Revelation Chapter 1
VERSE 1-3 “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”
Once again a reminder that much of what is presented here comes from the “New Albany Notes on Revelation” and “The Keys of Revelation”, my two primary sources of study material on Revelation, however from time to time I may quote from other Bible Students materials as well. As we believe it to be the responsibility of each individual student of the Word to “prove all things”, for themselves, so it is that in presenting this look at Revelation I find myself at times favoring one particular reference over another on certain points (sometimes agreeing with both), and as such will be presenting the one which I feel more aptly applies or both if I deem it applicable. This I believe is a part of the liberty in Christ given to each individual believer, i.e. to reason for himself. If however in our judgment we have erred we pray the Lord will correct us.
The first three verses of Revelation contain important information pertaining to the entire book:
POINT # 1
The phrase, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ," is important. This book is for the very purpose of revealing Jesus, but to whom?
The context shows clearly that this is not (at least not primarily) about Jesus' revealing at His second advent, but rather about His being revealed to his servants beginning at his first advent and continuing throughout the entire gospel age.
It is, among other things, to show them "things which must SHORTLY come to pass." It is NOT for a time then distant when he would be revealed to all flesh (1:7), but rather for the age then beginning. "The time is at hand," —the kairos (a specific, limited time or season; a period of specific characteristics; in this case, the Gospel age during which Jesus is revealed) is at hand, is engus (imminent, accessible; in this case, it had just begun and would progress for another 2000+ years.)
POINT # 2
The protocol of God is interesting. This information comes from God who gives it to Jesus. It is not surprising that Jesus did not know all of these things. He said as much in Mark 13:32 as well as in Matt. 24:36 NAS. Jesus then sent the information by an angel (see also 22:16). The angel's responsibility included the work of SIGNIFYING it —putting it into signs and symbols.
This is of UTMOST importance. Revelation is here clearly stated to be a book of symbolisms, NOT literalisms. (If you miss this point and follow the literalist in his interpretations of the book you are destine to be led into all manner of error and confusion.) The angel then passed it on in its "signified" (coded) state to John who faithfully bears record on our behalf.
POINT # 3
The third verse gives stress to what the entire Greek Bible gives stress —this message is for character-building, NOT for sensationalism, intellectualism, prophetic power, or curiosity. The reader, if he is a hearer (learner) and is obedient to its message is also BLESSED —made better. Curiously he is made better because the time is at hand —because it is now the time (the Gospel Age) to grow from prophecy. (1 Pet. 1:12; 2 Cor. 6:1-10)
POINT # 4
It is interesting to note the immediate use of symbolism following the first three verses. The purpose of the book was clearly stated as being "to show unto His servants ...” By the time this revelation was given to John, these servants were widespread in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Yet John directs his message "to the seven churches which are in Asia."
Is John ignoring most of the servants and directing this revelation only to the seven ecclesia’s closely spaced in Asia Minor? No.
This, as we have been instructed, is the beginning of the use of symbols. Seven is used both literally and symbolically. It is used symbolically to represent a compete spiritual number. In other words, John is directing this revelation to the complete or ENTIRE CHURCH—from Jesus' day to the time of the peaceable kingdom.
The number is likewise being used literally, because God is dividing the Church's earthly history into seven actual periods of time. The Church is said to be in Asia (which means mud) because this message is for the Church yet mired in its earthly condition. (Places, when used symbolically, represent conditions.) See Isa. 51:1; Rom. 9:21.
We will take a closer look at our first 3 verses in our next post.
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