Imperator Caesar Augustus
Emperor 27 BC - 14 AD
Founder of the Roman Empire &
nephew of Julius Caesar.
On Caesar's death (44 BC), he
used Caesar's money and
name (both acquired by will) to
raise an army and extort a
consulship from the Senate.
He had the Senate declare
Julius a God, thus making
himself the “son of god.”
Octvaius took the western
Roman world, leaving Antony
the eastern. Octavius defeated
Antony & Cleopatra in 31 BC
and emerged as the sole ruler of
the Roman world.
The significance of the throne name
His throne name, Augustus (“exalted”), had religious overtones.
Rome gave him the title Pater Patriae (‘Father of his Country’) in
2 BC, and on his death made him a god (Divus Augustus).
Augustus accepted deification in the Roman provinces, thus
laying the foundation for the concilia, or emperor cult.
Jesus was born during his reign.
Luk 2:1-5 WEB Now it happened in those days, that a decree went
out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. …
(4) Joseph … went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into
Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he
was of the house and family of David; (5) to enroll himself with
Mary, who was pledged to be married to him as wife, being
Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus
Emperor 14 – 37 AD
Stepson of Augustus.
His reign was a political
disaster and a reign of terror by
the praetorian prefect Sejanus.
The people despised him. He
moved to the island of Capri in
26 & never returned to Rome.
Jesus’ ministry and death
occurred during his reign.
Luk 3:1-2 WEB Now in the
fifteenth year of the reign of
Tiberius Caesar… (2) in the
high priesthood of Annas and
Caiaphas, the word of God
came to John, the son of
Zacharias, in the wilderness.
Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus
Emperor 37 – 41 AD
Youngest son of Germanicus
He was brought up in an army
camp and nicknamed Caligula
from his little boots (caligae).
He was extravagant, autocratic,
vicious, and mentally unstable.
He wreaked havoc with the
state finances and terrorized
those around him, until he was
He demanded worship and
ordered that his statue be
placed in the Jerusalem temple,
but he died before the order was
Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus
Emperor 41 - 54 AD
Nephew of Tiberius.
He was kept secluded because
of physical disabilities.
He became emperor after
He was progressive, engaging
in public works and reform.
Poisoned by his fourth wife,
He expelled Jews from Rome.
Act 18:1-3 WEB … (2) He
found a certain Jew named
Aquila … who had recently
come from Italy, with his wife
Priscilla, because Claudius had
commanded all the Jews to
depart from Rome …
Imperator Nero Claudius Caesar
Emperor 54 - 68 AD
Agrippina, urged Claudius to
adopt Nero, then poisoned him,
making Nero emperor.
First years were good, thanks to
his mother, Seneca, and the
Praetorian Prefect Burrus.
After his mother's murder (59),
corruption set in.
He was blamed for the Fire of
Rome (64) and tried to blame
Rome endured four more years
of tyranny before he was
toppled by the army, and forced
to commit suicide.
Peter and Paul were martyred
during Nero’s reign.
69 AD – The Year of Four Kings
On January 1, 69 AD, Galba was on the throne
On December 31, 69 AD, Vespasian was on the throne.
Between Galba and Vespasian, two emperors occupied the throne.
Otho (3 months)
Vitellius (8 months)
Servius Galba Imperator Caesar
Emperor June 9, 68 –
January 15, 69 AD
He became consul in 33,
and administered Aquitania,
Germany, Africa, and
Hispania Tarraconensis with
competence and integrity. In
68 the Gallic legions rose
against Nero, and in June
proclaimed Galba emperor.
But he soon made himself
unpopular by favoritism, ill-
timed severity, and avarice,
and was assassinated by the
praetorians in Rome.
Imperator Marcus Otho Caesar
Emperor January 15 – April 17,
Nero took Otho's wife for his
mistress, and later married her.
He was sent to govern Lusitania
(58-68), and joined Galba in his
revolt against Nero (68). When
he was not proclaimed Galba's
successor, he rose against the
new emperor, who was slain.
Otho was recognized as
emperor everywhere except in
Germany. Aulus Vitellius
marched on Italy, defeated
Otho's forces, and Otho
Imperator Aulus Vitellius Caesar
Emperor April 19 – December
20, 69 AD
Galba appointed him to
command the legions on the
Lower Rhine (68). He was
proclaimed emperor at the
beginning of 69. His army ended
Otho's reign by the victory of
Bedriacum. He gave himself up
to pleasure and debauchery.
Many of his soldiers deserted
when Vespasian was
proclaimed emperor in
Alexandria. Vitellius was
dragged through the streets of
Rome, and murdered.
Imperator Caesar Vespasianus
Emperor 69 – 79 AD
Declared emperor by the troops
during the Jewish Revolt.
He ended civil wars, put Rome
on a good financial footing, and
restored military discipline.
He built the Colosseum.
His last words: “Puto deus fio”
(“I think I'm becoming a god”).
After death, he was deified.
Revelation was likely written
during his reign.
Rev 17:9-11 WEB ... The
seven heads … (10) … are
seven kings. Five have fallen,
the one is, the other has not yet
come … (11) The beast … is
… an eighth…
Imperator Titus Caesar Vespasianus
Emperor 79 - 81 AD
Elder son of Vespasian. He was
popular for his generosity,
charm, and military prowess.
He was exceptionally good-
looking, cultivated, refined and
friendly. Suetonius called him
“the darling of the human race”.
He engineered the destruction
of Jerusalem (70) and
suppressed the Jewish Revolt.
He completed the construction
of the Flavian Amphitheatre,
better known as the Colosseum.
His sudden death at age 41 was
likely hastened by Domitian.
Imperator Caesar Domitianus
Emperor 81 – 96 AD
Younger son of Vespasian, and
last of the Flavians.
He was paranoid about
opposition after the revolt of
Saturninus, the Governor of
Upper Germany (89).
He unleashed a reign of terror in
Rome that lasted until his
He demanded to be called Lord
He initiated an extremely severe
persecution of Christians.
Revelation was written to
prepare Christians for his
The essential message of the book
Revelation is a message to
seven churches in First Century
Rev 1:4-5a WEB John, to the
seven assemblies that are in
These seven churches are
typical of the church as a whole.
We know that, because each
letter ends with a word to all the
He who has an ear, let him hear
what the Spirit says to the
assemblies. Rev 2:7, 11, 17,
29, 3:6, 13, 22 WEB
The author identifies himself as John
Rev 1:1 WEB This is the
Revelation of Jesus Christ …
which he ... made known by his
angel to his servant, John,
Rev 1:4 WEB John, to the
seven assemblies that are in
Rev 1:9 WEB I John, your
brother and partner with you in
oppression, Kingdom, and
perseverance in Christ Jesus,
was on the isle that is called
Patmos because of God's Word
and the testimony of Jesus
Rev 22:8 WEB … I, John, am
the one who heard and saw
these things …
Who was this John?
Justin Martyr (2nd
century) held it was the apostle John.
We know the author was:
well versed in Scripture,
well known to the seven churches of Asia Minor,
convinced that the church would triumph over its enemies.
century), suggested it was John the Presbyter, who
appears elsewhere in ancient writings.
I believe it was the apostle.
Revelation was written as Christians
were facing impending persecution.
Most hold it was during the reigns of Nero (54-68) or Domitian (81-96).
I believe it was during Vespasian's reign (69-79).
Rev 17:10-11 WEB They are seven kings. Five have fallen, the one is, the
other has not yet come. When he comes, he must continue a little while.
The beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is of the
The 5: Julio-Claudians: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero
The 3: Flavians: Vespasian, Titus, Domitian
Roman authorities were beginning to
enforce emperor worship.
Christians were facing increasing hostility.
Warning to Smyrna:
Rev 2:10 WEB ... the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that
you may be tested; and you will have oppression for ten days. Be faithful to
death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Promise to Philadelphia:
Rev 3:10 WEB … I … will keep you from the hour of testing which is to
come on the whole world ...
Christians were already suffering for
In Pergamum, Antipas had given his life.
Rev 2:13 WEB … You hold firmly to my name, and didn't deny my faith in
the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you,
where Satan dwells.
Others had been martyred.
Rev 6:9 WEB … I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had
been killed for the Word of God, and for the testimony of the Lamb which
John had been exiled to a penal
colony on Patmos.
Rev 1:9 WEB I John, your
brother and partner with you
in oppression, Kingdom, and
perseverance in Christ
Jesus, was on the isle that is
called Patmos because of
God's Word and the
testimony of Jesus Christ.
Some Christians were beginning to
dabble in sin.
Some in Pergamum were advocating compromise.
Rev 2:14-15 WEB But I have a few things against you, because you have
there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to throw a
stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols,
and to commit sexual immorality. So you also have some who hold to the
teaching of the Nicolaitans likewise.
Thyatirans were tolerating immorality and idolatry.
Rev 2:20 WEB But I have this against you, that you tolerate your woman,
Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. She teaches and seduces my
servants to commit sexual immorality, and to eat things sacrificed to idols.
John's purpose in writing is clear.
He writes to encourage the faithful to resist the demands of emperor
He tells his readers that the final showdown between God and Satan is
Satan will increase his persecution of believers, but they must be
faithful, even if it means death.
They are sealed against any spiritual harm and they will be vindicated
when God judges his enemies and rewards his people.
The message is “grace” and “peace”.
“Grace” refers to blessings we don’t deserve.
“Peace” refers to harmony with God in the middle of turmoil.
There is a good reason why biblical writers like Paul and John made
use of the combined greeting: “Grace and peace”.
In the 1st
Century, the greeting of the Greeks was the Greek charis, meaning
“grace”; the greeting of the Jews was the Hebrew shalom, meaning “peace”.
By using both greetings, the writers emphasized the inherent unity of Jew
and Gentile in Christ!
Who is the author of grace and
The eternal God, “who is … was and … is to come”.
This is the way God identified himself to Moses.
Exo 3:14 WEB God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM,” and he said, “You
shall tell the children of Israel this: “I AM has sent me to you.”
It is also one way God identified himself to Israel.
Isa 41:4 WEB Who has worked and done it, calling the generations from the
beginning? I, Yahweh, the first, and with the last, I am he.
The meaning of “Yahweh” is “the existing one”.
It doesn't matter whether you are talking about the past, or the present, or
the future, God always IS!
Grace and peace are also gifts from
the Holy Spirit.
“[T]he seven Spirits who are before his throne” refers to the Holy Spirit.
The NIV footnote suggests an alternate reading that may actually give
us a better concept of what John is getting at: “the sevenfold Spirit”.
Remember the use of numbers in the Book of Revelation? To say that
the Spirit is “the sevenfold Spirit” is to say that the Holy Spirit is
engaged in seeing that the whole work of God is accomplished. It is
God's Spirit at work!
Last, but not least, grace and peace
are the gift of Jesus Christ, himself.
Jesus is described three ways.
He is the “faithful (reliable) witness”.
Rev 3:14 WEB “The … Faithful and True Witness … says...
Rev 19:11 WEB I saw … a white horse, and he who sat on it is
called Faithful and True …
He is the “firstborn of the dead”.
This is reminiscent of the Davidic king.
Psa 89:27 WEB I will … appoint him my firstborn
Paul describes Jesus this way:
Col 1:18 WEB He is … the firstborn from the dead
He is “ruler of the kings of the earth”.
The descriptions of the king and of the Messiah.
Psa 89:27 WEB I will … appoint him ... highest of the kings of the earth.
Rev 19:16 WEB “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Revelation turns on the question: Who rules?
The emperor thought he ruled the world. He was mistaken!
Revelation has as its theme: God Rules!
At this point in the text, John erupts in spontaneous praise. He
extols the wonderful works that Jesus has done on our behalf!
Rev 1:5b-6 WEB To him who loves us, and washed us from our
sins by his blood; and he made us to be a kingdom, priests to his
God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion forever and
He begins with the words, “To him
who loves us”.
This is a present, active participle. (The KJV incorrectly renders it as a
past tense, “loved”.)
Often, in Greek, when a word is in the present tense and active voice, it
conveys both (1) present action, and (2) ongoing action.
Thus, the meaning is not just that Jesus loves us now, but that he never
stops loving us! His love continues – past, present, and future. There is
no end to Jesus' love for us!
John says that Jesus “washed us
from our sins by his blood”.
That may be an incorrect translation.
Most modern Greek editions have lusanti, (“loosed”), not lousanti
(“washed”). They sound the same, but they are spelled slightly differently.
Regardless of whether we read “loosed” or “washed”, the meaning is not
radically different for the Christian.
It is the form of the word that is telling.
It is an aorist participle – referring to a completed past action.
Jesus has “loosed” or “washed” us from our sins, so that we are no longer
bound to, or sullied by them.
John continues to say that Jesus has
made us into something special.
Rev 1:6 WEB... [H]e made us … a kingdom, priests to his God …
This was God's plan for Israel:
Exo 19:6 WEB “you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation”
Isa 61:6 WEB But you shall be named the priests of Yahweh; men shall call
you the ministers of our God…
The church, “God's Israel” (Gal 6:16), is “a kingdom” (not “kings”, as in
KJV); Christians are “priests”.
1Pe 2:9 WEB But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people for God's own possession, that you may show forth the
excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:
The coming of the Lord
Rev 1:7 WEB Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will
see him, including those who pierced him. All the tribes of the earth will
mourn over him. Even so, Amen.
The Bible says a lot about the “coming” of the Lord.
Most people do not understand the “coming” of the Lord. Most think of
the “Second Coming”.
Much of the time, when the Bible talks about the Lord “coming”, it is not
talking about the "second coming."
The Bible speaks of several times when the Lord has “come”.
Prophets used it to describe God's
judgment on a nation, or a people.
Isa 13:9-11 WEB … the day of Yahweh comes … For the stars of the
sky and the constellations of it shall not give their light; the sun shall be
darkened in its going forth, and the moon shall not cause its light to
shine. I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their
iniquity: and I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease, and will
lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
This is not the end of the world, but the end of Babylon's world:
Isa 13:1 WEB The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah … did see.
In other passages, the same motif
Isa 19:1 WEB The burden of Egypt. Behold, Yahweh rides on a
swift cloud, and comes to Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall
tremble at his presence; and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the
midst of it.
According to Isaiah, God is riding on a cloud and wreaking all sorts
of havoc in the world.
But the text clearly says that this is God's judgment on Egypt.
Isa 30:30-31 WEB Yahweh will cause his glorious voice to be
heard, and will show the lighting down of his arm, with the
indignation of his anger, and the flame of a devouring fire, with a
blast, and tempest, and hailstones. For through the voice of
Yahweh shall the Assyrian be dismayed; with his rod will he
In this text, God describes a coming judgment on Assyria in terms
reminiscent of the Book of Revelation.
Isaiah offers another example to
show that this is a common theme.
Isa 63:1-7 Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed
garments from Bozrah? this who is glorious in his clothing,
marching in the greatness of his strength? I who speak in
righteousness, mighty to save. Why are you red in your clothing,
and your garments like him who treads in the wine vat? I have
trodden the winepress alone; and of the peoples there was no
man with me: yes, I trod them in my anger, and trampled them
in my wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on my garments,
and I have stained all my clothing. For the day of vengeance
was in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. I
looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there
was none to uphold: therefore my own arm brought salvation to
me; and my wrath, it upheld me. I trod down the peoples in my
anger, and made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their
lifeblood on the earth. …
Isaiah's description sounds much like
words we will read in Revelation:
Rev 14:19-20 WEB The angel
thrust his sickle into the earth,
and gathered the vintage of the
earth, and threw it into the great
winepress of the wrath of God.
The winepress was trodden
outside of the city, and blood
came out from the winepress,
even to the bridles of the
horses, as far as one thousand
six hundred stadia.
But the context of Isaiah shows
that the prophet is describing
God's judgment on Israel.
When you read those texts a
common theme emerges.
The Coming, or Day of the Lord,
refers to the day when the Lord
judges a nation and punishes it
for its sins.
John says the Lord is coming.
We must view that from a First
God had judged Babylon,
Egypt, Assyria and Israel with
John assures 1st
Christians that he is going to
judge Rome, as well. As we
shall see, that is the empire
against whom the Lord's
coming is directed in the Book
And the ungodly will be sorry about
the way they treated Jesus.
Rev 1:7 “[E]very eye will see him, including those who pierced him. All
the tribes of the earth will mourn over him.”
That is reminiscent of the prophet Zechariah.
Zec 12:10-14 WEB I will pour on the house of David, and on the inhabitants
of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they will look to me
whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him, …
The “coming” of the Lord is the day of reckoning and the day of reward!
Whether the coming of the Lord is good news or bad news depends
entirely on your relationship to him when he comes!
Rev 1:8 WEB “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God,
“who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Revelation's message is simple: “Trust God”.
God describes himself as “the Alpha and Omega”. These were the first
and last letters of the Greek alphabet. That is like saying he covers our
needs from “A to Z”. There isn't anything he isn't capable of dealing
He is the one “who is and who was
and who is to come”.
This reminds us of his self-revelation to Moses at Sinai.
Exo 3:14 WEB God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM,” and he said, “You
shall tell the children of Israel this: “I AM has sent me to you.”
Yahweh signifies existence.
God IS! Others come and go. In Egypt, there were many Pharaohs and
many dynasties. One had a 10 lesson course in who rules – we call it the
plagues. He finally learned that Pharaohs come and go; but God IS and
Down through the OT, others had to
learn their lesson the hard way.
Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that led to him being deposed. He was
off the throne, and quite insane, until he acknowledged that God IS and
God RULES! You can read the story in Daniel 4, but the bottom line
was Nebuchadnezzar's final realization:
Dan 4:34-35 WEB At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up
my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me, and I
blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him who lives
forever; for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom
from generation to generation. …
Revelation was written when the
church was facing more upstart kings
In First Century Rome, there was a group of fellows who thought they
ruled the world.
Revelation is God's promise that the Roman emperors were going to
learn the same lesson Egypt's Pharaohs and Babylon's
Kingdoms of the world come and go; God's kingdom remains. In other
words, God IS and God RULES!
There is one last, great word that
John uses to describe God.
It is the Greek pantokrator,
which means “all powerful”.
This is a word that we're
going to find in a number of
contexts through the book.
Those around God's throne extol him
as “the Almighty”.
Rev 4:8 WEB The four living creatures, each one of them having six
wings, are full of eyes around about and within. They have no rest day
and night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who
was and who is and who is to come!”
Rev 11:16-17 WEB The twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones
before God's throne, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We
give you thanks, Lord God, the Almighty, the one who is and who was;
because you have taken your great power, and reigned.
The “Song of the Lamb” and the altar
praise God as “the Almighty”.
Rev 15:3 WEB They sang the song of Moses, the servant of
God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous
are your works, Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are
your ways, you King of the nations.
Rev 16:7 WEB I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God, the
Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments.”
There is a battle on “the great day of
God, the Almighty”.
Rev 16:13-14 WEB I saw coming out of the mouth of the
dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth
of the false prophet, three unclean spirits, something like frogs;
for they are spirits of demons, performing signs; which go forth
to the kings of the whole inhabited earth, to gather them
together for the war of that great day of God, the Almighty.
When God judges Rome, the elders
praise God as “the Almighty”.
Rev 19:6 WEB I heard
something like the voice of a
great multitude, and like the
voice of many waters, and like
the voice of mighty thunders,
saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord
our God, the Almighty, reigns!
Jesus executes the wrath of
God, “the Almighty”.
Rev 19:15 WEB Out of his
mouth proceeds a sharp,
double-edged sword, that with it
he should strike the nations. He
will rule them with a rod of iron.
He treads the winepress of the
fierceness of the wrath of God,
In the description of the “the new
Rev 21:22 WEB I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the
Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple.
John never lets us forget that God is “the Almighty”.
He doesn't want the reader to lose sight of who’s really in
control – God IS and God RULES!