Revelation 1v4-20

SERMON TOPIC: Revelation 1v4-20

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 16 July 2023

Topic Groups: REVELATION, PROPHECY

Sermon synopsis: The glorified Jesus appears to the apostle John on the island of Patmos - a Roman penal colony where John has been banished to by the Emperor Domitian - in the nineties of the 1st century AD.
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REVELATION – chapter 1 (continued)

Revelation 1:4-6 (NIV)

4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,

5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,

6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

v4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia …

The 7 churches addressed by John were 7 churches in the Roman province of Asia (western part of modern-day Turkey).

THE SEVEN SPIRITS

v4 (NIV) … Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits [pneumaton] before his throne

THE SEVEN ANGELS WHO STAND BEFORE GOD

What are the 7 spirits before the throne, also mentioned in Revelation 4:5 and 5:6?

This refers to “the seven angels who stand before God” (Rev 8:2) who blow the judgement trumpets and pour out the bowls of judgement.

THE SEVEN ANGELS WHO STAND BEFORE GOD

The idea of 7 archangels is found in some early Jewish literature, e.g. the Book of Tobit * refers to “the seven angels who stand in the glorious presence of the Lord, ready to serve him.” While not taught explicitly in canonical Scripture, this is consistent with what we see in Revelation.

* considered Deuterocanon by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, but not by Protestants.

THE SEVEN WATCHERS - ARCHANGELS

The Book of Enoch (alluded to by Jude and Peter) mentions 7 Watchers who appear to wield great authority and are often considered to be the 7 archangels; they are:

Michael

Gabriel

Raphael

Uriel

Raguel

Sarakiel

Remiel

FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD

v5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness: Jesus is reliable and faithful in terms of the revelation he will give John.

The firstborn from the dead: he was the first man resurrected to eternal life. He is also pre-eminent among all the resurrected as “the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom 8:29).

The ruler of the kings of the earth: Presently Jesus rules a kingdom, but it is not of this world. But at the end of the book, Jesus take dominion over every earthly king as “king of kings”.

… To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood: The proof of his love is the cross, where he freed us from our sins. (“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” - John 15:13, NIV)

KINGS & PRIESTS

v6 (NKJV) and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father

In the Old Covenant, it was forbidden to combine the offices of king and priest. E.g. King Uzziah tried to combine the two offices, and was punished (2 Chron 26:16-23). In the New Covenant we – like Jesus – can be both kings and priests (Luke 1:31-33; Heb 4:14).

MERCY & GRACE

MERCY is God not giving us what we deserve (punishment).

GRACE goes further than MERCY. It is God then giving us what we do not deserve (unmerited favour and blessing).

v5 … has freed us from our sins by his blood:

Jesus loved us and cleansed us. That’s mercy!

v6 (NKJV) and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father

Jesus makes us kings and priests of God. That’s grace!

GLORY & DOMINION

v6 (NIV) to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

(NKJV) To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

In light of all that Jesus did for us, it is right to praise Him. We should honour Him with all glory and dominion forever and ever. When we say this, we aren’t giving Jesus glory and dominion. We are simply recognizing that He has it, and honouring Him for it. *

Amen: This word – in the ancient Greek language, brought over from the Hebrew of the Old Testament – simply means “Yes.” It isn’t a wish that it may be so, but it is an affirmation that, through God, it will be so. Jesus will be praised. *

* https:// enduringword.com/ bible-commentary/revelation-1

Revelation 1:7-8 (NIV)

7 “Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.

8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

COMING WITH THE CLOUDS

v7a “Look, he is coming with the clouds” …

This is a reference to the Messianic figure referred to in Daniel as “one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.” (7:13) to begin an eternal kingdom over the earth (7:14). *

* Daniel 7:14 (NIV) He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

EVERY EYE SHALl SEE HIM

V7b and “every eye will see him ...

Christ will return to earth, but Scriptures seem to indicate two separate events. 1 Thessalonians 4 and the many passages about Christ returning like a thief, describe an event in which not everyone will see Jesus.

Hence “Every eye will see him” is not referring to the Rapture (when he comes as a thief in the night), but to The Second Advent.

This refers to the Jewish acceptance of the Messiah they formerly crucified – and subsequent repentance.

Zech 12:10 (NIV) “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

V7 Look, he is coming with the clouds and “every eye will see him even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” ...

ALL PEOPLES ON EARTH WILL MOURN

Matt 24:30-31 (NIV) “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA

v8a “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God… (cf. 4:8)

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The term designates the comprehensiveness of God, implying that he includes all that can be.

V8b … “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

This conveys not only the idea of an eternal being, but a timeless being - who simultaneously is in the present, eternity past and eternity future.

Revelation 1:9-11 (NIV)

9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,

11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

PARTNER IN SUFFERING

v9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus …

We are reminded that Jesus told us to expect persecution (John 15:18-21) and that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12).

The emperor Domitian, who was naturally inclined to cruelty, first slew his brother, and then raised the second persecution against the Christians… Among the numerous martyrs that suffered during this persecution was … John, who was boiled in oil, and afterward banished to Patmos … a law was made, "That no Christian, once brought before the tribunal, should be exempted from punishment without renouncing his religion." [Fox's Book of Martyrs - 1563]

WHERE WAS IT WRITTEN?

v9 I, John … was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

The Book of Revelation was written on Patmos, a tiny (6 by 8 km) rocky island in the Aegean Sea, about 80 to 100 km southwest of Ephesus. It was a Roman penal colony.

WHERE WAS IT WRITTEN?

At the close of the 1st century, according to Suetonius * and Dio Cassius, ** the Roman Emperor Domitian assumed the titles dominus et deus ” (Lord and God) and ordered that his subjects address him by these titles in writing and in speech.

* Dom. 13.2; cf.13.1 ** 67.4.7;cf. 67.13.3f

Photorealistic reconstruction of Roman Emperor Domitian

WHERE WAS IT WRITTEN?

Under Domitian’s reign, Tertullian says, “the Apostle John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and remitted to his island-exile!” *

* The Prescription Against Heretics

WHEN WAS IT WRITTEN?

Domitian reigned from 81-96 AD. Victorinus (d. 303/4) writes that, “John … was in the island of Patmos, condemned to the labour of the mines by Caesar Domitian.”

Revelation was written in the mid-90’s of the 1st century. Irenaeus says that John wrote the Revelation “towards the end of Domitian’s reign”. *

* … it would have been stated by the one who saw the actual revelation. For it was seen not a long time back, but almost in my own lifetime, at the end of Domitian’s reign. (Against Heresies, 5.30.3)

WHEN WAS IT WRITTEN?

Many early church writers like Irenaeus, Victorinus of Pettau, 1 Eusebius, 2 Clement of Alexandria 3 and Origen 4 date the book to the reign of the emperor Domitian (81–96).

If Revelation was written in the 90s of the 1st century, the Second Coming could not have been in AD 70 as Full Preterists assert, or the book would be one of history – not prophecy as it claims (Rev 1:1). As a result, Preterists attempt to date the book earlier (64-67 AD) than what the actual recorded evidence suggests and contrary to the testimony of the earliest church writers.

1 Apocalypse 10.11 2 H.E. 3.17-18 3 Quis Dives Salvetur 42 4 Matthew 16.6

Domitian was murdered in Sept 96 AD, in a plot organized by his enemies in the Senate. John was liberated in an amnesty by Nerva, Domitian’s successor. *

* Cassius Dio wrote, “Nerva also released all who were on trial for maiestas (high treason) and restored the exile.”

Photorealistic reconstruction of Nerva

Eusebius adds: “But after Domitian had reigned fifteen years, and Nerva had succeeded to the empire, the Roman Senate, according to the writers that record the history of those days, voted that Domitian's honours should be cancelled, and that those who had been unjustly banished should return to their homes and have their property restored to them. It was at this time that the apostle John returned from his banishment in the island and took up his abode at Ephesus, according to an ancient Christian tradition.” *

* Church History, Book III, Ch. 20:10-11

Nero dies: 68 AD

Reign of Galba, Otho & Vitellius. Vespasian starts reign: 69 AD

Jerusalem and Temple destroyed by Titus: 70 AD

Vespasian dies: 79 AD

Reign of Titus: 79-81 AD

Domitian starts his reign: 81 AD

In exile, John writes Revelation: c. 95 AD

Domitian dies: 96 AD

John released from Patmos & goes to Ephesus: c. 96-98 AD

TIMELINE

NOTE: Revelation was written almost 3 decades after Nero’s reign.

WHEN WAS IT WRITTEN?

As the Book of Revelation was likely written long after Nero’s (54-68 AD) reign, this invalidates the Preterist view, which asserts that the beast is a reference to Nero.

Another piece of evidence comes from the use of “Babylon” as a code word for a city in Revelation. Though early daters say Babylon refers to Jerusalem, 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, and The Sibylline Oracles all refer to Rome as Babylon. Jews and Christians linked the cities together because both powers had sacked the holy city. *

* https:// hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/ questions/ 13997/ what-historical-reasons-resulted-in-revelation-being-included-in-most-christian

WHEN WAS IT WRITTEN?

Several of the 7 churches addressed in Revelation had historical circumstances that do not match the alleged early date of writing that Preterists make.

No mention is made of Paul’s work in Asia Minor which is inexplicable if Revelation was written between 64-67 AD.

The church at Smyrna (commended in Revelation 2) was not even founded in this period. Polycarp (in his letter to the Philippians) says that the Smyrnaeans did not know the Lord at the time Paul was ministering.

Paul’s epistles to the churches in Asia Minor (Ephesians, Colossians, Galatians) never refer to the Nicolaitan heresy mentioned twice in Revelation (2:5, 2:15).

WHEN WAS IT WRITTEN?

Several of the churches had lost their zeal for Christ - hardly likely in a first-generation church. Paul wrote to Timothy (1 Timothy) in Ephesus (AD 62-66) and makes no mention of the loss of first love or of the Nicolaitans. Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians (AD 62) is also silent on these serious issues.

Laodicea is called rich (Rev 3:17) but it was totally destroyed by an earthquake in AD 60. Colin Hemer (a classicist turned NT scholar) points out that from AD 60-69 there are no coins from Laodicea in the Catalogue of the Greek Coins in the British Museum while there is a rich series of coinage from the period of Domitian. *

* The End Times Controversy - edited by Tim F. LaHaye, Thomas Ice

THE LORD’S DAY

Rev 1:10 (NIV) On the Lord’s Day

The early Church called the first day of the week (Sunday) THE LORD’S DAY because it was the day of Jesus’ resurrection.

The Didache (90-120 AD): “But on the Lord’s own [day] assemble and break bread, and give thanks, first confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.” (14)

Ignatius (c.35-c.117 AD): “At the dawning of the Lord’s day He arose from the dead…” (The epistle to the Trallians)

Clement Of Alexandria (190 AD): “He does the commandment according to the Gospel and keeps the Lord’s day … glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself.” (Miscellanies VII.xii.76.4)

In the spirit

Rev 1:10 (NIV) On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit…

John Walvoord defines the term “in the Spirit” as: “Carried beyond normal sense into a state where God could reveal supernaturally the contents of this book.”

7 churches

V10-11 … and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

These 7 churches * are roughly arranged in a circular pattern. Some think they may have been postal districts in the Roman province of Asia.

Interestingly, Paul also wrote to 7 churches (Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Colossae, Philippi and Thessalonica).

Revelation 1:12-16 (NIV)

12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands,

13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.

14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.

15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.

16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

THE SON OF MAN

v13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man

We already noted in verse 7 that this is terminology from Daniel 7:13 describing the pre-incarnated Christ in heaven.

In the NT, Jesus is referred to as:

Son of God: 38 times (most of these references by others)

Son of Man: 84 times (most of these references by himself).

A SHARP DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

v16 … coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword …

In Isaiah 49:2 the Messianic figure called The Servant of the Lord says that God “made my mouth like a sharpened sword”.

This sword symbolises “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17).

It is “the word of God” which “is alive 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. (Heb 4:12)

A SHARP DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

It is a sharp two-edged sword: “There is no handling this weapon without cutting yourself, for it has no back to it, it is all edge. The Word of Christ, somehow or other, is all edge.” (Spurgeon)

THE GLORIFIED JESUS

v16 … His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

This is the glorified Jesus and is reminiscent of his Transfiguration where “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” (Matt 17:2, NIV).

After the resurrection when Jesus initially appeared to the disciples, his appearance was not glorious, e.g. Mary Magdalene mistakes him for the gardener. However, after his ascension and glorification, Jesus manifests his divine glory bodily. So, when the glorified Christ appears to Saul on the road to Damascus there is “a light from heaven, brighter than the sun” (Acts 26:13) which leaves Saul blinded (Acts 9:3-8).

Revelation 1:17-20 (NIV)

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.

18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.

20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

John, the beloved disciple and friend of Jesus who reclined next to him at the Last Supper, now has to prostrate himself before the glorified Jesus on Patmos and “fell at his feet as though dead” (v17).

THE FIRST AND THE LAST

v17 …Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.

“The First and the Last” is a title used of Yahweh.

Isa 44:6 (NIV) “This is what the LORD (Yahweh) says … I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. [cf. Isaiah 41:4, 48:12]

Jesus’ claims divinity: you cannot have two Firsts and Lasts.

THE LIVING ONE

v18a I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!

The resurrected Jesus makes a proclamation of his victory over death. He rose never to die again. Death will never make any claims on him again.

THE KEYS OF DEATH AND HADES

v18b And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Jesus took these keys when he rose from the dead and led the OT saints from Paradise into heaven. Before this paradise was located in Hades (Luke 16).

what is now and what will take place later

v19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.”

“what you have seen”: are those narrated in chapter 1.

“what is now”: the present state of things in the churches to which John was writing, chapters 2-3.

“and what will take place later.” the things represented concerning the future history, chapters 4-22

A MYSTERY REVEALED

v20a The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this:

A mystery is something not yet known (Eph 3:1-6; Col 1:25,26; Rom 16:25,26).

Paul says that revelation is the opposite of mystery (Rom 16:25-26). This is an apocalypse – a revelation, not apocrypha (something hidden).

Jesus now proceeds to reveal the mystery of the symbols John is seeing.

The 7 stars

v20b The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches …

Angel: literally “messenger”, not necessarily a heavenly messenger. In English we borrowed the Greek word “ang'-el-os”) and transliterated it as “angel”. *

* Strongs: ang'-el-os used 176 times in the NT (usually of heavenly angels), but only the context determines whether a human or celestial messenger is intended. In Rev1:20 ággelos can refer to heavenly angels or key leaders (perhaps a pastor) of the 7 churches.

The 7 LAMPSTANDS

v20c … and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

A lampstand holds a light source. Jesus is the light of the world:

John 8:12 … Jesus … said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 12:46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

John 1:9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

This applied when Jesus walked this earth.

John 9:5 “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Now that Jesus is gone from the earth physically, we are the light of the world (Matt 5:14).

LIGHT OF THE WORLD

Jesus called us “sons of light” (John 12:36), “the people of the light” (Luke 16:8) and “children of light” (Eph 5:8).

1 Thess 5:5 You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.

SONS OF LIGHT

AMBASSADORS

With Jesus no longer present physically we are his ambassadors and representatives on earth.

2 Cor 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (cf. Eph 6:19-20)

An ambassador doesn’t represent their own interests but that of their country. They have to speak and act carefully as representatives of another nation while residing in a foreign country.

LIGHT OF THE WORLD

Matt 5:14-15 (NIV) “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

Jesus has given us both a great compliment and a great responsibility because we need to be the light for an otherwise dark world.

Phil 2:14-15 Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe...

A GREAT RESPONSIBILITY

Light overcomes darkness

World English Bible - The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness hasn't overcome it.

Weymouth New Testament - The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.

John 1:4 International Standard Version - And the light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.

LIGHT EXPOSES EVIL

Light exposes things that are otherwise unseen in the dark e.g. lift a rock and watch the spiders and bugs scatter when they see the light.

Eph 5:13-14 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.

Crime is reduced in well-lit neighbourhoods. As the light of the world, we should be exposing darkness and the evil in the world.

Eph 5:11-12 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret

We need to be the “whistle-blowers” for the evil in the world.

Isa 1:17 Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

Being the light of the world and exposing what is hidden in the darkness will not make you popular - because the world loves darkness.

John 3:19-21 “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

UNPOPULAR

A SENSE OF DIRECTION

Light gives people a sense of direction

John 12:35 ... “The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going.”

We should be giving guidance and direction to the lost.

WHO GETS THE GLORY?

The reason we let our light shine by doing good works is to bring glory to God, not ourselves.

Matt 5:16 “… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

1 Pet 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

How do children of the light live?

Eph 5:8-10, 15-20 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord... Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rom 13:12-14 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

How do children of the light live?



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