Revelation Chapter 1

August 28, 2014

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on Revelation. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

You can listen to the study by clicking here

The Book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John in AD 95 or 96. When he wrote Revelation, John was in exile on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, sent there by the Romans for preaching the Good News about Jesus. Patmos was about 50 miles offshore from the city of Ephesus.

Revelation 1:1-20 (NIV)
1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw–that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. 4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father–to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. 7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” 9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” 12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. 19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Over the centuries, a number of approaches to interpreting the book of Revelation have developed.

Preterist View

The events written about in Revelation all take place in the Roman empire during John’s life.

Futurist View

Except for the first three chapters, John is describing events that will occur at the end of history.

Historicist View

The book of Revelation refers to the welfare of the church until modern times. Each of the seven churches represent a specific church age.

Ephesus – Apostolic Church – 33 to 100 AD.

Smyrna – Persecuted Church – 100 to 313 AD.

Pergamos – State Church – 313 to 476 AD.

Thyratire – Papal Church – 476 to 1453 AD.

Sardis – Reformed Church – 1517 to 1790 AD.

Philidelphia – Missions Church – 1790-199s AD.

Laodecia – Lukewarm Church – The present age.

Idealist or Spiritual View

The book of Revelation is a symbolic representation of the continual struggle of good and evil. It does not refer to any particular historical events. It is applicable at any point in history.

Replacement View

The modern day church is the new Israel and God’s promises to Israel are fulfilled in the church.

I believe that the Futurist View is the best way to understand the Book of Revelation. Verse 19 of Chapter 1 is a key verse in understanding the book this way.

That verse records Jesus telling John to write “what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.”

“What you have seen” is Revelation Chapter 1.

“What is now” is reflected in the message to the seven existing churches in Revelation Chapter 2 and 3.

“What will take place later” is in the rest of the book, Revelation Chapter 4-21.

You can get very distracted trying to figure out all the symbols and meanings and dates and times and places and systems. One thing to always remember when you are reading Revelation is that the book is all about Jesus. Another thing is to be aware of the great statement and promise that the book starts with.

The great statement is:

1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place.

The great promise is:

3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Revelation 1:1-3

The word “revelation” comes from the Greek apokolupsis. It means to reveal, bring to light, or disclose.

The revelation proceeds from God to Jesus Christ and then through the angel to John.

John and this angel are also together again at the end of the book when the angel assures John in Chapter 22:6, “These words are trustworthy and true”.

Jesus gives this revelation or vision to John so that John can record it as an encouragement to all believers. Much of what John saw in this future revelation was not possible for him to describe, so he used illustrations to try and describe what they were like.

The things revealed are not things that believers need to fear. Jesus is with us and for us.

Revelation 1:4

John writes to the seven churches as Jesus instructs him to. These seven churches were located on a Major Roman road in what is now Turkey. A letter carrier would leave the island of Patmos and by following this major road he would arrive at each of the churches in the order they were listed.

The “sevenfold Spirit” is another name for the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 1:5-7

John announces the second coming of Jesus which will be visible to everyone. Known as the Parousia.

Revelation 1:8-20

Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.

The seven gold lamp stands are the seven churches.

The “Son of Man” is Jesus himself.

Revelation will challenge the way that you picture Jesus. Does your mental image of Jesus include white wooly hair, eyes that flash fire and a voice that thunders?

The “angels of the seven churches” are most likely the elders or pastors of the local churches because these leaders are reprimanded in Chapter 2 and 3 and so it is not likely that they are actual angels.


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