Revelation Chapter One

Revelation Image: "Alpha-Omega"

Alpha-Omega

CHAPTER 1

(Rev 1:1) “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:”

A revelation is an uncovering, unveiling, or revealing. The Greek is apokalupsis, from which we get our word apocalypse. The Greek literally means to take off the cover or to disclose. In English, the word apocalypse has taken on a different connotation, signifying the end of the world. It is sometimes used synonymously with the word dire. When something is considered apocalyptic, it usually has to do with dire straits or the end of the world. But its real meaning or denotation is disclosure.

So what we have here is the disclosure of Jesus Christ. This book discloses or reveals Christ in His glory. The Gospels revealed Him in the flesh, the Revelation reveals Him in His glory.

This disclosure came from God the Father to give us, Christ’s servants, insight into what to expect at the end of the age. These things were to come to pass in a brief space of time. A short time to God is sometimes a very long time to men. Flesh man has been around about six to ten thousand years. To God, two thousand years (the time since Christ was here in the flesh) is a short time. The Bible says: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Pet 3:8) and “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” (Psa 90:4). What is a long time to us is but a short time to Jesus Christ, and, I might add, to anyone in eternity.

Of course, as revealed in the Foreword, the things John stated would begin in a short time, did so, but would not necessarily be completed in a short span of time. The Revelation of Jesus Christ is presented by John in successive stages, examples of which are the seven seals, seven trumpets, and the fact that John starts out with the Roman persecutions in his immediate future and end with the New Jerusalem coming down from Heaven. The things that come to pass will start shortly with the letters to the churches and will continue until the end of the age in chapters twenty-one and twenty-two. This is successive revelation beginning in John’s time and ending with Heaven in eternity. Thus what will shortly come to pass is the beginning of the successive future occurrences. This does not, however indicate that everything written in these chapters is chronological order, for that is definitely not so. Literary devices such as alternation, repetition, recapitulation, and others are used throughout the missive.

I do not believe in Darwinist Evolution, or any type of macro-evolution that teaches that every life form on earth evolved from primitive life forms to complicated ones. I believe that everything on earth was created in seven twenty-four hour days.

An angel is a messenger. A messenger from God came to John and delivered the message. Although we are not told the name of this angel, it is a good guess that it was possibly Gabriel (“valiant man of God”), who delivered several messages from God in the Old and New Testaments. This John (Hebrew, Yehowchanan, “favored of Yah”) is John the Apostle who wrote the Gospel of John and the epistles of John. There are many attestations to this from early church writers: Melito, Bishop of Sardis, 170 AD; Eusebius, 180 AD; Clement, 200 AD; Tertullian, 220 AD; Origen, 233 AD; Hippolytus, 240 AD. I think we can safely say it was John the Apostle, the writer of the Gospel and the epistles who wrote the Revelation.

(Rev 1:2) “Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.”

This writing, the Book of Revelation, is the record that John bore. John actually saw these things; he was an eyewitness.

(Rev 1:3) “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”

You will receive a blessing by reading or hearing the words in Revelation, if you guard or keep them in your heart. The word for keep, tereo, is an interesting word meaning to guard from loss. This use of the word, keep, means to keep the words in your heart, not to perform them. Many times in the Bible to keep something means to perform it, like keeping the law. But here it means to keep it to yourself and not lose it or forget it. In other words, Revelation is VERY important to understand. When Gabriel went to Mary, blessed among mankind, and announced the conception of Christ, Mary kept all those things in her heart. The word there, in Luke 2:19&51, is tereo, just like here.

Again we are told that “the time is at hand.” The word rendered time is kairos, and actually means occasion or proper (or set) time. The word for at hand is eggus, which means near. So what we have here is “for the set time is near.” See the discussion in the foreword on this subject.

(Rev 1:4) John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

This is the typical first century Greek salutation of a letter. The letter is from John to the churches in Asia. Roman Asia was not the same as present day Asia. Modern Asia is a continent. Roman Asia was a province or state. It was approximately the western third of modern Turkey.

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ROMAN ASIA

Map from the Historical Atlas by William R. Shepherd,
1923/1926, Courtesy of The University of Texas Libraries,
The University of Texas at Austin

 

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LOCATION OF THE SEVEN CHURCHES AND PATMOS

He which is, and which was, and which is to come is the eternal God, Yehovah (Exo 3:14; Psa 90:2, Psa 102:25-27; Isa 41:4, Isa 57:15; Mic 5:2). Who or what are these seven spirits? Some say that the seven Spirits are the angels who are the messengers of each of the seven churches in Asia. In this verse, they are around the throne of God. There are two subjects to this verse and the next. One is to whom is this revelation addressed? The other is from whom is it sent?

The Revelation is sent to the seven churches in Asia. It was sent from the Eternal of Days or God the Father. It was sent from the seven Spirits before the throne or, better yet, from the sevenfold Spirit of God. And, in v. 5, it was sent from Jesus Christ, or God the Son. The Revelation of Jesus Christ was sent via John to the seven churches in Asia from God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, or the Three Persons of the Godhead. He is One God who reveals Himself to us in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is the triune or triumvirate God, Elohim in the Hebrew, which is the plural of Eloah, or God. From the beginning He has been known as Elohim (plural) and not Eloah (singular). (Gen. 1:1)

God the Father’s name in the Hebrew as we see it first in Genesis 2:4, is יהוה. This is known as the Tetragrammaton. The pronunciation of that Name has been debated. Technically it is made up of the consonants YHVH. However, each consonant is also a consonantal vowel, that is, they can each have a vowel sound. Thus the pronunciation has been difficult to discern. It has been pronounced Ya’-ha-vey, Je-ho’-vah, Yah’-weh, Yah’-veh, and others. Of late, the pronunciation Yahweh has become popular in evangelical circles. In this commentary, I choose to spell it Yehovah instead of the traditional Jehovah, because there is no single letter that corresponds to J in Hebrew, and the first letter of the Tetragrammaton is י, yod, whose consonant sound is just like the English consonant ‘Y’.

It was to the angels or messengers of the seven churches that Jesus sent seven messages. The Revelation is from the seven Spirits to the seven churches. So these seven Spirits cannot be the seven messengers of the seven churches.

Further evidence is gained from a reading of the other verses in Revelation where the seven Spirits are mentioned.

(Rev 3:1) And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

Here the seven Spirits belong to God. Jesus has told John to write these things to the messenger (angel, anggelos, messenger–Strong’s 32) of the church at Sardis. The words John is to write come from “He that hath the seven Spirits of God,” that is Christ.

(Rev 4:5) And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

Here again, the seven Spirits are of God.

(Rev 5:6) And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

This verse nails it. The seven Spirits of God are sent out into all the earth. This sevenfold Spirit is the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit. The seven horns and seven eyes of the lamb slain (Christ) are symbolic of the seven Spirits of God. The horn represents strength and the eye represents sight or knowledge. Seven horns represent divinely perfect strength; seven eyes signify divinely perfect sight or knowledge. The Spirit, being the Spirit of God, is perfect in strength and perfect in knowledge. He is omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing). So the horns and eyes represent God’s omniscience and omnipotence. Of course, in the Lamb slain is seen in the triune god: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (see also Zec 3:9 & Zec 4:10).

The Spirit’s sight is sevenfold. Not only does that mean the Spirit is omniscient, but the Holy Spirit is also omnipresent. He is present at all times at all places. No matter where you go in the universe or out of the universe, you cannot hide or get away from the Spirit of God (Psalm 139:7-10). Seven is a number that signifies Divine Perfection. The Holy Spirit, being God, is Divinely Perfect. He is present throughout the universe, and that is what the seven Spirits or the sevenfold Spirit of God means. Seven in its several forms is used over 600 times in the King James Bible.

There are two other points to make about the seven Spirits of God. In Rabbinic teachings, the Holy Spirit has seven attributes or characteristics. They are faith, righteousness, justice, loving-kindness, mercy, truth, and peace. These seven qualities serve before the Throne of Yehovah. In fact, let me quote from the Talmud:

“Seven qualities avail before the Throne of Glory: faith, righteousness, justice, lovingkindness, mercy, truth, and peace (ARN xxxvi)“…from Everyman’s Talmud, A. Cohen (New York: Schocken Books, 1949, 1975) p.74

The early church and Roman Catholicism maintain that Isaiah listed the seven spirits of God in Isaiah 11:2-3a. They are the spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety, and the spirit of the fear of the Lord:

We read of these in the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Douay-Rheims Bible. Most other translations leave out piety. In the Hebrew the fear of the LORD is written twice. The Septuagint translators rendered the first instance as piety, which is one definition of the Hebrew word יראה, yirah; fear, terror, respect, reverence, and piety1. Here are those readings:

And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord (Isa 11:2-3a, Douay Rheims Version).

Και αναπαυσεται επ’ αυτον πνευμα του θεου πνευμα σοφιας και συνεσεως πνευμα βουλης και ισχυος πνευμα γνωσεως και ευσεβειας εμπλησει αυτον πνευμα φοβου θεου (Isa 11:2-3a Septuagint).

Et requiescet super eum spiritus Domini spiritus sapientiae et intellectus spiritus consilii et fortitudinis spiritus scientiae et pietatis et replebit eum spiritus timoris Domini (Isa 11:2-3, Vulgate).

(Rev 1:5) And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood

The Revelation is sent to the seven churches in Asia from the Father, the Holy Spirit (v. 4), and from the Son (this verse).

The word witness is interesting. The Greek is marturia (martur) which also means martyr. Jesus was a martyr. His martyrdom provides our redemption, and is the overriding subject of the Bible. He is also a witness, Joh 12:45, “And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.” Jesus is a witness of the Father.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “If I bear witness of myself, My witness is not true.” (John 5:31) Why? Because only on the basis of two or three witness is a thing considered true (Num 35:30, Deut 17:6, Deut 19:15, Mat 18:16, 2 Cor 13:1, 1 Tim 5:19, and Heb 10:28) In the Gospel of John there are five (the number of grace) who bear witness of Jesus Christ: The Father, the Holy Spirit, the written Word, the forerunner (John the Baptist), and the disciples.

But here we are see Christ, the Faithful Witness. Witness of what? Jesus sits on the right hand of God and makes intercession for us (Rom 8:34). Jesus is our faithful witness (martus) in that he bears witness (martureo) to the Father that His blood covers our sins.

The phrase, “first begotten of the dead,” means that He was the first begotten Son of God who was raised from the dead. Adam, the first formed or created son of God, was mortal, that is, likely to die. Adam, the first man sinned and died. Jesus, the second Man, the only begotten of God, gave up His life as atonement for our sins (compare 1 Cor 15:45-48).

The word prince is used in the sense of the primary or chief. Jesus Christ is the chief or first of the kings of the earth. He is not of the earth, and He is higher than any earthly king. Kings and princes of the earth will bow their knees to Christ (Phil 2:10-11).

“Unto him that loved us…” is the beginning of a doxology of praise to Him. The word washed (Greek louo, from which our word loo comes) refers to the immersion of the entire body. It is not ceremonial ablution, such as the washing of hands; it is the cleansing of the entire being from sin.

(Rev 1:6) And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Consider the KJV reading of Exodus 19:6: “and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Additionally, note that the readings of Revelation 1:6 in Aleph (Sinaiticus), Computension, the Vulgate (Latin version) and several other manuscripts, are ‘kingdom and priests,’ instead of ‘kings and priests.’ Therefore, it is an informed decision to adopt that reading here. If we do, the verse would read “And hath made us a kingdom and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” That makes better sense in the context of the whole scripture. Christ is King and there is no need of lesser kings. We are told that we are a royal priesthood in 2 Peter 2:9. I propose, as have other commentators, that the correct reading is kingdom instead of kings. We who have washed in His blood for cleansing will be that kingdom of priests.

We, who are saved are priests unto God: (1 Pet 2:9) But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: The term royal priesthood is synonymous with a kingdom of priests, or, perhaps better, kingdom priests. We saints are in the kingdom of God (cf. Luke 16:16) and we are priests, therefore we are kingdom priests.

God’s glory is the perfection, honor, splendor, wonder, power, awesomeness, brightness, etc. of God. It is His perfection and the reputation of that perfection. The idea of His glory is indescribable for so many of His attributes relate to it. God is inscrutable and thus His glory is difficult to adequately describe. God’s glory is eternal as He is eternal.

A dominion is the domain of a king. God’s dominion is His domain, which is the entire metacosm,2 or more correctly His domain is infinite. It has no beginning or end. That is impossible to get our minds around, yet we have an understanding of the concept of infinity, no matter how unclear that concept may be.

(Rev 1:7) Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

There are many that believe the return of Jesus will be a secret event. I find no evidence of that in the Bible. I find several witnesses to the opposite of that. Here is one. Jesus will come with clouds in the open for all to see. Everyone living at that time will know He has returned. No one will miss this event. Mat 24:30, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” When it happens, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Him. Rom 14:11, “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” For other witnesses see: Mark 13:26-27, Luke 21:27-28, and Php 2:10.

Those who were actually responsible for piercing Him with thorns, whips, nails, and a spear are those that were present at His crucifixion and those who asked Pilate to crucify Him. However, this does not mean just the Jews and Romans who were in command of His crucifixion, but all sinners. As sinners, we are all responsible for the death of Christ—for piercing Him. In other words, all who have rejected Him since the beginning of time will wail. Only those who have believed on Him will be exempt from this anguish. Believers include Jews, Gentiles, men, women, bond and free who have believed on Jesus Christ as their Savior. All are one in Christ (Gal 3:28).

John really seals it when he says “even so, of a truth (amen).” Even though the vast majority of people will wail at His return, the return will happen. John says let it come.

(Rev 1:8) I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Alpha (Αα) and omega (Ωω) are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The Hebrew equivalents are aleph (א) and tav (ח). The analogy is clear. The Lord explains Himself in the verse; He is eternal. The numerical equivalents in Greek are alpha – 1 and omega – 800. In Hebrew they are aleph – 1 and tav – 400. They are 801 and 401 respectively.

Other scriptural Greek words whose Gematria equal 801 are: The Creator (ο κτισας, ho ktisas), and the Dove (περιστερα, peristera). The Gematria of 401 is of like significance: Like God or Godlike (כאלהים, k’elohim) and Upon the Rock (הצור על, el hatsur) each have a Gematria of 401. I have provided two examples of each; there are more examples in Scripture. Note how the examples relate to the Godhead and their attributes. This is true of other Biblical examples of the Gematria adding up to 801 and 401.

YHVH, God, always existed; He had no beginning. He is, that is, He exists. He will exist forever into the future. He is eternal; without beginning or end. He is the Ever Existing One. Time, seasons, life, and death are a part of the creation; they are natural things created by God. In the supernatural realm, where God exists, which is outside of nature, time, seasons, and death do not exist.

(Rev 1:9) I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

In the map below, Patmos is highlighted in an ellipse (see the arrow). To the right (east) is Roman Asia; to the left (west) is the Aegean Sea and further west, off the map, is modern Greece.

Patmos is an Island ten miles long by six miles wide. That is somewhat smaller than Guam. In John’s day it was a mostly deserted island used banish exiles. John was sent there c. 95 by the Roman Emperor Domitian. He spent eighteen months on Patmos. Today the Island has a population of over 4000, and a port city called Scala.

Patmos:

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Patmos

(Map from the Historical Atlas by William R. Shepherd, 1923/1926, Courtesy of The University of Texas Libraries,  The University of Texas at Austin)

John is our brother because we are brothers in Christ. Companion means co-participant, so John participated in spirit with other Christians in their tribulation or persecution. The word for tribulation literally means pressure or stress. So when you or I am under stress from the world because of our faith, we participate not only with John, a man who died, but with Christ in His sufferings. Jesus told us that we would suffer for our belief in Him (John 15:18-19, 16:33).

As Christians, we are in the realm of Christ; but we are in the world at the same time. The word for patience means cheerful endurance. We can have the peace and cheerful endurance because we are Christ’s. You may choose to be a worrier and you can choose not to be in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. If you do, you won’t get much peace, and you won’t have much cheer. Don’t be a cry baby, be a child of God!

John knew he was on Patmos for two reasons: for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. John could have had the attitude that the world was against him. He could have been filled with self-pity but he was not. In the depths of tribulation and banishment from civilization, John could have lived a bitter life, but he knew he was there for the purposes of God. So he did not murmur. He did God’s bidding. The word of God and the testimony of Jesus are contained in this letter, the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

According to Foxe, the Apostle John, “The “beloved disciple,” was brother to James the Great. The churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira, were founded by him. From Ephesus he was ordered to be sent to Rome, where it is affirmed he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. Domitian afterwards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Nerva, the successor of Domitian, recalled him. He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death.”—Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, London, 1563

(Rev 1:10) I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

John was “in the Spirit”. There are two spellings for this phrase in the Nestle Aland Greek New Testament, they are Pneumati (Pneumati) and pneumati (pneumati). The only difference, obviously, is one begins with an upper case Pi (Π), and the other a lower case pi (π). The word, Pneumati, is used to reference the Spirit of God. The lower case usage, pneumati, is for the generic meaning of the word, ‘spirit.’ The translators of many Bibles chose to capitalize the English word ‘Spirit’ for the same reason—it was used when the word refers to the Spirit of God. The lowercase examples of the English word, ‘spirit’ are for generic usage.

Translators used the capitalized word, ‘Spirit’, and the lower case word, ‘spirit’ for similar reasons thus making the decision whether or not the particular use of the Greek word refers to the Spirit of God of to the generic use of the word. However, the capitalized words in many English translations are not always capitalized in Greek. Most English translations capitalize Spirit here even though the Nestle Aland Greek New Testament does not. Hence those translators decided the the Spirit of God gave John his vision.

What was John in the Spirit of? You will find the spirit of meekness, and the spirit of your mind, the spirit of submission, etc. You will find just the words “in the spirit” with no object following. In those cases, the phrase means in the human spirit. In other words, it means in our own spirit, or our own conscious thoughts. Without sounding like I am teaching New Age philosophy, sometimes being in the spirit can be likened to an out of body experience.

In Rev. 4:2, however, John was in the Spirit; he was consciously taken to Heaven by the Spirit of God, but his body remained on Patmos. Accordingly John was under the direction and control of the Holy Spirit during the whole vision. In fact, the correct rendering of the whole phrase is “I came to be in the Spirit.” The verse literally reads: “I came to be in the Spirit on the of the Lord day, and I heard behind me a voice great, as of a trumpet.”

What is the Lord’s day? Well, many Bible commentators and preachers will tell you that John was in the Spirit on Sunday and that could be true; it may have been Sunday. However, there is no other witness of the words “the Lord’s Day” in the scripture. When the scripture tells us that the early church met together on Sunday, it calls it the First Day of the Week in English, and not the Lord’s Day. The Greek is either mia sabbaton (μια σαββατον) or proto sabbaton (προτο σαββατον), both of which mean “the first of the sabbaths” (meaning the first day of the seven days of the week). Now sabbaths can refer to the weekly seventh day Sabbath, to high Sabbaths such as Passover, and it may refer simply to a week of seven days. As used in Mat 28:1, we understand it to be “the first day of the week” because Matthew tells us it was the day after the Saturday Sabbath. There is one instance of mia hemera sabbaton, the first day of the sabbaths or the first day of the week.

The Greek for the Lord’s Day is τη κυριακη ημερα or te Kuriake hemera, which is literally “the of the Lord day.” In English that is the Day of the Lord instead of the Lord’s Day. Κυριακη, kuriake is in the dative case which means it a direct object of the verb, was. When we compare this to the Hebrew Day of the Lord, like in Isaiah 2:12, we find the Hebrew words to be “the Day of Yehovah.” Look at Isaiah 2:12-21:

(Isa 2:12-22) For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: {13} And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, {14} And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, {15} And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall, {16} And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. {17} And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. {18} And the idols he shall utterly abolish. {19} And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. {20} In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; {21} To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. {22} Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?

Some points about the above scripture: 1.) The Day of Yehovah will be upon the whole earth. 2.) Man’s pride and haughtiness will be brought low. 3.) There will be a terrible earthquake felt over the entire world. 4.) People will go into holes, caves, and under rocks to get away from the glory of the LORD.

Do these points remind you of anything? Point 1 is found in Revelation 1:7. Point 2 is found in Philippians 2:10-11 and Revelation 6:14-15. Point 3 is found in Revelation 6:14. Point 4 is found in Revelation 6:15. They are all things that will happen in the Day of the LORD as described in Revelation during the seal and trumpet judgments at the end of the age. The day of the LORD is also known as the Great Day of His Wrath or the Great Tribulation of God.

While John may well have been in the Spirit on Sunday, which is known by many as the Lord’s Day, but here in Revelation, the Lord’s Day does not usually mean Sunday. It is more correctly, the Day of the Lord, which is the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord which comes at the end of the age just before the Return of Christ. In point of fact, the term “the Lord’s Day” was recorded by John before Sunday became known as the Lord’s Day. John did not write this verse because Sunday was known as the Lords’ day. It was not. In fact it is the other way round. Sunday is referred to as the Lords Day because of a misunderstanding of this verse in Revelation.

John was transported in a vision to that day in the future by the power of the Holy Spirit. He has written us a complete record of those events and how they will take place in John’s future, some of which is our future as well. This record shows us that God’s people have nothing to fear. They will be protected through the fire just as were Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego (Daniel Chapter 3). No, they will not be “raptured out” just before this tribulation as some traditions teach. See my teaching on the Rapture. Though God will be with them, many will still suffer tribulation, persecution, torture, and murder. Even through all of that, God will give them peace and the Spirit will give them words to say (Matthew 10:18, 19, 20; 13:11; Luke 12:11, 12). These things are actually happening to Christians as I write this commentary today in 2018 AD.

(Rev 1:11) Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

We already saw where He said He is the Alpha and Omega. He is reiterating that He is God the Son and is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent in order that John might write his letters in the power of God; additionally Christ’s power will be evident in John’s writing, which it is. This is where He also told John to write the Book of Revelation.

The seven churches were real churches and they received the Book of Revelation from John. The things John wrote are given as examples for our guidance in this flesh. See 1 Corinthians 10:11. Similarly they represent the different types of churches around today and those that have been around through Christian history. We will discuss each church as we study them in succession.

(Rev 1:12) And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

The Menorah (Exodus 25:3-40) was a seven-branch lampstand that stood in the Holy Place on the south wall of the Temple/Tabernacle, providing light for the space. There was a center branch with three branches on each side. The branches were topped with a bowl for olive oil and a wick for the flame. There were intricated designs on each branch of the Menorah. They are fully described in the passage in Exodus. An accurate life size reconstruction of the original Menorah can be viewed at the website of The Temple Institute.
According to the Talmud, the center lamp represents Yahweh, Who is the light of the world. It was called the Lamp of God. It stood on the south side of the Holy Place in the Tabernacle and the Temple. Its lamps were designed to shine toward the center of the room, illuminating all the sacred vessels in that room. Those are the Table of Showbread and the Golden Altar of Incense. I quote from the Temple Institute Website:

The menorah can be seen as occupying the most central role of all the sacred vessels, for it is the symbol of light – and the sages refer to Jerusalem as “the light of the world” (B’reishith Rabbah3 59). One reason for this is the light of the Menorah, bursting forth from within the sanctuary. For the menorah’s light was a spiritual, as well as physical, illumination. Thus the sages teach that the windows in the walls of the sanctuary were constructed differently than any other windows in the world. These were just the opposite of ordinary windows, for what is the normally considered the function of windows? To let the light in. But these windows were in order to let the light the out – to disseminate the spiritual light emanating from the Temple menorah out into the world. The Sanctuary’s windows allowed the special ethereal light coming forth from the menorah to burst out to the world from within the hallowed hall.

The candlesticks, or lampstands, represent the seven churches as we will find out in v. 20. They represent the two witnesses in Revelation 11:4, as well; we will discuss that when we get to chapter eleven.

(Rev 1:13-15) And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps [breast] with a golden girdle. {14} His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; {15} And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

Jesus, the Son of God is also called Emmanuel, which means “God With Us.” Jesus is the Light of the World. He is God, the Son. Someone like the Son of Man is standing in the middle of the lampstands with three on each side. What we see here is a picture of the Menorah, the Lamp of God with Emmanuel, “God With Us,” the Living God standing in the exact place where the Lamp of God stood in the Menorah.

This was how Christ appeared to John. Look at the picture of Almighty God in Ezekiel 1:7:

(Ezek 1:27) And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. (See also Dan 7:9;10)

Amber is the translation of chashmal, which means a highly polished metal bronze, brass, or any other spectrum metal like gold that is shining brightly in the light. In Ezekiel’s vision, the LORD is clothed in gold from the waist up and from the waist down He was like burning fire. Note the almost exact resemblance to the vision of John in Revelation. Christ is shining brightly from head to toe in His Shekinah glory.

In Revelation 14, the white and bright appearance of His hair, head, and eyes is also the Shekinah glory of God. In 15, his voice is like the roar of the sea. (See also Matthew 17:1–9; Mark 9:2–8; Luke 9:28–36).

(Rev 1:16) And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

The stars are the angels of the seven churches as we will see in v. 20. The two edged sword from His mouth is the Word of God which is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb 4:12).

His face like the shining sun is the Shekinah glory.

(Rev 1:17-18) And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: {18} I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

I remember a Bible Study by a well-known preacher back in the eighties. He was discussing people who say they have spoken directly to Jesus Christ. He mentioned one man who said that Jesus came to his bathroom every morning while he was shaving and spoke to him. The preacher (you would recognize his name if I wrote it here), attempting to show the foolishness of such a statement, said that if Jesus came into his bathroom, he would fall face down on the floor. That is exactly what John did, and I dare say that you and I would have the same reaction.

Note that Jesus touched John and said “Fear not.” In Daniel 10:10-12, Gabriel touched Daniel and told him to fear not. At the tomb, in Matthew 28:5, the angel said “Fear not.” It seems like we humans are frightened in the presence of the supernatural, but are calmed when spoken to by angels or a theophany (an appearance of God) or a Christophany (an appearance of Jesus) to men.

Hell is actually Hades in the Greek. In English, we pronounce it hay’-dees; in the Greek it is pronounces hah’-dace. In Greek mythology, Hades is the holding place of the dead. It has three main levels. The first is known as the Elysian Fields, or Elisium, where those chosen by the gods, the righteous, and the heroic go after death. The second is the Asphodel Meadows, where ordinary people go after death. The last is Tartarus, a deep, dark pit in Hades where the wicked go for punishment. Since the general populace was very familiar with the concept of Hades, Jesus used that term to describe the place the unsaved will go to after death. He has the keys to death and the place of the dead. He will unlock Hades and death and give eternal life to those whose names are written in the Book of Life, and the remainder will be thrown with Hades into the Lake of Fire at the end of the age (Rev 20:12; 14).

(Rev 1:19) Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

The word ‘hereafter’ is a translation of the Greek phrase that, in this context, most nearly means ‘after these.’ The verse literally reads, “Write therefore the [things that] you have seen and the [things that] are and the [things that] are about to take place after these“(bracketed words are implied in the Greek; only the article ‘the’ is in the original text).

John is to write what he sees at the time where he is (the Day of the Lord), and that which will happen afterward, that is after the Day of the Lord—from his present, which is our past, to his future, which is our past, present, and future, to the end of the age, and the coming of the new Heaven and Earth. This verse shows us that those things would soon happen in Rev 1:1, were just the beginning and not the entirety of the prophecy.

Consequently, commentators who state that the Revelation is only about John’s immediate future, that it is about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple only, are limiting the text. The text allows that which is to take place in John’s near future is simply the beginning of events that eventually take us to the end of the age.

(Rev 1:20) The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

This is an example of the Bible explaining itself. An angel may simply be a messenger; a human sent to deliver a message. Additionally, an angel from heaven is a supernatural being created by God to be His messenger. However, in extra-Biblical Greek, the word means an angel from God, that is, one of God’s heavenly hosts, or a transcendent being like Michael and Gabriel. In modern Greek a human messenger is called an αγγελιαφόρος, angeliaphoros, while an angel form God in an άγγελος, hangelos.

Since John is to write to the angels, it is assumed by many that he is writing to the person at each church that receives messages from elsewhere, such as the pastor or bishop; one that makes sure the church receives messages. In any case it is assumed that such a human person was ordained by God to the position and that is the reason the person is called an angel.

However, when taking a closer look at this, if Christ was sending these letters to the pastors; it would seem likely that the more appropriate term would be a Bishop, which is the word the Scripture usually uses to describe the leader of a local church. The Greek word more nearly means a messenger that was sent to the churches; not one who receives messages.

Additionally, Christ uses the symbol of a star to refer to the angels of the churches. It does not seem appropriate that He would use the heavenly symbol of stars as the bishops of the churches, while using an earthly symbol, a lampstand, or candlestick, to represent the actual churches. It is much more likely that the angels of the churches were actual transcendent angels, like Michael or Gabriel, who watched over the churches. The fact that Christ used stars to symbolize of angels makes it more so that this is true. Jesus simply commanded John to write to the seven churches; He did not command that they be sent as individual letters. In fact, in verse 19, John is told to write all the things he was about to see, thus the entire Apocalypse was written and sent to the seven churches (Rev 1:4) as a whole. It was eventually sent as an encyclical to all churches.

In this commentary, we will assume that these angels are actually supernatural entities and mot human messengers. Since stars symbolize angels here; this holds true in other places in Revelation where stars are mentioned. Make note that the lampstands symbolize the churches. This will come into play again when the two witnesses are discussed in chapter eleven.

Updated 12/4/2019

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).

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  1. Brown, Driver, Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament(BDB). Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906
  2. Metacosm is a recent word innovation; it is a combination of the words meta-, a Greek word meaning after”, “beyond”, “with”, “adjacent”, “self”, and the word cosmos. It is a system that encompasses all cosmos systems—microcosm, mesocosm, and macrocosm. What we see around us is the macrocosm, or the universe, which is finite. The microcosm is a part of the universe as well. It is the part we cannot see with our eyes. It includes such things as atoms and subatomic particles. The mesocosm is smaller than a macrocosm and larger than a microcosm. The universe, including our world, is a part of the macrocosm. The metacosm encompasses all things including the macro-, meso-, and microcosms and what is beyond. It includes infinity and the metaphysical. (Macro- indicates large and extended over a very large area; meso- indicates the intermediate; micro- indicates small, too small to be seen with the unaided eye; meta- indicates transcending or encompassing).
  3. Bereshith Rabbah. “Expository Midrash to the first book of the Pentateuch, assigned by tradition to the amora Hoshaiah, commonly Osha’yah, who flourished in the third century in Palestine. The Midrash forms a haggadic commentary on the whole of Genesis” — The Jewish Encyclpoedia, ©2002-2011, JewishEncyclopedia.com. All rights reserved.
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