Monday, May 15, 2017

Revelation 1:4&5A An Expositional commentary

    The first three verses of the book of Revelation constitute a pre-amble. It tells us what the document ultimately is, what it is about, where it came from, and even threw in a blessing for those that read and those that hear and attend carefully to those things that are written therein.

    Now we get into the letter.

Verse 4: John to the seven churches which are in Asia:
    Notice John doesn’t have to introduce himself. It doesn’t say “John, the Apostle” or “John, the Elder” or any qualifying titles to identify who John is. He just said “John”. Everybody in these seven churches knew who John was.
    Notice also that the letter is to the Seven churches. Get used to that number seven. It is everywhere in the Book of Revelation. If you go hunting for them, you can find hundreds of things listed in groups of seven. Seven churches, seven lampstands, seven stars, seven titles of Jesus, seven beatitudes, seven “I AM” statements by Jesus, seven thunders, seven seals, seven trumpets, the list goes on and on and on.  A lot of people believe that seven is the number of God and that all the sevens in this book serve as God’s signature on the book. As much as I love the idea, seven is not so much the number of God as it is the number of completeness.
    That does make seven a very appropriate number for the Book of Revelation. In fact, I believe you can still consider all the sevens as a sort of Divine signature. Revelation completes the story that was started in Genesis. Just about everything that started in Genesis reaches its conclusion in Revelation:
    In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. In Revelation, there’s a new heaven and a new earth. In Genesis, God created the sea. In Revelation, there is no more sea. In Genesis, God called the darkness night. In Revelation, there is no more darkness. In Genesis, God told Adam: “You shall surely die”. In Revelation, death shall be no more. In Genesis, God said, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow”. Revelation says there will be no more sorrow. God cursed the ground in Genesis. There is no more curse in Revelation. Satan appears as a deceiver in Genesis. He is disposed of in Revelation. In Genesis, man is driven from the Tree of Life. In Revelation, man has full access to the tree of life.
(This list is from Chuck Missler’s Revelation audio series, available at Blueletterbible.org , which is where I get all the scripture that I use in these blogs.)

    “Asia” is not the Asia that we all know and love today. Asia in the first century was a Roman province that encompassed most of Western Asia Minor. Put another way, all seven of these churches would be in western Turkey today.

Grace be unto you, and peace,
    This salutation is used 17 times in the New Testament. Paul used it a lot. Peter used it and John used it in his second epistle. In a couple of letters, Paul says “Grace, mercy and peace”. But you’ll notice that Grace always comes before peace, in the New Testament and in life. Thayer defines grace as: good will, loving kindness, favor. Without some of that, there can never be peace.

from him which is, and which was, and which is to come;
    I copy and paste the scriptures that I use (with permission) straight off of The Blue Letter Bible. (The link is above) I do it on purpose so that I don’t commit a typo on the Word of God. That same logic keeps me from editing the scriptures (Heaven forbid), but it really bothers me that “him” is not capitalized here, considering who it is referring to.

    Greek grammar critics have had a fit over this phrase. Something about sticking an imperfect verb between two present participles, or something like that. Anyway, when Moses asked God for His name, God said, “I AM that I AM.” That’s a great phrase in Hebrew. It loses a lot of its eternal meaning by the time it gets into English. Here, John is determined to translate that eternalness into Greek, no matter how bad it seems to torture the language.
Revelation 1:8 - I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
Revelation 4:8 - And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
    Both of these passages clearly identify Him as God, so I think it would be safe to say it means God here, too.

and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
    When John writes THE seven Spirits (wow, the S in Spirits got capitalized), it’s as though he expects us to know about these seven Spirits.
Isaiah 11:2 - And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
    There’s seven there. This strikes me as maybe a little bit of a stretch. After all, spirit isn’t capitalized here. But a lot of good commentators point to this scripture whenever seven Spirits comes up. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that here in Revelation, we are talking about the Holy Spirit.
  
Verse 5 - And from Jesus Christ,
    Here we have the Trinity: Lord God Almighty, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ. Granted, while all three members are in view here, only the first of the three is definitely identified as God (though there is that capital S).
    Something else I noticed: Lord God Almighty (I want to say God the Father, but let’s stick to what the text actually says right here) is not so much named as described. (from him which is, and which was, and which is to come). The same goes for the Holy Spirit ( the seven Spirits which are before his throne). Only Jesus Christ is identified by name, and then, we get a three-fold description. (or list of titles, if you will)

who is the faithful witness,   
    I looked up the Greek word for witness (martus) in the Strong’s Concordance and in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and found that it means witness, in a legal sense. (They say that this is where we get the english word “martyr”) Somehow I was expecting something else. Of all the titles of Jesus Christ, this is the most interesting. We are supposed to be faithful witnesses for Him, yet here, He is called the faithful witness. I’m not sure what to do with that.                                                         Psalm 89:36 - His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.
Verse:37 - It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.   
    He obviously is the faithful witness. I’ve been struggling with the question of exactly what He has to witness at this point. For that matter, who is He witnessing to and how? Then my son mentioned something: Jesus Christ could be witnessing to God on OUR behalf.
Matthew 10:32 - Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
    This could also be referring to Christ’s ministry on earth when He was witnessing to the world about God.
John 1:18 -  No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
    This would make Jesus the “He who was”

and the first begotten of the dead.
    I’d like to pause here and complain about the King James translators again. If you look this scripture up in your King James Bible, you’ll notice “and” is in italics. That means it was added by the translators in an effort to clarify the text. In this case, the text sounded better without their help.
    The King James Dictionary says “beget” means to bring forth. So Jesus was the first “brought forth” from the dead. I like that. He wasn’t just raised from the dead. Lazarus was raised from the dead. There was also that little girl in the ninth chapter of Matthew, the kid that fell out the window in Acts, a couple more in the Old Testament….These people all died again. Jesus was the first to be brought forth from the dead. Never to die again. Of course, if He is called “the first”, it follows that there will be more.
    This would make Jesus the “He who is”  

and the prince of the kings of the earth.   
    The word “prince” is archōn. Thayer says it means a ruler, commander, chief, leader. Strong’s says “first (in rank or power) - chief (ruler), magistrate, ruler. So...King of Kings. There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that Jesus Christ is ruling over the kings of the earth today. Christ will rule the world in the future, therefore this would make Jesus “He which is to come”

    This is what makes the subject of the Trinity such a strange conversation. We have: from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; …  And from Jesus Christ, Then we find out that Jesus is He who is, and was and is to come. Because of people I know and teachings I have been exposed to, this whole discussion of the Trinity is going to be an ongoing theme in this commentary while I try to make sense of exactly what that means. So far, we’ve established some serious similarities between God and Jesus Christ. Yet, there does seem to be some distinction between them as well.
    I kinda hate to end this here, in the middle of a verse. But it is the end of the sentence, and the next sentence actually moves us from introduction to a kind of benediction. Combine that with the large amount of content to be discussed in the next verse and a half, and this just becomes the only reasonable place to wrap up for now. I know this is kind of abrupt. That’s what I hate about ending in the middle of a verse.

    
    

         

    

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