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The Revelation to John: Chapter 1

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1The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants a Gk slaves what must soon take place; he made b Gk and he made it known by sending his angel to his servant c Gk slave John, 2who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.

3Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near.

4John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and freed d Other ancient authorities read washed us from our sins by his blood, 6and made b Gk and he made us to be a kingdom, priests serving e Gk priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

7

Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen.

8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

9I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. f Or testimony to Jesus 10I was in the spirit a Or in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11saying, “Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”

12Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest. 14His head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, 15his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters. 16In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two‐edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force.

17When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades. 19Now write what you have seen, what is, and what is to take place after this. 20As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Notes:

a Gk slaves

b Gk and he made

c Gk slave

d Other ancient authorities read washed

e Gk priests to

f Or testimony to Jesus

a Or in the Spirit

Text Commentary view alone

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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