A Study of the Book of Revelation
1. ¶ The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
This serves as a notice to us that the Revelation here is not a Revelation of John but a Revelation of Jesus Christ.
John is not divine. Divinity and deity belong to God alone.
Notice this is a Revelation not Revelations. There is only one revelation in the book and this is Jesus Christ.
“Unto his servants.” - Every believer is in full-time Christian service. This is not limited to the pastor.
“Things which must shortly come to pass” – these are the things that we will study in this Revelation. These are the events of “the latter days”, which will take place suddenly.
“Sent and signified it by his angel.” - Angels are used of God many times in the Bible to communicate truth.
Gabriel informing Mary of the birth of Christ – Luke 1:26-33.
“Unto his servant John” – refers to the author of the Revelation.
John also authored the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John.
2. Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
“Who” – refers to John himself.
“Bare record” – this means to give witness.
John began the Gospel of John in a similar way (John 1:1).
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.
We begin with the first “Blessed” of this book.
This is a special blessing to those who read and hear this book.
To the believer this book is a blessing. To the unbeliever it is a cursing.
This book is a description of things that are to come to all.
Seven blessings spelled out in the book of Revelation:
a. For those who read and hear the message (1:3)
b. For those who die in the Lord (dying grace) (14:13)
c. For those who are alert to the coming of Christ (16:15)
d. For those who attend the marriage supper of the Lamb. (19:19)
e. For those who have part in the first resurrection (20:6)
f. For those who keep the contents of this book (22:7)
g. For those who keep His commandments (22:14)
Such a promised blessing must indicate that this book is to be read, heard, and its commands kept. For this reason it is inexcusable to declare the book of Revelation as being non-understandable or non-relevant.
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;
John was the human author.
“To the seven churches which are in Asia.” – Located in the Roman province of Asia (modern Turkey), the seven churches are in a small area when placed on a map, kind of in a circle.
These churches had certain things in them that parallel the trends we will find in the churches of the church age. We will find conditions which exist in the churches today.
“Which is” – a description of Christ in the present.
“Which was” – speaks of God in eternity past. He is without beginning or end: chronologically, He is above time.
“Which is to come” – speaks of the second advent of Christ.
“Seven spirits which are before his throne” – the essence of Christ. Perfection or completeness. (Isaiah 11)
There are those who interpret this as an allusion to the Holy Spirit (Isa 11:2-3).
Others believe these were seven angels in places of high privilege before the throne of God. (Rev. 3:1; 4:5; 5:6)
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,
“From Jesus Christ” – divine authorship. Christ is not only the object of the book but the author of it as well.
“Faithful witness.” – When Christ was on earth, He perfectly revealed God the Father.
“First begotten.” – the first-born is the one who had absolute rulership. He was the priest of the family and received a double portion of the inheritance.
Jesus Chirst is the absolute ruler in humanity. He is prophet, priest and king.
“Of the dead” – the first resurrection.
“Prince of the kings of the earth.” – Jesus became prince of the kings by purchasing it by His death on the cross and His resurrection.
“Unto him that loved us.” – The word loved is present. It is an active participle and simply means that He keeps on loving us to the end of time.
“Washed us” – refers to the cross. It means He loosed us/released us and it refers to the time when we believed in Him. This divind love that precipitated the divine plan for the Son of God to give His life a ransom for our sins.
“From our sins in his own blood.” – This blood is always presented as a figure to represent His spiritual death on the cross for our sins.
6. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
“Hath made us kings.” – refers to the time of our salvation when we were appointed kings forever. He has made us a “kingdom where we are priests unto God.” (1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 5:10)
“And priests” – this is the priesthood of every believer.
“Glory and dominion” – the double portion each one receives. This kingdom will soon become a reality as the Revelation unfolds.
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.
This refers to His second coming. He was received by a cloud into heaven (Acts 1:9). He will come in the clouds of heaven to receive His bride (1 Thess. 4:16-18).
Every eye will behold the brightness of His coming to a dark world.
The reference to his second coming is not a secret coming but a very public one! (Matt. 24:30) There will be no mistaking the coming King!
“Even so, Amen” – means I believe it.
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 and Omega” – the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.
“Beginning and the ending” – He will keep on being Alpha and Omega. God was before all things (Col. 1:17); nothing existed before Him. God is after all things (Ps 102:27); nothing will survive Him.
He is giving us enough information here about Himself so we can truly know Him.
“Which is, and which was, and which is to come” – this is speaking of the eternal, everlasting God.
“The almighty” – the core qualities of God. Here is a tremendous statement about the person and work of Christ, His eternality, His love for us, His substitutionary atonement, His kingship, His priesthood, His sovereignty.
The first eight verses introduce us to the Lord Jesus Christ who is the central figure of this book, the revelation of His unveiling.
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.
This verse provides us with critical information for this book: the author, his identity, place of writing, and the purpose for the author being on that island.
“Who also am your brother.” – John was the beloved disciple and the last of the apostles, but he refers to himself as your brother.
“Companion” – means partner.
“In tribulations” – refers to suffering and trials.
Domitian, who was the emperor of Rome and ruled from A.D. 81-96, was a wicked man and a hater of Christianity. He began to kill and destroy; however, he was advised not to kill John who was the last of the apostles and was best known and the most beloved disciple in the whole world. If John were killed, the whole Christian world would revolt against Rome. Instead of killing him, John was exiled to a little island in the Aegean Sea (Isle of Patmos) to rot and die like an animal.
“In the kingdom” – refers to being part of the Lord’s kingdom.
“Patience” – means resting your case in Jesus Christ.
“Isle of Patmos” – a rocky island about 20 miles out from Ephesus in the Aegean Sea. It was about 10 miles long and 3 miles wide. It was used as a Roman prison.
“For the word of God” – John was explaining why he was there. Could read it as because of the word of God.
“Testimony of Jesus Christ” – this refers to the reason John was a prisoner of Rome.
10. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.
“I was in the Spirit” – John indicates that he fell into a trancelike state of supernatural revelation. This was not an unusual circumstance when God revealed Himself to His servants.
Ezekiel – Ezk 2:2; 3:12, 14
Peter – Acts 1:1-11; 11:5
Paul – Acts 22:17-18
“On the Lord’s day” – commonly used to refer to Sunday. Nowhere in Scripture does the Lord ’s Day refer to Sunday. The day of Christ’s resurrection is consistently called “the first day of the week” and never the Lord’s day (Mt 28:1; Mk 16:2,9; Lk 24:1; Jn 20:1,19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2).
Every day is the Lord ’s Day; He is Master of all and to be worshipped and served equally on them all.
This indicates an elongated period during which God judges the earth and rules over it. John was projected supernaturally into the future to view the period of judgment which has been promised through divine revelation.
“Heard behind me a great voice.” – a voice like the blast of a trumpet.
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.
John was commanded to give this message to the seven churches.
The list of churches here was not all the churches that existed then, but these seven represented them all.
12. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
Verses 12 – 16 provide us with a description of Jesus.
When John first began to receive the divine revelation from God, he heard the voice of God and turned to face his Lord. What he saw was astounding.
“Voice that spake” – suggests that Jesus had spoken to John often before on earth.
“and being turned” – Suggests that Jesus was behind John.
“I saw seven golden candlesticks.” – what these 7 golden candlesticks mean will be revealed in verse 20.
“Golden” means they were burning and indicates the churches were in operation. Later, their light will be threatened.
In the Old testament tabernacle and temple, one of the essential pieces of furniture was the 7-branched candlestick or lampstand. It appears here that there are just one 7-branched lampstand for the Lord Jesus is said to stand in the midst of the seven candlesticks.
13. 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 with a golden girdle.
This gives the Lord a direct relationship to each of the golden lampstands, which are identified as the seven churches in verse 20.
“Son of man” – refers to the humanity of Christ. John knew it, John was standing at the Mount of Olives when Jesus ascended. John was one of the first to see the resurrected Christ.
Christ was wearing a long robe. Indicative of a priest or judge. (Not like the Romans; they wore a short robe called a toga.)
Christ was wearing a golden breastplate. This means Christ was appearing as the Great High Priest.
Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of man about 83 times in the Scriptures. This may be His favorite name.
14. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
White hair suggests the eternity of His character. White stands for perfection of God.
It corresponds to the description of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9.
“His eyes were as a flame of fire.” - indicates His sermon was one of judgment. Fire speaks of judgment. (Daniel 7:13-14)
Judgment to the churches, judgment of tribulation and final judgment.
15. And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
“His feet like unto fine brass” – literally of burnished bronze; symbolizes divine judgment as in the brazen altar of the Old Testament where sacrifice for sin was made (Ex. 38:30)
“Voice as the sound of many waters” – booming voice of the Almighty God in judgment; voice that pronounced doom.
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.
“He had” – a present, active participle meaning that He kept on holding the seven staffs in His hand.
“Seven stars” – the seven pastors of the seven churches. Being in the right hand places them in the place of honor.
“Twoedged sword” – described in Rev. 19:15.
Used by Roman soldiers as the principle offensive weapon. Used in a stabbing rather than a slicing action. It was more effective in causing death.
It is the Lord judging the nations at the second coming. Indicates devastating judgment which will fall upon those with whom He is engaged in battle.
“Countenance was as the sun” – the brilliance of His glory.
Christ gives glory, and all glory in believers is a reflection of Him. When the glory of Christ shines on a believer, you have a reflected glory.
Grace says we reflect glory.
17. 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:
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.” – The glory and majesty of the Lord are overwhelming. John now views Him as not hs Saviour and friend but his Sovereign and King. He fainted.
“He laid his right hand upon me…saying Fear not” – The Lord quiets his fears by reminding him that He is indeed alive and will live forevermore.
“I am the first and the last.” – Jesus identified Himself.
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.
“He that liveth” - He is alive, in sovereign control. He is victorious.
“And was dead” – refers to a point of time when Christ went to the cross and died.
“Have the keys of hell and of death.” – Christ has the authority over death and hell. Simply stated to assure John that the Lord is sovereign over physical death and over hell, the life after death.
19. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
Having now been prepared by God, John is commissioned to write. It will follow a divine outline…that outline we discussed in the introduction.
a. Things which thou hast seen
b. Things which are (Chapters 2 & 3)
c. Things which will be hereafter (Chapters 4 – 22)
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.
The doctrine here is the doctrine of the church.
It was a mystery in the Old Testament because the church was never mentioned in the Old Testament.
“The mystery of the seven stars” – represents a new category of leadership, the pastor-teacher
“seven golden candlesticks” – the seven churches of Asia
The church is to preach the gospel to the whole world.
The condition of these seven churches shows the trend of the churches of all the church age.
Clark, Neal. Survey of the Book of Revelation. Pensacola, Florida: Thee WFBI Press, 1999. Print.
Falwell, Jerry. Liberty Commentary on the New Testament. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty Press, 1978. Print.