. 1:5; 3:14. The Greek noun ("marturia"), which was translated "testimony" here in Rev. 1:2, was derived from the verb "martureo." We can see the close relationship between "testifying," having a "testimony," and being a "witness."]], even to all that he [John] saw. (3) Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed [or, keep] the things which are written in it [Compare Luke 11:28; Rev. 22:7. Those who make it a top priority to hear, to understand, and to heed/keep the words of the prophecy of the book of Revelation (along with the rest of the Bible) will be fully ready for the return of Christ. The call to repent, where repentance is required, and the call to walk in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God are a very important part of the message of this book.]; for the time is near [cf. Rev. 1:1; 3:11; and 22:7, 10-12. If there wasn't any time left for sin back then, how much more now?]. (4) John to the seven churches that are in Asia [[See Rev. 1:11. Seven churches in seven cities of the Roman province of Asia are addressed in chapters 2 and 3 of the book of Revelation. The most prominent theme that permeated most of those messages was the powerful call to repent, where repentance was required, or else forfeit their salvation. It seems clear that the messages to those seven churches are directly applicable to all churches/Christians of all generations that are in the same situation. For one thing, the number seven, which is used repeatedly throughout the book of Revelation, is a symbolic number for completeness/perfection. Also, it's very clear that the prophetic content of the book of Revelation wasn't designed just for those seven ancient churches. Since so much of the prophecy deals with the end of this age, the book of Revelation undoubtedly has the greatest application for the churches/Christians of the last days. They're the ones who most need this detailed information.]]: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come [[In this context (with the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ being mentioned next), it seems clear that God the Father is being spoken of here. This same title/name is also used of Him in Rev. 1:8; 4:8. Also, in Rev. 11:17; 16:5 the same name is used of Him, but the last words - "and who is to come" - are dropped, because He comes (especially through the sending of His Son) at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. The sounding of this trumpet is mentioned in Rev. 11:15, just before 11:17.
God the Father Himself, who has the preeminent role in the Trinity, comes in the full and final sense at the time of the new heaven and new earth, after the millennial kingdom (Rev. 21:1-22:5). This title/name ("Him who is and who was and who is to come") is also appropriate for the Lord Jesus Christ, even as the name Yahweh, and the word God, are also appropriate for Him, since He is deity with the Father and the Spirit. It's clear that the Lord Jesus, having been sent by God the Father, will come at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet. It's also clear that the words "the Alpha and the Omega" (Rev. 1:8) fit the Son of God too (cf. Rev. 1:17; 2:8; and especially 22:13). See my papers titled, "Who Do We Worship?"; "Who Do We Pray To?; "More on the Trinity"; and "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son" that are available on my internet site and on this Christian article site.]], and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne [This is a symbolic way to refer to the Holy Spirit, with the number seven symbolizing perfection/completeness. See Rev. 3:1; 4:5; 5:6; and Zech. 4:10.], (5) and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness [See under Rev. 1:2. The Lord Jesus Christ was a faithful witness when He lived on the earth (cf. John 3:11; 8:14; 18:37; and 1 Tim. 6:13, 14). Of course He still is a faithful witness.], the firstborn of [or, from] the dead [He was the first man (though He was and is much more than just a man) to leave death behind and be born into the resurrection glory of eternal life. Also see Col. 1:18; Rom. 8:29; and 1 Cor. 15:20-23.], and the ruler of the kings of the earth [cf., e.g., Psalm 89:27; Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23; Rev. 17:14; 19:16; and 21:24]. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood [[He released us from our sins with the guilt AND WITH THE PENALTIES, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin. He bore our spiritual death (I didn't say He died spiritually), so we could be born again, and He bore our bondage to sin, so we could be set free from bondage to sin and live in the righteousness and holiness of God. This super-important topic, which is a big part of what Christianity is all about, is discussed in detail in my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ." (The book is available on my internet site and at amazon.com.) See, for example, Acts 26:18; Rom. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; 2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:9-14; Titus 2:14; Heb. 9:14; 10:10-18, 29; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19; 2:24; and 1 John 1:7. These verses are all discussed in my book, except for 2 Cor. 5:21, which is discussed in my paper, "The Christian, the Law, and Legalism." Quite a few more equally powerful verses on the topic of righteousness, holiness, and victory over sin could be listed here.]] - (6) and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father [[In a preliminary sense we Christians are in the kingdom now (cf., e.g., Ex. 19:6; Luke 11:20; 17:20, 21; Rom. 14:17; Col. 1:13; and Rev. 1:9) and we are priests now (Ex. 19:6; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9). Many verses, however, show that the kingdom in its full sense, and our reigning in it, is yet future, starting when the King returns (cf., e.g., Dan. 7:13, 14, 18, 22, 27; Matt. 6:10; 16:27, 28; Luke 19:11-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 15:50; Gal. 5:21; James 2:5; Rev. 2:26, 27; 3:21; 5:10; and 20:4, 6). Revelation 20:6 speaks of our being priests and reigning for a thousand years, referring to the millennial kingdom (cf. Rev. 5:10). Revelation 22:5 speaks of our reigning forever and ever.]] - to Him [Christ Jesus] be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (7) BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS [cf. Dan. 7:13; Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 21:27; Acts 1:9-11; and 1 Thess. 4:16, 17], and every eye will see Him [There's no secret, invisible coming of Christ mentioned in the Bible; it seems that all will see Him when He returns in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, at the time of the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet.], even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. [[There undoubtedly is an allusion intended to Zech. 12:10, which speaks of the end-time remnant of the nation Israel looking upon Him whom they had pierced (referring to Israel's rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah at His first coming) and of their mourning with repentance. (Zechariah 13:1ff goes on to speak of their being sanctified.) But here in Rev. 1:7 the picture is apparently broadened to cover all the tribes of the earth. All mankind, because of sin, is responsible in a very real way for the crucifixion of the Lamb of God, who bore the sin of all people.
We can probably include the idea here that the humbled remnant of the nations will ultimately "mourn" with a genuine repentance, as will the remnant of the nation Israel (Zech. 12:10). Revelation 15:3, 4; 20:3 confirm that the remnant of the nations will repent and enter the millennial kingdom (and those who don't later rebel they will have a place in God's new heaven and new earth with its new Jerusalem). Before the book of Revelation was given (about AD 95), the New Testament had very little to say regarding God's salvation plans for the remnant of the nations after Christ returns with the clouds. The Old Testament, however, has a lot to say on this topic.
The topic of God's salvation of the nations is discussed in some detail in my eschatological paper titled, "More Regarding God's Salvation Plans for the Nations." Also, my eschatological papers on Psalms, Isaiah, and Jeremiah deal quite a bit with this topic. The Greek verb ("kopto") that is translated "will mourn [over Him]" here in Rev. 1:7 is also used in the Septuagint version of Zech. 12:10. It is also used in Rev. 18:9 (and other verses; see the next paragraph). See on Rev. 18:9 in my paper on Rev. 14:6-19:21.
It's also true and quite important, whether the idea is included here in Rev. 1:7, or not, that there will be much negative mourning (mourning without repentance) that will attend the return of Christ to judge the world. The mourning of the tribes of the earth at the return of Christ pictured in Matt. 24:30 doesn't seem to include any idea of mourning with repentance. It may be relevant that Matt. 24:30 doesn't mention mourning for/over Him, as do Zech 12:10 and Rev. 1:7. Matt. 24:30 uses the same Greek verb "kopto"; so too do Matt. 11:17; Luke 8:52; and 23:27.]] So it is to be. Amen. (8) 'I am the Alpha and the Omega [Compare Isa. 41:4; Rev. 21:6. "Alpha" and "Omega" are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.],' says the Lord God, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.' [These words refer to God the Father (see under Rev. 1:4).] (9) I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance [or, steadfastness] which are in Jesus [We are enabled to persevere/remain steadfast even during times of trouble/tribulation through the grace/Spirit of God provided in Christ Jesus through faith.], was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. [John was a prisoner of Rome on the island of Patmos because he had been faithful to the word of God and because of the testimony he had maintained to Jesus, acknowledging Him as his Savior and Lord, and being faithful to Him.] (10) I was in the Spirit [Compare Rev. 4:2; 17:3; and 21:10. While John was receiving this revelation, he was very much caught up into the heavenly dimension in/by the Holy Spirit.] on the Lord's day [There's widespread agreement that "the Lord's day" meant Sunday. Compare Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2. Early Christian writings confirm that the Lord's day meant Sunday, the first day of the week, the day of Christ's resurrection.], and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet [Compare Rev. 4:1. It seems this was the voice of Christ Himself (cf. Rev. 1:12, 15, 17-20; and 4:1). It's clear that Christ spoke in Rev. 1:17-20.], (11) saying, 'Write in a book [scroll] what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea. [These are the seven churches referred to Rev. 1:4; they are addressed one by one in chapters 2, 3. It's clear, I believe, that the book of Revelation has been sent to all the Christian churches of all subsequent generations.] (12) Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands [As Rev. 1:20 shows, the "seven golden lampstands" are the seven churches.]; (13) and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man [[On "one like a son of man," see Dan. 7:13; 10:4-6; and Rev. 14:14. I'll quote Dan. 10:5, 6, "I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed in linen, whose waist was girded with a belt of pure gold of Uphaz. (6) His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult." Note the strong correspondence between the appearance of the "certain man dressed in linen" in Dan. 10:5, 6 and the "one like a son of man" here in Rev. 1:13-16; I believe they both refer to the same Person, the Son of God. (For more on the "man dressed in linen" of Dan. 10:5, 6 ; 12:5-7; and Ezek. 9:2-10:7, who is to be equated with the Angel/Messenger of Yahweh of the Old Testament, see pages 165-180 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture.")
John saw the glorified Son of God, "the One who walks among (in the middle of) the seven golden lampstands" (Rev. 2:1). We must understand that as Christ walked in the middle of the seven ancient churches mentioned in Rev. 1:11, He also walks in the middle of all true Christian churches of all generations everywhere. As I mentioned, the seven literal churches mentioned, with seven being a symbolic number of completeness/perfection, represent all Christian churches. The book of Revelation was given to/for all Christians.]], clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. (14) His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow [These words emphasize the deity of Christ Jesus because of the correspondence with the appearance of God in Dan. 7:9. The "Ancient of Days" of Dan. 7:9 refers to God the Father; in Dan. 7:13 "One like a Son of Man [God the Son]...came up to the Ancient of Days [God the Father]."]; and His eyes were like a flame of fire [cf. Dan. 10:6; Rev. 2:18; and 19:12]. (15) His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters [cf. Ezek. 43:2]. (16) In His right hand He held seven stars [On the "seven stars," see under Rev. 1:20; cf. 2:1.], and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword [cf. Isa. 11:4; 49:2; Rev. 2:12, 16; and 19:15, 21]; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength [cf. Dan. 10:6; Rev. 10:1; and Matt. 17:2]. (17) When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man [cf. Ezek. 1:28; Dan. 10:8, 9]. And He placed His right hand on me [[Compare Dan. 10:10. I consider it probable (in agreement with many) that the person who touched Daniel in Dan.10:10 and who spoke with him in Dan. 10:11 (and in the following verses) was a different person than the One he saw in Dan. 10:5, 6 (who was God the Son); it probably was Gabriel (cf. Dan. 8:15-27 [note Dan. 8:18]; 9:21-27). I say that it was a different person mostly because of Dan. 10:13, which is discussed on pages 166, 167 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture."]], saying, 'Do not be afraid [cf. Matt. 17:7]; I am the first and the last [These words, like the words "the Alpha and the Omega" (Rev. 1:8) denote deity; see under Rev. 1:4, 8.], (18) and the living One [cf., e.g., John 1:1-4; 5:26]; and I was dead [e.g., Rev. 2:8; He was dead in a physical sense after His all-important atoning death], and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys [The keys are a symbol for authority.] of death and of Hades. [[The Lord Jesus Christ, through His atoning death, stripped sin, Satan [cf. Heb. 2:14], and death (both physical death and spiritual death) of their authority, which they had gained through sin, especially the sin of Adam and Eve. The resurrected Christ has all authority now (cf., e.g., Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23). An early manifestation of this authority was for Him to take the old-covenant believers from Sheol/Hades to heaven (cf., e.g., Matt. 27:52, 53; Eph. 4:8-10; and Heb. 11:39, 40 with Heb. 12:23 [These verses from Hebrews are discussed in my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin" on pages 166, 167.]). Furthermore, Christians don't go to Hades at death; they go to heaven, heaven in a preliminary sense (cf., e.g., 2 Cor. 5:1-8; Phil. 1:21, 23; and 1 Thess. 4:14). On death and Hades also see Rev. 6:8; 20:13, 14.] (19) Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are ["The things which are" refers, at least for the most part, to the content of chapters 2, 3.], and the things which will take place after these things. [[In Rev. 4:1 John was told that he would now be shown "what must take place after these things." Much of the content of Revelation chapters 2-5 and the first four horsemen of chapter 6 had much application for the church of John's day. I don't mean to suggest that the rest of the book of Revelation had no application for those early Christians, but the rest of the book of Revelation (starting by Rev. 6:9) deals mostly with things yet future (even yet future for us), things that won't start until the end of this age, about the time Daniel's 70th week begins.]] (20) As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands [The seven golden lampstands (which, according to this verse, are symbols for the seven churches of the book of Revelation) give light by the oil/Spirit of God. All true Christian Churches (and all true Christians) give light to the extent they walk in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God, in/by the Holy Spirit, which we are all called to do. Compare Matt. 5:14-16; Eph. 5:8-14; Phil. 2:15; and 1 John 1:5-7.]: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches [[There's much difference of opinion regarding what the seven angels represent. The only view that satisfies me is that they are literal angels of God assigned to the various churches. It's clear that stars are used to symbolize literal angels in the book of Revelation (Rev. 12:4 with 12:7-9; 9:1, 2; cf. 8:10, 11). There aren't any other verses in the New Testament that speak of the angels of churches, but there are verses in the Bible that speak of the angels of nations (Dan. 12:1; 10:13, 21), and there are verses that speak of the people of God having angels assigned to them (Matt. 18:10; Acts 12:15). I assume the widespread viewpoint that all true Christians have angels of God assigned to them is correct.
Angels are repeatedly mentioned in the book of Revelation. Apart from this verse and the verses in chapters 2, 3 that speak of the angels of the seven churches, there are some fifty-eight other verses that use the word angel(s) in the book of Revelation - all of them refer to literal angels (sometimes fallen angels). In Rev. 14:18 we even read of the angel "who has power over fire," and in 16:5 of "the angel of the waters." It's certainly reasonable to think of God assigning angels to His churches. Though the letters to the seven churches are addressed to the angels of the seven churches, it's clear that the letters are aimed at the Christians of the churches. They're the ones who are commended, or, more often, they're the ones who are commanded to repent, or else. I don't see the angels of the churches (assuming that there are such angels) being in any way responsible for the sin of the Christians. I believe God's angels are always faithful to Him; they're never part of the problem.]], and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.' "
May God's will be fully accomplished through this article and His people be edified!
Copyright by Karl Kemp
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.
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