Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Introduction to Revelation
“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: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 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.” (Revelation 1:1-3)
Contrary to what many bibles say, this is not the revelation of Saint John. It is Jesus Christ revealing the things God has authorized him to tell his servants about the things of the future. It was delivered to the Apostle John by one of the angels. John recorded who Jesus is, and the evidence that he is the living Word. Here he records the things the angel revealed to him about the future. Those who hear and understand these prophecies and act on the things they learn because the time is close and no one knows when it will be.
“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; 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, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 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. 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.” (Revelation 1:4-8)
John is writing specifically to the seven churches which are in Asia, to strengthen them. He sends greetings, not only from himself, but from the Eternal God, and from the seven angels or spirits who stand before God representing those churches, as well our savior, Jesus Christ. He reminds them, and us, of what Christ has done for them. He then reviews Jesus prophecy that when he returns, every eye shall see him including those who rejected him, and the entire world will regret their rejection. Finally, he reminds them that God is the omnipresent and omnipotent God who was here before the world was created and made everything. Quoting god’s description of himself, so there can be no question which god he is referring to.
Notice that verse 7 starts out, “Behold, he cometh with clouds…” How many times have we sung the song, When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder without realizing that that first phrase, “On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise,” is in direct contradiction to scripture? While it is a minor point it reveals how easily we can accept false doctrine if we don’t pay attention to what is being said.
“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.” (Revelation 1:9)
Finally John reminds them that he was just an ordinary Christian like they were, and going through similar troubles, waiting on Jesus Christ. He had been banished to the Island of Patmos a known prison colony for teaching the word of God and telling people about Jesus Christ. Tradition says that he was sent there after an attempt to execute him using boiling oil failed. He was probably banished to Patmos because it was uninhabited and there would be no one for John to preach to. There is considerable discussion as to when Revelation was written, but the general consensus is between the destruction of Jerusalem in 66 AD., and 81 AD. This would have placed the prophecy shortly after Nero, during the reigns of Vespasian, Titus, or Domitian.
We have no record of John’s death, which is interesting since in Matthew 16:28, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” Some of the other apostles believed that referred to John, according to John 21:23-24. “Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.”
John was far less sure he would be the one, making it clear that Jesus did not say he wouldn’t die, but that whether he died or not didn’t affect what Peter needed to do. It was not a conclusive statement.