The Background of the Apocalypse Most evangelical scholars affirm that Revelation was written in A.D. 95 or 96. This is based on accounts of the early church fathers that the Apostle John had been exiled onPatmos Island during the reign of Domitian who died in A.D. 96. John was then allowed to return to Ephesus. Because of a statement by Papias, an early church father, that John the Apostle was martyred before A.D. 70, the Johannine authorship has been questioned. However, the accuracy of this quotation from Papias has been seriously challenged by statements by Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius who affirm that the book was written by John on Patmos in A.D. 95 or 96. ―John received the Revelation almost in our own time, toward the end of the reign of Domitian‖ – Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.30.3.
The Beginning of the Apocalypse―The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show toHis bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. ‖ (Revelation 1:1–2)
Word Study - Revelation Greek Meaning apokalypsis ① making fully known ② revelation ③ disclosure ―The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testamentwhich God gave Him to show to His and other early Christian literature. bond-servants the things that must soon take place‖ - Revelation 1:1 Interpretation & Application The book of Revelation is an unveiling of what is to come in the future. While some theologians attempt to say that Revelation is history, the very name of the book and termused by John in verse one refutes that position. Further, the phrase ―must soon take place‖ also discounts a historical stance on the book. Note also that it is the unveiling of JesusChrist, which the Father gave Him to show His Church. Jesus Himself is revealing through one of His messengers the things about Himself that will happen in the future.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ…” What does ‗Christ‘ mean? ―Christos‖ ―Messiah‖ ―Anointed One‖ ―To call Jesus the Christ, therefore, is to make a theological claim – that He is the Messiah long expected by the Jews‖ Stephen Prothero Chair, Boston University Religion Department
“Which must soon take place…”The things prophesied in the book of Revelation aren‘t apossibility – they ―must‖ soon take place. The events are secured by God‘s sovereign purpose and power. OnlyHe knows the future, and in Revelation, He is making His knowledge known to us.
The First Blessing of Revelation ―Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of theprophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. ‖ (Revelation 1:3)Revelation is the only book that comes with a blessing for the one who listens to it being read and explained and then responds in obedience.
The Seven Blessings of Revelation1. ―Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. ‖ (Revelation 1:3)2. ―And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, ―Write, ‗Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!‘ ‖ ―Yes,‖ says the Spirit, ―so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.‖ ‖ (Revelation 14:13)3. ―(―Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.‖) ‖ (Revelation 16:15)4. ―Then he said to me, ―Write, ‗Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.‘ ‖ And he said to me, ―These are true words of God.‖ ‖ (Revelation 19:9)
The Seven Blessings of Revelation5. ―Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. ‖ (Revelation 20:6)6. ―And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.‖ (Revelation 22:7)7. ―Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. ‖ (Revelation 22:14)
The Number Seven in RevelationThe number seven is Scripture is associated withcompletion, fulfillment, and perfection.• ―By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. ‖ (Genesis 2:2)• ―He shall then sprinkle seven times the one who is to be cleansed from the leprosy and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the live bird go free over the open field. ‖ (Leviticus 14:7)• ―Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. ‖ (Acts 6:3)
The “Seven’s” in Revelation• 7 churches• 7 spirits• 7 lampstands• 7 stars• 7 seals on the scroll• 7 horns of the Lamb• 7 eyes of the Lamb• 7 angels• 7 trumpets• 7 thunders• 7 heads of the dragon• 7 heads of the beast• 7 golden bowls• 7 kings
The Epistolary Opening ―John to the seven churches that 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, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the rulerof the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood— and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. ‖ (Revelation 1:4–6)
The Trinity ―John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to youand peace, from Him who is andwho was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.‖ (Revelation 1:4–5)
“Him who is and who was and who is to come…” ―from Him who is and who was and who is to come, The timelessness of God – past, present, future. ―I AM that IAM‖ – Exodus 3:14 ―I am the Alpha and the Omega,‖ says the Lord God, ―who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.‖ ‖ (Revelation 1:8) ―When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, ―Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, ‖ (Revelation 1:17)―I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.‖ Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoralpersons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. ―I,Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.‖ ‖ (Revelation 22:13–16)
Seven Spirits? ―and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne…‖ ―Hence the Holy Spirit is called the Seven Spirits; the perfect, mystical number seven indicating unity through diversity (1 Cor. 12:4). Not thesevenfold gifts of the Spirit are meant, but the divine Personality who imparts them; the one Spirit under the diverse manifestations.‖ Word studies in the New Testament (Re 1:4).―To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‗I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. ‖ (Revelation 3:1)―Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; ‖ (Revelation 4:5)―And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. ‖ (Revelation 5:6)
The Son ―and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.‖1. Faithful witness: ―The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: ‖ (Revelation 3:14)2. Firstborn of the dead: a designation of preeminence: ―He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. ‖ (Colossians 1:18)3. Ruler of the kings of the earth: ――These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.‖ ‖ (Revelation 17:14) John gives these designations to comfort the churches; it lets them know that what they are about to hear is true; that their resurrection from the dead is assured; and that Jesus is sovereign over all who are persecuting them.
An Inspired Doxology ―To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood— and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. ‖ (Revelation 1:5–6)The bondage that we were in to sin (slaves to sin and dead in sin) was undone – literally the word ‗released‘ means to untie. The ―kingdom‖ is not the millennial kingdom, but a sphere of God‘s rule whichbelievers enter at salvation. (―For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son‖ (Colossians 1:13) ). Note He did all the work – He ‗made‘ it happen.As priests, we have the right to enter into God‘s presence, and we will have this privilege forever.
A Preview of What’s to Come―Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even thosewho pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. ‖ (Revelation 1:7) ―I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven Onelike a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. ‖ (Daniel 7:13)―Jesus said to him, ―You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafteryou will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.‖ ‖ (Matthew 26:64)
A Preview of What’s to Come―Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even thosewho pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. ‖ (Revelation 1:7) ―I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, theSpirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they havepierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. ‖ (Zechariah 12:10) They weep because their judgment has come.
John Details His situation ―I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. ‖ (Revelation 1:9) History tells us that John was ministering in Ephesus when he was arrested and exiled to Patmos by the emperor Domitian. The early Church historian Eusebius says in his writings (Ecclesiastical History 3.20. 8-9) that, once Domitian died, John was released by the emperor Nerva (A.D. 96-98).
John Details His situation ―I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. ‖ (Revelation 1:9)While in the gospel of John, John conceals his name, he doesn‘t do so here. He lets them know he is a fellow sufferer in the Church (―Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. ‖ (2 Timothy 3:12)) , but he also shares the kingdom with them as well as the perseverance that is given to the saints in Jesus.
The Initial Recipients of Revelation ―I was in the Spirit on the Lord‘s day, and I heardbehind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, saying, ―Write in a bookwhat you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardisand to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.‖‖ (Revelation 1:10–11)
The Speaker of the Apocalypse ―Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching tothe feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held sevenstars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. ‖ (Revelation 1:12–16)
“Seven Golden Lampstands/Seven Stars” ―As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and theseven golden lampstands: the seven starsare the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. ‖ (Revelation 1:20)―And He was saying to them, ―A lamp is not brought to be put under a basket, isit, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand? ‖ (Mark 4:21) .We aren‘t the light per se; we hold up the Light and reflect Christ. The stars are not the angels of the churches, but rather the lead elder/pastor of each church.
The Speaker of the Apocalypse ―I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.‖ ―Son of man‖ is the title that Jesusused for Himself more than any other –81 times in the gospels. It is a reference to Deity as shown in Daniel 7:13: ―I kept looking in the night visions, Andbehold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming…‖ Robes in Scripture typically refer tothe priestly garment worn by the priests.The golden sash across His chest alsosignifies this (cf. Lev 16:1-4). So this is a picture of Christ serving in His priestly role.
―But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bullsand the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternalSpirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? ‖ (Hebrews 9:11–14)
The Speaker of the Apocalypse ―His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.‖ A head of pure, white hair shows hisultimate wisdom (―A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness. ‖ (Proverbs 16:31)) . ―I keptlooking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; Hisvesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool.‖ (Daniel 7:9)His eyes indicate a penetrating gaze that finds the truth and knows those who areHis: ―For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.‖ (2 Chronicles 16:9)
―There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. ‖ (Matthew 10:26)―And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. ‖ (Hebrews 4:13)
The Speaker of the Apocalypse ―His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.‖ Kings in ancient times sat on elevated thrones, so those being judged wouldalways be beneath the king‘s feet. The feet of a king thus came to symbolize his authority. Glowing feet indicate judgment. ―I also heard the sound of their wings likethe sound of abundant waters as they went, like the voice of the Almighty‖ (Ezekiel 1:24) . ―And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. ‖ (Ezekiel 43:2)
The Speaker of the Apocalypse In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. ‖ The right hand is the place of honor.The ‗rhomphaia‘ sword was used by the Romans in a stabbing action designed to kill. ―For the word of God is living and active and sharperthan any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ‖ (Hebrews 4:12). ―He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth‖ (Isaiah 11:4) .―Let those who love Him be like the rising of the sun in its might.‖ (Judges 5:31)
The Response to Christ’s Presence―When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, ―Do not beafraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; andI was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I havethe keys of death and of Hades. ‖ (Revelation 1:17–18)• Although John had laid on Jesus‘ chest at the last supper, here he is overwhelmed with Christ‘s presence• The most issued command in the New Testament: ―Fear not‖• ―First and the last‖ – used in Isaiah 3 times of God and 3 times in Revelation of Jesus• Christ refers to His resurrection which stands alone in all the world‘s religions• ―forevermore‖ – Literally ―unto the ages of the ages‖; a strong expression of eternality• He possesses authority over death and the place of the dead
The Charge to John ―Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things. ‖ (Revelation 1:19)
The Outline of Revelation ―Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things. ‖ (Revelation 1:19) John‘s present vision The state of the 7 churches The future ―After these things I looked, and behold, a door standingopen in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, ―Come up here,and I will show you what must take place after these things.‖ ‖ (Revelation 4:1)
Conclusions• The omniscient God has told us what will happen in the future, which brings us comfort• The omnibenevolent God has said that when we read and obey His prophecy we are blessed• The stage is now set for the Lord of the lampstands to communicate His message to them