John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: (4)
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,(5)
And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
And has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.(6)
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, and they also who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. (7)
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’ (8)
John starts this passage with the salutation: “Grace to you and peace…”
The biblical definition of “grace” means favor or kindness shown without regard to worth or merit on behalf of the one who receives it – and often in spite of what some deserve.
Nelson’s Illustrated Bible dictionary describes “peace” as a word with several different meanings in the Old and New Testaments. In the New Testament, it often refers to the inner tranquility and poise of the Christian whose trust is in God through Christ. The peace that Jesus spoke of was a combination of hope, trust, and quiet in the mind and soul, brought about by reconciliation with God. The Old Testament meaning of peace was completeness, soundness, and well-being of the total person.
A casual reading of this salutation might suggest that John’s prayer for us is that we should have grace and peace as we receive this message. However, it is not. This blessing comes from the Lord and from the angels who preside over the seven churches. See verses 1-3 in Chapter One.
Revelation 1:5—Faithful Witness
Verse 5 identifies Jesus as the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. The Apostles knew Him as a faithful witness who went to the cross not denying who He was. After the resurrection they knew Him as the first-born from the dead, and this is a characteristic of Jesus that we would be wise to meditate upon.
He was also firstborn in other ways. Psalm 89:27 says, “Also I will make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.” Again, it is good to remember that the Book of Revelation was written to reveal Christ to us, not just to intrigue us with hard to understand prophecies.
There are many other verses that refer to Christ as “king of kings.” Also see Revelation 17:14 and Revelation 19:16.
Another verse (one of many) in Scripture that specifically identify Jesus as God are: Philippians 2:5-7, which states: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men.”
He also appears in the Old Testament as the First and the Last. Isaiah 41:4 states: “Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord, am the first; and with the last I am He.” It is common to refer to Jesus as our Savior. Isaiah 43:11-12 identifies our Savior as God. It states: “I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no savior. I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, and there was no foreign god among you; Therefore, you are My witnesses,” Says the Lord, ‘that I am God.’”
Christ is also identified as the “faithful witness” in other verses. Psalm 119:89-90 states: “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides.”
The prophet Isaiah also describes Christ in similar terms to the ones we find in Revelation. Isaiah states in 11:5: “righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist.” See Revelation 3:14 and 19:11.
There are many things that many people believe about Christ, but the Bible tells us in no uncertain terms exactly Who He is. The problem is that we have to take the time to search out the Scriptures and study. Remember, the blessing is to those who read, hear, and keep the words written in this Book.
Verse 5 further reveals Christ as the ruler over the kings of the earth. Since He did not appear to be so during His physical life here on earth, we can reasonably expect that this is a characteristic of Christ that will be revealed in the future. His contemporaries expected the Messiah to be a kingly figure and must have been a little confused to meet the humble servant – some reason that this was a factor that motivated Judas to betray Him. However, that is speculation. There is nothing in Scripture that indicates Judas was so moved. None-the-less, this is part of the character and nature of Christ that we will see fulfilled in the future.
Revelation 1:6—Kings and Priests
The next verse in Revelation, verse 6, continues to give us more insight as to the character and nature of Christ as well as giving us insight to the believer’s proper status. The Scripture makes it clear that as followers of Christ we will enjoy special compensation in the future, where we will rule with Him as priests and kings. However, it is important to note that all the glory belongs to Christ alone. Once again studying this Book gives you a blessing in that it helps you understand the character and nature of Christ. Understanding the character and nature of Christ protects us from the misinformation about Who He is. As a result this understanding protects us from the lure of many cults, which seem to agree with many things in the Bible except the character and nature of Christ.
Psalm 113:4 is a verse that states that glory belongs to God, but verse 6 in Revelation makes it clear that all glory belongs to Christ. It states: “The Lord is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens.” Many other religions question the deity of Christ, but the most logical interpretation of these verses is that Christ is God, since all the glory belongs to Him and He is above all the nations. This verse also connects the glory of Christ with His kingship above all kings in that He is above all the nations. Other verses that talk about the glory of Christ are Matthew 25:31, 1 Corinthians 2:8 and Hebrews 1:1-3. Hebrews 1:8 also speaks about the deity of Christ.
Revelation 1:7a—Coming in the Clouds
Moving on to the first part of verse 7: “He is coming in the clouds.” Luke 21:27 and Revelation 14:14 also refer to the manner in which we can expect to see the return of Christ. Acts 1:9-11 clearly defines this. It states: “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’” Matthew 25:31 speaks about Jesus returning in the clouds and it also speaks about every eye being able to see Him.
The New Testament isn’t the first place we read about the association between a cloud and glory of God. The first time we are introduced to this connection is in Exodus. In the Old Testament the physical presence of God was often described as coming in a cloud. In Exodus 13:21-22, we are told that a pillar of cloud led the Israelites through the wilderness. Exodus 40:34 tells us that a cloud appeared in the Tent of Meeting to indicate to Moses that God was present. Daniel’s vision of Christ in Daniel 7:13 says: “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven!” This last verse is particularly interesting because it identifies the deity that’s presence comes in the clouds as Christ. It would not take a stretch of imagination to claim that the deity present during the Exodus and present at the Tent of Meeting in the Wilderness was Christ. We will further discuss this connection in verse 8 of Revelation. There are many other verses that make this connection, which could very easily result in a study by itself.
Revelation 1:7b—Every Eye Shall See Him
The second half of verse 7 speaks about every eye being able to see Him, including those who pierced Him. Companions to this verse can be found in Zechariah 12:10 and Matthew 24:30. Zechariah 12:10 states: “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” It is almost impossible not to notice the connection between Christ and God. In this verse it is God who is rendering out judgment on the nations that come against Israel in the latter days, which means that God is identifying Himself as the one whom they have pierced, who is Christ.
We often think of Christ as being that innocent child who was born to a virgin 2000 years ago. While this is true, it is also true that Christ exists outside of time, which means He is able to traverse time. As we study His personhood we learn that He appeared many times in the Old Testament, well before he was physically born to Mary 2000 years ago. It would be hard to do any in depth study of the Book of Revelation without studying the personhood of Christ. The next verse helps us to expand our understanding of Him further.
Revelation 1:8—Beginning and End
Verse 8 states: “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’” After studying the preceding verses, this verse should take on almost a new life. The companion Old Testament verses we just studied bring us to the realization of the eternal existence of Christ and His part of the Godhead. He appeared to Moses and the Israelites, to Daniel, to Zechariah and to Isaiah, as well as others and He will appear again at the conclusion of time as we know it. To refresh your recollection, see Isaiah 41:4.
The next lesson will look at other verses in the Bible that relate to the verses discussed thus far, and the teaching of the Rapture. [Editor]
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