“The Unveiling” – Revelation 1:1-8
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"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
Genesis is the Book of Beginnings, where God, after creation, began His plan for the redemption and reconciliation of His fallen creation. (Gen. 2:15-17, 3:4-6, 12-15)
God's plan was accomplished on the cross of Calvary.
I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.
So, when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
Revelation is the Book of Consummation, completion of His plan, where the divine program of redemption is fulfilled, and judgment falls on those who denied Christ and His redemption.
By this, God's holy name is vindicated before all creation.
The book's title, "Revelation," comes from the Greek: Apokalypsis transliterated as: Apocalypse - simply meaning; unveiling, disclosure or revelation.
By this understanding, the Book of Revelation is an unveiling of that which could not be known.
The best understanding comes from the first verse:
"The revelation of Jesus Christ..."
This has a dual understanding:
- A revelation which came from Christ.
- A revelation that is about Christ.
Both are correct and appropriate.
The Book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John while exiled on the Island of Patmos. (Vs. 1:9)
History records that John was exiled there by either the Roman Emperor Diocletian, or his Procurator (Governor) of Asia, after John was boiled in oil for the proclamation of the Gospel (Vs. 1:9) about AD 90-95.
The Apostle John penned the book after receiving the "revelation" from Christ Himself (vs. 1:10-11), a promise of revelation relative to the church's future. (Vs. 1:19).
The book's layout is as follows:
- Introduction (Chp. 1)
- Letters to the seven churches. (Chps. 2-3)
- 3 sets of seven judgments with interludes that provide a heavenly perspective.
- Each set of these judgments (seals, trumpets and bowls) seem to climax with the end of the age. (Chps. 4-16)
- Prophecies against "Babylon," (the world system). (Chps. 17-18)
- Prophecies of the end. (Chps. 19-22)
Even though there are prophecies recorded in the gospels and epistles (which help interpret "revelation") Revelation is the only New Testament book that focuses primarily on prophecy.
Some scholars believe that the three sets of judgments are happening concurrently, while others that the judgments are chronological, but both conclude with the end of the age.
Unfortunately, many "Bible teachers" interpret the book according to newspaper headlines, assuming that it addresses only the current generation and it's issues.
Revelation should be interpreted as we do all other Scripture - "Let the Bible interpret the Bible."
The Bible must be examined in its context, grammatically, culturally and historically, but ultimately understood through the teachings of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 2:14)
"My readers expect I should explain the book, I cannot: I do not understand it; and in the things which concern so sublime and awful a subject, I dare not, as my predecessors, indulge in conjecture."
"I had resolved not to meddle with this book, because I could produce nothing satisfactorily on it. But when I reflected that the literal and phraseological might be made much plainer by the addition of philological and cultural notes......I changed my resolution.....and have added notes where I thought I understood the meaning."
Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, history and linguistics.
Revelation invites believers to an eternal perspective.
It invites us to worship with heaven's hosts.
Revelation 4:8-11, 5:8-14
It invites us to understand that our sufferings in this world will be rewarded in the next.
The world considers martyrdom extreme folly, but in light of eternity, it is glory. (Rev. 6:9-11, 7:9-17)
The world today is in much worse condition that it admits, but we who trust in Christ have the promise of eternal life with Him in a new creation.
Revelation reminds the church that Christ Jesus is Lord of all, that He will have the ultimate victory over Satan and his representatives.
Christ's triumph over death on the cross, and His resurrection, guarantee that death has no power over we who belong to Him!
No matter what happens in this life, or how dark and depressing is the world, life in Christ has a joyous ending.
Nothing in earth, heaven or hell can take that from us.
Revelation's eternal story is this:
"WORTHY IS THE LAMB WHO WAS SLAIN."
"The revelation of Jesus Christ..."
* The unveiling, revealing of Christ in all His glory.
"...which God gave Him to show His servants..."
* From God to Christ, Christ to us. (Jn. 3:32)
"...things which must shortly take place..."
* Not things that will happen soon, rather events that, once began, will happen rapidly.
An event that will occur suddenly, not necessarily one that may occur soon.
"...signified it by His angel..."
* God often sends revelations by and through His angels. (Dan. 9:21-22, Zec. 1:9, 14, 19, 2:3, 4:1, 4-5, 5:5, 10, 6:4-5)
"...to His servant John..."
* John the Beloved, son of Zebedee and Salome, cousin of Jesus.
"Who bore witness to the Word of God..."
* John's gospel was written to prove the deity, or witness of the Word.
John 1:1, 14
"...and the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that He saw."
* John was with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry. (Mk. 1:19-20)
* John learned all of Christ's teaching (testimony) from the Master.
* John had seen the transfigured Christ. (Matt. 17:1-2)
1 John 1:1-3
"Blessed is he who reads..."
* Reads personally and he who reads to teach;
"Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy."
"...and those who hear the words of the prophecy..."
* Those who are taught.
* “Hear” and understand. (Matt. 13:14-15)
"...and keep those things which are written in it..."
*To keep is to understand, prepare and do:
But He said, "More than that, blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!"
"...for the time is near."
* This does not signify soon as we understand time, but rather God's time:
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
(2 Pet. 3:8)
And we are to patiently wait:
You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
"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..."
* Real churches in Asia Minor, each received a copy of "Revelation" and could "read" it in its entirety, including the directions given by Jesus to the other churches.
The modern church could solve many of its problems by doing the same, and taking His instruction to heart.
"Grace and peace from Him..."
* Without "Grace" (Christ), we can have no "peace" (from fear of the judgment).
* Who is preexistent, before and after time ends.
"I Am that I Am!"
"...Who was and Who is to come..."
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
"...and from the seven Spirits who are before the throne."
* 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. (Isa. 11:2)
Each of the seven Spirits are attributes of:
THE HOLY SPIRIT
"And from Jesus Christ, the faithful Witness..."
* Only in Revelation is Christ given the title, "The Faithful Witness."
* He was a genuine martyr, faithful unto death, proving His witness (testimony). (Jn. 8:14)
“Indeed, I have given Him as a witness to the people…”
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
"...the Firstborn from the dead..."
* "Firstborn" - God's Son. (Ps. 89:27)
* "From the dead" - Raised from the grave unto eternal life.
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
"...the Ruler over the kings of the earth..."
* The Lord Jesus has primacy over all earthly kings, and kingdoms, both now and in the future, when He defeats them at His second coming. (Rev. 17:14, 19:16)
"...to Him who loved us and washed us from our sins..."
"...in His own blood."
* There is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood (Heb. 9:22)
These verses may well be the best description and understanding in the Bible, alongside the baptism of Christ in the Jordan (Mk. 1:9-11) of the Holy Trinity.
"...has made us a kingdom of kings and priests to God His Father..."
* This applies to all believers who are grafted into the spiritual heritage of Israel through Christ's blood.
"And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. 'These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.'"
"Behold, He is coming with clouds and every eye will see Him..."
* Prophecy of Daniel the prophet (Dan. 7:13-14) and the Lord Jesus:
"...even they who pierced Him..."
* His own people, the Jews. (Zec. 12:10)
"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."
* The Alpha and the Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.
"Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty"
* Points to the eternity of Christ and His omnipotence.
* Christ uses this same phrase at the beginning and end of His revelation. (Rev. 1:8, 22:13)
The cry of angels:
Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come!
The Revelation of Christ begins and ends with a promised blessing for those who will read, hear and understand the prophecy.
And then keep (do) those things which are written in it. (Rev. 1:3, 22:6-7)
Revelation is the only book of the Bible with this promise.
May we be keepers of His promise.