Revelation 1:9-20

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:9-20

THE PATMOS VISION

INTRODUCTION:

In our last two messages we have introduced the Book of Revelation in Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:1-3 , and we have studied the greeting in Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:4-8 .

As we continue with Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:9-20 , we see John's vision of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We note -

I. THE SETTING OF THE VISION - 1:9-10A

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:9-10 - (9) I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. (10a) I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day. . . .

By writing who am also your brother, John identifies himself as being a fellow believer in the Lord Jesus Christ with those to whom he is writing.

Companion means participant, partner, or sharer. Like those to whom he was writing, John was a participant in tribulation, a term which literally means pressing or pressure; but when used of distress that is brought about by outward circumstances, it is understood in the sense of affliction, persecution, or tribulation.

John was also both a brother and companion in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.

By kingdom . . . of Jesus Christ, John means the rule of Jesus Christ [or the realm over which Jesus Christ rules (or reigns)]. John, as well as his readers, was busily engaged in serving the Lord Jesus Christ.

By the patience of Jesus Christ, John may mean the patience, endurance, fortitude, steadfastness, or perseverance produced by Jesus Christ.

However, it seems better that he means the expectation or patient expectation he has placed in Jesus Christ. As a result of the patience of Jesus Christ, John, along with his readers, is patiently waiting for what he expects at any moment: the return of Jesus Christ. This is not something he merely hopes will happen; he knows that it is going to happen and that it is only a matter of time before it does.

1. John was on the island of Patmos as an exile

Patmos is a small, rocky island about ten miles long and six miles wide in the Aegean Sea southwest of Ephesus between present-day Turkey and Greece. He was there for [i.e. because of] the word of God and for [i.e. because of] the testimony of Jesus Christ.

The word of God suggests that John had been proclaiming the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ suggests that John had been testifying about Jesus Christ.

It is not indicating that he had been placed on this island in order that he might proclaim the word of God and in order that he might testify about Jesus Christ; rather, it leads to an opposite conclusion. John was confined on Patmos as an exile suffering for the Lord because his proclaiming the word of God and because his testifying or witnessing about Jesus Christ had upset those in authority.

It is not revealed under what conditions John lived, but it would seem that they were unpleasant. His exile to the island of Patmos was part of the tribulation he was enduring. According to tradition, John was exiled to Patmos during Domitian's reign and forced to work in the mines.

2. John was in the Spirit

In the Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit and suggests that John was particularly under the influence of the Holy Spirit. As a result he was taken beyond where his normal senses and experiences would have taken him. He was about to receive a revelation directly from the Lord.

Paul cites a similar experience in II Corinthians 12:1-5 .

II Corinthians 12:1-5 - (1) It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

(2) I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

(3) And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

(4) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

(5) Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

In the Spirit may instead refer to John's own spirit rather than to the Holy Spirit and mean that John was in a trance in which he received a vision.

3. It was on the Lord's day

On the Lord's day is best understood as a reference to the first day of the week, so called because it was on the first day of the week that the Lord Jesus Christ arose from the dead. In other words, it was on a Sunday.

II. THE VISION ITSELF - 1:10B-18

1. I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet - 1:10b

The idea that the voice was great suggests that it was loud.

It was behind me, indicating that the voice was coming from behind John. The context will make it clear that the voice is the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The voice is further described by as of a trumpet, which would suggest that it had sharp, clear tones which would command one's attention.

2. The voice was saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last - 1:11a

I am Alpha and Omega is identical with what appeared in verse 8 where it was said of God the Father, including the appearance of the before both Alpha and Omega. Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet. The statement I am the Alpha and the Omega sums up everything that can be said from A to Z. Here the One speaking is Christ in contrast to verse 8 where the One speaking was God the Father.

Jesus describes Himself as the first and the last; whereas, in verse 8 the speaker [i.e. God the Father] said that He was the beginning and the ending.

Similarly, in Revelation of Jesus Christ 22:13 Jesus says, I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

By the first and the last the speaker means that He is the Eternal One Who existed before the creation and Who will exist after the destruction of the present creation. It is another way of saying that there never has been, and never will be, a time when He did not, does not, or will not exist.

3. What thou seest write in a book and send unto the seven churches - 1:11b

What thou seest indicates that some things were about to be revealed to John.

The tense of write in the Greek text implies write at once or write without delay.

In a book is not in the sort of book we are used to but in a scroll.

Send it suggests send (it) at once or send (it) without delay.

Unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea indicates the primary recipients of the Book of Revelation. These churches were located in what we would refer to today as Western Turkey.

4. I saw seven golden candlesticks [i.e. seven golden lampstands] - 1:12

And I turned [i.e. turned around or turned back] to see the voice that spake with me [i.e. the voice which represents the individual Who spoke with the Apostle John].

And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks [or lampstands], which are identified in verse 20.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:20 - (20) The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks [or lampstands]. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches [these are the pastors of the churches]: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

5. I saw one like unto the Son of man in the midst of the seven candlesticks - 1:13a

In the midst of the seven candlesticks pictures Christ among the candlesticks [or lampstands], which, according to verse 20, represent the seven local churches. This suggests that Christ is right there in their very presence wherever His local churches are, supervising and directing them all.

One like unto the Son of man indicates that this is a reference to Christ. The fact that He was like unto the Son of man suggests that he resembled a man.

The title Son of man emphasizes the humanity of Christ. In Hebrew thinking what follows the words son of indicates a chief characteristic of someone. Thus, when Jesus was called Son of God, it meant that He was God. When He was called Son of man, it meant that He was man, i.e. a human being. Although He resembled a man, He was no ordinary human being. He was far more than a mere human being. He was God the Son Who had become a human being in order to die on the cross and pay for the sins of all humanity. Yet, He has always been the second Person of the Triune God, God the Son; and He always will be.

6. He was clothed with a garment down to the foot - 1:13b

He is wearing a long garment or robe which reaches to His feet, which seems to imply dignity or high rank.

7. He was girt about the paps with a golden girdle - 1:13c

He was girt is he was girded

It means that He was wearing a golden girdle [i.e. a belt, band, or sash] about the paps [i.e. around the area of His breast, around His chest, or around His upper torso.

It also seems to be a mark of position such as that of the priests. According to Josephus, the Levitical priests were girded about the breasts.

8. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow - 1:14a

This is reminiscent of the Ancient of Days Whom Daniel saw in Daniel 7:9 ,

Daniel 7:9 - I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.

What Daniel saw was apparently a vision of God the Father; whereas, in this verse it is a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, both God the Father and God the Son have the same attributes. The whiteness symbolizes old age, i.e. eternity. It also symbolizes purity or holiness.

9. His eyes were like a flame of fire - 1:14b

His eyes were as a flame of fire (or as a fiery flame). This suggests that they were searching and penetrating and enabled him to judge all humanity including believers and to judge them perfectly and without any errors in judgment. No one will be able to deceive Him, and nothing will escape his notice.

It may also imply that His gaze was terrifying.

10. His feet were like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace - 1:15a

Fine brass is the translation of a word which refers to some sort of metal or alloy, the exact nature of which is unknown since the word is not found except in Revelation. It is apparently something like gold ore, fine brass, or bronze.

As if they burned in a furnace further describes his feet. It suggests that the metal was in a state of having been heated thoroughly, of having been made red hot, or of having been caused to glow in order to test and refine them. In other words, they had been highly refined. It seems to picture the Lord in His capacity as judge.

11. His voice was as the sound of many waters - 1:15b

Even a small waterfall or rushing creek can be heard from a distance. When it is a large, fast-moving stream or waterfall, especially one the size of Niagara Falls, or ocean waves crashing onto the beach, the noise is impressive. His voice was apparently loud and overwhelming, suggestive of mighty power or omnipotence.

12. He had in his right hand seven stars - 1:16a

Had is held and speaks of possession and control as well as of protection. They were His stars, and they were under His protection and control. No one could hurt them apart from His permission.

The seven stars are identified in verse 20.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:20 - (20) The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels [i.e. pastors] of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

The angels are best understood as the individual pastors of these churches, and the fact that Jesus has or holds them in His right hand indicates that they are under His control and protection.

13. Out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword - 1:16b

Similarly in Revelation of Jesus Christ 19:15 it is written of Christ, And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations. . . . The same word for sword is used in Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:16 and 19:15.

The symbolism of a sharp twoedged sword coming out of the mouth of the Lord Jesus is suggestive that His word, which would come out of His mouth, is a most effective weapon used not only as a symbol of His authority but also as a weapon with which He will kill His enemies.

The word translated sword refers to the large and broad sword, which might be almost as tall as a man, which was used by barbaric peoples, especially the Thracians. It was sometimes used as a spear.

14. His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength - 1:16c

Countenance is face and refers to his facial appearance.

As the sun shineth in his strength suggests that his facial appearance was very bright, as bright as the noonday sun.

In his strength refers to the sun and implies at its brightest. His brightness speaks of His majestic glory as God the Son.

One cannot help but be reminded of John's experience at the Transfiguration when he, along with his brother James and Peter, caught a glimpse of Christ's glory.

One is also reminded of the experience of Saul of Tarsus on the way to Damascus in Acts 9 when he saw a light from heaven, which he describes as a great light in Acts 22:9 and as a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun in Acts 26:13 , when he heard the voice of the Lord Jesus and was converted.

III. JOHN'S REACTION TO THE VISION - 1:17A

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:17 a - And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. . . .

John was completely overwhelmed by what he had seen and was terrified. The reaction of those in the Scriptures who saw Christ in His glory was always basically the same. They were always awestruck with terror. It was a genuine reverential fear. They always realized their sinfulness and their own inadequacies. John's falling at Christ's feet suggests an immediate act of submission to Him.

As dead implies that John had no strength left in him and did not move.

IV. JOHN WAS REASSURED BY THE SPEAKER - 1:17B-18

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:17 b-18 - (17b) . . . And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: (18) I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

Christ responded to John's reaction. He laid his right hand upon me.

Laid upon is put upon or placed upon. It was a reassuring gesture for John's benefit and indicates a kind disposition toward John.

He also spoke to John saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last.

Fear not is a negative command, an imperative, whose tense indicates that an action already going on is to be discontinued. It is understood in the sense of stop fearing. It clearly indicates that John was already afraid, and he was to stop being afraid.

Jesus also identified himself by I am the first and the last which has already been stated by Jesus of Himself in verse 11.

I is emphatic.

I am is reminiscent of the meaning of the name of Jehovah given to Moses in Exodus 3:13-14 ,

Exodus 3:13-14 - (13) And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

(14) And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

By the first and the last, as has already been stated in the comments on verse 11, Christ means that He is the eternal one Who existed before the creation and Who will exist after the destruction of the present creation. It is another way of saying that there never has been, and never will be, a time when He did not, does not, or will not exist.

The statement Fear not, I am the first and the last was intended to bring comfort or encouragement to John. It was because of Who He was that Jesus could comfort John. He was God. Here he identifies Himself with the Jehovah of the Old Testament. He is the Living God.

By I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen, He assures John that He is the resurrected One.

The tense of liveth indicates continuing action. Christ had no beginning, and He will have no ending.

(I) was dead is I became dead. He became dead when He died on the cross and paid for the sins of all humanity.

And behold is used to gain John's attention for the statement which follows: I am alive for evermore.

I am alive means I am living.

For evermore means forever and ever.

He concludes His statement with Amen, meaning truly or so be it.

And I have the keys of hell and of death.

The possession of the keys suggests control and access. The statement that Christ has the keys of hell and of death indicates that He has control of, and authority over, hades and over death. He is perfectly able to confine to hades those who belong there and to resurrect both saved and lost at the appropriate times. He has complete control of the destinies of both the saved dead and the unsaved dead. Furthermore, no one can even live or die apart from the Lord's permission or direction.

Hell is hades and refers to the place where the souls of the departed dead go at death. Their bodies go to the grave. Prior to the resurrection of Christ, hades was the place where the souls of both the saved and the unsaved dead were. The saved dead were in paradise, which was the part of hades where the souls of believers were kept while awaiting the resurrection. Hades was also a place of torment for the souls of the unsaved dead who are awaiting the resurrection at the great white throne judgment in Revelation of Jesus Christ 20 prior to their being cast into the lake of fire. After the resurrection of Christ, the souls of the saved dead go directly to be with the Lord at death; but the souls of the unsaved dead still go to hades at death.

V. THE COMMAND TO WRITE - 1:19

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:19 (19) Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

The tense of write suggests write at once or write without delay.

1. The things which thou hast seen refers to Revelation chapter 1.

2. The things which are refers to Revelation chapters 2-3.

3. The things which shall be hereafter [i.e. after these things] refers to Revelation chapters 4-22.

VI. HINTS FOR UNDERSTANDING THE VISION - 1:20

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:20 (20) The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

Mystery - something which has been previously unknown which is now being made known

1. The seven stars are [i.e. represent] the angels [i.e. the messengers or the pastors] of the seven churches.

2. The seven candlesticks [i.e. lampstands] are [i.e. represent] the seven churches.

CONCLUSION:

What a vision John had! It constitutes the things which are in verse 19.