Verse 2 What John writes in this book has no human origin. It comes from God alone. What John writes is the word of God. John is certain of this. And Jesus Christ is a witness that this message is the word of God.
In chapter 21:5 God said, ‘I am making all things new.’ Then he said, ‘Write this. What I am saying is true. You can believe it.’ In chapter 22:6 the *angel said, ‘You can trust these words. They are true. The *Lord God, who gives his Spirit to the *prophets, sent his *angel to you. God sent his *angel to show his (God’s) servants what must happen quickly.’
John actually saw all that he has written here. The *angel of the *Lord showed all these things to John. Jesus himself tells John to write them to the *churches (1:19).
Verse 3 Seven times in this book, the *Lord promises to *bless people.
- · God will *bless those who read this book aloud. And those who hear and obey it. 1:3
- · The *Lord will *bless everyone who dies for him. 14:13
- · The *Lord says, ‘Listen. I will come as a thief comes. Happy is the person who stays awake with his clothes ready.’ 16:15
- · Happy are the people whom God has called to the wedding meal of the *Lamb. 19:9
- · Happy and holy are those whom God raises from death at this time. 20:6
- · Happy are all those who obey the words of *prophecy in this book. 22:7
- · Happy are those who wash their clothes clean. 22:14
Those who are happy are those whom God *blesses.
John calls this book a *prophecy. But it is not only about what will happen in the future. The book gives to us moral instruction as well. The purpose of the *prophecy is to help God’s people to live now. It aims to warn and to encourage them.
In the days of John, many Christians in the *churches could not read. When they met together, a reader would read aloud from the word of God. God will *bless the person who reads this *prophecy aloud to the *church. He will *bless those who listen to this *prophecy. God will *bless all who obey it.
We do not know when the end will be. We do not know when Jesus will come. These things could happen soon. Because the time is near, we must be ready for the *Lord to come.
John greets the *churches – Revelation 1:4-8
v4 This is from John. I am writing to the seven *churches in Asia. God is the same God who always was. He now exists and he will come in the future. The 7 spirits are in front of his *throne. I pray that he and they will *bless you. I ask that they will be kind to you. And I ask that they will give you calm hearts. v5 And I ask Jesus Christ to *bless you in the same way. Jesus is the true witness. He is the first person to be born again from death. He is the ruler of the kings of the earth. Christ loves us. By his blood, he freed us from our *sins. v6 And he made us a *kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father. To Jesus Christ be *glory and power for all time and without end. *Amen.
v7 Look, he is coming with the clouds. And everyone will see him. Even those who killed him will see him. Because of him, all the peoples of the earth will weep. Yes, this will happen. *Amen.
v8 The *Lord God says, ‘I am the A and the Z. I am the first and the last. I am always the same God. I am the same God who always was. And I will come again. I am the God of all power.’
Verse 4 The author is John. He does not need to introduce himself. The *churches in Asia knew him well. He writes with great authority. So he was probably a leader in the *churches in Asia.
He writes to 7 actual *churches. They were in Asia. This was part of the country that we now call Turkey. At that time, the *Romans ruled over Asia.
These 7 were not the only *churches in Asia. In the Bible, the number 7 sometimes means the complete or perfect number. The *Lord chose these as typical of the whole *church. The problems that these *churches had are like the problems of the *church in all ages. The messages were to those actual *churches and to the whole *church.
The order of the *churches is the same as the main routes through the area. If someone starts a journey in Ephesus, the road north
goes through Smyrna to Pergamum. Then the road to the south and east goes through Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and it ends in Laodicea.
John starts with the usual form of greeting. He prays that God would be kind to them. He asks God to give them calm hearts. He prays to God in three persons. In this verse, there is God the Father and the Spirit. In the next verse, he includes Jesus Christ.
God met with Moses in the desert. Moses asked God for his name. God said, ‘I am who I am’ (Exodus 3:14). God always is. He was there before he made time. He will be there after time has finished. God did not have a start. And he will not have an end. This is God the Father.
The 7 spirits that are in front of the *throne are the Holy Spirit. The 7 spirits show the work of Christ by the Holy Spirit in the 7 *churches.
Verse 5 In his prayer, John joins Jesus with God and the Holy Spirit. He then describes Jesus in three phrases.
- · Jesus is the true witness.
- · He is the first person to be born again from death.
- · He is the ruler of the kings of the earth.
‘Jesus is the true witness.’ So, Jesus says that the message of this book is true. He received it from God. Then, Jesus showed it to John. And Jesus told John to write it to the *churches. But the phrase means much more than this. Jesus was the true witness to God when he lived on earth. He showed us what God is like. He taught what God has said. He did all that God asked him to do. We can know God only because of Jesus.
Jesus was the true witness even through death. He is the model for the *churches. They have troubles because they belong to Jesus. Many Christians will have to die because they speak for Jesus.
Jesus was born again from death. God the Father raised him from death to life again. He is the first to be born from death. This does not just mean that he was the first in time. He is the first in importance. He now has power over death and the place of dead people (1:18).
That Jesus is the first to be born from death should encourage us. He has the power to raise people to life after death. He has promised to do this for all who believe in him.
He is the first person and the leader of a great crowd of people. These will follow him through death. He will lead his people into new life. He will bring them out of the place of dead people.
Strong nations rule on the earth. Rome was then the strongest nation. They ruled all the nations round about them. But Jesus is the ruler of the kings of the earth. They can only rule if Jesus allows them.
We may not see it now but Jesus is in control. He has all power in heaven and on earth. He is the king of kings. He is the *Lord of all.
One day Jesus will return to the earth. Then he will defeat all his enemies. And he will rule all the nations.
Although he is so great, Christ loves us. His love for us is a continuous fact. He has always loved us. And he will always love us. Because of his love, he died for us. By that death, he made us free from our *sins.
Through all their troubles, Christ cares for his people. They can depend on his love. He will be with them whatever happens.
Verse 6 God’s people are a *kingdom. They are the people over whom God is the king. But more than this, they will share with Christ as he rules. They will rule on earth as kings together with Christ the king (Revelation 5:10; 20:6).
This *kingdom is not like the *kingdoms of the world. It has no boundaries that one can show on a map. But this *kingdom consists of those who believe in Christ. It is all those whom Christ has made free from their *sins.
The *Lord has made each Christian a priest to serve God the Father. Because of Christ, Christians can now approach God the Father. They do not need priests to act on their behalf. They are the priests. The first task of the priest is to praise and to thank God.
The priest is the agent of the people. He comes to God on their behalf. He is also the agent of God to the people. As priests, Christians should pray for the people that the *Lord will be kind to them. As priests, Christians are witnesses to the world about what God has done. They have the message of hope in the *gospel.
All honour is due to the *Lord Jesus Christ. We should always praise him. His power and his *kingdom will never end.
Verse 7 The subject changes to that day when the *Lord Jesus will come. Life was hard for the Christians and they had many enemies. But their future is sure. Jesus is coming. Daniel the *prophet saw this day. He saw someone like a son of man coming. He will come with the clouds of the sky (Daniel 7:13). And every person on earth will see him come.
All who see him will weep. Jesus died outside the city called Jerusalem. The people from Jerusalem will weep and be sad. They killed Jesus and they will be sorry about it (Zechariah 12:10). But Jesus died because of the *sin of all people. Therefore, we all are responsible for his death.
All people will weep because of him. The people from Jerusalem will weep because they *repent. But many will weep with shame. They know that Jesus will be their judge. He will punish them with a terrible fate.
Verse 8 God himself now speaks. He declares that he is the A and the Z. A and Z are, of course, the first and last letters of our alphabet. In *Greek, these letters are alpha and the omega. So, alpha is the first letter of the *Greek alphabet and omega is the last one. These letters represent the whole alphabet. So, this phrase does not just mean the first and the last. It includes all that is between the first and the last. God is *Lord of all from the start to the finish. He made all things. He controls all things. The end of all things is in his hands.
God is alive now. God was there before time began. God will be there beyond the end of time.
God has all power and he rules over all. There is nothing outside the control of God. Nobody can escape from the power of God.
Jesus Christ speaks to John – Revelation 1:9-16
v9 I am John, your brother. And I suffer with you as you are suffering. I receive with you the *kingdom and the patience that are ours in Jesus. I was on the island called Patmos. I was there because I taught the word of God and the truth about Jesus. v10 I was in the Spirit on the day of the *Lord. And I heard behind me a loud voice, which sounded like a *trumpet. v11 The voice said, ‘Write whatever you see in a book. Then send it to the seven *churches. They are in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.’
v12 Then I turned to see whose voice spoke to me. When I turned, I saw seven gold lamp holders. v13 Among the lamp holders, there was a person like the Son of Man. He wore long clothes that reached down to his feet. Round his upper body, he had a gold belt. v14 His head and his hair were white as white wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire. v15 His feet were like bright shining *bronze that has gone through a hot fire. And his voice was like the sound of many waters. v16 He held seven stars in his right hand. A sharp sword that cuts with both edges came out of his mouth. And his face was like the sun as it shines in its strength.
Verse 9 The writer again tells the readers that he is John. He describes himself as their brother in the family of God. He did not think that he was better than them. He was just one of them. He suffered with them the same troubles that they were suffering. Jesus said, ‘In the world, you will have troubles’ (John 16:33). This is what Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:12). ‘All who want to live good lives in Christ Jesus will have troubles.’
The *kingdom refers to the time when Jesus will come to rule. That will be a time of joy for Christians. John expects to share that joy with them. This kingdom has partly come. But when Jesus comes, it will be completely here.
Until that future comes, Christians have to be patient. They must live through all the troubles. They need to look beyond the present and to live for the future. They must put their confidence in Jesus. And they must trust God. John also trusts God with patience.
John was on the island called Patmos. This was a small island of rocks. It was about 10 miles long and 6 miles wide. He did not choose to go there. The rulers sent him there. It was like a prison. His crime was that he taught the word of God. He *preached the *gospel of the *Lord Jesus.
Verse 10 The *church called the first day of the week, ‘the *Lord’s Day’. It was the first day because on that day Jesus rose from death. Christians chose the first day of the week in order to respect Christ. They met on that day to praise God together. John was in the Spirit. This means that the Holy Spirit came on him. The Spirit spoke to him and showed him many things.
John heard a voice behind him. The *trumpet makes a loud and clear sound. So, this voice was loud and clear.
Verse 11 The voice told John to write what he saw. When he had done this, he had to send it to the 7 *churches. These 7 *churches were in Asia Minor. Asia Minor was an area that is now a part of modern Turkey. The *churches were in 7 cities. There was about 30 to 50 miles between them. The list starts at Ephesus. It follows the road north to Pergamum. Then it goes to the south and east to Laodicea.
John had to send the whole book to each of these *churches. In the book, there was a letter to each of the *churches. John wrote the letters to real *churches. They spoke about the problems in each *church. They gave promises for those in each *church who obeyed.
In *prophecy, the number 7 means complete or the whole number. Here there are 7 *churches. So, the *Lord speaks to the whole *church. What John wrote is for the *church as a whole. It is as true for the *church of today as it was then.
Verses 12-13 John heard the loud voice. He turned to see who was speaking. The gold lamp holders mean the 7 *churches (1:20). People use lamp holders so that the light will shine into dark places. That is the purpose of the *church. It is to show the light of God to the people. That light means the *gospel of Christ.
A man was moving among the lamp holders. He was like the Son of Man. This person was a man but not just a man. He is more than a man. He is the Son of God. The Son of Man was a name for the *Lord Jesus. He was the Son of Man. The *Lord Jesus was and is moving in his *church.
The clothes that the man wore were those of a high priest. The *Lord Jesus is our high priest. He has paid for all our *sins. By his death, he has united us with God. And he is always with us to help us.
Verse 14 John then describes the Son of Man. This is not so much a picture as an impression. White hair, to the *Jews, shows age and wisdom. They respected old age and gave honour to the wise person. The Son of Man deserves all honour.
We can hide nothing from the eyes of the Son of Man. So, John describes his eyes in a special way. It is as if the flame of fire sees all things. The Son of Man sees all that happens in the *churches. He knows all of history from the start to the end. He knows the thoughts and actions of each person.
Verse 15 *Bronze is a metal that glows in the fire. People polish *bronze so that it shines in the light. It is a very strong metal. The feet of *bronze show that the Son of Man is powerful.
The sound of the waters reminds us of their immense power. Such is the effect of the voice of Christ.
Verse 16 The stars mean the *angels of the *churches (1:20). Christ holds all of them in his right hand. So, he has total control over all the *churches. He looks after them. And he protects them, because nobody can take them out of his hand.
He has the sharp sword with two edges. This means that nobody can defeat him. The sword comes out of his mouth. So, the sword means his word. In the end, the word of Christ will defeat all his enemies. He will speak. What he says will happen. The word of God is sharper than any sword with two edges (Hebrews 4:12).
The face of the Son of Man shone with a bright light. The strength of that light was like the sun. There is no greater power than the *Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus tells John to write – Revelation 1:17-20
v17 When I saw him, I fell down at his feet like a dead man. But he put his right hand on me and he said, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the first, and the last. v18 I am living. I was dead. See! I am alive for all time and without end. Moreover, I have the keys of death and of the place of dead people.
v19 Write what you have seen. Write what is happening now. And write what is going to happen after these things. v20 This is the secret meaning of the seven stars and of the seven gold lamp holders. The seven stars that you saw in my right hand are the *angels of the seven *churches. The seven gold lamp holders are the seven *churches.’
Verse 17 John saw Jesus among the lamp holders. The sight was so powerful that it made John afraid. The effect of what he saw caused him to fall down at the feet of Jesus. John was on the ground as if he were a dead man.
Jesus put his right hand on John. This seems to have put new life into John. Then Jesus said, ‘Do not be afraid.’ For those who belong to Jesus, there is nothing to make them afraid.
Jesus tells John that he is the first and the last. This has the same meaning as in verse 8 above. Jesus is one with God. He is God.
Verse 18 Jesus adds to the meaning of the first and the last. ‘I am living.’ God is the God who lives. Jesus shows that he is the same as God. He is God. The false gods of the world are not alive. There is only the one real God who lives.
Jesus has always been alive but he died. But death could not hold him. He defeated death and he rose from death to live again. He is now alive and he can never die again.
Jesus has the keys of the place of dead people. This means that he has power over that place. Life and death are both under the control of Jesus. He is able to take his people through death to new life. This again shows that Jesus is God.
Verse 19 Jesus then repeats the command to write. John must write all that he has already seen. That is, what is in chapter 1. Then he must write about what is now. That is, to write about the state of the seven *churches. And then he must write about those things that are still in the future. The *revelation that the *Lord gave to John was for those *churches. It is also for the *church during all ages. And it is for the end period of history, which is yet to begin.
Verse 20 The seven stars mean the *angels of the seven *churches. There was an *angel at each *church. This may be a real *angel. Or, the word may mean the person who carried the letters to the *churches. But it is more likely that the ‘*angel’ was not an actual person. Probably the word ‘*angel’ meant the character of each *church. So, the *Lord sent the letters to the *churches by their *angels.
Letters to the 7 *churches – Revelation 2:1-3:22
To the *church in Ephesus – Revelation 2:1-7
v1 ‘Write to the *angel of the *church in Ephesus. I am Jesus. I hold the seven stars in my right hand. And I walk in the middle of the seven gold lamp holders. This is what I say to you. v2 I know what you have done. I know how hard you have worked. You have been patient and you have not grown tired. I know that you will not accept bad people. Some people said that they were *apostles. But you tested them. You proved that they were not *apostles. You found that they were telling lies. v3 You have been patient and you have suffered much trouble for my name. However, you have continued and you have not grown tired.
v4 But I have this against you. You do not love as you did at the start. v5 Remember then what you have lost. *Repent of this. When you first believed you did well. Live like that again. If you do not *repent, I will come to you. I will take away your lamp holder from its place, unless you *repent. v6 But you have this right attitude. You hate what the Nicolaitans do. I also hate what they do.
v7 If you have an ear, listen! Hear what the Spirit says to the *churches. To those who overcome, I will give the fruit from the tree of life. That tree is in the garden of God.’
Verse 1 The *Lord told John to write the first letter to the *church in Ephesus. Ephesus was the chief city in the region called Asia Minor. It was a major city for commerce and trade. Three great trade routes came through Ephesus. In it, there were *temples to the Roman kings. But the great *temple was to the female god called Diana or Artemis. It was one of the greatest buildings in the ancient world.
Each letter starts with parts of the description of the *Lord from chapter 1. Here, it is from verses 13 and 16. The letter comes from Jesus, who holds the seven stars. (The word ‘holds’ here is stronger than in chapter 1. The *Lord grasps the stars and he holds them firmly. They are safe in his hand. Nobody can take them from Jesus.) He walks in the middle of the gold lamp holders. Jesus is present with them. He knows their situation. He knows all about his *church, then and now. This should both encourage and warn us.
Verse 2 The *church at Ephesus was active and its members worked hard. They had almost worked too hard. The situation that they were in was not easy. There were many people in that city who hated the *church. However, the *church members did not stop when troubles came. The *Lord approves of what they had done.
Much of the trouble came from people who tried to join the *church. Some of these people were false teachers. They said that they were *apostles. They tried to persuade the *church to believe