Revelation 1:12-20

“I saw seven golden lampstands”, v12, these are precious and give stability & strength to the light itself. Each church is a lampstand, not the light itself. Jesus said He is the light of the world, Jn. 8:12. Paul tells us that the church is the pillar & ground of the truth, 1st Tim. 3:15. It is an honor to be called a golden lampstand, remember in the Temple the Jews had a “menorah”, destroyed in 70AD.

“Like the Son of Man”, v13, This is Daniel’s prophecy seen in all it’s glorious detail by John’s eyes. The God-man Jesus shown as a human but with phenomenal attributes amongst His Church, the 7 lampstands. The vision is a flashback from Daniel’s days, prophesying that the Kingdom would come and immediately destroy all other earthly kingdoms, establishing an eternal spiritual Kingdom, Dan. 7:13-14. John the Immersionist proclaimed the Kingdom was coming in his day, Mark 1:14-15, and now John the Apostle was seeing the glorious fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy in the context of what Jesus finished and his cousin John started. Jesus is Ruler of kings of the earth, in all his power as the Son of Man. This had strength for Christians, being asked to call Caesar Lord, but now Jesus was Lord. The Jews had no aspirations to rule the world, they just wanted to rule their own land, but since the Romans forced Christians to call Ceasar, Lord, instead of Jesus, the Romans ended up losing their world domination. While the Romans were persecuting Christians, they were being given the assurance of victory, which many of them never saw until they became martyrs. John is in the tribulation when he receives the revelation, v9, so there is no reason for us to doubt that God will not give us strength to endure tribulations for the sake of living like Christ and spreading the gospel. Php. 4:4-7, 2nd Cor. 4:16-18.

“a golden sash”, v13, this is clearly a priestly attire, reflecting his holiness and compassion which a priest should reflect, Exodus 28:8. Also, “hairs of his head were white…eyes were like a flame of fire”, v14, But this is not stressing tenderness. This priest is our High Priest and he lavishes mercy upon us but compassion is not the sole reason he is showing himself to John. Consider His “feet as burnished brass”, v15, The destructive power of the Cherubim comes from 1st Chronicles 28:18, having the same type feet. Christ is ready to destroy our enemies, and as the war wages on, He will one day submit everything to the Father one day, 1st Cor. 15:24-26. “His Voice” is surely what John turned to see in v10, it is also what we will hear pealing as a trumpet, upon His return to Judge the world, 1st Thess. 4:16.

“He held seven stars”, v16, which are the angels of the seven churches, v20. These angels are not figurative, they are real, the word simply means “messenger”. Both Abraham & Lot received people as messengers, and then later was blessed to learn that the messengers were actually angels from Heaven. A similar incident happened with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, where Jesus hid his identity, and then later blessed them by revealing his Heavenly identity. The Hebrew writer confirms that this can happen to Christians, and is one reason why we should all be careful to be hospitable to strangers, Hebrews 13:2. We are not promised to have an immediate revelation of the stranger’s heavenly identity, but we are going to meet “his angels” on the Day of Judgment. Jesus taught us that our charity on earth is rewarded in Heaven, and that our good deeds to strangers are actually done to Himself, Mat. 25:34-40. The seven stars Jesus holds, are his angels for the church as a whole, whose face is before the Father to this day, Mat. 18:10. Christians first receiving this knowledge of the seven stars would hold it as a true source of strength, looking for a way to entertain the stranger in the church as they evangelized, serving Jesus, knowing God would be fully aware of it and rewarding them.

“The Keys of death & hades”, v18, Even if the worst happens and we become martyrs, we win in Jesus, because He has the keys! Our suffering is not locked away in death, but freed into life and strength for evermore.

Do we have Christ reigning in our heart? In order to face trials & tribulations as a Christian, we must have a strength within us, larger than our self, because temptation is larger than our own strength. The human spirit is strong, but Christ’s Spirit is greater, 1st John 4:4.

Revelation 1:1-11

Angels have a big role in Revelation, v1 & 10:1, 12:7. It is a large letter from God’s messenger for the churches (servants) then and now. They still serve us, Heb. 1:14, Mat. 18:10. Christ Jesus is both the origin and theme of all 22 chapters. The apostle John personally saw & wrote down the visions from an angel. The logistics of delivery are most likely the way in which Daniel’s encounter with angels & dreams revealed pictures to Nebuchadnezzar or his own, Daniel 2:28-29.

John’s beatitude in v3 is for anyone who hears and obeys what the Revelation teaches.  Happiness is the purpose of God in giving this to us, not fear. God is the God of all comfort, 2Cor. 1:3-7. The phrase “7 Spirits” in v4 shouldn’t confuse us because Christ’s presence is for each of the seven churches. Seven often signifies perfect completion, which is the kind of presence we need, He is omnipresent. Jesus is entitled Faithful Witness, Firstborn of the Dead, Ruler of earthly kings, The Alpha & Omega and The Almighty because his blood freed us and proved his love for us. He’s qualified to make us a Royal Priesthood (1st Peter 2:9) and he will come again to show the entirety of humanity, his victoriously scarred body resurrected and ruling. The effect of his coming will be mournful and will make every knee to bow and tongue to confess Him as Lord, Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:10 & Isaiah 45:22-25.  So we should confess him now before it is forever too late, Matthew 10:32. No one knows the day nor hour…

v9, In The Kingdom…On Patmos. Since Jesus is the Ruler of the kings of the Earth, we know that it doesn’t matter where we are or what circumstance we are in, He rules because of The Kingdom, see Colossians 1:13, 1st Peter 2:9.  Despite the pain John suffered he still believed Christ was ruling, this is possible for every Christian because we are all called to suffer, 1st Peter 3:9-17. By enduring in this faith, we are winning the war of overcoming evil with good and bringing the deceptive kingdom of Satan in the world to a downfall, it is a real ‘wrestling’ match, see Ephesians 6:12.

v10, In The Spirit on The Lord’s Day. Jesus was raised from the dead on the 1st day of the week (Mat. 28:1) and it became the day which superseded the 7th day of the week (Sabbath) for worship amongst God’s faithful children. Nehemiah 8:18 mentions an 8th day (Neh. 8:18), and it seems prophetic that it became the Lord’s Day, Sunday.  It is interesting to note that in the 1905 edition of Sgt. Burrell’s 1760 Diary of New England Shipping, the day is spelt with an “O”, not u.  The 2nd century writings (Didache 14:1 and Ignatius’ letter to the Magnesians 9:1) both use the term “Lord’s Day” for the 1st day of the week Christians worshiped on, as was instituted by the Apostles, Acts 20:7.   Are we living in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, or should we make preparations to make an encounter? See Jude v20, Eph. 6:18 and Philippians 3:3.

v11, The Seven Churches. Each one of the cities lay on the same road and in the order they are written, in Asia Minor. Proving that God knows our exact location when living in The Spirit. Our position in Christ guarantees our spiritual safety no matter how dangerous being a Christian is. John would send them what he wrote from a trumpet sounding voice and several symbolic visions. It was written while John was in the Spirit and it should be read as we are in The Spirit, 1st Cor. 2:12-15. How much do we value the presence of His Spirit in our life as we face temptation & trials?

Introduction to Revelation

The title means “to open up, take the lid off” – Gk, “Apokalupsis”, where we get our English word, Apocalyptic. Contrary to popular usage, it has nothing to do with catastrophic wars and the end of the world as we see the media purport. It is singular, not plural. It has many visions, but one message: Christians win in Christ no matter how big & evil our enemy is, Jesus Christ is our victorious King. Revelation is the only letter written to 7 exclusive congregations. So we need to keep our understanding in the context of the original readers and not ourselves. The historical background is important, if we are going to make any personal application for today. History remains a great teacher for the future. John gave them assurance that they could understand it as fulfilled prophecy, see 1:1,3, 22:6, 10. Our interpretation is defined by scripture, see Dan. 8:26, 12:4. So fulfillment of Revelation can be seen within a few centuries. Some passages do have an obvious two-fold fulfillment, akin to the way Isaiah 7:14 can refer both to Jesus (God Saves) in Mt. 1:23 and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (quick to plunder, swift to spoil) in Isa. 8:1-3.

Authorship & Outline: John the Apostle and disciple whom Jesus ‘loved’, Jn.13:23, was banished to the isle of Patmos, while suffering this persecution, he received many visions and was told to write them down in a book, 1:9-10. The last we see of John in the New Testament is Acts 15:4 & Gal. 2:9 in Jerusalem, it is only secular history from Irenaeus and Justin that we learn about John going to Ephesus. Irenaeus claimed to be a student of Polycarp, who sat at the feet of John.  The timing of his writing was somewhere between 81-96AD under the reign of Emperor Domitian.  Revelation can be outlined as simple as this:

  • Introduction & Vision of Christ, Chapter 1
  • Specific Visions for The Angel of the 7 Churches, Chapters 2-3
  • General Visions of Prophecy for the 7 Churches, Chapters 4-22
    • Seven Seals, Trumpets & Bowls, Chapters 4-16
    • Winners & Losers, Chapters 17-20
    • More Than Conquerors in Christ, Chapters 21-22

Historical Background: The culture and political scenario of the first Christians is important, getting a meaningful understanding of Revelation is possible if we know how the world looked upon Christians in the 1st century.  The first persecution we suffered was from Jews, when James and Stephen were killed, it sent shock-waves of both fear and boldness throughout the new church. But Jews couldn’t continue their persecution of us, because of 2 major reasons: Firstly they had too big an enemy being Rome and were preoccupied with revolts and oppression, secondly we had God’s miraculous power proving to the Jews that their debate and persecution was fighting against God, which Gamaliel warned them of in Acts 5:39.   In 66AD the Jews revolted against the Romans throughout most of Israel. The Emperor Nero sent his General Vespasian to Israel to quell the rebellion in Palestine. After almost 2 years of fighting in 68AD, Vespasian accomplished subduing most of Israel and prepared to overtake Jerusalem itself, when amazingly, Nero committed suicide, which motivated Vespasian to leave Israel and take the Throne in Rome in 69AD. He left his son Titus in charge of besieging and finishing off Jerusalem. Titus erected the Romans Eagle in the Temple on 10 August 70AD (a fulfillment of Dan. 9:27, 11:31 & 12:11, as well as Mat. 24:15). They destroyed and burnt the Temple to the ground, looting the gold and it’s best treasures.  There were still pockets of Jews trying to rebel but the main element gathered at Masada and held out till 73AD, after knowing all was lost to the Romans, they organized a mass suicide, so the revolt of 66AD lasted till 73AD. Now Titus was victorious, Christians were busy spreading the gospel of Christ. Many Romans ignorantly believed that Christianity was a revamped renewal of Judaism, trying to establish itself again, so they fell under immediate persecution. The trumped up charge of Christ being the “King of the Jews” served as a prefaced purpose that would haunt Christians for decades, Mark 15:2. Christians were constantly confused by the Romans with Jews as a new breed to be stamped out. But after 117AD when Hadrian became Emperor, one of his decrees helped identify Christians as separate from Jews. The Jews revolted again in 132AD giving Hadrian a defeat in losing over 570,000 Roman soldiers, so Hadrian eventually burnt Jerusalem to the ground and built a shrine to Jupiter on the ruins of the Temple. Hadrian also banned circumcision, over time, this actually helped Romans identify who was a Christian and who was a Jew, in the humiliating gender identification Romans gave their enemies. God knew circumcision would be an issue and prepared for it to be abolished since the Apostolic letter of Acts 15. So Christians found themselves escaping persecution for a while until they came into Roman towns with marketplaces that demanded allegiance to Caesar upon entry.  This lull in persecution gave them an opportunity for escape, but in Asia Minor where the seven churches are located, they were targeted because they wouldn’t publicly acknowledge Caesar as King, only Jesus as Lord Christ (Kurios Christi). This made Christians look like a threat to the government and reign of Caesar and caused them to be persecuted again. However as the love of God and His Spirit was shown by Christians, their own persecution became a great advertisement for Jesus and Christianity. The Gospel was used by His Spirit and faithful Christians, we eventually grew and overturned the Empire, making Christ the King of kings.

Do you know your family’s future? In Christ, it is fantastically famous and eternally rich, for we are citizens of Heaven, Philippians 3:20. The Theme and/or summary of Revelation can be summed up in one verse, Revelation 17:14. Every Christian should commit this verse to memory and ask God to write it on your heart!