Summary: This book, more than any other, led me to the Lord almost 40 years ago, so it has a gigantic place in my heart and my story of faith. Here is a look at the first chapter, which begins a series that will take us through the entire Apocalypse.
The Unveiling of Jesus Christ Revelation 1
I began reading the book of Revelation almost 40 years ago, before I had even put my faith in Jesus Christ. We had a large, old, fancy Bible in the house and I began reading it, prompted by some music I was listening to that had a few biblical references. This book, more than any other, led me to the Lord, so it has a gigantic place in my personal story of faith. I’ve loved it ever since. Whenever I read it I feel like I’m meeting Jesus face-to-face for the first time.
At that time, of course, I didn’t understand most of it. I just realized that Jesus was coming and knew I wanted to be right with Him. Certainly some questions remain, but in all those years since that time, Revelation has now become very familiar. Like no other book of the Bible, it ties together themes and ideas from all of Scripture, especially the OT. Getting to know Revelation can motivate us to study the whole Bible so that we can see how it all fits together. One of my most earnest prayers as we go through Revelation is that you too will develop a love for this book and that through it, you will increase in your love for all of God’s holy word.
The primary background of Revelation is the Old Testament – particularly the OT prophetic books – and especially those books that can be classified as apocalyptic literature. Books like Daniel, Ezekiel and Zechariah bear a strong similarity. Still, the entire OT is represented in some way, shape or form – from Genesis and Exodus, through Psalms and even Malachi.
“No other book of the NT is as permeated by the OT as is Revelation. Although its author seldom quotes the OT directly, allusions and echoes are found in almost every verse of the book … Indeed, the reader unfamiliar with the OT is hard pressed to make any sense of Revelation. “ – Beale & McDonough.
Much in Revelation is symbolic, but that shouldn’t deter us. The symbols are often explained right in context or else somewhere else in the Bible. Contrary to what some believe, they aren’t there to confuse us, nor are they indecipherable. They are there to speak through pictures as well as words.
“John used symbols in order to communicate that which cannot be expressed in any other way, not to conceal something that could be said more straightforwardly.” – Eugene Boring
I. Expect to see Jesus Christ revealed. 1:1-3
II. Expect to come face-to-face with Jesus as God. 1:4-8
III. Expect to be completely overwhelmed. 1:9-20
I. Expect to see Jesus Christ revealed. 1:1-3
1:1-2 The Revelation of Jesus Christ The word Revelation, or Apokalypse (apokalypsis) in Greek, means an uncovering, an unveiling, a disclosing. The very title tells us that this is not a closed book, but one that God intends us to study. It designed to reveal, not to cloud or confuse.
There are two ways to understand the title and both make sense.
A. It is Jesus who will be revealed. That is true and it will happen in ways that complete the picture of Him that we get in the Gospels and the rest of the NT.
B. The Revelation belongs to Jesus. He is revealing things to us. This is also true. Look at the whole sentence. God the Father wanted Jesus to show His servants (slaves) certain things. These are the things He wanted us to see or to know. God gave Him this revelation.
John The early church strongly supported the view that John the apostle was the author of the book. We won’t argue with that.
1:3 This gives us a glimpse into the customs of the early church. The verse
“reflects the early Christian practice of reading aloud the Scriptures in the services of the church. This, in turn, was a carryover from the procedure followed in the Jewish synagogues where most of the earliest Christians had participated. Because writing materials were expensive and scarce, so were copies of the books that were parts of the biblical canon. As a rule, one copy per Christian assembly was the best that could be hoped for. Public reading was the only means that rank-and-file Christians had for becoming familiar with the contents of these books.”
– Robert L. Thomas
Our situation is different, so consider this verse an incentive to dive into the contents of Revelation with your whole heart. We are blessed to be able to read it as much as we want.
Now a little note on the threefold blessing. The Greek construction indicates that the hearers and the keepers are one group. The blessing for hearing it really comes if we take the contents of the book to heart. Otherwise, only the reader is blessed.