Summary: This sermon, which is really more of a Bible study, suggests an overall purpose to the final book of the Bible by considering the meaning of the phrase in vs.1: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ."
The focus of this Bible Study is on the first verse of the final book of the Bible. Though the exposition covers just one verse, the insight gleaned from this exposition should enrich our appreciation for the entire book, as well as our understanding of its general purpose.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John”
The word “Revelation” in this verse (greek: apokalupsis) means disclosure or unveiling.
There is a strong tendency to understand the phrase “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” to mean that Jesus Christ is being revealed, or unveiled, in this book.
This is understandable because if we wanted to say this is the book where Jesus Christ is unveiled, we could certainly describe it as the unveiling of Jesus Christ. Just like the phrase “the unveiling of the statue” means that the statue is being unveiled.
But consider another meaning of the phrase. Many Bibles (yours may or may not have it) have for the title of this book, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine.”
Whoever it was who put this title on the book did not intend to imply that this is the book where St. John is revealed, nor has anyone who has read it through the centuries understood it this way.
It is the revelation of St. John in the sense that John received it. He received it from Jesus Christ through an angel: “. . . and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.”
Likewise it is the revelation of Jesus Christ in the sense that he received it. He received it from the Father: “. . . which God gave unto him . . .”
It could be said it is the revelation of the Father; he gave it to his Son and it also became the revelation of Jesus Christ. In turn, Jesus gave it to his apostle and it also became the revelation of St. John.
So the opening phrase in verse 1 could mean Jesus is being revealed, or, it could mean it is the revelation which belongs to Jesus Christ because he received it. Let’s take a look at the contents of the rest of the book and see which meaning seems to make more sense.
Jesus Christ is “revealed” in 1:13-16, and again in 19:11-16, the latter as he will appear at the Battle of Armageddon. But outside of these 10 verses there are 394 other verses in this book which are not concerned with unveiling Jesus Christ. Why would a book be introduced as the book where Jesus Christ is unveiled if only 10 out of 404 verses actually unveil him? And, at the same time, the book is loaded with other unveilings.
What then is being unveiled in this Book? In a nutshell, heaven.
Heaven is a place we cannot see, but in this final book of the Bible the curtain is pulled back and we see it, beginning, in ch.4, with the actual throne of God!
The list of everything in heaven which is normally veiled but we glimpse in the pages of this book is lengthy but worth detailing:
The throne of God (4:2; 6:16; 7:9,10,11,15,17; 8:3; 12:5; 14:3; 16:17; 19:5; 21:5)
In connection with the throne of God we see uncovered:
a rainbow (4:3),
7 lamps of fire (4:5),
a sea of glass (4:6; 15:2),
24 elders (4:4,10,11; 5:6,8,14; 7:11; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4)
4 beasts (4:6-9; 5:6,8,14; 6:6; 7:11; 14:3; 15:7; 19:4)
The temple in heaven (7:15; 11:19; 14:15; 15:5,6,8; 16:1,17)
In connection with the temple in heaven we see uncovered:
The alter (6:9; 14:18; 16:7)
The golden alter (8:3,5; 9:13)
The ark of his testament (11:19)
We see 4 different groups of saints in heaven:
Souls of those slain (6:9)
Innumerable multitude (7:9)
Them that had gotten the victory over the beast (15:2)
Souls of them beheaded (20:4)
Other heavenly sights unveiled in this book include:
The book with 7 seals (5:1)
A great wonder in heaven (12:1)
War in heaven (12:7)
One with a sharp sickle (14:14)
Much people (19:1)
A white horse (19:11)
Armies in heaven (19:14)
The great white throne (20:11)
Unsaved dead (20:12)
The angelic activity unveiled in this book is extraordinary:
The angel which was sent to John (1:2; 22:16)
A strong angel (5:2)
10,000 X 10,000 and 1,000’s of 1,000’s of angels (5:11)
4 angels standing on the 4 corners of the earth (7:1)
An angel ascending from the east (7:2)
7 angels with 7 trumpets (8:2,6)
An angel flying through heaven (8:13)
The angel of the bottomless pit (9:1,11; 20:1)
4 angels bound in the river Euphrates (9:14)