Summary: Revelation 1:9-20, part 1
The Seven, part 4
John's Portrait of the Lord of the Church
Revelation 1:9-20, part 1
June 9, 2013
Review: The Revelation consists of three literary genre's - apocalyptic, prophecy, and epistle all at the same time. We have seen that the church is under attack so John wanted to assure the church that the victory is secure so he began the Revelation by “Setting the Tone of Victory.” He does this by infusing us with a perspective on reality that is cosmic, transcendent, and with a promised victory from the throne. In 1:9-20 John gives us a “Portrait of the Lord of the Church.” This is the only place in the bible that describes the physical features of Jesus Christ.
The Occasion of the Portrait
As we have said the apostle John wrote this letter to seven churches to address the specific issues in each church. After his salutation, he identifies with the churches to show them what he has in common with them.
• What John has in common with the churches
First, he is a brother with them. When the church is under attack and life is hard it does not matter your title or position in the body of Christ, no one is immune to attack. He is one of them and he hurts and grieves with them. He is also a partner with them in three ways - in the tribulation, the kingdom, and patient endurance. He knows what it is to suffer for the kingdom and having to persevere in suffering. All the other apostles have been martyred so he knows what it means to be prepared to die for the gospel as a faithful witness. The New Testament is blunt about suffering. Jesus said, 'in the world you will have tribulation.' Paul said to 'be patient in tribulation.' And the church 'received the gospel in much affliction.' Second, John is a partner in the kingdom. The kingdom is already here so we experience the powers of the age to come. Yet it is not fully here so we look forward to its consummation. Third, he is a partner in patience endurance or perseverance. There is no salvation without perseverance. In the letters to the individual churches we will see over and over again that it is only those who conquer, which in the context means persevering in faithful allegiance to Jesus Christ, who inherit eternal life. We only persevere because God faithfully supplies us with grace for strength of heart. Tribulation and the kingdom and perseverance are all connected. The apostles encouraged the church “to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” We have seen what John has in common with the churches; now lets see what he models for the churches.
• What John models for the Churches
John models what it means to be a faithful witness. He was exiled on Patmos for his faithful witness – on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. In other words, he is on Patmos because he was faithful to the gospel in his life and his ministry. Patmos was a penal colony where Rome sent political prisoners. It is now a tourist destination but then it was just volcanic rock, a bleak and desolate place. It was meant to destroy the human spirit. He was faithful even when it cost him dearly. 'For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.' Now let's look at what John experienced.
• What John Experienced
It was in an unlikely place and at an unlikely time that John received his vision of the resurrected Christ. Let me give you a very brief understanding of prophecy in the bible. In the Old Testament you have prophets who spoke the very words of God to the people of God. It was inspired so it was accepted and written as Scripture. In the New Testament the apostles replace the prophets as those who spoke the very words of God to the people of God. The apostles words were accepted as scripture. But there is also prophecy in the New Testament where men and women spoke human words to describe something God brought to their mind for the encouragement and edification of the church. We see this kind of prophecy in 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14 and we are told, “do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies but test everything; hold fast what is good.” We are not to despise this form of prophecy but are to test whether it is true or not.
John describes himself as 'in the Spirit , a prophetic trance in which the Risen Christ speaks to him on the Lord's day, referring to the first day of the week, when the church gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. John hears a loud voice like a trumpet the voice of the resurrected Christ, who commands him to write what he saw and to send to seven churches. We have the Revelation today because John obeyed God. We have no idea the implications of obeying God. John sends it to the seven churches. The churches are listed in the order that the letter would have been circulated. These churches were probably significant churches in the area and were postal cities. Why did God want him to send it to these seven? Because the church is under attack; we are under attack and he wants to lift our eyes off of our circumstances to glimpse the risen and victorious of Christ. Christ loves the church , he died for the church , he now lives for the church, he builds the church, and is coming back for the church, his bride.