Setting

At the opening of the book, John clearly identifies the source of revelation as Jesus Christ. The author did not write the book at his own will but simply acted as a penman who was commanded by God to write down what he saw. Before all other visions was the vision of Christ. The chapter portrays His appearance in detail and records what the Lord had to say about Himself. So while we study what has been revealed, we must first get to know the one who reveals.

Key Verse

(1:8)

Did You Know...?

1. Alpha and Omega (1:8): The first and last letters in the Greek alphabet.
2. Patmos (1:9): “One of the Sporades Islands, Patmos lies about thirty-seven miles west-southwest of Miletus, in the Icarian Sea. Consisting mainly of volcanic hills and rocky ground, Patmos is about ten miles long and six miles wide at the north end. It was an island used for Roman penal purposes. Tacitus refers to the use of such small islands for political banishment (Annals 3.68; 4.30; 15.71). Eusebius mentions that John was banished to the island by the emperor Domitian in A.D. 95 and released eighteen months later by Nerva (Ecclesiastical History 3.20. 8-9).” [ref]
3. Lampstands (1:12): “For the OT tabernacle, Moses constructed a seven-branched lampstand (Exod 25:31 ff.). Subsequently this lampstand symbolized Israel.” [ref]
4. Band/sash (1:13): “The long robe and golden sash were worn by priests in the OT (Exod 28:4)….” [ref]
5. Wool (1:14): “was an article of the highest value among the Jews, as the staple material for the manufacture of clothing.” [ref]  “Wool is sometimes used as an illustration of purity (Isa 1:18).” [ref]
6. Keys (1:18): “Keys grant the holder access to interiors and their contents, and in ancient times the wearing of large keys was a mark of status in the community (cf. 3:7; 9:1; 20:1; 21:25).” [ref]
7. Hades (1:18): “In the NT the word has a twofold usage: in some cases it denotes the place of all the departed dead (Acts 2:27, 31); in others, it refers to the place of the departed wicked (Luke 16:23; Rev 20:13 14).” [ref]

Outline

  • Revelation of Jesus Christ through John
    (1:1-3)
  • Grace and peace from Christ our savior
    (1:4-7)
  • The Lord’s proclamation of His eternity and omnipotence
    (1:8)
  • Hearing the command to write down the visions
    (1:9-11)
  • The appearance of Christ
    (1:12-16)
  • Christ’s consolation and command
    (1:17-20)

Segment Analysis

  • 1:1-3

    1.

    What does verse 1 tell us about a. The source of revelation? b. The method and nature of revelation? c. The messengers and recipients of revelation?

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    a. God and Jesus Christ
    b. The revelation was “signified.” The word signify means 1) to give a sign, to signify, indicate, or 2) to make known. The visions John saw were mostly signs or symbols, many of which were not explained. While he recorded everything he saw, he did not necessarily understand the meaning behind the visions. The meaning of the signs will become clearer as events of the end time continue to unfold.
    c. The revelation was sent by Christ’s angel to His servant John. God intended to show the revelation to “His servants”—a term for God’s people.

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  • 2.

    What was John’s mission?

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    To bear witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw (cf. Acts 4:20; 1Jn 1:1-3).

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  • 3a.

    Are “the words of the prophecy” only predictions of future events? Explain.

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    Like OT prophecies, the words of prophecy in Revelation contain not only predictions but also exhortations and warnings. Readers are to heed and respond to the message within the prophecy.

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  • 3b.

    According to verse 3, what are we to do with the words of the prophecy?

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  • 4a.

    What does it mean that the time is near?

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    The coming of the Lord is near (1:7; 3:11; 22:7,12,20).

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  • 4b.

    Why is it important that the time is near?

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    Because the time is near, the message of Revelation is urgent. Christ’s coming will be like that of a thief for those who do not heed His warnings (3:3; 16:15; Lk 12:40; 1Thess 5:1-3). Blessed are those who read, hear, and keep the words of the prophecy because they are ready for Christ’s coming and will receive their reward soon (22:12).

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  • 1:4-7

    5.

    What could the seven spirits be referring to? See 4:5, 5:6 and Zech 4:1–7.

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    The seven spirits are the spirits of God (4:5), the Holy Spirit, who is intimately related to the lampstands in both Revelation and Zechariah. The number 7, a complete number, indicates that God is all-powerful and all-wise (4:5; 5:6).

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  • 6a.

    What does this paragraph tell us about Christ?

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  • 6b.

    How was he the faithful witness?

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    In His earthly ministry, the Lord was a witness to God’s truth and salvation (Jn 7:7; 18:37; 1Tim 6:13). He faithfully carried out His mission and obeyed the Heavenly Father even unto death.

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  • 7.

    How are we kings and priests to God?

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    We are kings because through Christ’s salvation, we have power over sin and overcome the sufferings in life (Rom 8:1,2,31-37). We will even judge the world and angels (1Cor 6:2,3). We are priests because we are to offer sacrifices of praise as well as our bodies as living sacrifices (Heb 13:15; 1Pet 2:5,9; Rom 12:1-2). We also offer supplications, prayers, and intercessions for everyone (1Tim 2:1).

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  • 8a.

    What impact does the declaration in verse 7 have on you, the reader?

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    The whole earth will witness Christ’s coming in power and glory. It will be a dreadful day for sinners. The verse begins with “behold,” telling us to be watchful. We must obey and honor Christ today and be always ready for His coming.

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  • 8b.

    Why will all the tribes of the earth mourn?

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    The mourning will probably be the result of great fear of the dreadful judgment (cf. 6:15-17; Lk 21:25-27).

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  • 1:8

    9a.

    What does the Lord tell us about Himself here?

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    Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. “Almighty” literally means “the one who has his hand on everything.” The Lord is the everlasting God to whom belongs all power and authority forever and ever.

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  • 9b.

    How many times do similar declarations about God and Jesus Christ appear in this chapter? In the context of Revelation, why is it important for us to know this about God and Jesus Christ?

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    Four times (4,8,11,17). The emphasis on the eternity and power of God reminds us that He is above and in control of all things. He directs the course of history and brings about judgment according to His sovereign will.

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  • 1:9-11

    10.

    How does John identify himself in relation to the believers? In relation to Jesus Christ?

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    He was the believers’ brother and companion. He participated in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.

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  • 11a.

    What does it mean that John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day?

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    R.F. Weymouth translates this verse as, “In the spirit I found myself present on the day of the Lord.” Like Paul, who was caught up to the third heaven (2Cor 12:14), or Peter, who fell into a trance (Acts 10:10), or Ezekiel, who was brought out in the Spirit of the Lord (Ezek 37:1), John entered the spiritual realm and saw everything as if he was in the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord is the day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6; 2:16; 1Thess 5:2; 2Thess 2:2; 2Pet 3:10; Acts 17:31). The OT also contains numerous references to this day (Isa 13:6-10; Joel 1:15; 2:1-3,11,31; Zeph 1:14-18; Mal 4:1,5; Ezek 30:1-3).

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  • 11b.

    Contrast “on the island that is called Patmos” and “in the Spirit.” What can we learn from John’s experience about overcoming suffering in our lives?

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    John seemed to be in bondage, but he had freedom in the Spirit (cf. 2Cor 3:17). The external environment did not defeat John because the Lord was with him. Likewise, if we live by the Holy Spirit and walk according to God’s will, we will claim victory over even the most difficult circumstances in life.

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  • 12.

    There were other churches in Asia at the time besides the seven listed here. Considering the significance of the number seven, why do you think the Lord spoke to seven churches?

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    The number 7 is symbolic of completeness. God chose 7 churches in Revelation to represent the entire body of believers of the true church. So the messages to the 7 churches were also meant for all believers (2:7,11,17,23,29; 3:6,13,22; 22:16).

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  • 1:12-16

    13.

    What are your impressions when you read these descriptions of Christ? Compare this vision with that recorded in Dan 10:5-6.

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  • 14.

    What does it mean that Christ is in the midst of the seven lampstands? See also verse 20.

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    Christ is ever present in the church, examining and strengthening the lives of the believers. Through signs and miracles and the various gifts of the Holy Spirit, Christ accomplishes His work and manifests His power in the church.

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  • 15.

    What can we learn about Christ from the symbols in the vision? a. His garment and band (cf. Ex 28:4; Isa 6:1). b. His head and hair c. His eyes (cf. 2:23; 19:12; Prov 15:3; 20:8; Jer 17:10) d. His feet (cf. 2:26-27; Heb 1:13; Ezek 1:7,13,27; 8:2; Dan 10:6) e. His voice (cf. Ps 29:3-5; 93:4; Ezek 1:24; 43:2) f. His right hand holding seven stars (cf. Ex 15:6-7; Dan 12:3) g. His mouth, from which came a sharp double-edged sword (2:16; 19:15,21; Isa 11:4; Jn 12:48; Heb 4:12). h. His countenance (Mt 17:2; 2Pet 1:16-17)

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    a. The long robe and golden sash were the attire of the priests (Ex 28:4). Christ is the everlasting High Priest who has saved us and acted as the Mediator between God and us (Heb 7:24-25). The long robe could also refer to God’s kingly majesty (Isa 6:1). Christ is both King and High Priest (Zech 6:12-13). The two offices represent God’s justice and mercy.
    b. White hair is the honor of the elderly (Prov 20:29). That the head and hair were white like wool may signify Christ’s glory and purity.
    c. The Lord’s omniscience and just judgment.
    d. Christ’s power to trample down His enemies. In Ezekiel’s and Daniel’s visions, fire and glowing metal were also associated with God’s glory.
    e. Christ’s awesome power and majesty
    f. Christ’s power and authority, which He gives to His messengers (Mt 10:1; 28:18 20; Mk 16:19-20).
    g. Christ’s judgment against those who did not obey His word. His words also penetrate and judge our thoughts and the intent of our hearts.
    h. Christ’s majestic glory.

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  • 1:17-20

    16.

    Why did John react the way he did?

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    He was terrified at the awesome appearance of the Lord (17; cf. Dan 8:17).

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  • 17.

    What reasons did the Lord give to encourage John not to be afraid? Explain these reasons and why we as believers don’t need to be afraid.

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    Christ is the eternal God who had been raised from the dead through the power of God. Death could not prevail against Him. He has control over the powers of Hades and death. Since we have this Conqueror among us and with us, we have nothing to fear (Rom 8:37; Phil 4:13).

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  • 18.

    Why do you think golden lampstands are used as a symbol for the church?

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    Gold is a symbol of preciousness, purity, and holiness. Lampstands with oil in them give forth light. The lamps must be lit continually before the Lord (Lev 24:4). Likewise, the church and all believers must always manifest the holiness of God to the world through the power of the Holy Spirit (Mt 5:14-16; 1Pet 2:9-12; Zech 4:6).

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