Summary: In this third verse of the first chapter John spells out most fully the actions that lead to the blessed life. The three things you can do with this book that leads to blessings are: You can read it; you can hear it, and you can keep it.
The famous medical missionary Dr. Grenfell of Labrador once came to John Hopkins Hospital in
America looking for a head nurse to go back to Labrador with him. He made this appeal: "If you
want to have the time of your life, come with me and run a hospital next summer for the orphans of
the Northland. There will not be a cent of money in it for you, and you will have to pay your own
expenses. But I guarantee that you will feel a love for life you have never before experienced. It's
having the time of anyone's life to be in the service of Christ." The nurse who responded wrote this
after she came back to America: "I never knew before that life was good for anything but what one
could get out of it. Now I know that the real fun lies in seeing how much one can put into life for
She learned that the blessed life is the life of the servant. This is one of the major truths of the
Bible, and one that John stresses in this book of Revelation. The first chapter and the last chapter
have the same emphasis: This is a revelation to servants, and blessedness is found in the keeping of
what is revealed. Listen to Rev. 22:6-7 which shows you how the last chapter sounds so much like
the beginning of the first chapter. "And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his
angel to sow His servants what must soon take place. And behold I am coming soon. Blessed is he
who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." From beginning to end this book is for servants,
and the blessing is found in doing.
In this third verse of the first chapter John spells out most fully the actions that lead to the blessed
life. The three things you can do with this book that leads to blessings are: You can read it; you can
hear it, and you can keep it. Readers, hearers, and keepers, are the three kinds of servants who will
reap the benefits of this revelation. Before we look closer at these three actions, we need to look at
the implication of this verse as a whole. This verse makes this the most unique book in all the Bible.
All Scripture is profitable, therefore, there is a blessing connected with reading, hearing, and obeying
any part of it, but this is the only part of Scripture where it is plainly stated.
This is the first of seven beatitudes in the book, and is the most comprehensive. Every Christian
in history has this blessing as a potential for his life. There are exceptions, like the thief on the cross,
who never had a chance to even see the book, and likely there are many others in history who also
did not have a chance to see it. But the fact remains, Christians of every generation have had the
chance to enter into this blessing. This makes the interpretation of this book, by necessity, a book
that has to be a meaningful one to every generation of Christians. If it is not, this promised blessing
is a farce and a mockery. If only the first Christians could understand it, then the blessing is
meaningless to all the Christians since. And if only the last generation of Christians can grasp it,
then this blessing has been meaningless to all the Christians through history.
There is just no alternative to this conclusion: If we are to take this blessing as a legitimate
promise to all readers, hearers, and keepers, then it must be a revelation that is relevant to all
Christians of all time. How can you keep what has no meaning to you? How can you be blessed by
reading what makes no sense because it is not meant for you, but for Christians of some other age?
There is only one way you can do justice to this third verse, and that is to recognize that it makes
this book a now book for all time. The very first Christians who received it entered into the blessed life,
and the very last who receive it will enter into the blessed life. The blessed life is not all out
there in the future when the world is coming to an end. The whole point of a revelation of the future
is to bring the blessings of the future back into the present so we can begin to enjoy them now. The
best is always yet to be, but the better is always near for those who know what that best to be is.
Realized Eschatology is what the scholars call it. It simply means that the future can greatly