Friday, January 02, 2009

Bible Study: Revelation - What Was, What Is, What Is To Come - Introduction and Chapter 1

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses you through this material.


Take a few minutes to savor Revelation Chapter 1. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations.

The book of Revelation is believed to have been written on the Island of Patmos by the apostle John around AD 95, about five years before his death. This was a time of persecution. Roman authorities enforced emperor worship. So those who only worshiped God and Christ faced increasing hostility.

The early Christians have been eagerly awaiting Christ's return for 60 years. The letters to the churches were intended to encourage them to stand firm in the faith as they continued to wait under duress.

The book of Revelation is an apocalypse. The word “apocalypse” means unveiling or disclosure. It is a genre of writing found in early Jewish and Christian literature where heavenly happenings are revealed by angelic messengers through the narrative of the author. This book portrays the ultimate defeat of evil and triumph of God.

Patterns of sevens (representing perfection) appear throughout the text. There are seven letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor; the scroll has seven seals; there are seven angels standing before God; seven trumpets are blown; The Holy Spirit is referred to as the sevenfold Spirit of God; there are seven visions and seven plagues; there is a seven-headed beast. Although each representation may not appear perfect, God’s plan is. And each element plays a specific role in the fulfillment of God’s plan.

1:1 — God gave the revelation to Jesus to show His servants what is going to happen soon. Jesus sent this message to John through an angel.

Soon — we don't know God's timetable. This is a reminder to always be ready. Tachos — quickness, speed. Daniel 2:28-29 says, "things to come".

1:2 — NLT implies that John is given the revelation because he "faithfully reported everything he saw." It also says, "this is his report of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ."

word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ — this is why John was on the Island of Patmos. See 1:9.

1:3 — God expects us to read and understand Revelation. Why else would He have put it in the Bible? At the time this was written, scripture was made known by reading aloud. Try reading aloud during your personal study time.

Prophecy is more than telling the future. As we read, we know God (and His character) better so that we can trust Him completely.

1:4 — seven churches — they were about 50 miles apart, forming a clockwise circle in the order listed. This was one letter that was passed from church to church. The letters were addressed so that they could be read and passed on to the next church in the circle, following the main Roman road around the province of Asia.

Here, the number seven has a literal as well as its symbolic meaning of completeness and perfection.

See Isaiah 11:2 (AMP) — "The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him..."

1:5 — firstborn from the dead — Jesus was not first to be raised from the dead, but He is the first man resurrected in an imperishable body. Also see Colossians 1:15-18.

See Psalms 89:27 (AMP) — "I will also appoint him my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth."

1:6 — See Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 61:6 (AMP) — you will be a kingdom of priests; " will be called priests of the LORD..."

1:7 — coming with the clouds — see Daniel 7:13; Revelation 1:13; 14:14; Mark 13:16; 14:62; 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

mourn — see Zechariah 12:10 and Exodus 11:5-6 (death of the firstborn in Egypt) and Matthew 24:30.

1:8 – God is eternally…

Alpha and the Omega (beginning and end) - …omniscient
Who is, who was and who is to come - …omnipresent
Almighty - …omnipotent.

See Isaiah 9:6 (AMP) — "For to us, a child is born..."

1:9 — Patmos — small 4 x 8 mile rocky island in the Aegean Sea 50 miles southwest of Ephesus. It was a penal colony. John was a prisoner there.

Testimony — proof, evidence. (AMP)

1:10 — the Lord's Day — 1st day of the week. The day Jesus rose from the dead. The day on which Christians met. John was at church!

in the Spirit — John was worshiping, perhaps even praying what is recorded in 1:4b-7.

loud voice like a trumpet — WOW! I can't imagine... Reveille? This probably startled John. This was the angel's voice. This is a most appropriate sound to announce the appearance of God, Savior, King, Jesus! See Psalm 47:5. My Red letter Bibles show these words in red. This is Christ speaking. AMP calls this "a great voice like the calling of a war trumpet." Cool!!!

1:12 — golden lampstands = the churches. See 1:20. 1:12-16 — Jesus transformed.

1:13 — like a son of man. See Daniel 7:13 — "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence."

1:13b— high priest's robe and golden sash around His chest — part of the high priest's garments See Exodus 28:4, 29:5-9.

See Daniel 7:13; 10:5 (AMP) — see above; "I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist."

1:14a—white like wool - purity and wisdom.

1:14b — Eyes... like blazing fire — penetrating insight. Ready to avenge us.

See Daniel 7:9 (AMP) — "As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze."

Fire — pyr — fire, flames (Strong's 4442/KWSB 4786). Describing Jesus' eyes. See Daniel 7:9 (God's throne); 10:6 (Jesus' eyes like torches); Revelation 2:18; 19:12.

What do you think the fire represents? Does this appear to represent judgment due to sin? Can you see the fire destroy what has been corrupted by sin?

1:15 — feet like bronze glowing - see Ezekiel 1:7.

His voice was like the sound of rushing waters — Ezekiel 43:2 describes this sound as a roar. This is Jesus' voice.

See Daniel 10:6 (AMP) — "His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude."

1:16 – in his right hand – in your right hand, you hold the instruments you use (fork, pen, tools), unless you’re a lefty!

Seven stars — the angels (messengers — either heavenly or earthly) of the seven churches. See 1:20.

double-edged sword – salvation for the believer, destruction for the non-believer.

Sword — Word of God. This really did come out of Jesus mouth! NIVSB says the sword symbolizes divine judgment. See Isaiah 49:2 ("He made my mouth like a sharpened sword"), Hebrews 4:12 ("For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."). It also says that this is a long Thracian sword (also in 2:12, 16; 6:8; 19:15, 21). The sword in 6:4; 13:10, 14 was a small sword or dagger.

sword — rhomphaia — a large sword; a long javelin.

Some scholars say that the sword in Christ’s mouth is symbolic of the power and force of His message. His words of judgment are His weapon, and as sharp as swords (Isaiah 49:2; Hebrews 4:12). These references are listed above.

His countenance was like the sun — John literally saw the light!

See Exodus 34:29 (AMP) — "When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD."

1:17 — fell at His feet — in awe, worship. Just like Daniel fell down before Him in Daniel 8:17-18. And this Almighty King of kings reaches out to touch John, comforting His friend and telling him "Do not be afraid..."

See Isaiah 44:6 (AMP) — "This is what the LORD says-- Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God."

1:18 — AMP calls Jesus "the Ever-Living one."

According to several sources, Hades is the place where the dead wait for judgment. Are these all of the dead or only those who have not accepted Christ as savior?

  • The main message of the book of Revelation is the infinite love, power and justice of the Lord Jesus Christ. How is this evident in today’s text?
  • What attributes of God do you see in this chapter?
  • What scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

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