Revelation 1

The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. Rev. 1:1

In the very first passage of the Book of the Revelation we are told why the Book was written. Namely, the Revelation was given by God to show His servants the events that must soon take place. The Revelation was not written simply to show us that God wins in the end, or to provide a symbolic picture of the battle between good and evil, etc.; rather, the Revelation was given to Jesus Christ to show us the specific things that must take place in the Last Days. Based on purpose of the Revelation, the goal of our study should be to understand what these events are the order in which they will take place. From this passage, it should also be noted that the word must comes from the Greek word meaning necessary (Strong’s 1163: dei), which emphasizes the inevitability of these things.

In addition to the above, we are told in the Gospel of John that the underlying purpose of our being shown future events is to keep us from falling away when they occur.

“All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you.” Jn. 16:1-4

By warning us in advance about the things that must take place, Jesus tells us that they should not be the cause of our falling away when they occur. This again emphasizes the importance of our knowing what these events are and the order in which they will happen.

He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Rev. 1:1-2

Having received the Revelation from God, Jesus Christ made it known to the Apostle John by sending him an angel. We are not given the name of the angel but he is later identified by how he speaks to John with a loud voice like a trumpet.

The description of John as someone who testified to the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus is also used throughout the Revelation to describe the martyrs of the faith, as seen below.

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. Rev. 20:4

From this passage and John’s example, we learn that the attack of the enemy will always come against the Testimony of Jesus Christ and the Word of God, and those who hold to them.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud 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. Rev. 1:3

The blessing that comes to those who read aloud the words of the prophecy refers to those who teach from the book of the Revelation. From the original language, we learn that those who take to heart the words of the prophecy (Strong’s 5083: tereo) refers to those who watch over or guard the words of the Revelation. In contrast to those who guard the words of the prophecy, those who add or take away from the Revelation will experience the following plagues.

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. (Rev. 22:18-19).

From the above warning, we learn that not only are we to preserve the written text of the Book of the Revelation but we are warned not to add to the words of the prophecy through the insertion of our own opinions, or take away from the words of the prophecy through the exclusion of verses that contradict our point of view.

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, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
Rev. 1:4-5

In this introduction, the Revelation is specifically addressed to the seven churches that were located in the province of Asia and that existed at the time of John. Accordingly, when John was told to write down the things that must soon take place, it was in reference to the immediate events that would take place among these Seven Churches. However, as we will shortly discover, the events and circumstances described in the Letters to the Seven Churches are the same events and circumstances that continue to affect the church today and, therefore, the contents of the Seven Letters continue to fit the description of the things that must soon take place.

After telling us who the Revelation is addressed to (the Seven Churches in Asia), the above passages tell us who the letters are addressed from, namely the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Son. The Father is described as him who is, and who was, and who is to come, which is the same title that will be used to describe the Son latter in this chapter. The Holy Spirit is described as the seven spirits who are before the Throne of God, which may be surprising to some, however, the seven-fold nature of the Holy Spirit is something that is frequently described in the Revelation.

To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Rev. 3:1

From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Rev. 4:5

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Rev. 5:6

In addition to the above, Isaiah also speaks of the seven-fold nature of the Holy Spirit as follows:

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord. Is. 11:2

From Isaiah, we find the Holy Spirit being described as the 1. the Spirit of the Lord, 2. the Spirit of wisdom, 3. the Spirit of understanding, 4. the Spirit of counsel, 5. the Spirit of power, 6. the Spirit of knowledge, and 7. the Spirit of the fear of the Lord. Elsewhere in the Scriptures, those who are given the Holy Spirit are said to receive power, love, and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).

In addition to the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Son is described as the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. This same description can also be used in a lessor way to describe those who follow the Son and who share in the witness, resurrection, and rule of Jesus Christ.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and 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. Rev. 1:6


“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen. Rev. 1:7

When we read that at the coming of the Lord, those who pierced Him will see Him, it tells us that the Resurrection of the Dead will take place at the Return of Christ.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev. 1:8

In this verse, the Son is declares Himself to be the one who is, and who was, and who is to come, which is the same title given to the Father in the previous passages. In this way, we are given an unequivocal statement concerning the deity of Jesus Christ, who has always been, and who is the Lord God Almighty.

I, 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. Rev. 1:9

This verse John again describes himself as someone who holds to the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus, which is why he was imprisoned on the Island of Patmos. In addition, we are told that our companionship with John comes from our shared experience in the patient endurance that is ours in Christ Jesus, which is another common theme of the Revelation, as seen in the following examples.

“Whoever has ears, let them hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity they will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword they will be killed.” This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people. Rev. 13:9-10

This calls for
patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. Rev. 14:12

We will read more about the suffering, the kingdom, and the patient endurance that is ours in Christ Jesus in later chapters.

On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” Rev. 1:10-11

As mentioned before, the voice like a trumpet belonged to the angel who was sent to John and who spoke to him with a loud voice. The instruction to write what he saw and to send it to the Seven Churches forms the basis for John’s earlier greeting where he addresses the Revelation to these same churches. In this mention of the Seven Churches, we are given a list of the specific cities where these churches resided, which history tells us were all located in what is now modern-day Turkey.

From the above instructions, the natural question arises as to why were these seven churches chosen to receive the letters from John, as opposed to the other churches that also existed at the time. The answer to this can be found in our previous mention of how the contents of the Letters to the Seven Churches can still be applied to the church today. In other words, the circumstances faced by the Seven Churches were universal, so that by addressing the issues affecting the Seven Churches, the church could be instructed as a whole.

Some have proposed that the Seven Churches represent seven church “ages”, with the Seventh Church representing the end-time body of Christ. However, the events and circumstances that we will read about in the Letters to the Seven Churches, such as persecutions, false teachers, and sexual immorality, etc., have always plagued the church. Therefore, we can say with confidence that the Seven Churches do not represent seven different time periods. Instead, the instructions found in each of the Seven Letters apply to all of Church History and continue to be relevant to the Church today. (Note: The notion that the Seven Churches represent seven church ages is an example of adding to the words of the prophecy, as there is no precedence in Scripture where a “church” equals an “age”, nor does this doctrine correspond to historical facts.)

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and 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 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. Rev. 1:12-16

When John looked to see the angel with the voice like a trumpet, he, instead, saw the Lord whose voice was like the roar of many waters. Accordingly, the Lord’s command John to, write down what you see. Accordingly, the vision of the Christ among the Seven Golden Lampstands forms the testimony of John concerning the origin of the Revelation, which came from Jesus Christ and not from John himself. The sharp double-edged sword, which John saw coming from the mouth of the Lord, is elsewhere described in the Scriptures as representing the Word of God (Eph. 6:17, Heb. 4:12). Based on this precedence in Scripture, we can say that John’s description of the sword coming from the Lord provides a picture of how the Son of Man will wage war against the nations through the Word of God that will come from his mouth, which is further spoken of in the following passages.

Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.
Rev. 19:15

The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. Rev. 19:21

The meaning of the Seven Lampstands and the Seven Stars will be explained to us in the final verse of this chapter.

When 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. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Rev. 1:17-18

In the Scriptures, Hades is described as being in the lower regions of the earth and sea and is where the righteous and the unrighteous descended down to when they died. In the Old Testament, this same place is referred to as Sheol or the pit.

O Lord, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit. Psalms 30:3

From the the Gospel of Luke, we learn that, in Hades, those who were in comfort were kept separate from those who were in agony by a great chasm.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.  In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ Lk. 16:22-26

In the following verses, we read that after His crucifixion, the Lord also descended to the lower regions (Hades), where He released His people from captivity and ascended with them to Heaven.

This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.” (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) Eph. 4:8-10

Today, Hades remains the place where the unrepentant dead still descend to when they die; while those who die in Christ ascend to Heaven where they rest until the Resurrection.

Hades is not Hell. On the Day of Judgment, the unrepentant dead will be expelled from Hades and thrown into Hell, which is described as the Lake of Fire or the Second Death.

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire (Hell). The lake of fire is the second death. Rev. 20.19

From the above, we learn that Hades serves as the temporary prison of the unrighteous dead where they are kept until the day when they will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, which is the Second Death. Accordingly, when the Lord told John that He now holds the keys to death and Hades, it meant that He has the authority to caste or retrieve a person from the place of the dead. We will read more about Hades, and the Lake of Fire in later chapters.

“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. Rev. 1:19

The above passage divides the Book of the Revelation into Three Sections as follows;

Section 1. John’s testimony concerning his witness of Christ among the Seven Lampstands as described in Chapter 1 (what you have seen).
Section 2. The events described in the Letters to the Seven Churches as found in Chapters 2 and 3 (what is now).
Section 3. The events that will take place at the end of the Last Days as recorded in Chapters 4 – 22 (what will take place later).

As mentioned earlier, the events described in the Letters to the Seven Churches are still taking place today, which places our current times in Section 2, which is described as what is now.

“The 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.” Rev. 1:20

This chapter ends with John being given the meaning of the Seven Golden Lampstands and the Seven Stars, which he saw when the Lord appeared to Him. As this verse states, the Seven Lampstands represent the Seven Churches, and the Seven Stars are the angels of the Seven Churches. The example of John being given the meaning of the Seven Stars and Seven Lampstands within the Revelation, itself, sets the precedent for how we are to interpret the rest of the Book, that is, we are to use the Scriptures to interpret the Scriptures in order to understand the Revelation in its proper context.

Revelation Chapter 2

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Bryan Coray is the author of Keep Watch: The Order of Events of the Last Days. Available on Amazon