Revelation of John 1

The Revelation of Jesus Christ; that made by Jesus Christ.

Which God gave unto him; here, as uniformly in the New Testament, Christ is represented as acting according to the commission which he has received from God the Father. Compare Joh 3:34; 5:20; 7:16; 10:32; Joh 12:49.

Must shortly come to pass; these words may be understood as meaning that the series of events here foretold must soon begin to be accomplished. But this limitation is not necessary, since the constant representation of Scripture is, that with the Lord a thousand years are but as one day, and that the coming of Christ and the end of all things is always at hand, chapter Re 22:20; 1Pe 4:7; 2Pe 3:8,12; and especially Lu 18:8.

He sent; whether we understand Jesus Christ, as in chap Re 22:16, or God, as in chap Re 22:6, is unimportant, since in the matter of this revelation the Father and the Son are one.

By his angel; making use of his ministry, chap Re 22:6,8,16.

John; the apostle John. The Lord reveals as many things as it is needful for his people in this life to know; and many things which are now dark and mysterious will hereafter be made plain. Joh 13:7.
The word of God; the word revealed by God.

The testimony of Jesus Christ; the testimony borne to the truth by Jesus Christ, "the faithful and true Witness," chap Re 3:14.
Keep those things; remember the truths herein taught, and do the duties required.

The time is at hand; see note to verse Re 1:1.
To the seven churches which are in Asia; we are to understand here the Roman province of Proconsular Asia, embracing the provinces of Mysia, Lydia, Caria, and as it would seem, the western part of Phrygia also, in which Laodicea was situated. From the naming of these seven it does not follow that there were not other churches in Asia. The number seven, which is the symbol of completeness, prevails throughout this book, and is designedly chosen here.

Which is, and which was, and which is to come; that is, the self-existent and eternal God, who has life in himself. The words seem to be an exposition of the meaning of the Hebrew word Jehovah. See note to Ex 6:3.

The seven spirits which are before his throne; the same as the "seven lamps of fire burning before the throne," chap Re 4:5. As this and the following verse contain a benediction from the Father and the Son, we must suppose that it is them, as elsewhere, and not any created spirits. In accordance with the emblematical character of this book, he is described under the number seven, to denote his manifold and perfect divine operations. Compare the seven "eyes of the Lord which run to and fro through the whole earth," Zec 4:10; and the seven eyes of the Lamb, "which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth," chap Re 5:6; both which represent one and the same Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son.
The First-begotten of the dead; the first who rose to die no more, and the leader and head of all who shall be by his divine power raised from the dead to eternal life.

Him; Jesus Christ.
Kings and priests; to reign with him in glory, chap Re 22:5, and to offer to God through him spiritual sacrifices, 1Pe 2:5. The source of grace, mercy, and peace, is the self-existent, eternal, unchangeable Jehovah; and for the manifestation of himself as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in redeeming and sanctifying men, he is worthy of, and will receive the highest glory for ever. He cometh; for the deliverance of his friends and the ruin of his enemies.

They also which pierced him--all kindreds of the earth shall wail; there is here an allusion to Zec 12:10-14, but with a different application of the words. In Zechariah it is a penitential mourning; but here, as in Mt 24:30, where the same words are used, it is a mourning of terror in view of Christ's coming to take vengeance on the wicked. Compare 2Th 1:8.
Alpha and Omega; these are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and by thus applying them to himself, Christ shows that he is the cause and end of all things. Compare Isa 44:6.

Is--was--is to come; a description of Christ as Jehovah, self-existent, unchangeable, and eternal. See note to verse Re 1:4.
Brother--companion; a fellow-Christian, who, with others, was suffering persecution on account of his religion.

Patmos; a desolate island in the Aegean sea.

For the word of God; on account of my fidelity in preaching it. He had been banished to Patmos by the persecutors of Christianity.
In the Spirit; under his miraculous and prophetical influence.

The Lord's day; the first day of the week, commemorating the Lord's resurrection, and observed as a day of divine worship, the Christian Sabbath.

A great voice; that of Jesus Christ. Verse Re 1:13. The fact that the first day of the week was regarded by the apostles and first Christians as, in a special sense, the Lord's day, and that it was known and kept as such, devoted to divine worship and acts of beneficence throughout the churches, indicates the will of God that it should be observed in all coming ages as the Christian Sabbath. 1Co 16:2.
Ephesus; the capital city of Proconsular Asia, lying near the Mediterranean sea.

Smyrna; a seaport of the Mediterranean about forty miles north of Ephesus.

Pergamos; on the river Caicus, about twenty miles from the sea, and sixty miles north of Smyrna.

Thyatira; a city in the province of Lydia north-east of Smyrna.

Sardis; a city east of Smyrna, and about thirty miles south-east of Thyatira.

Philadelphia; about seventy miles east of Smyrna.

Loadicea; a city in the west of Phrygia, about a hundred miles east of Ephesus.
Seven golden candlesticks; these represented the seven churches in the places above mentioned. Verse Re 1:20. One like unto the Son of man; compare Da 7:13, where "one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days." In both cases it is Christ, who, when on earth, called himself "the Son of man." In the description of his person that follows, the writer combines what is said of "the Ancient of days," that is, God, Da 7:9, and of the "man clothed in linen," Da 10:5,6. Thus he ascribes to Christ the characters of deity. Fine brass; the word used in the original is generally thought to denote a mixed metal composed of gold and silver, and distinguished for its brilliancy.

As if they burned in a furnace; shining with intense brightness.
Seven stars; representing the angels of the seven churches, verse Re 1:20.

A sharp two-edged sword; with which he smites the nations, chap Re 19:15; compare Isa 11:4; 49:2, which are also prophecies of the Messiah. The symbol denotes the efficacy of his doctrine, and of the judgments uttered by him against the wicked.
As dead; being overcome by the divine majesty and glory of the Redeemer.

The first and the last; a direct ascription to himself of the attributes of deity. See Isa 43:10; Isa 44:6. A full view of the Saviour's glory would be more than any man in his life could bear; and in the future life, while it will be unfolding to the admiring eye of his people with greater and greater clearness for ever, all that they will see will only enlarge their conceptions of the infinitude of what remains unseen.
The keys of hell and of death; supreme power over hell and death. Hell, in the original Hades, is here the place of the dead. The things which thou hast seen; in the vision just described.

Which are; the present state of the seven churches, chaps Re 2.1-3.22.

Which shall be; the revelations of future events which he is about to receive.
The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches; probably their spiritual leaders.

Are the seven churches; represent them. The fact that Jesus Christ said, "The seven candlesticks are the seven churches," does not require us to believe that a candlestick is literally a church; nor do his words, "This is my body," Mt 26:26, require us to believe that bread is literally flesh. What he meant in each case, is that one is an emblem of the other; and it is his meaning, not the mere sound of the words, by which we should be governed.
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