Summary: Jesus’ present ministry and future blessing give fresh meaning to the Advent Season.
“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 kings on earth.
“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.”
Christmas is recognised as a time of giving and receiving gifts. Though there is no specific command in Scripture that we are to celebrate thusly, it does seem appropriate in light of the homage presented with the gifts by the Magi to the newborn Christ child. Moreover, we who are Christians have received rich gifts from God.
We read in Scripture of the gifts God has given. Knowledge of Him and His acceptance of sinners are spoken of as gifts [cf. HEBREWS 6:4]. Salvation is a gift [EPHESIANS 2:8]. God’s constant supply of the needs of believers is recognised as His gift [2 CORINTHIANS 9:10-15]. The various ministrations of the Spirit among God’s holy people are gifts to the congregations of the Lord [1 CORINTHIANS 12:1 ff.].
Among the great gifts that constitute the heritage of believers is grace and peace; and the gifts we enjoy are from the Triune God. As John began writing the Apocalypse, he began with a greeting that was actually a prayer for those reading to enjoy grace and peace from the Living God. Reviewing that prayer, we can learn some vital truths concerning Jesus now. Where is He? What is He doing? What is His plan for the future? These are questions that can stimulate the mind of believers to holy lives and good deeds in the Name of the Master.
JESUS NOW REIGNS — “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 kings on earth.” The concept of the Triune God is unique to the Christian Faith. We do not worship three gods, nor do we, as is true for some so-called Christian cults, say that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are merely differing expressions of the One True God.
When John prays for “grace and peace,” three times he carefully says that it is “from” the Father, “from” the Spirit, and “from” the Son. By repeating the preposition, John is emphasising that He speaks of one God in three persons. God is a Triunity—Father, Son and Spirit are one in essence, one in purpose, and one in power.
The Father is described as transcending time, for He is that One “who is and who was and who is to come.” Before ever time was, God existed. When time shall have ceased, God shall yet exist. At the present time, God is. Throughout His ministry in the flesh, Jesus spoke of God as “the Father.” For instance, He encouraged the disciples to think of God as their Father [MATTHEW 5:45; 6:1, 4, 6, 8, 9]. He would caution those who follow Him against calling any man on earth “father” because we “have one Father, who is in heaven” [MATTHEW 23:9].
John speaks of the Spirit of God as “the seven spirits who are before [the] throne.” There are commentators who believe that this speaks of seven angels; however, it seems best to understand that John is speaking of the Spirit of God. This statement demands explanation. One reason I make this assertion is that John asserts that grace and peace come from God and from Jesus Christ, so it is quite natural to understand that the Spirit of God also confers grace and peace. No angel is ever said to give grace and peace, though they may be capable of announcing God’s peace among those with whom God is pleased as did the angels who announced the birth of the Christ [see LUKE 2:14].
Later, John will speak of the Lamb having “seven eyes,” which he asserts “are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth” [REVELATION 5:6]. Again, the Revelator will speak of “seven torches of fire,” which he declares are “the seven Spirits of God” [REVELATION 4:5]. In these latter verses, John clearly speaks of the references as being to the “Spirits of God.”
Perhaps you wonder why John would speak of the Holy Spirit as “the seven Spirits of God” when we are plainly taught that “there is … one Spirit” [EPHESIANS 4:4]. John’s statement appears to be an allusion to a statement that Isaiah makes concerning the Spirit of God at work in the life of the Messiah. Isaiah writes,