I’m a layman. I’m not a theologian. I don’t have a degree from a seminary and I certainly cannot be considered an authority.
But I read a lot. I’ve been exposed to a multitude of doctrines. I went to Catholic school through third grade. You can get a lot drilled into you in your first three grades of school. I also went to a Baptist church, sat through the foundational class of the Way International, then was baptised into the Seventh Day Adventist church and the Assembly of God. I’ve even sat through services at a Mormon church and a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall. A lot of these folks think they have a monopoly on the Truth. This idea that they, alone have stumbled across the Truth of God and everyone not of their particular sect is deceived. That attitude has always annoyed me. I personally think that we’re all deceived. We think we’re serving God, but our very best efforts have motives behind them that don’t honor God. ...Or maybe that’s just me. I have no right to place an evaluation on anybody else’s motives, but I can tell you mine are not totally righteous.
I’m going through all this introduction so that we’ll all understand each other when we get into studying the Book of Revelation. I don’t have all the answers. This whole commentary is part of my search for some of those answers. I’m looking for the truth. I’d like to think I’m totally objective, but let’s not fool ourselves. We all have notions, positions and beliefs that we have constructed in our minds and anything that requires that we actually go back and rethink something is going to be met with great resistance.
The trick is to get your beliefs to agree with the Bible rather than making the Bible agree with your beliefs. It sounds simple enough. But if you’re honest with yourself, you know better.
There are various schools of thought on how to interpret the Bible, which translation to use, and even whether the Book of Revelation is to be taken literally or allegorically. There are questions and controversies over the Rapture of the church, whether Jesus is God and when, exactly, the Tribulation starts. All this stuff will be addressed in the Book of Revelation.
My hope is, that I can tell you something you hadn’t thought about, and hopefully, my dear readers, you can help me figure out the parts that still confuse me.
So, let’s get to it. By the way, all the verses are copied from BlueLetterBible.org
Revelation 1:1 - The Revelation
The “revealing”. Singular. Something that was hidden will now be revealed
of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him
Those people that teach that Jesus is not God get their doctrine from Arius of Alexandria, who argued at the Council of Nicea in favor of a doctrine taught by Paul of Samosata who became the Patriarch of Antioch. In fact, the Council of Nicea was called by Constantine to address this very controversy that was threatening to cause violence in the church.
The Samosatene doctrine taught that Jesus is not eternal like the Father is. That he is a created being and therefore does not have the eternal essence of God the Father.
To take this argument a little bit further, Adam was considered a son of God
(Luke 3:38 -Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.)
because Adam was a direct creation of God. We are not sons of God; we are sons of Adam. Likewise, in Genesis 6:2 - That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
Most scholars believe that these “sons of God” were misbehaving angels. Angels also being direct creations of God, are therefore referred to as “sons of God”.
Carry that same logic to Jesus, and he is considered the Son of God because he is a direct creation of God. This would mean that Jesus Christ is not the same as the Father, not equal with the Father and therefore not worthy of worship.
I bring all this up because right here, I think we can score one for the Samosatenes. The text clearly says that God gave the revelation to Jesus. This not only identifies them as two separate persons, but also seems to place God in a higher position than Jesus.
to shew unto his servants
I suppose you could spend a week arguing over whether the servants belong to God or Jesus. If you consider yourself a servant of either one, the point of God giving this revelation to Jesus is to show it to you.
things which must shortly come to pass;
Most commentators will tell you the Greek word used here for “shortly” (tachos) means not so much “soon” as “quickly”. Once it starts, it will all take place in rapid succession.
It seems to me, since it’s been almost two thousand years since he wrote this, and none of it has happened yet (at least none of the exciting stuff), I would be one to lean toward that same interpretation.
I realise that my position that this is all still future isn’t a position that is unanimously held either. I love reading the old Bible commentaries from the 16th. 17th and 18th centuries. They allegorise everything and most of them are convinced that a big chunk of Revelation has already been fulfilled. Almost every one I’ve read (and I can’t remember a specific exception) adheres to what is called Replacement Theology; the idea that all references to Israel or Jerusalem were actually references to the church. That the church had completely supplanted Israel in prophetic literature.
It’s kind of hard to blame them. Israel didn’t exist. Hadn’t existed for centuries. Never mind the scriptures that said the children of Israel would one day be called back to the promised land. While the first Christians were Jews, as the Gospel spread it didn’t take long before there were more non-Jews than Jews in the church, and non-Jews had always hated Jews. By the fourth century AD, most of the congregations were headed by non-Jews and in fact, not a single bishop at the Council of Nicaea was Jewish. By the end of the Council of Nicea, the church leaders legislated that Easter (By the year 325, the church was already using the word “Easter” because Passover sounded too Jewish) would be scheduled in such a way as to make sure it never coincided with the Jewish Passover so as to have nothing common with the Jews.
What bothers me is that a lot of churches - most, it would seem - still teach that today With the return of the Jewish state in Israel, I would think that those in charge of doctrine would update their teaching. But let’s face it, people (even leaders in the church) still hate Jews.
and he sent and signified it by his angel
His angel rendered it into signs, then delivered it
unto his servant John:
So, the Revelation went from God, to Jesus Christ, to his angel, to John. It's not finished traveling yet, but that's as far as we get in the first verse.