These are the outline notes for my Wednesday night Bible Study. through the book of Revelation. Please enjoy.
Verse 4: The author refers to himself as John. As we established last week, we are teaching from the perspective of the author is the Apostle John.
“Seven Churches in Asia” – Normally the NT refers to Asia as the Roman province that is known as Asia Minor or as it is known as modern day Turkey. It is not clear why Revelation is addressed to the seven churches, and more specifically these seven churches. There were other churches in Asia Minor other than the seven mentioned here and they are of equal importance.
One of the reasons it is believed that the letter was written to seven churches is because the number seven represents completeness. In Judaism seven has a specific significance because of the Sabbath.
“Grace to you and peace from him who is, who was, and who is to come.” Grace and peace come from a threefold source…. “who was, who is, and who is to come.” John paraphrases the divine name so as to remind his readers that God is eternally existent… He has no beginning or end. This reminder is written as it is appropriate at a time where the church was in the shadow of impending persecution. The future is uncertain, so they needed to have hope in the one who is sovereign over all humanity.
“Seven Spirits…” Some interpret this to represent the complete manifestation of the Holy Spirits being. Some see this as a reference to the seven archangels of Jewish Tradition. In Enoch 20:1 – 8 these angels are named Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Saraqael, Gabriel, and Remiel. However, this is unlikely since it would be a strange intrusion of Jewish tradition into Christian thought. There is uncertainty as to what these seven angels represent conclusively but we can deduce that they are part of a heavenly entourage that has a special ministry in connection to Christ.
Verse 5: Grace and peace proceed from the eternal God, the seven Spirits, and from Jesus Christ who has the threefold title of …
1.“faithful witness” – Jesus bears witness to the truth. From God.
a.Witness – Gk “martys” – where we get the English word martyr, which means one who has suffered death as a result of allegiance to a cause. Through Jesus’s death he showed himself to be a faithful witness to the truth of God.
2.“firstborn of the dead” – Since Jesus, the faithful witness resulted in a martyr’s death, this resulted in him being the firstborn from the dead (resurrection)
3.“the ruler of the kings on earth” – Vindicated by the resurrection, he is thus acknowledged as supreme leader.
Once again, the threefold title was intended to encourage and sustain believers about to enter severe persecution. They are reminded of the death, resurrection and supreme victory of Jesus.
Verse 7: cf. Daniel 7:13 & Zech. 12:10. Jesus will be returning as the victorious Christ and when HE returns his sovereignty will be openly manifested “every eye will see him, even those who pierce him…” The wailing will not be the same as in Zech. Instead it will be a wailing as a result of impending judgment.
Verse 8: “Alpha and Omega…” This represents the Hebrew Aleph, and Tau, which is regarded not only as the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, but also including all letters in between. Thus, God is the sovereign Lord of all human history. As the sovereign Lord he is the “the Almighty”.
Verse 9: The Apostle John writes this letter from the island of Patmos. It was a rocky island located in the Aegean Sea. It was an exile island where people were sent who banished for religious or political reasons. The Apostle John tells us he was sent there for preaching the Gospel.
Verse 10 - 11: John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day – Some have suggested “In the Spirit” meant that John was taken from the Island of Patmos and transferred to the throne room of Heaven (we see this in Chapter 4). Others suggest and probably more rightly that John was in a trance like state or he had a holy vision or revelation.
Early Christians recognized Sunday as the day Jesus rose from the dead thus the Lord’s Day was recognized as Sunday. Pagans would also set aside a day to honor the emperor, and in response Christians chose the first day of the week to honor Christ.[i]
John hears a loud thunderous voice telling him to write down what he is told and send it to the seven churches. According to D.A. Carson, “The cities were both postal and administrative centres. It has been reckoned that at the time of John’s writing this area had the greatest concentration of Christians in the world.”[ii]
Verse 12 – 16: John turns around to see the person who is speaking to him and I am certain he is not prepared for what he is about to see.
In the next few verses John gives the reader a vivid description of the risen and glorious savior. These verses are filled with symbolism and give us a glimpse of our Savior in his full glory in the heavenly places.
The number 7: The number seven is significant in this passage and in the Bible for that matter. In this passage there are seven lamp stands, churches, stars and angels. Seven is the number of completeness. This is something we should keep in our minds as we continue along.
□ Seven Lamp Stands represents the seven churches. This probably represents or is symbolic to the complete church. The Church universal (thus these letter are certainly applicable to the church today).
□ In the midst of the lamp stands is Jesus. This is very significant. It tells us the presence of Christ is in the ancient church and he is in the center of the today regardless of the state the church may be in.
□ Clothed in a long robe – This points to the priestly character of Jesus. He is our high priest who makes intercession for us.
□ White hair – Purity
□ Eyes of fire – Eyes that penetrate and burn to the heart and is the one who judges.
□ Feet of bronze – Strength and stability. Jesus is our fortress and our solid foundation who will not be moved.
□ Voice of rushing waters – The mighty and powerful voice of God.
□ The seven stars – The seven angels of the Churches.
□ The double-edged sword – The power of his word (Hebrews 4:12)
□ His shining face – The shekinah glory of God
Verse 17: John’s response was probably no different than yours or mine would be if we encountered Jesus in His full glory. He falls at Jesus’ feet as if dead. In fact his response is very similar to the reactions of Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel when they had visions of Jesus as well.
Verses 17b – 20: Jesus reassures John. “Do not be afraid”… These are words Jesus uses over and over again to comfort his people. We must note John was living in a time of persecution and persecution was going to get worse and Jesus tells him not to be afraid. He comforts John and restores his confidence so he can hear the words that he is about to speak. He assures him that he is the one who was at the beginning and has no end; he has conquered death. He lived, he died and he lives again. He holds the key to death and Hades which means he has the power over death and Hades and the Bible is clear that this power belongs to God and God alone.
John is then commanded to write down the things he has seen (the vision of Jesus), the things he is about to hear (the letters to the church) and the things that take place after this (the future and heavenly glories).
[i] The New International Commentary on the New Testament: Revelation (1977) Mounce, Robert: Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing. P. 76
[ii] New Bible commentary: 21st century edition. 1994 (D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer & G. J. Wenham, Ed.) (4th ed.) (Re 1:9–20). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
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