Revelation Introduction and Verses 1:1-3

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Text: Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:1-3

THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST

INTRODUCTION:

The Background of Revelation

The Apostle John, the son of Zebedee, wrote the Book of Revelation somewhere around AD 95, near the end of the reign of the Roman emperor named Domitian, approximately sixty-five years after the resurrection of Christ.

The churches were facing difficult times near the end of the first century AD. Persecution from outside the local church was commonplace, and problems were also commonplace inside the local churches. The church at Ephesus was commended for both her endurance and her discernment of evil men, the church at Smyrna would have tribulation ten days, Antipas had been martyred in Pergamos, Thyatira would have great tribulation, and Philadelphia was promised the Lord's protection from the hour of trial which would come upon all the world. John had been exiled to Patmos because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Would Christianity survive, or would Satan annihilate it? How bad would it get?

John wrote Revelation to answer these questions. Revelation is prophetic. It clearly indicates that Satan will be cast out of heaven and that the saints will overcome him by the blood of the Lamb. Eventually Satan and his followers will be cast into the lake of fire. Christianity will indeed survive, and the church will appear in heaven as a bride adorned for her husband.

Revelation is regarded by some as apocalyptic literature, the sort of literature which is written in times of trouble, which conveys its message by means of signs, symbols, dreams, and visions, and which promises the eventual triumph of good over evil. It must be remembered, however, that God directed John in the writing of the Book of Revelation and that in Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:2 the Book of Revelation is stated to be prophecy.

The Message of Revelation

The Revelation of Jesus Christ refers to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Although some people mistakenly refer to it as Revelations, there is only one revelation; there is only one second coming of Christ.

Chapters 1-3 deal with things occurring before the rapture of believers.

Chapters 4-19 deal with events which occur during the tribulation and culminate in chapter 19 with the second coming of Christ.

Chapter 20 deals with events which occur after the second coming of Christ during the millennium, and chapters 21-22 deal with eternity future.

Revelation is particularly concerned with the great tribulation, the last half of the seven-year period known as the tribulation. Christ is seen as the ruler of the kings of the earth, as the beginning and the end, as the first and the last, as the bridegroom, as the head of the church, as the lion of the tribe of Judah, as the root and offspring of David, as the Lamb that was slain, as the King of kings and Lord of lords, and as the Judge. He slays the enemies with the sword of His mouth.

As one begins to study the Book of Revelation, it does not take him long to realize that Revelation is not the easiest book of the Bible to understand. Before beginning this study of Revelation, there are several things we need to keep in mind.

There are a number of assumptions which anyone who is interested in a serious study of the Book of Revelation can be expected to make.

1. Not only does he want to master the Word of God, but also he wants the Word of God to master him.

2. Revelation is part of the Word of God.

3. The Word of God will never contradict itself.

4. God will never lead anyone contrary to His Word.

5. Revelation was written to be understood by God's people; therefore, they can understand it.

6. Although the reader knows that he will never really exhaust the depths of the Word of God, he wants to do his best to do so.

7. As far as possible, Revelation should be interpreted literally. It has been well said that if the literal sense of Revelation makes good sense to the reader, then he should not seek to understand it in any other sense.

Methods of Interpretation

There are four main schools of interpretation of Revelation found among modern-day expositors.

The preterist school believes that the symbolism of Revelation has to do only with the day in which Revelation was written. According to this view, this symbolism has no bearing on the future. This view is common among liberal theologians. We reject this method of interpretation.

A second main school of interpretation of Revelation is the idealist school. This school of thought regards Revelation as nothing more than a symbolic picture of the enduring struggle between good and evil and between Christianity and paganism. We also reject this method of interpretation.

A third main school of interpretation is the historicist school. Adherents of this view believe that Revelation outlines in symbolic form the entire course of history from the day of Pentecost until the second coming of Christ. We reject this method of interpretation.

The fourth main school of interpretation of the Book of Revelation is the futurist school. This view believes that, as far as possible, Revelation should be interpreted literally. Those who adhere to this view believe that the first three chapters of Revelation apply to the day in which the book was written or to the church age. However, beginning with Revelation of Jesus Christ 4:1 and continuing to the end of the book, everything in Revelation is regarded as yet future. Chapters 4-19 deal with events of the tribulation, chapter 20 deals with the millennium, and chapters 21-22 deal with eternity future. Events taught in Revelation of Jesus Christ 4-19 are interpreted as literally as possible. We believe that the futurist method is the correct way to interpret Revelation.

Symbolism

Much symbolism is found in the Book of Revelation. It was likely used to make it difficult for Roman authorities to understand things which the believers would readily understand. The meaning of the symbolism is sometimes stated in the Book of Revelation itself; but sometimes it is understood by reference to, or inference drawn from, other portions of Scripture.

An Outline of Revelation

The outline of Revelation is based on Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:19 , Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter. The three divisions of this verse correspond with the three major divisions of Revelation.

Introduction and Greeting - 1:1-8

I. The things which thou hast seen: the vision of the glorified Christ - 1:9-20

II. The things which are: the seven churches - 2:1 - 3:22

III. The things which shall be hereafter: the tribulation, the millennium, and eternity future - 4:1 - 22:5

Conclusion: final instructions and invitation - 22:6-21

John wrote from the isle of Patmos in about AD 95, approximately 65 years after the resurrection. He had been exiled there because of his preaching the Word of God and because of His testimony on behalf of Jesus Christ.

As we begin to consider the text of Revelation, we turn to -

I. THE INTRODUCTION - 1:1-3

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:1-3 - 1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

A. The Revelation of Jesus Christ - 1:1

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:1 - The Revelation [i.e. the unveiling or the disclosure] of Jesus Christ [where of Jesus Christ means that Jesus Christ is the One doing the revealing, unveiling, or disclosing], which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

1. God gave it to Christ - This means that God is the ultimate source of the revelation. God the Father gave this revelation to His Son, Jesus Christ.

2. The purpose for which God gave to Jesus Christ the Book of Revelation was to shew [i.e. to point out or to make known] unto his servants [whether they are Christ's servants or God's servants makes no difference because Christ's servants are God's servants. These are believers who have voluntarily enslaved themselves to God and/or to Christ.] - to shew unto his servants things which must shortly [i.e. soon or in a short time] come to pass [i.e. things which must soon happen or things which must soon occur. These things could all happen within the lifetime of anyone who reads this book or hears it read.

3. Christ sent and signified it [i.e. made it known or communicated it] by his angel [i.e. by Christ's heavenly messenger. Jesus ordered this sent; and His angel or heavenly messenger carried out His order.] unto his servant John [i.e. to John the Apostle, the son of Zebedee].

Something similar is stated in Revelation of Jesus Christ 22:6 and 22:16.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 22:6 - And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.

The Lord God of the holy prophets seems best understood as referring to God the Father although it is also true of Christ.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 22:16 - I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring [i.e. descendant] of David, and the bright and morning star.

B. John's record - 1:2

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

1. John bore record of [i.e. John bore witness to, John declared, or John confirmed] the word of God. This shows us that God's word originated with God the Father. It is not something that John invented.

2. John bore record of [i.e. John bore witness to, John declared, or John confirmed] Jesus Christ's testimony, i.e. of the testimony that Jesus Christ gave. Christ's testimony substantiates God the Father's word.

3. John bore record of all things that he saw indicates that John was an eyewitness of the things found in the Book of Revelation.

C. The blessing to the one who reads and those who hear and keep the things in Revelation - 1:3

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

This is the first of seven beatitudes or blessings in Revelation, i.e. of sayings beginning with the word blessed.

Although some wish to argue that the Book of Revelation is apocalyptic literature, John [writing under the direction of the Holy Spirit] declares it to be prophecy and by so doing places it on a par with other prophetic literature in the Bible.

The picture is of someone who reads the Book of Revelation publicly to others who listen intently and who also obey its teachings. They are going to be blessed by God.

It is not enough just to hear the words of this prophecy read; those who hear these words must also keep these words.

As James wrote in his epistle, But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves (James 1:22 ), this blessing is for those who hear and, also, who keep those things which are written therein. If they only hear them, they will not be blessed. They must also keep them [i.e. they must observe them, they must fulfill them, they must pay attention to them, or they must take them to heart].

For the time is at hand provides the reason those who hear and keep those things which are written in the book of Revelation are blessed.

The time suggests the time of its fulfillment.

Is at hand suggests is near. In other words, these things may take place soon or at any time. This means that they are imminent. Believers need to be well aware of what John has written and to be living for the Lord regardless of the outward circumstances in which they find themselves. They need to realize that they are on the winning side and that they know it because they have read the final chapter. They should never allow troublesome circumstances to discourage them or to hinder them in any way.

As I have indicated, seven beatitudes or blessings are pronounced in Revelation. The word blessed is understood in the sense of happy or fortunate. It refers to the persons God will bless. We will be looking at these beatitudes in detail in future messages. Additional beatitudes are found in:

Revelation of Jesus Christ 14:13 - And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 16:15 - Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 19:9 - And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:6 - Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 22:7 - Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 22:14 - Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

To summarize, blessings are pronounced in Revelation on those who do the following:

1. The one who reads the prophecy of the Book of Revelation. He is the one who reads the Scripture publicly to others.

2. The ones who hear the words of the Book of Revelation as it is read. They are the ones who listen to the public reading of Revelation.

3. The ones who keep the things which are written in the Book of Revelation. They are the ones who observe, fulfill, pay attention to, or take to heart the things which are written in the Book of Revelation.

4. Those who die in the Lord during the time of great tribulation. This enables them to rest from their labors. Their works will be known and appropriately rewarded.

5. The ones who watch, i.e. the ones who keep alert spiritually, and who keep their garments, i.e. continue to live for the Lord and maintain good testimonies throughout the great tribulation period, no matter what happens.

6. The ones who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

7. The one who has part in the first resurrection.

8. The one who keeps, i.e. observes, fulfills, pays attention to, or takes to heart, the sayings of the prophecy of the Book of Revelation.

9. The ones who are doing, i.e. keeping or obeying, God's commandments.

CONCLUSION:

Every day as we go through the Book of Revelation, I encourage you to keep reading ahead in preparation for our Sunday evening studies on Revelation. Your advance reading in conjunction with our verse-by-verse analysis of Revelation will help you in the coming weeks to profit much from these studies. May the Lord bless you in this study of this portion of the Word of God.