REVELATION: Derived from the Greek word "Apokalupsis",
meaning "to uncover, or bring to light that which was hidden". Thus the
Apocalypse (as the Book of Revelation is often called) is a "disclosure" of
things previously hidden. Many call it "The Apocalypse" in order to distinguish
it from other parts of the Revelation of Deity. "To speak of it as 'Revelation'
is to clash with the fact that there is much other revelation besides, and that
the Apocalypse is only a part of Revelation. To speak of it as Apocalypse is to
identify a particular part of revelation" (13L). The word is used in other parts
of the NT but usually in relation to a special epoch -- the coming manifestation
of glory (see Rom 2: 5; 8:19; 2Th 1: 7). The Book of Revelation centers
attention upon this glorious consummation; it outlines events leading to the
uncovering, bringing to light, or revelation of the Lord Jesus and his brethren
What is the message of Revelation?
The Book of Revelation is simple enough... Regardless of
disasters, despite sufferings, in spite of the seeming victories of the wicked,
there is a power in righteousness that will prevail... It is a mistake to search
through Revelation (or Daniel, or other prophecies, for that matter) for hints
and clues on the exact date of the return of Christ, or even what happens just
before, or just after... when the point of the work is not so much the dates and
the times... but the urgent need, before it is too late, for everyone to
Or, to put it even more simply: in Revelation, there is a long
struggle, and a great battle at the end, but when all is said and done... "the
good guys" win!
THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST: "Him who spoke from
heaven" (Heb 12:25).
WHICH GOD GAVE HIM: Inferior status of Son (Mar 13:32;
Act 1:7; Joh 5:20; 7:16; 12:49; 14:10; 17:7,8). Yet all power is given to Christ
The fullness of knowledge of the "times and seasons" was
previously hid from Christ (Mark 13:32; Acts 1:7), But having "prevailed" (Rev
5:5) and having been raised gloriously from the dead to life eternal, the full
Rev of the Father's purpose was given unto him that he might have the
preeminence (Col 1:18).
SERVANTS: "Doulos" = bond-slaves. This description
emphasizes submission and dependence on their Lord. It is not a technical
reference to a specific office, but characterizes their willing service of
Christ, their divine Master. The same designation appears in the letters of
James, 2Pe, and Jude.
Man's slave becomes free in Christ, and a freeman (like Paul)
becomes Christ's slave (1Co 7:22).
The use of the term "slaves" also suggests the "redemptive"
work of God in Christ: the Israelites were "slaves" in Egypt, who were "bought"
or "redeemed" out of their slavery to become the "purchased possession" of the
Father (Exo 15:16). (See Lesson, Redemption.)
WHAT MUST SOON TAKE PLACE: Cp Mat 24:6: a connection
with Olivet prophecy.
HE MADE IT KNOWN: "Signified it" (AV) = showed by a
sign. Sw Joh 12:33; 18:32; 21:19; Act 11:28; 25:27.
BY SENDING HIS ANGEL: Angels are now subject to Christ
(1Pe 3:22). This, a guiding, interpreting angel of the entire Apoc: cp Rev 4:1;
10:4,8,11; 14:3; 17:7; 19:10; 21:5; 22:8,9.
HIS SERVANT JOHN: Cp v 9; Rev 22:8,9 ("I John") with
Dan 8:1; 9:2 ("I Daniel"). John = disciple Jesus loved; Daniel is "greatly
WHO TESTIFIES: Joh 1:1; 1Jo 1:1,2; Joh 19:35; 20:30,31;
TO EVERYTHING HE SAW: This preface (vv 1-3) was prob
THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST: Rev 1:9; 19:10;
THE ONE WHO READS: Lit, "who reads aloud" (RSV). The
public reader -- as in synagogue, and at memorial readings today.
THOSE WHO HEAR: That is, with understanding. Cp Neh
8:8: Did inspired bre interpret at the same time? Cp Mat 24:15: "Let the reader
Is the saint who reads the prophecies of Revelation and
understands only a little before, and maybe a bit more as it happens, not
"blessed" (Rev 1:3)? Suppose he (or she) understands that Revelation is God's
final promise that, one day, the kingdom of men will become the Kingdom of God
and His Son? Suppose he understands that Christ will return, the elect will be
gathered together to him, and given immortality, and will reign with him over
the earth for 1,000 years and beyond? Suppose he understands (though he doesn't
need Rev at all to understand this -- many other passages tell him plainly) that
there are corrupt systems in the world today -- political, religious,
materialistic -- that he should have nothing to do with, because their
"fellowship" is inconsistent with the "fellowship" of the Father and the Son?
Suppose he then waits faithfully for a future coming, the details of which he is
still not sure of, nor the order of coming events? Suppose he dies in this
faith, not having seen or appreciated the detailed fulfillment of many steps of
the divine plan, but having seen its final consummation "afar off"? Is he not
"blessed" simply because he might have understood more or better?
Now perhaps he (or she) would be somewhat better off if he
understood more perfectly every step God takes in preparing the world and all
its nations for that final consummation. But to the extent he spends more and
more time trying to understand every last detail, to that extent he might
probably run afoul of other prophecy students who have their own ideas -- which
would inevitably clash with his. This "search" might require more and more time,
and the point might be reached where the time expended in the search for
prophetic details, and in listening to every new theory, and in defending his
own theory, and in reworking and modifying his own theory, might take valuable
time away from other "pursuits" which would fit him more, on a spiritual level,
to wait and watch and pray and preach and live a Truth-based life.
In short, he might find that "playing the guessing game" was
getting in the way of "living the Christian life".
Now, obviously, every individual believer has his or her own
"pain threshold" in dealing with uncertain details of the fulfillment of Bible
prophecy (which may not be uncertain to some, but are certainly not first
principles)... depending on: (1) personal preference, (2) academic attainments,
(3) intellectual inclination and ability, (4) health, (5) work, (6) family
concerns, and (7) other obligations in the Truth. It's not right that others
should be made to feel guilty if they can't or don't "master"
There are probably many in the Brotherhood who would say, "I
have no head for prophecy." To them we would reply, "Perhaps not, but do you
have a heart for Christ? Surely if you love Christ, you will love his appearing
although you think you have no capacity for prophetic exercises." An
affectionate wife may have no head for her husband's business affairs, but she
has a heart for his return from the office each evening. His appointment book or
his notes about business affairs may baffle her, but she knows his footstep and
recognizes his voice. The saint who feels lost in the realm of Revelation should
not take pride in his ignorance, of course. But neither should he be unduly
discouraged. If only he has affection for his Lord and Master, and a firm
resolve to keep his commandments, even the novice may entertain the most fervent
desire to see him. The paramount hope of each of us is to be accepted by Christ
when he comes, not to guess correctly what will happen before he
SEVEN CHURCHES: Why 7? Each was the leading ecclesia in
a particular district? Paul also wrote to 7 ecclesias (WRev 9).
WHO IS TO COME: Christ "the coming one" (Rev 21:3). A
title of Messiah (Joh 1:15,27; Mat 11:3).
SEVEN SPIRITS: 7 archangels (Rev 4:5; 5:6; Zec 3:9;
4:10; Eze 1:18,20). Note 7-fold Spirit in Isa 11:2; 1Co 12:29,30. The perfection
of HSp manifested thru the angels (Rev 5:6; 8:2).
THE FAITHFUL WITNESS: Witness to the truth of God's
covenants of promise (Psa 89:37,28). Christ was faithful witness, before Pilate,
of the truth (Joh 18:37; 1Ti 6:12,13). The rainbow = God's covenant-witness also
(Gen 9:12-17; Eze 1:27,28). Christ as witness: Joh 5:31-39.
Examples of faithfulness in service: Samuel (1Sa 3:20); David
(1Sa 22:14); the temple overseers (2Ki 12:15); the workers (2Ch 34:12); Hananiah
(Neh 7:2); Abraham (Neh 9:8); the treasurers (Neh 13:13); Daniel (Dan 6:4);
Timothy (1Co 4:17); Epaphras (Col 1:7); Tychicus (Col 4:7); Onesimus (Col 4:9);
Paul (1Ti 1:12); Moses (Heb 3:2,5); Gaius (3Jo 1:5); Jesus Christ (Rev 1:5);
Antipas (Rev 2:13).
Cp Luk 16:10; 2Ch 31:12.
THE FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD: Cited from Psa 89:27; cp
Col 1:15,18; Act 13:33; Heb 1:4,5; 5:5.
FREED: Textual problems exist as to whether "lusanti"
("freed") or "lousanti" ("washed") is correct. The AV has "washed". Cp Rev 7:14;
Lev 8:6. Cit Exo 19:6. Cp Mat 21:43; 1Pe 2:9,10. (If "loosed," see Isa
KINGDOM AND PRIESTS: God's design for Israel: cit Exo
19:6. Cp Mat 21:43; 1Pe 2:9,10.
TO HIM BE GLORY AND POWER... : Doxology response to
"Grace and peace" (v 4).
Doxologies in the Apocalypse: 2-fold (Rev 1:6); 3-fold (Rev
4:9-11); 4-fold (Rev 5:13); 7-fold (Rev 7:12).
CLOUDS: The Divine glory revealed in Israel as cloud
(Exo 13:21,22; 14:19,20,24; 16:10; 19:16-19; 20:18; 24:15-19; 33:18-21 with Exo
34:4-7; 40:34-38; Num 10:34; 12:5,10; 14:9,10,14,21,22; Deu 31:14,15; Psa
105:39; 1Co 10:1,2). The same Shekinah glory appeared to Abraham (Gen 15:17; Act
7:2), David (Psa 18:6-15), Ezekiel (Eze 1:4; 10:4); Elijah (1Ki 19:11-13), Job
(Job 38:1), apostles (Luk 9:34,35). Judgments of God in last days are manifest
in this cloud (Dan 7:13; Joe 2:2; Zep 1:15; Eze 30:3; Isa 19:1; 25:5). Jesus
will so come from heaven (Act 1:9,11; Luk 21:27; Mat 26:64).
EVERY EYE... SEE... THOSE WHO PIERCED... : Cit Zec
12:10-12 re repentant Israel. Most likely, in Rev, "ge" = Land (ie, of
EARTH: The Greek word "ge" may sig either "earth" (eg,
the globe as a whole) or "land" (eg, a country or territory, in a more
restricted sense). As such, "ge" reproduces in the Greek the same ambiguity
found in the Heb "eretz" -- most familiar to us, perhaps, in the phrase "Eretz
Israel" (the Land of Israel). Here, "land" and not "(the whole) earth" is
intended because... (1) The equivalent passages in Eze deal with the "ge", or --
in those cases -- the "land" of Israel. The context makes this plain. (2)
Specific instances of "ge" in Revelation, in places where the context is
determinative, point to the same conclusion: (a) "All kindreds of the earth"
(Rev 1:7) is explained as "land" by the OT source in Zec 12:10 -- Zec 13:1,
where the ref is to the tribes of Israel. (b) Likewise, the "four corners of the
earth" (Rev 7:1,2) is equivalent to the "four corners of the land (of Israel)"
(Eze 7:2). (c) Locusts upon the "earth" (Rev 9:3) are clearly the same as the
locust invasion of Israel in Joel. (d) The harvest of the "earth" (Rev 14:15)
causes blood to flow over a distance of 200 miles (Rev 14:16-20), which is
precisely the distance from the north to the south of Israel.
ALPHA... OMEGA: First and last (v 17): sacrifice (v 5)
and king (v 6). Cit Isa 41:4. Cp Isa 44:6-8; 48:12-16. Also in Rev 21:6; 22:13:
"Beginning" and "End". Only Rev refs the "Alpha and the Omega."
Vv 9-11: John's commission. Cp Isa 6:8; Jer 1:4; Eze
IN THE SUFFERING: Cit Dan 7:15.
AND KINGDOM: Kingdom not even established until Rev
11:15. Those in kingdom will no longer suffer tribulation. Paul was already in
the "church" when he said, "We must go through many hardships to enter the
kingdom of God" (Act 14:22).
PATIENT ENDURANCE: Heb 10:32,36; 12:1,2,3,7; 2Ti
BECAUSE OF THE WORD OF GOD AND THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS:
"For" (AV) = because of. Either: (a) retirement to solitude in order to receive
the word of God: cp Elijah (1Ki 19:8) and Paul (Gal 1: 7; 2Co 12:1,2; Phi 1:
23), or -- more likely -- (b) because of preaching Christ (2Ti 1:8). Cp heading
of Syriac Version: "in the island of Patmos to which he was, banished by Nero
the Emperor": Mat 20:22.
ON THE LORD'S DAY: First day of week (cp 1Co 11:20;
anniversary of Christ's resur (v 18); beginning of new creation (v 5; cit Psa
IN THE SPIRIT: A trance, seeing visions: Rev 4:2; 17:3;
21:10; Act 10:10; 11:5; 22:17; Eze 1:1,3; 37:1; 2Co 12:1-4.
I HEARD BEHIND ME: "A word behind me, This is the way,
walk in it" (Isa 30:21). That is, turn around, repent: message of letters to 7
churches (v 11; Rev 2;3) (WRev 8n).
TRUMPET: Voice of God (Exo 19:13,16,19; Jos 6:9,10,13);
summons to God's people (Num 10:2,8; 1Th 4:17; Mat 24:31), or a warning (Isa
58:1; Eze 33:3-6).
The words "I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last"
found in KJV have very little ms support, though the expression is represented
in v 8 [an angel representing God Himself] and v 17 [First and Last: title of
WRITE ON A SCROLL: Or "in a book". That is, one
book/scroll, not 7! (The messages of Rev 2;3 were to all!)
SEVEN CHURCHES: See v 4n.
THE VOICE: "The voice of God", a title! (A lit voice
cannot be seen!)
LAMPSTANDS: See Exo 25:31-40n. Cit Zec 4; 1Ki 7:49.
there are 7 lampstands because there are 7 ecclesias.
AMONG THE LAMPSTANDS: Jesus in the midst of: (1)
thieves: Joh 19:18; (2) his disciples: Joh 20:19; (3) the teachers of the Law:
Luk 2:46; (4) two or three: Mat 18:20; (5) the lampstands: Rev 1:13; (6) the
throne: Rev 5:6.
'LIKE A SON OF MAN': One who IS the son of man =
Christ: Rom 5:14; 8:3; Phi 2:7; 2Co 2:17; Mat 14:5. Not the multitudinous
Christ. Cp details: vv 13-17 with Dan 10:5-14. "For all its symbolic
characteristics, John recognized him as looking like Jesus, his Lord" (NRev
A ROBE REACHING DOWN TO HIS FEET: A linen garment of
righteousness, showing Christ as priest (Exo 28:4,31).
A GOLDEN SASH AROUND HIS CHEST: Lev 8:7: one of 2
girdles of High Priest. Cp 2 girdles in Isa 11:5 (Christ as a priest/king!). "A
girdle, for Jesus never was ungirt while upon earth, but stood always ready for
service, and now before the eternal throne he stays not his holy ministry, but
as a priest is girt about with 'the curious girdle of the ephod.' Well it is for
us that he has not ceased to fulfil his offices of love for us, since this is
one of our choicest safeguards that he ever liveth to make intercession for us.
Jesus is never an idler; his garments are never loose as though his offices were
ended; He diligently carries on the cause of his people. A golden girdle, to
manifest the superiority of his service, the royalty of his person, the dignity
of his state, the glory of his reward. No longer does he cry out of the dust,
but he pleads with authority, a King as well as a Priest. Safe enough is our
cause in the hands of our enthroned Melchisedek" (CHS).
HAIR... WHITE: Sig wisdom: Lev 19:32; Pro
WHITE LIKE WOOL: Christ sharing glory of Father (Luk
9:29; Dan 7:9; Mat 16:27). Wool ref lamb of God, forgiveness of sins (Isa 1:18;
HIS EYES WERE LIKE BLAZING FIRE: Piercing glance. To
discern between good and evil (Heb 4:12,13; Psa 11:4; 33:18; 94:7,9; Pro 15:3;
Eze 1:18-20). Fire = judgment of ungodly (Rev 19:12; 2Th 1:8).
BRONZE: Sym strength (Rev 10:1; Dan 10:6; Jer 15:20;
Job 6:12; 40:18; 1Sa 17:5,6; Mic 4:13).
VOICE... RUSHING WATERS: The voice of God, mighty and
authoritative (Joh 12:28-30; Eze 1:24; Psa 29; 68:33; 93:4; Jer 51:16; Exo
19:16,19). Angels under his authority.
IN HIS RIGHT HAND... SEVEN STARS: Precious stones
(diamonds?) in the High Priest's crown: a conjecture based on Isa 62:3; Zec
9:16; Exo 28:36-38.
TWO-EDGED: OT and NT; condemning and
SWORD: Sword of Spirit; word of God (Eph 6:17; Heb
4:12,13; cit Isa 49:2; cp Psa 149:6).
THE SUN SHINING... : The transfiguration (Mat 17:2)
prefigured his coming in glory (Mal 4:2; Psa 19:4), the saints with him (Jdg
5:31; Mat 13:43).
I FELL AT HIS FEET AS THOUGH DEAD: Death and resur are
necessary prerequisites for man to truly know God: Exo 33:20; Lev 16:13; Dan
8:18; 10:9-11; Gen 15:12; Num 16:42-47; Jer 31:26; Job 42:5,6; Eze 1:28; 2:1,2;
Luk 9:32; Act 9:4-8; Luk 21:36.
RIGHT: Approval and blessing (Gen 48:13,14; Mat 25:34).
The right hand held the diadem (v 16).
DO NOT BE AFRAID: "Fear not." "This consoling
imperative is many times associated with the Glory. An explicit instruction (to
the worthy) that the divine presence need not be feared by the pure in heart;
Dan 10:7-11, 17-19; Luke 1:13,20; 2:10; 9:34,35; John 12:15 (though guilty
Jerusalem might well fear at the approach of its King); Mat 28:5; Mal 4:1,2; Isa
41:5,10,13,14; 44:1,2; 35:4; Rev 21:8; Mat 25:25; 5:8. In the Day of Judgement
the disciple will pronounce judgement on himself by the way in which he meets
his Lord in fear or in confidence -- confidence not in himself or his own
achievements, but in the love and mercy of Christ: 1Jo 3:21; 4:17,18.
"In the Transfiguration when Jesus came and touched the
disciples, saying: 'Be not afraid, they then saw no man, save Jesus only' -- and
he now divested of the Glory. Is that what happened in this instance also?"
I AM THE LIVING ONE: The Living One = another title (cp
I AM ALIVE FOR EVER AND EVER: Joh 5:26,21; 14:6,19. Cit
KEYS OF DEATH AND HADES: Gen 22:17; Zec 9:11,12; Rev
"Did John obey this instruction and write the meaning of his
vision? Yes -- by the way in which he reported everything in terms of OT
prophecy! And the Apostle's key has been mostly left untried" (WRev).
SEVEN STARS: V 16n.
SEVEN GOLDEN LAMPSTANDS: V 12n. " 'Not by might, nor by
power, but by my spirit.' John was told that seven spirits were before the very
throne of God. This particular lamp may be put out, that one may shine on, but
standing behind the menorah of truth is the Lord of Glory, and every lamp that
is glowing is fed from His inner fires. This lampstand, seven-branched to
signify perfect completion -- the little pinpricks of light across the world's
face -- must burn on as the shadow of human might and power come over, to
preserve the light of life and love, to shed spiritual radiance, and to illumine
the dread darkness which veils so many, many human hearts" (AE, Xdn
ANGELS: Heb "elohim" sig both angels and elders: ie,
Exo 22:8,28; 23:20,29; Psa 82:1,6; Joh 10:34; cp Psa 8:5. Or, "messengers" =
synagogue officials, responsible for organization (cp Rec Bros).