Study Notes

Revelation 1:1-8


I'm not one for charts, graphs, and boring details. I believe that the Word of God best serves us when we read what is written, rather than what is written about it. Therefore, let us jump right in, and let the who, what, where, and when of this book be revealed when in its own context.

1:1-2 The Revelation Of Jesus Christ

"Revelation" in Greek is "ap-ok-AL-oop-sis," which means "unveiling," or "to pull the veil away from." While many people believe that this is a book of unsolved mystery, it is actually the unveiling, the revelation of these things. Therefore, we will approach this study as if each mysterious picture and phrase is able to be seen, as long as we view it through the spectacles of Scripture.

The Father gave this revelation, this unveiling, to the Son. The question arises: "Did Jesus not know this until the Father revealed it to Him? Doesn't Jesus know everything? Isn't He God?"

Although it is nearly impossible to understand an infinite God with a finite human mind, the Bible teaches clearly that there is one God that exists in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But when Jesus came to earth as a man, He set aside His omnipotence and relied on the Father to reveal things to Him.

Phil. 2:6-7 ...Although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

That is why we read that as a child, He learned.

Luke 2:52 And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

And while He was on earth, He didn't know the whole plan either. Jesus Himself said in Mark 13,

Mark 13:31-32 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."

Jesus chose not to know the whole picture of the last days until this revelation was given to Him, and now He in turn is giving it to us.

So the book of Revelation is truly the revelation of Jesus Christ, not as the King James Bible entitles it, "The Revelation of St. John the Divine."

And finally, regarding this word, one of my pet peeves: it is one revelation - not "revelations."

To Show To His Bond-Servants

This revelation is the unveiling of Jesus Christ, and given by Jesus Christ to His bond-servants.

A bond-servant is a certain type of servant. Remember that Hebrew slaves were to be set free after six years of serving. But sometimes, the slave decided that he had a better deal in slavery than he would out in the world. His master treated him well, was fair, and provided for his needs. In that case, being set free from his master would have been a step down. So the Lord commanded,

Exod. 21:2, 5-6 If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment... But if the slave plainly says, "I love my master...; I will not go out as a free man," then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.

So the bond-servant was one who voluntarily chose to serve the master for life, because he knew that the life he had as a servant was better than he would have as a free man. Many men in the New Testament were called bond-servants of Jesus Christ: Paul, Timothy, Epaphras (Ep-af-RAS), Tychicus (Too-khee-KOS), James, Simon Peter, Jude, and John - each of them called bondservants.

Are you a bond-servant of Jesus Christ? Have you realized that the "freedom" you think you have in the world doesn't hold a candle to the "slavery" we have in Christ? Have you willingly committed to serve our Master for life?

Paul told the Romans,

Rom. 6:22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

The book of Revelation was written to show His bond-servants what will take place.


The Revelation was written 1,900 years ago. It would seem at first that the claim of this "shortly" taking place didn't happen. Was this a actually claim that these things would happen soon?

Although these things will happen very soon, the Greek word here for "shortly" are "en TAKH-os," meaning "speedily, quickly, or rapid in execution." Shortly, therefore, indicates the time these things will take to happen, not necessarily happening soon, happening quickly when they did begin.

That being said, we will see in our study that the time is near, and I believe nearer than any of us might realize.


The first bond-servant to receive this Revelation in its entirety was the apostle John, author of the gospel of John, and the epistles names first, second, and third John. We will see the circumstances by which he received this revelation when we get to verse nine next week.

1:3 Blessings

Many people believe that if they simply read the book of Revelation, that they will be blessed. But notice that it is a conditional blessing: you must read this book, you must hear the words, and you must heed the things that are written in it.

I believe that this is a self-fulfilling blessing. If you read, hear, and heed what is written in this book, the way you live your life will change. You will realize that this world is on a collision course with destruction, and you'll no longer invest in this world. You'll realize that terrible times are coming upon those who are not saved, and you will begin to share your faith with greater fervency than ever before. You will realize that mankind has been duped and deceived, and you will live with clearer vision as to the plan of God and the wiles of the devil. You will be guaranteed blessings if you hear, read, and heed the words written in this book, because you'll know that the time is near.

1:4-6 The Seven Churches

John is writing to seven real churches that existed at the time: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

But we shall see that it is actually written to the entire church, as Jesus repeats over and over,

Rev. 2:7 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

So although He is dictating seven letters to seven real churches, they are also being dictated to the complete church.

This is a good time to mention that one way God has demonstrated that He is the author of the entire Bible is by using consistency in His writing.

Numbers in Scripture show this consistency by consistently signifying different things or ideas. Two is the number of witness, five is the number of mercy, six is the number of man, etc.

The number seven has been mistaken by some in the past as the "divine" number, or meaning "perfection." This can't be right, because in chapter twelve the devil appears with seven heads!

What seven actually signifies is "completeness." The Revelation was given to seven literal, historical churches, yet was also given to the complete church - to all who had ears to hear.

Grace And Peace

John begins by saying, "grace to you and peace." It is comforting that in this book that will describe judgments, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, indeed, the very destruction of the entire earth, we are comforted with grace and peace from the Lord Himself.

The Seven Spirits

Verse four says that there are seven spirits before His throne. Who or what are these seven spirits? They will be mentioned again in Revelation, as being the seven lamps of fire that burn before the throne of God (4:5), and the seven eyes of the Lamb that are sent out into all the earth (5:6).

These facts could lend themselves to many theories, but it is vital that we only use Scripture to interpret the pictures in Revelation.

Remember that seven is a picture of completeness, and could actually mean one complete thing. After doing a little Bible homework, we discover that they are representative of the sevenfold Spirit of God, Whom we read about in Isaiah 11:

Isa. 11:2 And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

1- He is the Spirit of the Lord (Gen 1:2)

2- He is the Spirit of Wisdom (Deut 34:9)

3- He is the Spirit of Understanding (1Cor 2:14)

4- He is the Spirit of Counsel (Luke 12:2)

5- He is the Spirit of Strength (Judges 15:14)

6- He is the Spirit of Knowledge (John 14:26)

7- He is the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord (Acts 9:31)

Our first mystery is solved! The seven spirits of God represent the Holy Spirit in His completeness.

The Trinity

Notice that we have also seen the Trinity here in verses four and five. The Father is Him who is, was, and is to come, sitting on the throne. The Spirit represented in completeness, and now Jesus Christ.

One of the great mysteries of God is His Triune nature. The Bible says conclusively three things: There is one God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not the same Person. Put that information into a computer to analyze it, and it will crash.

We see them separately at Jesus' baptism.

Matt. 3:16-17 And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, {and} coming upon Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."

But still, there is no way for me to ever explain the Trinity to you because we have finite minds that cannot possibly comprehend an infinite God. But I can tell you this: John wrote,

1John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.

One day, we shall see Him just as He is, and then we will understand.

First-Born Of The Dead

Jesus is described here as "the first-born of the dead." This does not mean that He was the first created being, as many cults will try to tell you. Jesus was most definitely not created. He is, as we have said, God Himself. And we know that He was not created, because we read in the gospel of John,

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

So what does the title, "first-born of the dead" mean? The book of Genesis demonstrates to us that the first born was the inheritor of the blessing and the birthright. It was a place of honor and a title of authority. I

As a matter of fact, in many writings, the ancient Jewish rabbis actually called God Himself "Firstborn of the World." By having the title "first-born," it shows that Jesus is the inheritor of all creation.

Col. 1:17-20 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

He is in first place, the inheritor of all creation.

Released Us From Our Sins By His Blood

Remember that the Old Testament covenant was the covering of sin by the blood of bulls, goats, and other sacrifices. But Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, died for all of us. His blood didn't just cover our sin, it erased our sin!

Spilled blood may not be an attractive thing to talk about, and Christianity has been called a "gory religion." But look at all that the blood of Jesus has done...

Eph. 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses...

Eph. 2:13 ...You who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Col. 1:20 ...Having made peace through the blood of His cross...

Hebr. 9:14 ...How much more will the blood of Christ... cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebr. 10:19 ...We have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,

Hebr. 13:12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.

1John 1:7 ...The blood of Jesus... cleanses us from all sin.

Rev. 1:5 ...Released us from our sins by His blood,

Rev. 5:9 ...Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

Bringing redemption, sanctification, and forgiveness; purchasing us and making peace, allowing us entrance and bringing us near; cleansing our consciences, cleansing our sin. Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

1:7 Coming With The Clouds

Jesus coming with the clouds is a favorite picture that the Bible writers painted:

Ezek. 30:3 "For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near; It will be a day of clouds, a time {of doom} for the nations.

Dan. 7:13 "I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming..".

Joel 2:1-2 ...The day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness.

Zeph. 1:14-15 Near is the great day of the LORD, near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. A day of wrath is that day, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness...

Jesus coming with the clouds is a picture of judgment day, when Christ will return to smite the nations and pour out His wrath upon the earth. We will have a very clear picture of this by the time we're through with our study of Revelation.

Every Eye Will See Him

These are not just colorful word pictures. It is how He is returning. When Jesus ascended into heaven in the book of Acts, we read,

Acts 1:9-11 ...He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven."

He will return the same way - from the clouds, in full visibility, coming to earth. He did not return in 1914, as the Jehovah's Witnesses claim - when He returns, every eye will see Him.

Will Mourn Over Him

They will see and mourn the one they pierced. The Lord spoke through Zechariah,

Zech. 12:9-10 "And it will come about in that day that I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born."

The nations who have stood against Christ will be destroyed, but the Jews will realize that they had rejected and their ancestors had crucified their true Messiah - and they will mourn with the sorrow of a woman who has lost her only son.

They will see that they have pierced Him. It is an amazing fact that in heaven today, Jesus Christ still bears the wounds that our sin inflicted on Him. How do I know this?

In the garden, Mary Magdalene didn't recognize Jesus appearance. When Thomas wanted physical proof that Jesus was resurrected,

John 20:27 ...He said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side..."

And years later, when John the apostle was caught into heaven, he wrote,

Rev. 5:6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain...

The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, standing in heaven, looking as if He'd been slain. If you read of how they butchered the Lambs for sacrifices, this would present a gory picture. It was prophesied of Christ,

Isa. 52:14 ...His appearance was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.

When He returns, those on the earth will see the One who shed His blood, Who was pierced through for our transgressions.

1:8 Alpha & Omega

The Lord makes the awesome statement, "I am the Alpha and Omega." These are the A and the Z of the Greek alphabet. He is saying "I am the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. I made the world, and I will destroy it."

Everything that we saw begun in our study of the book of Genesis, we will see finished in the book of Revelation: In the beginning, He made the sun, the sea, and the night. By the end of the book, we will see that there is no more sun, no more sea, no more night. In Genesis, we saw sin enter the world, the curse upon the world, and man driven from God. In Revelation, we will see the end of sin, the end of the curse, and man restored to God.

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