OTY: The Revelation (4)B -Revelation Commentary

OTY: The Revelation (4)B -Revelation Commentary

Revelation 1:4

(1) John to the 
(2) seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from 
(3) Him who is and who was and who is to come; and from the 
(4) seven Spirits who are before His throne;

1. John = Like most NT letters, Revelation opens with a prescript with three components. Who the author is comes first, in this case John (the apostle whom Jesus loved).

2. Seven churches = the second component of the prescript is the recipient. Asia had more than seven churches, but these provide an overview of the condition of the church both during the time of John and in the end times.

The number seven is a favorite of the Revelation. 

There are 19 explicit groups of seven and several implied groupings:

Explicit Groups:
a. Churches (1:4, 11, 20)
b. Spirits (1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6)
c. Candlesticks (1:12, 13, 20: 2:1)
d. Stars (1:16, 20; 2:1; 3:1)
e. Lamps (4:5)
f. Seals (5:1; 5:5)
g. Horns (5:6)
h. Eyes (5:6)
i. Angels who stand before God (8:2, 6)
j. Trumpets (8:2, 6)
k. Thunders (10:3, 4)
l. Thousand (seven thousand people killed) (11:13)
m. Heads (12:3; 13:1; 17:3, 7, 9)
n. Crowns (12:3)
o. Angels (15:1, 6, 7, 8; 16:1; 17:1; 21:9)
p. Plagues (15:1, 6, 8; 21:9)
q. Vials (15:7; 17:1; 21:9)
r. Mountains (17:9)
s. Kings (17:10, 11)

Implied Groups:
a. Beatitudes (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7; 22:14)
b. Antichrist’s contract (11:3; 12:6, 14; 13:5)
c. "I am’s" of Christ (1:8, 11, 18; 21:6; 22:13, 16)
d. Doxologies in heaven (4:9-11; 5:8-13; 7:9-12; 11:16-18; 14:2, 3; 15:2-4; 19:1-6)
e. Every tribe, and tongue, and people and nation (5:9; 7:9; 10:11; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6; 17:5)
f. The Lord God Almighty (1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7; 19:6; 21:22)
g. The One who sits on the throne (5:1, 7, 13; 6:16; 7:15; 21:5)
h. The Alpha and the Omega (1:8, 17; 21:6; 22:13)
i. Prophecy (1:3; 11:6; 19:10; 22:7, 10, 18, 19)

The obvious question is this: what is the significance of the number seven in the book of Revelation.

 First, clearly, the number seven is a structural indicator in the Revelation. Seven seals, trumpets and vials set forth a sequential structure to the book.

 Second, "the frequent repetition of the numbers underscore the notion that nothing is random or coincidental." (Aune, The Book of Revelation, 63) 

Given the past, present, and a future reality, to which the number seven refers, God has sovereignly overseen the complete process.

 Third, seven is the number of completion "as we gather from countless passages of the Old Testament." (Swete, Commentary on Revelation, cxxxvi) Sevens mark the life of a Jewish person. The Sabbath, the feasts, the Sabbath year, days of the week, the days of creation and days to cleanse oneself and much more marked the Jewish way of life.

3. Him…seven Spirits = the third component of the prescript is the salutation. It contains a well-wish and the source of the well-wish. This well-wish is the most distinctive well-wish in all of Scripture.

Him who is and who was and who is to come = God the Father (Isaiah 41:4; Heb. 13:8; Rev. 1:8, 17; 4:8; 16:5).
4. Seven Spirits who are before His throne = There is significant debate concerning whether the Holy Spirit or angels is intended by John.

Those who support Holy Spirit as the seven spirits argue:
(1) Isaiah 11:2-3 describes seven benefits of the Spirit in the Septuagint (LXX).

(2) Revelation 1:4 seems to be focusing on a trinitarian representation of the Godhead.

(3) Zechariah 4 indicates that seven lamps represent the "eyes of the Lord" throughout the earth. This is connected with the Spirit (Zech. 4:6).

(4) "Seven spirits" expresses the Spirit’s perfection. This idea is derived from the symbolic use of the number seven to denote completeness.

(5) Angelic beings would not be included among the Divine greeters.

(6) Christ holds the seven spirits, which follows the defined relationship of the Holy Spirit to God the Father and the Son in the New Testament (Rom. 8:9, John 15:26).

Those who support an angelic reference:

(1) The term spirit is used in the New Testament to refer to angels.

(2) The seven spirits are before the throne of God, which suggests a position of subordination, which would be inappropriate for the Holy Spirit.

(3) Angels are given a very prominent place in the Revelation throughout.

(4) Luke 9:26 and 1 Tim. 5:21 place angelic beings in positions of honor equal to that of the Father and the Son.

(5) Jesus Christ is never mentioned in trinitarian type passages following the Holy Spirit. The order is always God the father, God the Son and God the Spirit.

There is not enough evidence to be dogmatic either way. However, we support angelic beings because there is not one example of the Holy Spirit greeting believers as a part of a salutation in all of the New Testament.

Revelation 1:5A

and from 
(1) Jesus Christ, 
(2) the faithful witness, 
(3) the first-born of the dead, and the 
(4) ruler of the kings of the earth.

1. Jesus Christ = the third well-wisher indicated by John and described with three important phrases.

2. The faithful witness = the one who has shown his testimony through death. Therefore, Jesus is faithful in His communication of the Revelation.

3. The first-born of the dead = Jesus is the first member of a new people who have triumphed over death, (1 Cor. 15:23).

4. Ruler of the kings of the earth = depicts the Lord’s universal sovereignty.
John presents Jesus as the One whose death, resurrection and exaltation is sure.

Revelation 1:5b-6

(1) To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, and He has made 
(2) us {to be} 
(3) a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him {be} the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1. To Him = Revelation 5b-6 is a doxology to Jesus Christ. A doxology is a short Christian poem that ascribes glory to God the Father. Here, Jesus is ascribed glory because of His salvific deeds for the elect of God.

2. Us = those who follow the Lord, His elect, both Jew and Gentile (John 10:1b and Gal. 3:29). Since John identified himself as a bond-servant, the "us" is a reference to all bond-servants.

3. A kingdom = Parallel Scripture confirms that we (the elect of God) are a kingdom. We are now a kingdom, not going to be a kingdom (Rev. 5:9-10; Acts 26:18; John 18:36; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9 (aliens); Col. 1:13).

This doxology expresses a great truth: because Jesus loved us, he freed us, which enabled Him to make us a kingdom.

Revelation 1:7
Behold, He is 
(1) coming with the 
(2) clouds, and 
(3) every eye will see Him, 
(4) even those who pierced Him; and 
(5) all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen.

1. The first explicit prophecy of the book = coming (verb=erchomai); coming from one point to another. No explicit reference is given concerning what the Lord’s destination is.

2. Clouds = associated with the Lord’s return in Acts 1:9-11, I Thessalonians 4:17, and Matthew 24:30. This is the first indirect reference to the book of Daniel in the Revelation. Daniel 7:13-14 provides the backdrop for the return of the Son of Man. The Revelation presents a detailed exposition of Daniel 7. We shall discuss this in detail later.

3. Every eye = universalistic (both Jews and Gentiles as indicated by the phrase "those who pierced Him.")

4. Those who pierced Him = Israel and Romans - Acts 7:51-52; John 19:31, 37; ca. Zechariah 12:10

5. All the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him = refers to mourning out of despair at the return of Christ by the wicked. This is the sense of Matthew 24:30.

While some would argue that Revelation 1:7 is a reference to the Lord’s return at Armageddon, a closer examination supports the parousia of Christ. This is when He gathers His church to heaven and begins to punish the wicked on earth with His Day of the Lord’s wrath. 

John uses the future tense to refer to the mourning of the wicked, i.e. they will mourn. John indicates that the wicked begin to mourn when the Lord is seen coming with the clouds and not before. 

Question: wouldn’t the wicked have already experienced God’s wrath in the form of the trumpets and bowl judgments if this were an Armageddon return? 

It is inconceivable that the wicked have experienced the wrath of God before the Lord’s return at Armageddon, but have not mourned. The only indication in the book of Revelation of the wicked mourning occurs in Revelation 6:15-17, which depicts the beginning of the Day of the Lord. (See later discussion on Revelation 6:12-17.) 

John indicates that the response of the wicked to the trumpet and bowl judgments is either a lack of repentance or men blasphemed God, but no mourning.
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