Revelation 1:1-3

Wednesday Night Bible Study

November 13, 1996


Tonight we start a new book!

:1-3 Introduction

:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ

revelation - apokalupsis - an unveiling, an uncovering; laying bear, making naked; a disclosure of truth.

This book is an unveiling of truth concerning future things.

Rather than making things more confusing, it is meant to make them clearer.


Some people like to use car covers to protect their cars.

You can't tell what a car is like until you take the cover off.

Taking the cover off tells you more about the car than keeping the cover on.

The Revelation can be a little intimidating at first.

It's got some difficult language and uses a style we're not used to.

And so people get this idea that this is some kind of "mystery book", almost as if it's meant to cover up truth about the future.

But it's intended to make things clearer! It's really not that difficult!


Five principles of Biblical Interpretation:

1. Take it literal whenever possible.

Some people put WAY too much symbolism into Scripture.

You can kind of get the idea that the Bible is some kind of secret code book, and if we all use our secret decoder rings, we'll find the secret message!


(Mat 9:23-24 KJV) And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, {24} He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.

The ruler's house is symbolic of the White House.

The minstrels are symbolic of Bill Clinton's backup musicians.

The maid is Hillary Clinton ...

Hold on here! This is a story about Jesus visiting a man's house, and raising a little girl from the dead!

Be careful about taking things too much beyond the plain sense of the text!

Obviously, some passages of Scripture are clearly not to be literal.


(John 15:1 KJV) I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

No, Jesus is not some kind of vegetable!

He is talking symbolically!


(Rev 12:1 KJV) And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

"a great wonder" or, "a great sign"

This passage is MEANT to be symbolic.

2. The simplest explanation is best, usually.

I do not believe that the Biblical writers were intending to throw us off by trying intentionally to make things harder than they seem.

There will be times when we come up with various possible ways of interpreting a passage, and it's usually best to stick with what seems the simplest, most obvious explanation.

That's not to say that there can't be a "deeper" meaning in Scripture.

I do believe personally that God's Word is so complex, that the deeper you go, the more you uncover.

And I will certainly share some interesting ideas with you as we go through Revelation.

Yet the simplest is generally the best.

3. Understand the context.

This means you have to have a grasp of the whole book if you're going to understand one part of it.

Classic Example:

Eze 37:19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which [is] in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, [even] with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. (AV)

This is a verse that Mormons will tell you is talking about the Book of Mormon (the stick of Joseph, Joseph Smith ...) and the Bible being the same authority.

But what is the context?

Look earlier in the passage:

Eze 27:15-17 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, 16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: 17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.

God is talking about the two divisions of Israel, the nation of Israel in the north (also known as Ephraim, or Joseph), and Judah in the south.

God is talking about how one day the two divisions will be reunited:

Eze 37:22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: (AV)

4. Let scripture interpret scripture.

Our best commentary in the world, is Scripture itself.

It's funny how we go running to everything else for help, when usually the answers are in the Bible itself.


(Rev 1:12 KJV) And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

Gosh, what could these "candlesticks" represent?

Keep reading, Maynard ...

(Rev 1:20 KJV) The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

5. It's okay not to understand everything.

I think we make the mistake of thinking we have to understand everything right now.

The Bible says that knowledge will increase in the end times:

(Dan 12:4 KJV) But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

By the way, it was Daniel's book that was to be sealed, to be shut up.

The Revelation is an unveiling!

But in the time of the end, there will be an increase in knowledge, and I think this includes knowledge of the end times, and an increased understanding of prophetic scriptures.

A class you have to take in seminary is called "History of Doctrine".

I thought it was strange that doctrine had any history to it at all, after all, shouldn't the truth be the same throughout history?

The problem is that man hasn't always understood all the truth, all at once.


In the early church, some of the issues they needed to clarify was whether or not a person needed to become a Jew to be saved.

Later on, questions about the deity of Christ were resolved and clarified.

In the middle ages, Martin Luther came along and forced the church to study and understand salvation through grace.

Were these truths not found in Scripture?

They were, but they weren't fully understood by the church as a whole until later.

And now, the areas of doctrine that the church has been growing in, is the last area of doctrine, eschatology, the study of end times.

But for us, we need to understand that though we may some day soon understand, we may not understand on this time through the book.

Pastor Chuck has a file in his head labeled "Waiting for further information".

Whenever he comes across something he doesn't understand, he just mentally files it away, keeping in mind that the day may come when he will understand.

Then again, we may not understand until Jesus comes!

of Jesus Christ

It could be translated "the revelation about Jesus Christ".

But it would be more proper to look at it as "the revelation that belongs to Jesus Christ.

This is because of the next phrase, "which God gave unto Him", shows that the revelation now belongs to Jesus Christ.

God the Father gave these things to Jesus Christ, and now that they belong to Him, He now gives them to His servants.

Notes about the title of the book:

Some Bibles title this book "The Revelation of John"


It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes we call the book "Revelations"


It is a single revelation.

:1 which God gave unto him,

This is an interesting idea, that God the Father gave this "revelation" to Jesus, and then Jesus passes it on.

It's not that Jesus isn't omniscient.

After all, He is God.

But it again shows us the inner workings of the Trinity.

This is just as we've seen in the gospel of John:

Joh 5:20 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. (AV)

Joh 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. (AV)

There is order in the Godhead.

Jesus obeys the Father.

:1 to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass;

shortly - tachos - quickness, speed

The early church had a sense that the Lord was coming back at any moment.

One of the reasons that Paul wrote to the Thessalonians was because they were somehow under the impression that the Lord had already come back!

(2 Th 2:1-2 KJV) Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, {2} That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

Is it incorrect to believe that the Lord could be coming back soon?

God's sense of time isn't the same as ours.

In the context of the Lord's return, Peter writes:

2Pe 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (AV)

There is a sense in which it is very healthy for a Christian to have in his mind that the Lord could come back at any moment:

(Mat 24:45-51 KJV) Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? {46} Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. {47} Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. {48} But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; {49} And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; {50} The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, {51} And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Is it a dangerous thing to begin to think that the Lord might not be coming back for awhile?

It certainly is!

It was the "evil servant" that began to say in his heart that the Lord wasn't coming back for awhile.

The Lord could come back at any moment, whether in the clouds, or by taking us home in death.


Ready or not, here He comes!

(2 Pet 3:8-12 KJV) But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. {9} The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. {10} But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. {11} Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, {12} Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

The knowledge of the Lord's soon return should be something that impacts our lives as a motivation to be pleasing to the Lord.

It should so impact our lives, that people can tell there's a difference in us:


A well-known professional golfer was playing in a tournament with President Gerald Ford, fellow pro Jack Nicklaus, and Billy Graham. After the round was over, one of the other pros on the tour asked, "Hey, what was it like playing with the President and Billy Graham?" The pro said with disgust, "I don't need Billy Graham stuffing religion down my throat!" With that he headed for the practice tee. His friend followed, and after the golfer had pounded out his fury on a bucket of golf balls, he asked, "Was Billy a little rough on you out there?" The pro sighed and said with embarrassment, "No, he didn't even mention religion."

Astonishingly, Billy Graham had said nothing about God, Jesus, or religion, yet the pro stomped away after the game accusing Billy of trying to ram religion down his throat. What had happened? Simply this: The evangelist had so reflected Christlikeness that his presence made the pro feel uncomfortable.

:1 he sent and signified it by his angel

Some of the other translations read:

NAS - He sent and communicated it by His angel

NIV - He made it known by sending his angel

signified - semaino - to give a sign, to signify, indicate; to make known

It's interesting that John uses this word, considering the nature of this book, in which there is a great deal of symbols, or signs, used.

angel -

John going to be hosted through the book by some interesting guests.

We'll see angels at work in the Revelation.

unto his servant John

This is the apostle John.

The Apostle John, who also wrote the Gospel of John and the Three Letters of John (I,II,III).

This was the "beloved apostle".

When was this written?

It was written after John wrote his other books, around A.D.95.

Persecution of Christians began under Caesar Nero, around A.D.64 with the burning of Rome.

But under Emperor Domitian, the persecution got really bad (A.D.91-96).

From Fox's Book of Martyrs: (pg.6-7)

The emperor Domitian, who was naturally inclined to cruelty, first slew his brother, and than raised the second persecution against the Christians. In his rage he put to death some of the Roman senators, some through malice; and others to confiscate their estates. He then commanded ll the lineage of David to be put to death.

Among the numerous martyrs that suffered during this persecution was Simeon, bishop of Jerusalem, who was crucified; and St. John, who was boiled in oil, and afterward banished to Patmos. Flavis, the daughter of a Roman senator, was likewise banished to Pontus; and a law was made, "That no Christian, once brought before the tyribunal, should be exempted from punishment without renouncing his religion."

A variety of fabricated tales were, during this reign, compoased in order to injure the Christians. Such was the infatuation of teh pagans, that, if famine, pestilence, or earthquakes afflicted any of the Roman provinces, it was laid upon the Christians. These persecutions among the Christians increased the number of informers and many, for the sake of gain, swore away the lives of the innocent.

Another hardship was, that, when any Christians were brought before the magistrates, a test oath was proposed, when, if they refused to take it, death was pronounced against them; and if they confessed themselves Christians, the sentence was the same.

The following were the most remarkable among the numerous martyrs who suffered during this persecution.

Dionysius, the Areopagite, was an Athenian by birth, and educated in all the useful and ornamental literature of Greece. He then travelled to Egypt to study astronomy, and made very particular observations on the great and supernatural eclipse, which happened at the time of our Savior's crucifixion.

The sanctity of his conversation and the purity of his manners recommended him so strongly to the Christians in general, that he was appointed bishop of Athens.

Nicodemus, a benevolent Christian of some distinction, suffered at Rome during the rage of Domitian's persecution.

Protasius and Gervasius were martyred at Milan.

Timothy was the celebrated disciple of St. Paul, and bishop of Ephesus, where he zealously governed the Church until A.D. 97. At this period, as the pagans were about to celebrate a feast called Catagogion, Timothy, meeting the procession, severely reproved them for their ridiculous idolatry, which so exasperated the people that they fell upon him wth their clubs, and beat him in so dreadful a manner that he expired of the bruises two days after.

Church tradition tells us that John was sentenced to die by being thrown into a vat of boiling oil. Yet when he was thrown in, he was unhurt by the oil.

Left with no other way to dispose of this "pest", John was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he received this vision.

:2 Who bare record

martureo - gave witness, bore testimony

This is the same word we've been seeing in the gospel of John:

(John 15:26-27 KJV) But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: {27} And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

It's interesting to see John, here in the middle of the most horrible persecution that has yet come against the church, and he STILL can't keep quiet!


Keep being that witness for Jesus!

John should be an example for us, that even with all that he went through, he's still talking about Jesus.

John now lists three things that he's testifying of

:2 of the word of God,

The prophetic word of God, not referring to Jesus as "the Word of God".

:2 and of the testimony of Jesus Christ,

The witness (martureo again) that Jesus Himself gives.

Jesus Himself is going to have quite a bit to say in this book.

:2 and of all things that he saw.

The Revelation was truly a "multimedia" event.

John is going to be transported through time and space.

He's going to be there to witness all kinds of things.

:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy,

This book was meant to be read to the church, and the church in turn listen to what was being said.

They didn't all whip out their pocket New Testaments.

Letters were circulated through the early church, and the practice was to read the letters to the church.

A blessing is promised to the one who reads the book!

Extra Credit: Why not try reading the book, even OUT LOUD this week!

God promises a blessing.

:3 and keep those things which are written therein:


This book is meant to be practical, a book for doing, with things to be obeyed in it. Don't get so caught up in the end times stuff that you neglect letting it change your behavior.


Prophecy is ALWAYS meant to change your life.

Prophecy is never given just to impress people, as some kind of magic trick or something.

It's meant to change the way you live.

How then shall we live?

:3 for the time is at hand.

Jesus is coming back!