1A.      “THE THINGS WHICH THOU HAS SEEN” - Christ in Glory, (1)

 

1B.      Title Of The Book (1.1)

 

(1.1)          The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

 

1.   I want you to notice six words in this verse, before we step back and look at this verse as a whole.

 

Revelation” – This word comes from the Greek word “apokaluyis,” and means “unveiling, revealing, revelation.”[1] Standing as the first word in this last book of the Bible, the apocalyptic nature of John’s Revelation is hereby declared.

 

servants” -    The things that are to be revealed are to be revealed to His servants, or bond slaves, douloi. In a world in which people do not want to be told what to do by anyone, the Lord’s people loudly proclaim themselves to be His bond slaves. And remember, slaves are obedient.

 

must” -   We are about to examine things which must happen.  The Greek here, dei, refers to things that are “binding,” things which are “necessary.”[2] Why? Because God said so, that is why. Everything that God purposes to happen happens.

 

shortly” -     This indicates a brief time span, tacos, “quickly, suddenly, soon.”[3] This is the Greek word our word tachometer is derived from, which is a device that measures an engine’s rpms, or the number of revolutions that it turns per minute. But remember, what is brief to God is not necessarily brief to man (Second Peter 3.8: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

 

signified” -  This word, deiknumi, means to exhibit something that can be apprehended by one or more of the senses, point out, show, make known.[4]  It refers to indicating or showing something by a sign. It translates the particular word the Greeks used to refer to communication from the gods to men. It was this same word that John used when he wrote First John 4.1, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” However it was done, you can be sure that it had to be proven to John that the message he received was from God. He was not about to naively or eagerly walk into some trap set by Satan, as do so many today who say that they have received a special message from God.

 

angel” -   Does anyone know what the word “angel” means, aggelos? Very simply, the word “angel” means “messenger.” The word can either refer to a supernatural being from heaven or a human errand boy. In this verse, I take it to refer to a supernatural being from heaven. In other verses we must carefully determine whether a human or a supernatural messenger is in view. It should be noted that “no other book in the New Testament speaks more often of angels than the book of Revelation. They are the principle vehicle of communication to John of the truth which he is recording.”[5]

 

2.   But who is this John who describes himself as “his servant John”? “There is no question that the John mentioned in the Revelation is the son of Zebedee and Salome and the brother of James (Mark 1:19-20; 15:40). His occupation was that of a fisherman (Matthew 4:21). He heard John the Baptist preach and became a follower of Jesus Christ (John 1:35, 40). He was one of the three whom Jesus took with Him on several special occasions (Matthew 17:1; 26:37; Mark 5:37). John also was one of the two sent by Christ to prepare the Passover (Luke 22:8). He is referred to as “that disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20), and is mentioned three times in the Acts (Acts 3:1; 4:13; 8:14). He wrote five books of the New Testament, and only he uses Christ’s title of “the Word” (Logos). (See John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1; 5:7; Revelation 19:13).”[6]

 

2B.      Method Of Revelation (1.1-2)

 

3.   Now that we have examined various important words, let us step back and see the broad view of what this verse says. We are here told that this is an unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ that came to John via a messenger angel from God, and that it concerns things in the future which absolutely must come to pass in a relatively brief span of time, by God’s standards.  We are about to see history written in advance.

 

4.   This book of the Revelation brings to light things which have never before been clearly seen. Our subject matter are things which the Lord Jesus Christ had earlier been asked about. Some things He was unwilling to reveal during His earthly ministry will be revealed in this book. Read Mark 13.4, 32: “4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? . . . 32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” Perhaps 50 or 55 years have passed since the Lord Jesus made the statements we have just read. So apparently, He is now ready to speak on some of these subjects to His beloved John.

 

(1.2)    Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

 

1.  A brief look at some individual words in this verse.

 

Who” -   Let us remember, from what we considered in the first verse, that we are reading the words penned by John the Beloved. This is the apostle who leaned on the Savior’s breast in the upper room during the last supper.[7] Reference is made in John 13.23, in John’s own peculiar way of noting his presence at an event: “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” How John did humbly refer to himself in this fashion.

 

bare record” -   This phrase comes from a single Greek verb, an epistolary aorist, meaning that John is placing himself with the readers who consider the writing as taking place in the past.[8] It is the word we get “martyr” from, marturew, and it means to give witness to something you have seen.[9] The word has undergone a transition in its use over the centuries, so that the word has come into English usage referring to suffering death rather than renouncing your religion.[10] In the Bible, however, and especially here in John’s Revelation, the word means to tell what you saw, or to pass on what you were given without distortion or introducing inaccuracies.

 

testimony” -    This word is also translated from the word for “martyr.”  Therefore, the phrase “bare record” and the word “testimony” are from exactly the same word and they both mean to give witness to something or someone.

 

2.   Now we turn our attention to the phrase “the word of God.” This phrase appears 45 times in our Authorized Version, including three times in the Old Testament. But it is the Greek phrase that should drive our inquiry, ton logon tou qeou. An example of this phrase is found in Mark 7.13, where the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition,” using this exact Greek phrase. By my count, 38 of the 42 places that the English phrase “the word of God” appears in the New Testament it translates this Greek phrase. And by my estimation, this phrase always refers to “the word given by God.”[11] Thus, John is claiming to be agent by which God’s Word was transmitted. But no one should ever sever the intimate relationship between God’s Word and God’s Son, Who is described by this same John as o logos, “the Word,” in John 1.1, which “was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” John 1.14. This connection is commented on by that old English Baptist, John Gill, who wrote, “Of the essential and eternal Word of God, his only begotten Son.”[12]

 

3.   Let us now consider the phrase “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” About this phrase, John Gill writes, “And of the testimony of Jesus Christ; that is, the Gospel, which testifies of the person of Christ, of the truth of his divinity, and reality of his human nature; of the union of the two natures, divine and human, his person: of his several offices, of prophet, priest and King; of what he did and suffered for his people; and of the blessings of grace which they receive by him.”[13] This exact phrase appears two other times in the Revelation, 1.9 and 12.17. As well, the phrase “the testimony of Jesus” appears twice in 19.10: “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

 

4.   The last phrase reads “of all things that he saw.” John was particularly well suited to be an eyewitness. Not only was he the beloved disciple, and the last surviving apostle of Jesus Christ, but his personal character and reputation were unimpeachable, as we see attested to in three passages: John 19.35: “And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.”; John 21.24: “This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.”; Third John 12: “Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.”

 

5.   Do you remember, from verse 1, that John was given a message? To make sure that John knew that it was a message from God, the Lord “signified” it, verse 1 indicates. That is, He gave John some kind of irrefutable proof of the message’s authenticity. How did He accomplish that? He allowed John to actually “see” the message he was to record. What John has written is what he actually saw, as a most credible witness.

 

6.   As we journey through the book of the Revelation, you will notice that John is actually an on-sight observer of the things he has written about. Thus, he is qualified to use the word “martyr” because he really is a witness. He simply and in straightforward fashion writes down the things of the prophetic future that he actually saw with his own eyes.

 

7.   Now, let us gather some information together from verse 1 and 2 regarding the communication of this message to John. 

 

Notice:    God gave the message unto Jesus Christ . . . and He sent and signified it by an angel unto John.

 

Therefore, it happens this way:     God to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ to an angel, that angel to John, with proof of the message’s authenticity.

 

Looking back over verses 1 and 2, then, who is the primary Author of this book? It is God, the Father, is it not? It is His unveiling of His Son.

 

8.   Since Scripture admonishes us to look “unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith,” Hebrews 12.2, we might at this point anticipate that this book of the Bible can be profoundly beneficial to the Christian, if it is properly used.

 

3B.   Beatitude Of Studying This Book (1.3)

 

(1.3)           Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

 

1.   “Andrew Fuller has said concerning this mysterious book:--‘It is that to the New Testament church which the pillar of the cloud was to the church in the wilderness, guiding it through the labyrinth of anti-Christian errors and corruptions. It must not be neglected under a notion of its being hard to be understood. As well might the mariner, amidst the rocks, neglect his friendly chart, under an idea of its being difficult to understand it.’

 

Ver. 1-3  ‘To induce us to give the most serious attention to the subject, a blessing is pronounced on those who ‘read, and hear, and keep,’ the words of this prophecy, especially as the time of its fulfillment was at hand. There does not appear to be any other part of Scripture that is prefaced with such an inducement to read, and understand, and practically regard it.’”[14]

 

2.   Let us focus our attention on five words in this verse, before looking at the last phrase of the verse:

 

Blessed” - This is the same word, makarios, that was used by the Lord Jesus Christ in His beatitudes in the sermon on the mount, in Matthew 5.1-11:

 

1     And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

2     And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

3     Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4     Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5     Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6     Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7     Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8     Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9     Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10    Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11    Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

 

This is the only place in God’s Word where a blessing is pronounced on he who reads and they who hear read a book of the Bible. Yet this is only the first of seven beatitudes in the Revelation. The other six are 14.13, 16.15, 19.9, 20.6, 22.7 and 22.14.

 

readeth” -  This word comes from a Greek compound word, “anaginwskw.” The basic word simply means to read. The prefix attached to the word, “ana,” means “in a position in the middle.”[15] So, the word refers to reading something in the midst of an audience, or reading something out loud so people can hear you.[16] This is what Paul was referring to when he wrote, in First Timothy 4.13, “Till I come, give attendance to reading.”

 

hear” -  The Greek root word is akouw, the typical Greek word for hearing.  Perhaps it would be good, here, to point out that the word “readeth,” this word “hear,” and the word “keep,” are all present participles. Thus, John is pronouncing a blessing upon the one who continually reads this book aloud, and they who continually hear and keep what is written herein. Blessings, then, are directly tied to staying in this book of the Bible.

 

prophecy” -   There is a great dispute over the proper interpretation of this book of the Revelation, as I pointed out earlier. Some people believe that all of this book is history which has already occurred, while others believe that John is writing of the future which has not yet happened. This single word, “profhteias,” when taken at face value, goes a long way toward settling that dispute. Prophecy, by definition, concerns the future. Virtually everything in this book, when pen was put to paper, was in the future.

 

keep” - From a word that means to “watch over, to preserve, to keep,” “thrountes” refers to more than a mere acknowledgment of the truth. John is here talking about people being moved to action and ordering their lives after the things he writes about here, which is not how most people ordinarily approach a study of prophetical Scriptures. It has been my experience that prophecy is attractive to many people precisely because they can study prophetical portions of the Bible without addressing challenges to how they live and their personal consecration. That is not, however, how this book of the Bible should be studied.

 

3.   Now the phrase “for the time is at hand.”

 

It is obvious, since almost 2,000 years have passed since this book was penned, that this phrase does not suggest that the prophecies of this book will be fulfilled quickly. That’s not what this phrase means. Rather, this phrase means that the next time period in God’s chronology will be the time period in which these prophecies will be fulfilled. But since it has been almost 2,000 years since this was written, and since Romans 13.11 reads, “now is our salvation nearer than when we believed,” we are obviously nearing the end. What this means, people, is that we are right up against it.

 

4.   So, what John says in verse 3 is this: Blessing is pronounced on three activities related to this book of Revelation. Blessing will fall upon the person who reads this book in the midst of others, blessing will fall upon those that hear the words of this prophecy, and blessing will fall upon those who keep or respond to the things written herein . . . for the time is at hand.

 

5.   Verses 1 through 3 form an introduction to this last book of the Bible, this capstone of Scripture. John tells us that the things referred to here are at hand. Not that the predictions contained herein will necessarily happen soon, but that the next chapter of events that will happen will be the chapter of events described by this book.

 

6.   Folks, the world is getting ready to unravel. I think you can already sense that we are approaching the end of something, the culmination of something, the climax of something. It is entirely possible for someone get so wrapped up in the turmoil of the world’s events that you lose your perspective. But with the book of Revelation we are blessed. We see chaos in the world, but we see order in this book.

 

7.   As events unfold in the Middle East, in the Far East, in the European Union countries, here in the United States, and around the world, a person can become profoundly discouraged. Then we look at the Revelation again and we are reminded that “It’s happening just like God said it would happen.” In addition, when you really get concerned, you can skip to Revelation chapter 22 and see that our side won.


[1]   Fritz Reinecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 811.

[2]  Ibid.

[3]  Ibid.

[4]   Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 214.

[5]  John Walvoord, The Revelation Of Jesus Christ, (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1966), page 32.

[6]  Lehman Strauss, The Book of the Revelation, (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1964), page 22.

[7] McBirney, page 109.

[8] A. T. Roberston, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol VI, (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1930), page 284.

[9] Fritz Reinecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 811.

[10] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 1180.

[11] Robertson,  Vol VI, page 284.

[12] John Gill, The John Gill Library, (Paris, AK: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2000)

[13] Ibid.

[14] Charles H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon Devotional Commentary, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), [email protected]

[15] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 57.

[16]  Ibid., page 60.

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