Revelation 1-4

Introduction: Revelation is an apocalypse, detailing the author’s visions of God’s plan of judgment and salvation at the end days.  The author claims to be by John, and there is no reason not to believe him; he does not claim to be John the apostle or any other famous John.  Revelation is written in a very poor, almost illiterate Greek, leading to speculation about the reasons: was the author not well educated, or is it intended to add to the mysterious quality of this work?  Although we cannot definitively say much about the author or the date of composition, the author’s 275 allusions to the Hebrew Bible and his adoption of a literary genre (that of the apocalypse) common in Palestine suggest he may have been a Palestinian Jew.

Revelation 1-4: This is the revelation of Jesus Christ, given to me through an angel.  I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard a loud voice like a trumpet.  I saw Jesus, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash; his head was white as wool, his eyes were like fire, his feet were burnished bronze, he held 7 stars in his right hand, and his mouth held a sharp sword.  The even are the angels of the seven churches of Asia, while the seven lampstands are the churches.  He has messages for all of these churches.  To the church in Ephesus: you are enduring patiently and hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate; however, you abandoned the love you had at first, so repent before I come.  To Smyrna: I know you are afflicted and poor, but in the spirit you are rich; do not fear the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews but are not.  To Pergamum: Satan’s throne is in your place, yet you did not deny your faith even when Antipas was killed among you; but some of you hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans, so repent before I come! To Thyatira: I know your works, but you tolerate that false prophet Jezebel; I will make her ill and kill everyone who follows her.  To Sardis: You are spiritually dead, and if you do not wake up, I will blot your name out of the book of life.  To Philadelphia: You have kept my word of patient endurance, so I will protect you from the trial that is coming; I am coming soon!  To Laodicea: Your belief is only lukewarm, and you are complacent in your riches; repent!

I looked and a door in heaven stood open.  I went in and saw a throne with one seated on it, looking like jasper and carnelian.  Around the throne were 24 thrones with 24 elders.  Four living creatures (a lion, ox, human, and flying eagle), full of eyes and with 6 wings each, praised the Lord all day and night.  Whenever the living creatures praised the Lord, so did the 24 elders.

Commentary:

  • The seven churches of Asia are all in the western half of modern-day Turkey
  • It is unknown who the Nicolaitans were, or what they taught
  • Jezebel is the Phoenician wife of King Ahab, a queen who worshiped Baal and opposed Elijah (1 Kings 16:31, 19:1-2)
  • The 4 creatures represent humans and all animals
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