Revelation 1:4-8


This passage of Scripture was evidently chosen for this particular Sunday because of what Jesus says of Himself in verse 7. He will come again.

Revelation 1:4 (NIV) John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,

John already mentioned himself in verse 1. And he will mention himself again in verse 9. For many years there has been an attempt to discredit the Apostle John as the author of the Book of Revelation. We accept the Apostle John as the author.

The verse contains the features of an apostolic letter:

The seven churches of Asia (Minor) are representative of all Christian Churches throughout the New Testament. God's grace, His saving kindness is enunciated. From the flows "peace," as stated in Romans 5:1. We are at peace with God in Christ.

"The One Who is and was and is coming" here denotes the Father. He is eternal and changeless. He is called "the One Who is to come." He comes often to man throughout history and will surely come on the last day.

Secondly, John mentions the Holy Spirit. KJV, NKJV and NASB read "From the seven Spirits." RSV, TEV, NIV and AAT do not capitalize. They consider it a reference to Isaiah 11:2ff where the seven-fold gifts of the Spirit are mentioned. In any case our text is plainly speaking of the Holy Spirit, in all His fullness, Who is before God's throne. This evidently means that the Spirit comes from God's throne, His very presence to teach, guide and comfort us. Compare John 14-16.

Revelation 1:5 (NIV) and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,

In verse 4 the word "from" appeared twice, once for the Father and again for the Spirit. Here we have it the third time. Grace and peace come to us from all three members of the Trinity. The name of Jesus is qualified with four nouns, each with the article. Jesus Christ stands in the center of the Book of Revelation just as He stands in the center of the Churches.

Franzmann: He went into death as faithful witness for the truth of God (John 18:37) and so conquered death. He rose from the dead to become 'the firstborn among many brethren'(Romans 8:29).

He is known as  "the Faithful," for He always is true to His Word. As at Colossians 1:18 He is called "the firstborn from the dead," the One Who holds absolute preeminence because He came back from death and thus conquered death and Satan (Hebrews 2:14). He is called "the Ruler of the Kings of the earth." He is the Ruler over all earthly powers and has the destiny of nations and people firmly in hand. All power in heaven and earth is given also to His human nature (Matthew 28:18).

And now comes a marvelous doxology. Eternal glory and dominion are given to this One. Amen follows. Verily, it is true. Why is He praiseworthy? He loves us. Note that the participle is present tense. The "and" gives the particular reason why He loves us. If we read one variant reading it means "He loosed or freed us from our sins." If we read the other, as do KJV and NKJV, it means: "He washed us from our sins." 

The phrase at the end of the verse denotes agent. Look at 1 John 1:7. By the way, several items in verse 5 have caused commentators to call the Greek of the Book of Revelation inferior. We agree with Bengel who denies that this Greek is inferior and who says that we must bear the reproach of Christ by insisting that we are dealing with the Word of God which is not inferior.

Revelation 1:6 (NIV) and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

We noted that the "and" in verse 5 is a variety of the epexegetical sort. Here we have a resultative "and." What we have in this verse results from the atonement.

Again the variants here cause the critics to claim that the Greek is imperfect. But the Holy Spirit speaks the language of the people. That is not inferior.

"He made us a Kingdom." Note Exodus 19:6 which reads in the NASB: "And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." And note also 1 Peter 2:9: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light " (NASB). The redeemed of God have direct access to God and offer up "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."  Who are these kings and priests? Us, addressed directly and with great comfort. AAT renders this verse: "And has made us a kingdom and priests serving His God and Father." 

"His God and His Father." This implies the humanity of Jesus. God is His God according to the human nature. And God is His Father according to the divine nature. A sermon could be preached on these words which involve us in the two natures of Christ and what our relationship to God is through Jesus. The doxa here means "praise" or "acknowledgement." And "power" which is almost always used only of God, denotes His particular power, His dominion over all. This praise and dominion are eternal and changeless. Verily, He is true God and a loving and caring Savior.

Revelation 1:7 (NIV) Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.

AAT, TEV, and NIV render the first word in Greek with "Look!" Good. It calls our attention to an astounding fact. Here we have a clear reference to Daniel 7:13-14, and also to Zechariah 12:10ff. Jesus spoke of this same occasion at Matthew 24:30. The point is the majestic second coming of Christ. Every eye will see Him.

"Even those who pierced him." John 19:34 refers to the piercing foretold at Zechariah 12:10, quotes here from the LXX.  "All the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him." The versions render this as  "over" or "because of." That leads us to a question. Does the verse speak only of the remorse of the unbelievers throughout history or does it speak both of the remorse of unbelievers and the repentance of the believers? Franzmann, Lenski and Kretzmann take it only of remorse. Bengel and Rienecker are of the opinion that it speaks both of the remorse of unbelievers and the repentance of the faithful. Because the Scriptures seem to deny the possibility of repentance at the second coming, we are of the same mind as Franzmann, Lenski and Kretzmann. In other words, verse 7 is Law in its entirety.

A number of version translate "Even so, Amen." Likewise AAT.

Revelation 1:8 (NIV)  "I am the Alpha and the Omega, " says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." 

Jesus Christ here speaks of Himself. It is plainly the Christ in the state of exaltation. Note the emphatic "I am." This sentence reminds us immediately of the great "I AM" passages in John's Gospel. The expression "The Alpha and the Omega" is found again at Revelation 21:6 and 22:13, used only of the exalted Christ. From those passages we know that it means "The beginning and the end" and "The first and the last." 

"The Lord God" is used in the Old Testament with reference to the Covenant God and here is applied to Jesus. He is truly God. Note that in this verse the same is said of Jesus as had been said of God in general at verse 4: "The One Who is, Who was and He Who is coming," the eternal, changeless God. And then He is also called "The Almighty." 

Swete: The All-Ruler -- pantokrator -- rather than the Almighty.
Lenski: 'All-Ruler' appears nine times in Revelation. The word means 'He who has all might.'
Rienecker: 'All-Ruler,' the reference is more to God's supremacy over all things than to the related idea of divine omnipotence.

Jesus Christ is the all-powerful ruler of all history. This is very comforting for us who must enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation.

 Lord, Your Word stands firm in heaven. 
Psalm 119:89 AAT.


Adapted for Buls' Notes on the Web, from Exegetical Notes Epistle Texts, Series B, Sundays After Pentecost By Harold H. Buls, Pages 105-106

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