Revelation 1:1-11

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 3, 2011


Israel Trip – two weeks to sign up.

Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

Are we near to the end of the world?

Japanese earthquake, tsunami

Our own strange weather events – flooding rivers, raging fires

Economic chaos around the world

Look at the movies that have been coming out:

Play 2012 trailer. A couple of thoughts
Why is it that we as a society are willing to look at the predictions of the Mayans (a dead civilization) but are unwilling to look at the predictions of the Bible?
We are not going to focus on the “end of the world”, but on the “The Coming King”.

The Book of Revelation is the preeminent book about the End Times.  Even though the theme of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is found throughout the entire book, no other book goes so much in depth into this event that we know as the “Blessed Hope”.

There is value in studying prophecy.

It shows us the supernatural aspect of the Bible.

There have been hundreds of prophecies literally fulfilled.  How can men speak specifically about the future, completely accurate, hundreds of years before it happens?
God is involved in this book.
If the Bible is so accurate about things that are now in our past, how about the things that the Bible says are still in our future?  Will they happen?
Of course they will.

It challenges us to live rightly.

Jesus is coming back.  There will be a judgment. We need to be ready.

1:1-3 The Blessing

:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,

:1 Revelationapokalupsis (“apocalypse”) – laying bear; a disclosure of truth concerning things before unknown

This book is an unveiling of truth about the end times.

:1 shortlytachos – quickness, speed

This word doesn’t mean that things will happen in a few minutes from John’s day, but that when they do happen, they will happen quickly.

(Play Honda – The Cog video clip) Like one of those big Rube Goldberg devices where you start one piece moving and one thing happens after another … a great picture … when it starts to happen …

:1 which God gave Him

This “revelation” came from God the Father, to Jesus Christ, through an angel, and on to the apostle John.

:1 signifiedsemaino – to give a sign, to signify; related to semeion – a sign, mark, token

A related English word would be “symbol

We saw John use this word in his gospel.

The miracles that John focused on were called “signs”, meant to show us something deeper about who Jesus was.

The book of Revelation is going to have another level of “signs.

The word semeion is used seven times in the book.
You’re going to see lots of symbolic language used in the book of Revelation, and for the most part, it’s not hard to tell when you are reading language that is meant to be symbolic.  For example:
(Re 12:1 NKJV) Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.

When you study the book of Revelation, you have to work at navigating through the text and try to figure out when the language is literal and when its symbolic.

Usually it’s not as hard as it looks.  Many of the symbolic language used by John is easily explained from other parts of the Bible and sometimes it’s even explained in the book itself.

:1 by His angelaggelos – a messenger, envoy, one who is sent; an angel

The book of Revelation is going to be different than the other New Testament books in that it was written in a different way.

Instead of men being inspired and led by the Holy Spirit (the other books), this book was in a sense “dictated” to John by various messengers or angels.

:1 His servant John – this is our old friend who wrote the gospel of John.

We think that John wrote his gospel around AD 90.

We think that the book of Revelation was written down somewhere around AD 95.

:2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.

:2 bore witnessmartureo – to be a witness, to bear witness

:2 the testimonymarturia – a testifying

:2 the testimony of Jesus Christ – objective genitive, the testimony that comes from Jesus Christ.  It’s Jesus’ testimony.

:2 to all things that he saw – The stuff that John has written down has come from God’s mouth, from the very testimony that Jesus has given him, and things that John himself saw with his eyes.

:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

(Re 1:3 NKJV) —3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
(Re 14:13 NKJV) —13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”
(Re 16:15 NKJV) —15 “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”
(Re 19:9 NKJV) —9 Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”
(Re 20:6 NKJV) —6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
(Re 22:7 NKJV) —7 “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
(Re 22:14 NKJV) —14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

:3 who readsanaginosko – to distinguish between, to recognize, to know accurately, to acknowledge; to read

I find it interesting that the word for “reading” implies that you understand what you are reading.

:3 Blessedmakarios – blessed, happy

There are seven “blessings” scattered throughout the book of Revelation.

:3 keeptereo – to attend to carefully, take care of; to observe


The Blessing

We’re all going to get blessed as we work our way through this book.
he who reads – that’s mostly going to be me as I’m reading it to you, though you can certainly “read” it on your own!
those who hear – that’s all of us
keep those things – the blessing isn’t just in reading or hearing the book, but letting it affect your life, changing your life in response to the things in this book.
Some people are a bit afraid of the book of Revelation.
To be honest, sometimes the only people you hear quoting from the book of Revelation are people who aren’t exactly playing with a full deck of cards.
The things described in Revelation can be a bit difficult and confusing.
But don’t forget the promised blessing.
This is just like the blessing from all of God’s Word:
(Ps 1:1–3 NKJV) —1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

Pay attention to this book.

:3 for the time is neareggus – of times imminent and soon to come to pass


Ready to go

Some might be tempted to say, “Hey, didn’t John write this 2,000 years ago? Maybe he got it wrong?  Maybe Jesus isn’t coming any moment?”
(Mt 24:44–51 NKJV) —44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
As much as you want to tell me that I might be self-deceived, I have found over the years that it is a very healthy attitude to believe that Jesus is coming soon.
I remember how strongly some of us felt in the early seventies with the wars happening in Israel.  We thought it was any moment.
I have found that the thought of Jesus returning has kept me from doing some pretty stupid stuff.  I don’t want to be doing something stupid when He returns.  I want to be ready.


A young lady busied herself getting ready for a blind date. This was not just dinner and a movie; her date had planned dinner at an exclusive downtown restaurant with live music and dancing. Wanting to make a good first impression she had taken the day off work. She cleaned her apartment; she went out that afternoon to have her hair done and get a manicure. When she got home she did her makeup, put on her best dress and was ready for her date’s arrival. His expected arrival came and went, but she continued to wait patiently.
Finally after waiting over an hour she decided she had been stood up, so she took off her dress, let down her hair, put on her pajamas, gathered all her favorite junk food and sat down to watch TV with her dog. Sometime later there was a knock at the door; it was her date. He looked at her surprised and said, “What? I gave you an extra two hours and you’re still not ready to go!”

1:4-8 Greeting the Seven Churches

:4 John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,

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

:4 the seven churches which are in Asia

We’ll talk about these folks in detail in the coming weeks.

NOTE: Because we will see throughout this book that the number “seven” speaks of completion or perfection, there is a sense in which this book is written to the entire, complete church of Jesus Christ.

:4 Grace to you and peace

This is the typical way that the ancient letters start.

This letter is addressed to the seven churches, it is coming from Three Persons.

:4 Him who is and who was and who is to come

This is talking about God the Father and speaks of His timelessness – He exists outside of our time domain.

This is the essence of the name “Yahweh”, the One who always “is”.

:4 the seven Spirits who are before His throne

Could refer to the seven angels that are working with the seven churches.

I think this is referring to the “perfect” or “complete” Spirit – the Holy Spirit.

In context we have the Father (who is and was …) and Jesus Christ.  It would make sense that John is referring here to the Holy Spirit.

:5 Jesus Christ

Jesus is the third person from whom this document is originating (Father, Spirit, Son).  The phrases that follow are all descriptions of Jesus Christ.

:5 the faithful witness

It seems a lot of people have been caught up in the Casey Anthony murder trial on TV.  There have been a lot of witnesses.  The question is:  Do you believe the testimony of each of the witnesses?

Jesus is a witness that you can count on.  He will always tell you the truth.

:5 the firstborn from the dead

This does not mean that Jesus is the first person to have been raised from the dead.  Others were raised before Jesus (like Lazarus).

He is the most important person of all those who have been raised from the dead.

:5 the ruler over the kings of the earth

rulerarchon – a ruler, commander, chief, leader

When He returns:

(Re 19:16 NKJV) And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

:5 To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,

:6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

We have more descriptions of Jesus as John gives Him praise.

:5 who loved us

lovedagapao – to love, to feel and exhibit esteem and goodwill to a person, to prize and delight in a thing.

We know from our studies in the Gospel of John how John liked to refer to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”.  This was a very real concept for John.  He saw up close just what Jesus was like.  Jesus Himself had said on the night He was betrayed,

(Jn 15:13 NKJV) Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
And then He willingly gave Himself up for us.

John wrote,

(1 Jn 3:16a NKJV) By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.
Sometimes we don’t understand the difficulties we are going through.  But we never need to question God’s love for us.  We can be sure of His love.

:5 washed us from our sins in His own blood

As we saw through our study in the Gospel of John, this is the reason why Jesus came to earth and took on human flesh.

He came to be a sacrifice for our sins.

God gave a strange commandment to His people that they were not to ever eat blood.  There was a reason:
(Le 17:11 NKJV) For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’
When we talk about Jesus washing us with His blood, we are talking about the fact that He laid down His life for us, dying in our place, paying the penalty for our sins.
When we choose to put our faith in Jesus Christ, we find forgiveness and are “washed” from our sins.



Have you been washed from your sins?  Have you put your life into Jesus’ hands?  Have you asked Him to forgive you?

:5 made us kings and priests

I’d love to talk more about this, but let me simply say that the Bible teaches that ALL believers are “priests”.  You don’t need a man in a long black robe to help you get close to God.  Jesus is the only “go-between” you need.  Now YOU are the “go-between” between you and your friends who don’t know God.


The priesthood of all believers

A “priest” is a “go-between”.
A priest stands between God and man.  A priest is the one that stands in the middle and makes the connection between God and man. He represents God to men and represents men to God.
With some religions, there are special people that are given the job of getting people connected to God.

Some of you grew up in the Roman Catholic church and are quite familiar with what a priest is.

But one of the big distinctions between the Roman Catholic church and Protestant churches is this concept that all believers are now priests.

The Bible teaches that there is only one person that we need to be able to link us humans with God.

(1 Ti 2:5 NKJV) For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

When we come to trust in Jesus Christ, He makes us all “priests” in that we are now God’s link to the world of unbelievers.

:6 to Him be glory

Jesus is deserving of our praise and adoration.

:7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

:7 coming with clouds

Jesus said,

(Mt 24:30 NKJV) Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

(Ac 1:9–11 NKJV) —9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

:7 every eye will see Him

It won’t be some sort of “secret” that only a few people will be aware of.  Everybody on the planet will be aware of when He returns.

(Mt 24:26–27 NKJV) —26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

:7 they who pierced Him

piercedekkenteo – to put out, dig out; to dig through, transfix, pierce

This is one of the ancient prophecies:

(Zec 12:10 NKJV) “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.

:7 all the tribes of the earth will mourn

will mournkopto – to cut, strike, smite; to beat one’s breast for grief

Something along the lines of, “Oh my, Jesus really is the King of Kings”

:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

:8 I am

ego eimi

:8 the Alpha and the Omega

The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. God is the beginning and the end.

1:9-20 The Glorified Son of Man

:9 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

:9 Patmos

Play “Asia and Patmos” map clip. Patmos is a small Greek island located 30 miles west of the coast of modern Turkey.  Today is has a population of around 3,000 people living on an island that has an area of 13 square miles.

John had been the pastor at the church of Ephesus in Asia Minor, where he was arrested and exiled to the island of Patmos at the orders of Emperor Domitian.

According to tradition, John was originally sentenced to be boiled in oil for being such an outspoken witness of Jesus Christ.  But when John came out of the oil unscathed, he was sentenced to exile to this small island.
Victorinus, the first commentator on the book of Revelation, said that John worked as a prisoner in the mines on this small island. Tradition has it that he received this revelation in a cave on the island.
After Domitian died in AD 96, John was released where he went back to the city of Ephesus.

:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet,

:10 in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day

This could mean several things:

1)  John was filled with the Spirit on Sunday.
2)  John was somehow transported in his own “spirit” to the time of the end, the “Lord’s Day” or the “Day of the Lord” (called this in the OT).

:11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”

God is speaking to John and tells him to write down what he’s about to see and send it all to the seven churches in Asia.

:9 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ…

:9 companionsugkoinonos (“with” + “share”) – participant with others in anything, joint partner

John then gives three things that he shares with his readers, things that we all have in common.

:9 tribulationthlipsis – pressing together, pressure; oppression, affliction, distress

Sometimes this word is used to describe that specific period of time when the antichrist rules the world.

Here, it is simply speaking about the tough things we all go through. Jesus said,

(Jn 16:33 NKJV) These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

:9 kingdom

There is a sense in which those of us who are believers actually carry the kingdom of God inside of us.  We have been made citizens of heaven itself, and because of the Holy Spirit inside of us, we have a bit of heaven we carry with us.

There is also a sense in which our “kingdom” is not of this world.  We are looking for a day when Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom on this earth.

:9 patiencehupomone (“under” + “remain”) – steadfastness, constancy, endurance

This is the trait of a person who is not moved from his faith and love for God despite the greatest trials and difficulties.

It is also the trait of those who are saved in the end:

(Mt 24:13 NKJV) But he who endures to the end shall be saved.



We are all like John.  He is our “brother” and “companion”.  We have things in common with him – like trouble and “tribulation”
We all go through difficulties – some more, some less, but we all go through difficulties.
If we’re not careful, we can develop a shallow relationship with the Lord and instead of enduring difficult times, we are blown away by them.

(Mt 13:20–21 NKJV) —20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.

God wants us to endure.
We all go through “tribulation”, but as we keep our eyes on the “kingdom”, we will develop “patience”.
If we’re not careful, we can get extremely paranoid by looking at the things that are happening around us.
But they shouldn’t be cause for alarm, but cause for rejoicing.
Jesus said,
(Lk 21:25–28 NKJV) —25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

We don’t have the fear of a “2012” movie.  We look beyond the end of civilization.  We look to our coming King.

Look toward the Kingdom.  Keep looking up.