Revelation : Chapter 1
Before you begin reading my breakdown of Revelation 1, please read the chapter in its entirety first. Here is a great website to use : BlueLetterBible
If you haven’t read my introduction to the book of Revelation you can read it here: Revelation – Introduction
I normally don’t like using charts because the majority of the time they are way too confusing. Most are too bogged down with false man-made doctrine to make any real sense of the matter. However, I am going to borrow a few easy to understand, scripturally sound charts from Pastor Steven Anderson‘s work. The first one shows how to break down the chapters. Basically, if you split Revelation right down the middle (CH1-11 and CH12-22), you’ll see that both halves tell the same story but from a slightly different perspective. This gives us more detail of certain events in each half as well. I will post the first chart down below.
If I borrow material from a pastor or theologian, I always make sure to give credit to them when I do. This does not however mean that I agree with everything said person/persons teach in general.
In this instance I have studied Pastor Anderson’s work thoroughly, along with the work of other pastors and theologians, and have come to the conclusion that this, in my opinion, is the most scripturally sound teaching concerning the end times prophecies. This is a “post tribulation – pre wrath” teaching, but is still slightly different from typical “post tribulation” beliefs. The three main reasons I believe this stance is the most Biblical are : (1) many of the other end times doctrines fail to fully identify the cyclical nature of Bible prophecy, (2) many misinterpret scripture and (3) many are based on man’s ideas rather than the text itself. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com with any questions!
With all that out-of-the-way, let us begin our study of the book of Revelation.
Chart Made by Pastor Stephen Anderson / FaithfulWordBaptistChurch
The chapter text will be red to make it easily distinguishable.
Revelation Chapter 1 (KJV)
“(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.“
The first few verses immediately gives us the author, purpose, and the audience of Revelation. The author is John the Apostle, who also wrote one of the Gospels as well as 3 Epistles. Verse two reminds us that he witnessed the life and testimony of Christ. The purpose of this book is to reveal “things which must shortly come to pass”. God has given John a vision of future events that he is supposed to convey to His “servants”, who, at the time of this vision, were the seven Churches in Asia Minor (as we will see in verse 4 and after). Consequentially, as fellow believers and servants of Christ, this message is also being given to us. In other words the audience of this book are those who are saved. This book is a message specifically for those who already have the Holy Spirit inside of them, giving them the ability to spiritually discern. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”. In verse three we are told that even reading this book and hearing the words of its prophecies is a blessing, and then we are reminded again that “the time is at hand”.
“(4) John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;“
It is important to note that the seven Churches that are being written to were literal Churches in that day. I’ve heard too many pastors preach that these are “Church ages” instead of literal Churches. Not only does it make the book of revelation extremely hard to understand, but the logic behind this idea falls apart easily. For instance, not every Church today is like the Church as Laodicea. At any given moment we have Churches that are like the Church at Thyatira or the Church at Ephesus. Understanding that these were literal churches makes understanding the order of events in the book of Revelation much easier.
“Him which is, and which was, and which is to come” again is referring to Christ. This is an example of a pattern that God uses to express time: present (is), past (was), future (is to come). We see this pattern regularly in scripture, and we will see it again in this chapter.
The seven spirits before the throne are somewhat debated. There are three main theories as to whom these spirits are. The first view is that they represent, or are symbolic, of the Holy Spirit. The second view is that these are seven angelic beings similar to others described in Revelation chapters 4, 5 and 19. The third view is based on Isaiah 11:2 where it lists “seven spirits of God”: (1) the spirit of the Lord, (2) the spirit of wisdom, (3) the spirit of understanding, (4) the spirit of counsel, (5) the spirit of might, (6) the spirit of knowledge and (7) the spirit of the fear of the Lord. While I personally believe that the third view holds the most weight, I don’t see why it couldn’t be possible that all three could be correct.
“(5) And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (6) And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.“
In verses 5 and 6 John is telling us that we, as believers, have been cleansed by the blood of Christ making us “kings and priests”, echoing 1 Peter 2:9 which says: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light”.
The “and” in the phrase “unto God and his Father” isn’t differentiating two different persons. Sometimes “and” in scripture is used to refer to the same thing twice but in two different ways. It would be the equivalent of saying, “God, the Father”. Take special note of the “Amen” at the end of verse 6. Typically, an “Amen” marks the end of a subject and beginning of a new one in scripture.
“(7) Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.“
Here we have the key verse of Revelation, smack dab in the middle of two Amen. This is referring to what the Bible calls “the day of the Lord”. “He cometh with clouds” coincides perfectly with other passages that refer to His return. This is however only an introduction, not the actual rapture happening. There are a few places in Revelation where pastors and believers say the rapture is taking place where it is not, in order to promote a specific doctrine or timeline of end time events.
It’s interesting that this verse says “all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him”. This is a hint back at Luke 21:26 when it talks about “men’s hearts failing them for fear. In my opinion, we should not necessarily take “all kindreds” to include those who are saved, because when He returns we are going with him. Instead, “all kindreds of the earth” implies people who are yoked with the world, whereas we, as believers, are yoked with Christ.
For a more in-depth break down of what the rapture is and when it occurs, please make sure you read my post : Revelation – Introduction
Further Reading on the phrase “day of the Lord” in the Bible.
It appears 18 times in the Old Testament
– 3 times in Isaiah (2:12, 13:6, 13:9)
– 1 time in Jeremiah (46:10)
– 2 times in Ezekiel (13:5, 30:3)
– 5 times in Joel (1:15, 2:1, 2:11, 2:31, 3:14)
– 2 times in Amos (5:18, 5:20)
– 1 time in Obadiah (1:15)
– 2 times in Zephaniah (1:7, 1:14)
– 1 time in Zechariah (14:1)
– 1 time in Malachi (4:5).
It appears 5 times in the New Testament
– 1 time in Acts (2:20)
– 1 time in 1 Corinthians (5:5)
– 1 time in 2 Corinthians (1:14)
– 1 time in 1 Thessalonians (5:2)
– 1 time in 2 Peter (3:10).
“(8) I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.“
This is a very important verse, because we have God reminding us that He is “Alpha and Omega”, “the Almighty”. Later on in Revelation 22:13 we have Christ speaking, instead of God, making this very same statement. This is an important concept for Christians to understand because it is just one of the many teachings that set us apart from Jehovah’s Witnesses, who claim that Christ is not God the Father. In the KJV 1 John 5:7 says, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one”. This is where we get the doctrine of the trinity. Newer Bible versions change this verse using, in my humble opinion, corrupted greek texts, but that’s a whole different can of worms. Isaiah 44:6, a verse that the Jehovah’s Witnesses haven’t changed in the New World Translation, has God clearly stating “besides me there is no God”. John 1:1 makes it clear that God and Christ (the Word) are one in the same (“..and the Word was God”), however, the New World Translation changes this verse to say “..and the Word was a God”. This is Polytheism, which is not scriptural in any shape or form. I will do a post in the future further explaining the differences between the doctrines of Christianity and The Watchtower (Jehovah’s Witness).
“(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.“
One of the main issues with understanding revelation correctly is understanding the meaning of the word “tribulation” as it is used in the scriptures. I’ll break it down into its three main uses scripturally. First we have “tribulation”, something which man has been going through since the fall. Then we have “the tribulation”, a specific period of time during this final seven-year period of the end times. Finally we have “the great tribulation”, another specific amount of time during this seven-year period in which the persecution and affliction intensifies. Here John informs the seven churches and us that he is also going through tribulation: being imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos “for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ”. Tribulation, as the Bible uses it here, is basically persecution for the cause of Christ.
Further Reading on “Tribulation” in the Bible.
The Hebrew word for “tribulation” – tsarah (Strongs Concordance # H6869) – is used 3 times in the Old Testament
– Deuteronomy 4:30
– Judges 10:14
– 1 Samuel 26:24
The two greek words for “tribulation” – thlibō and thlipsis (Strongs Concordance #s G2346 and G2347) are used 19 times together in the New Testament
– 3 times in Matthew (13:21, 24:21, 24:29)
– 1 time in Mark (13:24)
– 1 time in John (16:33)
– 1 time in Acts (14:22)
– 4 times in Romans (2:9, 5:3, 8:35, 12:12)
– 2 times in 2 Corinthians (1:4, 7:4)
– 1 time in 1 Thessalonians (3:4)
– 1 time in 2 Thessalonians (1:6)
– 5 times in Revelation (1:9, 2:9, 2:10, 2:22, 7:14).
“(10) I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, (11) Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it 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.“
This is where John prefaces his vision. The “Lord’s day” is referring to the Sabbath. Seeing as the trumpet sound is a characteristic of the rapture, I would like to point out that this is not a literal trumpet, so this is still not the rapture. It says, “a great voice, as of a trumpet”, basically emphasizing how loud the voice was, similar to Isaiah 58:1. The seven churches in Asia Minor were: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. John is told to write down what he sees (the book of Revelation) and send it to each of them.This implies that John would have written Revelation at least 7 times. There are various reasons as to why he would have done this, but the main being that their were 7 personalized messages. Also each Church that received this book would read the message that was given unto the other Churches.
“(12) And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; (13) And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. (14) His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; (15) And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. (16) And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.“
John is now beginning to describe what he sees during this vision. He sees 7 golden candlesticks, and in the midst of them he sees “one like unto the Son of Man”: Jesus. He gives a description of how Jesus appears to him. He then makes note of 7 stars in Jesus’ right hand. The two-edged sword is the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword..”.
“(17) And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. 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.“
John is trying to convey how awesome and frightening this sight was. According to verse 12 this is Jesus speaking, which is very important because he tells John, “fear not; I am the first and the last”. This is Jesus claiming his deity; He is claiming to be God, the Alpha and Omega. It is also very important to take note of verse 18. Not only is Jesus saying He was alive, died and rose again living “forever more”, but He makes the statement that He (Jesus) has “the keys of hell and death”. We will discuss this again later on in Revelation.
“(19) Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;“
This is Christ setting up the timeline of events that are going to occur during this vision. Again showing a pattern that explains when certain events occur. Basically, “things which thou hast seen” is the past, “things which are” is the present and “things which shall be hereafter” is the future. This helps us break down revelation into past, present and future categories, making it much easier to understand. These are key phrases to remember.
“(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.“
Here Jesus is telling John how to interpret what he hs seeing. He tells John that the 7 stars are the “angels of the churches”, and that the 7 golden candlesticks are “the seven churches” (Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea). The Churches are represented as candlesticks because, as believers in Christ, they are to be a light to the world. This is a hint back at Matthew 5:15-16, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid..”. Paul told the church in Philippi that they were to “shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15), and he told the Thessalonians, “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5).
It is interesting to note the contrast between the stars – the heavenly fires that burn steadily, and the candlesticks – earthly fires that flicker and can easily go out. The candlestick, or lamp has to be tended with care and fed with fuel to keep it burning. We are not given too much detail as to the identities of the 7 angels, but we do know that each is a heavenly counterpart of one of each of these 7 Churches.
This concludes my breakdown of chapter 1. In chapter 2 we will begin discussing the messages Christ gives John, to give to the 7 Churches. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
In Christ Jesus, Kyle Schumacher