Summary: Jesus deserves our praise and is coming again.
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AN INTRODUCTION TO REVELATION
John to the seven churches that are in Asia (v. 4a).
• TITLE: “The revelation” (v. 1), which means “the UNVEILING.”
• AUTHOR: John the apostle (vv. 1, 4). He refers to himself as simply “John” probably because he was well known to his readers. John wrote Revelation while exiled on Patmos. Patmos is a small island in the Aegean Sea, about 64 km from the coast of Asia Minor.
• DATE: Possibly A.D. 95 or 96.
• RECIPIENTS: The seven churches of Asia (v. 4). Asia was a Roman province in western Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). The churches are addressed (see chapters 2-3) in the order in which a courier would deliver this letter. Why only seven churches? Seven is the number of completeness. Perhaps through these seven churches Christ intended to address every church.
• PURPOSE: To provide a message of HOPE to struggling Christians.
GRACE AND PEACE
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth (vv. 4b-5a).
The common Greek greeting (“grace”) and the common Hebrew greeting (“peace”) are combined (as is often seen in the opening of Paul’s letters).
Because of God’s GRACE, we can enjoy PEACE.
John lists three sources of grace and peace. First, grace and peace come “him who is and who was and who is to come.” Who is this? The Father (cf. Exodus 3:14-15).
Second, grace and peace come from “the seven spirits who are before [God’s] throne.” Who are the “seven spirits”? It’s possible that they are seven angels. Perhaps the best interpretation is that the seven spirits refer to the Holy Spirit (“the sevenfold Spirit”; cf. Zechariah 4:1-10; Revelation 3:1; 4:5; 5:6).
Third, grace and peace come from “Jesus Christ.” Christ is given three titles. Each of these three titles offered encouragement to the churches of Asia (and also offers encouragement to us today). Christ is “the faithful witness.” He proclaimed the truth even though, in the end, He was crucified for what He said. They need to be faithful to Christ even if it means suffering. (John’s readers were beginning to face increased opposition.) Christ is “the firstborn of the dead.” In other words, He has conquered death because of His resurrection. Death, for the Christian, is the beginning of something better. And Christ is “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (cf. Psalm 89:27, 37). (The Christians in the churches of Asia could take comfort in the knowledge that Christ was the true “ruler,” not Caesar.)
MAY IT BE SO
The word “amen” is found in both v. 6 and v. 7. “Amen” means “may it be so.” John makes two statements about Jesus to which we should say, “Amen.”