Revelation 1:1-5

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants – things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, and to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” Revelation 1:1-3.

Written about 81-96 A.D. the book of Revelation carries a blessing for those who read it out loud in the church because the Bible was not in print as a book.

The New Testament canon of Scripture had not been collated into the single volume we have today these letters had to be read aloud in the church.

The compilation of the entire New Testament was not accomplished until 397 A.D.

The word canon is from a Greek word implying, “that which measures” thus having the meaning of measuring up the different books of Scripture against strict standards. In other words, is this God breathed or just the writing of men.

The Apocrypha is an example of the latter. While interesting and historical it has many things in it that are just not good doctrine, Jewish or Christian.

It should be added that the Scriptures were not in a common book form so the average person could not own them. Rather, the Scriptures were in letter form which was hand copied onto scrolls and books which were, in comparison to today, few in number.

To sum up, the Old Testament Scriptures were complete and collected about fifth century B.C. and the New Testament Scriptures were finalized and recognized by 397 A.D. making the entire Bible as we know it complete as of that date.

However, the common man could not possess an entire Bible until Johann Gutenberg invented the movable type printing press about 1440 A.D.

Gutenberg’s stated goal for inventing the printing press was, “God suffers because there are such multitudes of souls to whom His sacred Word cannot be given.”

The first Gutenberg Bible was produced in 1456 and his prayers were answered, for the world was soon filled with the Word of God.

All this history is given for a purpose; it is my hope that as we go through the histories of the church age that you will recognize the impact that the Word of God, or the lack of it, has on history.

The blessing given in verse three is also upon those who hear. The book contains numerous warnings not only for the church, but the individual too; we are blessed if we “keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near”.

This book can bless not only those of us in the here and now but has blessed the reader in the first century church as well as those fearful and dying who will read it in the tribulation and those living in peace during the millennium.

The main blessing is that we are not facing the unknown as chaos increases in the world, God has told us so beforehand. Concerning His imminent crucifixion Jesus said this to His disciples as a warning and a comfort.

“And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.” John 14:29.

Over and over God warned the people of Israel through His prophets of impending disaster if they did not repent of their idolatry and sins. Rarely was any attention paid to them and disaster fell upon the nation.

“Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7.

Now once again He has revealed His secret through His prophet John before it comes to pass that we may believe and rest in His Son Jesus.

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him [Jesus] to show His servants – things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John [the prophet]…” Revelation 1:1.

The phrase in verse one, “things which must shortly take place” means that when these things begin to happen they will happen quickly.

Anyone who can remember the Soviet Union falling apart, almost overnight, and those who recognize the changes that have taken place in this country in less than eight years, will understand what it means by, “shortly take place”.

“John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood…” Revelation 1:4-5.

The letter is addressed to the seven churches in Asia, so the entire book was to be read to these specific churches and from there sent to all other churches. See verse 1 the first sentence, “to show His servants”, this is the whole church.

The first person mentioned is God the Father, “who is and who was and who is to come”, the self-existing eternal God.

The “seven Spirits who are before His throne”, is a reference to Isaiah 11:2.

“The Spirit of the Lord [Yahweh] shall rest upon Him [the Christ], the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear [to reverently trust] of the Lord [Yahweh].” Isaiah 11:2.

This is description of the Holy Spirit in His perfection; consider also Revelation 4:5b, “Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”

Since the Holy Spirit resides in all true Christians the potential for a productive life before God is enormous.

“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:13-16.

God the Son, Jesus Christ is described as, “the faithful witness”.

“I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate…” 1 Timothy 6:13.

“… [Jesus is] the firstborn from the dead…” Revelation 1:5b.

“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Colossians 1:18-20.

While the Bible does have several accounts of people being raised from the dead, they all lived to die again, not so with Christ, He arose with a new body, never to die again. In fact He is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven.

Study Luke 24:36-43 and John 20:24-30, as you will see in these and other passages, the Lord had a changed, yet recognizable body. Soon the Christian will receive a similar body at the rapture of the church.

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” Philippians 3:20-21.

“… [Jesus is] ruler over the kings of the earth…” Revelation 1:5b.

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” Proverbs 21:1.

The kings of this earth may seem to be doing whatsoever they wish, wreaking havoc at will, yet the Lord is in control and they cannot go beyond the line He has drawn.

“He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:15b-16.

Evil has an end and the day is coming when all, whether kings or just wicked men, will find themselves helpless, facing a fierceness and wrath far beyond the tortures and killings they inflicted on God’s creatures, men, women, and children.

“To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood…” (vs. 5 last sentence); how difficult it is to comprehend this statement. It has to begin with love; and yet men still make God out to be a monster.

It was God who sent His Son to die for us and it was the Son who endured such shame and suffering for our sake.

“Surely He [Jesus Christ] has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised [marginal, crushed] for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes [marginal, blows that cut in] we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:4-6.

The simplicity of salvation is also incredible; we have only to acknowledge our sins and turn away from them (repent) and accept the death of Christ on the cross as payment for what we could not pay.

Once and for all eternity we are washed from our sins, singular not many times. All this is given to us with no self-mutilating, no crawling over crushed glass, no chanting, and no trips to Mecca or Tibet, just receiving a love gift from Jesus.

It is good that folks realize their sin, but tragic when they elect to appease a false god for them.

Revelation 1:1-5 taken from posted on 9-14-16, updated on 4-1-22.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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