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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Revelation

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1.1–3 : The prologue.

This revelation came from God through Jesus Christ and was communicated to John by an angel (referred to again in 22.16 ).

1 :

Revelation (Gk “apokalypsis”; see Dan 2.28–30,45 ), a literary form in which a vision from God, often under the guidance of an angel or other heavenly messenger, communicates in symbolic language God's hidden plan for the concluding period of history. Apocalypses also include visions of the heavenly world.

3 :

Blessed is …, the first of seven beatitudes in Revelation (cf. 14.13; 16.15; 19.9; 20.6; 22.7, 14 ) is pronounced on the reader of this prophetic book and on those who hear it being read and who heed its message. In antiquity, texts were nearly always read aloud. The words the time is near (repeated in 22.10 ) provide a motive for obedience by announcing the imminence of the end‐time.

1.4–8 : Epistolary salutation

to seven representative churches in the Roman province of Asia (in western Asia Minor). Seven, a number associated with heavenly realities, suggests the divine authority of the message delivered by John.

4 :

Grace … and peace (2 Thess 1.2 ) combine the conventional Greek and Hebrew salutations, though John offers not his own greetings but those of God; is … was … to come, lit. “the being … the was … the coming.” The seven spirits are either a symbolic reference to the manifold energies of the spirit of God (Isa 11.2 ), or a reference to the seven rincipal angels of God (Tob 12.15; 1 Enoch 20.1–8 ). Seven, the number of completion (of a ritual in Lev 4.6 ; of divine punishment in Lev 26.27–28 ) or wholeness, is the most important symbolic number in Revelation.

5 :

Faithful witness, Jesus testifies to the truth (Jn 18.37 ) and is the model for Christians who died as “witnesses” ( 2.13; 11.7; 17.6 ). Firstbornruler of the kings, Ps 89.27 . He loves continually; he freed us once for all by his death as a sacrifice (Rom 6.10; Heb 7.27 ).

6 :

Kingdom, priests, the vocation promised to Israel (Ex 19.6; Isa 61.6 ) is extended to the church (1 Pet 2.9 ). Glory and dominion, Dan 7.14 .

7 :

Dan 7.13; Zech 12.10–12 . So it is to be. Amen, a formal affirmation of this prophetic oracle announcing the coming of Christ.

8 :

Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet (like “A to Z” in English); hence, the beginning and end of all things (Isa 44.6; 48.12 ).

1.9–20 : Inaugural vision and commission

on Patmos (present‐day Patino), a small island in the Aegean Sea where John had been exiled (see Introduction), ca. 90 km (55 mi) southwest of Ephesus (see Map on p. 424 NT).

10 :

In the spirit, in a state of prophetic ecstasy, a state of altered consciousness (also 4.2; Ezek 2.2 ). The Lord's day, the weekly day of Christian worship, Sunday.

11 :

The seven churches, see 2.1–3.22 .

12–16 :

In the midst of the churches (see v. 20 ) stands the exalted Christ, whose royalty, eternity, wisdom, and immutability are suggested by means of symbols; the effect is that of terrifying majesty (compare v. 17 with Isa 6.5 ). Seven golden lampstands, reminiscent of those that stood in the wilderness tabernacle and in the Jerusalem Temple (cf. Zech 4.1–14 ). Son of Man (cf. 14.14; Mk 2.10 ), a title Jesus used of himself, had two meanings: (1) a typical human being in accordance with a common extended meaning of “son of” (see Mt 5.45 ); (2) a reference to the heavenly igure of Dan 7.13–14 who was to embody God's rule over the nations.

13–15 :

Golden sash, Dan 10.5 ; white … snow, Dan 7.10 ; eyes … fire, Dan 10.6 ; feet … bronze, Dan 10.6 ; sound of many waters, a frequent accompaniment of divine appearance; see Ps 29.3; 93.4; Ezek 1.24; 43.2; cf. Dan 10.6 . The figure is a combination of attributes of the heavenly messenger from Dan 10 and the Ancient One from Dan 7 . From his mouth came a sharp, two‐edged sword (cf. 19.15,21 ), the word of God (Isa 49.2; cf. Heb 4.12 ).

18 :

Hades, used here with its synonym Death, is the abode of the dead; Christ has the keys to release those confined within its gates (Mt 16.18; Jn 5.25–29 ).

20 :

Mystery, hidden meanings that human beings cannot grasp without the assistance of divine revelation (Dan 2.29,45 ). Angel guardians are assigned to the seven churches, as also to nations (Dan 10.20–21; 12.1 ) and individuals (Dan 11.1 ).

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