Revelation 1:1b-9

Wednesday Night Bible Study

November 20, 1996

Introduction

Last week we began an introduction to the book of Revelation, and really only started into verse 1 (no, I didn't even complete the first verse!).

This book, "The Revelation", belongs to Jesus Christ, having been given to Him by the Father.

Jesus, in turn, has given it to us, by giving it to John, through an angel.

:1-3 Introduction to the book

: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 - aggelos - a messenger, envoy, one who is sent, an angel

It has been theorized by some that some of the "angels" in Revelation are actually people.

For example, the angels of the seven churches, have been suggested to be the "pastors" of the seven churches.

My momma always told me I was an angel!

But realistically, this individual referred to here is an actual, real, angelic being.

:1 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", the one who leaned on Jesus' breast during the last supper.

He's about 90 years old right now.

It's about 95 A.D.

:2 Who bare record

martureo - gave witness, bore testimony

John now lists three things that he's testifying of:

:2 of the word of God,

God has been speaking to John, and John is going to share what God has spoken.


: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.

And John is going to be faithful to testify of what Jesus has been testifying.

: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.

But the word "saw" also carries the idea of seeing with the mind's eye, indicating mental perception.

In other words, John kind of understood what was going on, to some extent.

:3 Blessed ...

This is the first of seven "beatitudes", or "blessed's". (Re 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7; 22:14)

The number 7 is all through the scriptures, and speaks of completion, or wholeness.

After seven days, the creation was complete.

The sabbath is on the seventh day.

The sabbath year is the seventh year.

Jacob served seven years for Rachel.

The golden lamp in the tabernacle had seven branches on it.

On the Jericho march they marched around the city 7 times on the seventh day of marching, with seven priests blowing seven trumpets.

Joseph interpreting Pharoah's dream - 7 years famine, 7 years of plenty

Nebuchadnezzar's insanity lasted for 7 periods of time

The Lord's prayer has seven parts to it.

There are seven parables in Mat. 13.

There are seven sayings by Jesus from the cross.

In fact the number seven appears 54 times in the book of Revelation alone.

: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:

The idea of "keeping" is the idea of obeying.

Note:

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.

Lesson #1:

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.

As Peter wrote in a passage concerning the second coming of the Lord:

(2 Pet 3:11 KJV) Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

Lesson #2:

Blessing comes from obedience.

It's not that we can't be blessed if we don't obey.

That's what grace is all about.

We never deserve any of the blessings we receive from the Lord.

But there is a sense in which the real value of God's Word isn't going to be yours unless you put some feet on the Scriptures, and live out what it says.

Jesus said:

(Mat 7:24-27 KJV) Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: {25} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. {26} And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: {27} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

The safety comes when we're built on the rock, and that only comes when we not only hear God's Word, but obey it as well.

Illustration:

If the building were on fire, I might tell you calmly, "The YMCA is about to burn down, please leave this room peacefully ...".

But the blessing isn't going to be yours unless you get up and leave. If you don't leave, you don't benefit by what you hear.

:3 for the time is at hand.

Jesus is coming back!

:4-9 Greetings

:4 John to

This first part of the first chapter is kind of like a cover letter from John for the book.

The book itself is from Jesus Christ, and contains seven complete letters to these seven churches in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), as well as the main vision itself.

But to help explain it all a little, John has written a little introduction, briefly explaining what this is all about.

:4 the seven churches which are in Asia

Actually, Asia Minor to us. (see map)

These were seven real, live churches in modern day Turkey.

We believe that at the end of John's life, his ministry had been focused on working with these churches in Asia Minor.

Supposedly his final days were at the church of Ephesus (one of the seven), where he would just lay on a couch (being an old, old man) and say to the people, "Beloved, just love one another."

These are people he knows very well.

:4 from ...

From three people

from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5 And from Jesus Christ

:4 from him which is, and which was, and which is to come;

From God the Father.

Speaking of God's unchangeability, His timelessness.

We're going to see this phrase, or versions of it all throughout Revelation.

:4 Jesus Christ

We know who this is.

:4 from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

It's obviously something to do with the Holy Spirit.

But how???

The seven-fold Spirit

First, let me ask you a question -

Who came upon Jesus at His baptism?

(Mat 3:16 KJV) And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

Next, look at Isaiah's description of the Spirit that comes on the Messiah:

(Isa 11:1-2 KJV) And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: {2} And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;

Guess how many descriptions, how many "attributes" this Spirit has?

Seven (as long as you count the spirit of the LORD as one!)

To me, this is simply another way of describing the Holy Spirit.

:5 the faithful witness

Above all, you can depend upon what Jesus tells you.

Again, the word martureo.

:5 the first begotten of the dead,

or, the "firstborn" of the dead.

It may refer to that fact that Jesus was the first to receive a resurrection body that is immortal.

But this term "first born" carries more than just an order in timing.

It primarily shows a position of pre-eminence and authority.

The "firstborn" son was the son who got the greater inheritance, who was to be in charge of the family.

Though this usually went to the son who came out of the womb first, it didn't always.

We see this term used this way of Ephraim:

He received a greater blessing than his older brother Manasseh from grandpa Jacob:

Ge 48:14 But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh's head, crossing his hands, although Manasseh was the first-born. (NAS)

He was known as the "firstborn"

Jer 31:9 "... For I am a father to Israel, And Ephraim is My first-born." (NAS)

This helps in understanding:

Col 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: (AV)

Some of the cults want to make this say that Jesus was a created being, but it is only intending to say that Jesus is greater than all creation.

:5 the prince of the kings of the earth.

lit. - "ruler" of the kings

He's the king of kings.

:5 Unto him that loved us,

It's actually a present tense - He's constantly loving us.

Re 1:5 ... To him who loves us (NIVUS)

:5 and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

This is how He has loved us.

Jesus offers us complete cleansing from all our sins.

Lesson:

Forgiveness is ours.

Because God loves us so much, He has offered total, complete cleansing from our sin, if we just admit that we're sinners.

(1 John 1:7-9 KJV) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. {8} If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. {9} If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If God is willing to forgive, why shouldn't we be willing to confess?

And then once we've been forgiven, we need to accept it, and move on!

Quote:

God does not wish us to remember what he is willing to forget.

George Arthur Buttrick (18921980)

We have been washed in the blood.

Illustration:

It is the closing scene in the motion picture, Ben Hur. The sky is disappearing behind the ominous looking cloud formations. The movie camera takes a long shot of three crosses rising out of a distant hill. Then the camera moves in close, closer, to the figure stretched out on the center cross. Lightning reveals a man squirming in silent agony to the rhythm of the flashes. It is raining hard. With each flash of light, the pool of rain water at the foot of the cross grows larger. Suddenly a single drop of blood drips into the pool and scatters. Then another drop falls. And then another. The pool is now tinted light red. The rain comes harder and the pool overflows into another pool immediately below it. The second pool reddens and enlarges, overflowing into still another pool which, in turn, overflows into a small stream. The blood-stained stream flows into a larger stream which meets a river which flows into an ocean.

Let His blood cover you.

Let Him cleanse you from ALL sin.

:6 hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father;

To me, this has been a very key scripture in reading much of the Bible.

When Scriptures talk about kings, it can apply to us.

(Deu 17:18-20 KJV) And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: {19} And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: {20} That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.

When Scriptures talk about priests, it can apply to us.

When we read about the priests offering up prayers for the people, that should be a lesson for us as well.

Each one of us is a priest to those around us, representing God to the world, and representing the world before God.

:7 he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him,

This isn't the Rapture, this is the second coming, where every eye sees Jesus coming.

:7 they also which pierced him:

This is a reference to:

Zec 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for [his] only [son], and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for [his] firstborn. (AV)

Keep in mind that Zechariah is writing about 520 b.c.

His prophecy is concerning the Messiah coming to rescue Jerusalem at His second coming, during the days of Armageddon.

In context, it would seem that the "I", the person speaking, is God, and yet somehow God was "pierced" by the people in Israel ... fascinating.

How could God ever be pierced by the people?

John records:

(John 19:34-37 KJV) But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. {35} And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. {36} For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. {37} And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

A wild note on Zech 12:10 -

This is something that I picked up from Chuck Missler, and have amplified with some research on my own:

In the phrase, "they shall look upon me whom they have pierced", the word in the Hebrew that seems to be translated "me" is two Hebrew letters, ta (Missler claims it's just untranslated, but technically this is the "sign of the accusative", and according to BDB, pg.84, can be used for the sense of "self", hence, it's translated "me" - this is my best understanding of BDB's notes).

These two letters, ta, or in our English order "aleph" (a) and "tau" (t), the first and last letters of the English alphabet.

If we wanted to play around with the translation a little, we could simply not translate these two letters, and we'd read, "they shall look upon "aleph-tau" whom they have pierced"

In the Greek, the letters would be "alpha" (a) and "omega" (w).

Why go to all this trouble with this verse in Zechariah?

Because I believe it's the same trouble that John's trying to get across to us, here in Revelation, as we read on ...

:8 I am Alpha and Omega,

This phrase only appears in Revelation, where it appears 4 times.

It seems to me, that in light of Zech 12:10, perhaps Jesus is explaining himself, that He is the one spoken of in Zechariah.

In Hebrew, He would be saying "I am the aleph and the tau".

Alpha and Omega are also the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet, just as Jesus next says, "the beginning and the ending".

Note:

It's interesting to note that in most Greek manuscripts, the word "alpha" is spelled out in Greek, whereas the word "omega" is only the letter "omega".

Some suggest that this is because the "beginning" has already been fulfilled, whereas the "ending" is yet to be "spelled out".

:9 I John, who also am your brother

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

He had been imprisoned on the island of Patmos 85 b.c.

By this time, he is the last of the original twelve left alive.

It's been 65 years since Jesus was walking on the earth.

John is probably kind of a living legend.

But he considers himself just "one of the guys", one of the brothers.

I love this humility.

He doesn't say, "I John, the most exalted reverend, and last of the awesome, powerful, authoritative apostles"

Lesson:

God looks for humble people to serve Him.

Peter writes to the elders in the church:

(1 Pet 5:3 KJV) Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

Our tendency when we start serving the Lord is to get rather puffed up over the fact that God is using us!

But watch out, because pride is what God works AGAINST, not with.

Read on in Peter:

(1 Pet 5:5-6 KJV) Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. {6} Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

:9 Patmos

An island 10 miles long, 6 miles wide, 50 miles off the coast of Ephesus, from modern Turkey.

:9 companion in tribulation

companion - sugkoinonos (sun "with" + koinonos "fellowship"); participant with others in anything, joint partner

But what John is a companion in, is tribulation.

What was going on?

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 tribunal, should be exempted from punishment without renouncing his religion."

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.

Lesson:

Look at what God can do in trials!

This Revelation is one example!

Your hardest times just might be the times when you're closest to the Lord.

It may be during these times that God might reveal the bestest things to you.

:9 for the testimony of Jesus Christ

testimony - marturia - same word we've seen before, translated "witness", etc.

Have you noticed how many times this word "martureo" or it's various forms have been used here so far in Rev. 1?

(Rev 1:2 KJV) Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

(Rev 1:5 KJV) 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,

(Rev 1:9 KJV) I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

John is living out what Jesus said would happen:

(John 15:27 - 16:2 KJV) And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. {1} These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. {2} They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

But even in the hardest of times, John is still speaking up, even writing it down so others can read it!

Lesson:

Don't let persecution shut you up!

I have to admit that there's been times in my life that out of fear, I haven't spoken like I should have.

But John's giving us an example, that even in the hardest times, under the power of the Holy Spirit, we can speak up for Jesus!