Chapter 5

John's Vision

INTRODUCTION

The date is around 95 A.D. John had been relegated to the Island of Patmos. Tradition has it that he had been immersed in a caldron of hot oil to try to quench his life and commitment to God. But as Daniel's friends were protected in the fiery furnace, so was John protected by God's hand. The Romans then exiled John to Patmos. Here it was that the God the Father pulled back the curtain of the future and gave it to Jesus Christ to give to John.

Its purpose was to strengthen God's people and to renew their hope in the final outcome of the great controversy. And as Jesus said to his disciples, "I have told you these things in advance, so that when they happen, you may believe."

SCRIPTURE

Rev. 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God [the Father] gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2who testifies to everything he saw --that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

4John,

To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

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

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father --to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

7Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it 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 and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11which said: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea."

12I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

17When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

19"Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

COMMENTARY

God has never done anything major without informing His people through His prophets.

Rev. 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God [the Father] gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel [messenger] to his servant John, 2who testifies to everything he saw --that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

This commentary on this chapter will be completed at a later time. - Please go on to the next one.

The Greek word for angels as used above and in the messages to the seven churches in the following chapters is aggeloi, literally "messengers." This term can be applied to either human or heavenly beings (for texts where the term was interpreted as "messenger" rather than angel, see Matt. 11:10, Mark 1:2, Luke 7:24, 27, 9:52, 2 Cor. 12:7). Since the messages were directed to seven of the major churches then in existence, it would appear that the term angel would mean the leader, elder or overseer of each respective church. All other occurrences of the word aggeloi in Revelation outside of these messages, appear to refer to heavenly beings.

Alternatively, it is likely that each church had a benefactor angel. God has been known to give messages to Satan through messages to earthly kings. The messages to the kings of Babylon and Tyre, in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 respectively, contain portions that could only by applied to Satan. He may have been a power behind each king or even possessed them as demons possessed man throughout the gospels and even to the present. Dan. 10:12-21 refers to a struggle between the angel and the princes of Persia and Greece. If it is possible for demons to possess a man, then God can possess or stand behind human agents as well.

This commentary on this chapter will be completed at a later time. - Please go on to the next one.

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