1C.      Grace and peace from the Triune God (1.4-5)

 

(1.4)           John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne

 

1.      John to the seven churches which are in Asia.

 

a.      John--the apostle. For none but he (supposing the writer an honest man) would thus sign himself nakedly without addition. As sole survivor and representative of the apostles and eyewitnesses of the Lord, he needed no designation save his name, to be recognized by his readers.[1]

 

b.      Let me read a portion of the remarks of the old Texas Baptist, B. H. Carroll, from his classic An Interpretation of the English Bible: “From verses 4-6 we have John’s greeting to the seven churches of Asia to whom the entire book is addressed. Not only all of chapters 2-3 are specifically devoted to special messages for the churches named, but at the end of the book, 22:16, we have these words referring back to the whole book, ‘I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things for the churches.’

 

“It is important to note in this connection our Lord’s use of the word ecclesia. In Matthew 16, he says: ‘I will build my church,’ using the term to signify the institution. In Matthew 18, he says, ‘tell it to the church,’ referring to whatever particular congregation the decision of the case of discipline belongs. Many times in the book of Revelation he uses the word ‘church,’ and in every case the reference is to particular churches. Our Lord’s usage of the word knows nothing of a now existing universal church, whether visible or invisible. He does not say to the church of Asia, but the seven churches of Asia. There is nothing in his use of the word to indicate the existence of church in any provincial, national, worldwide, or denominational sense. On the contrary, he seems to guard very carefully against such a use of the term.”[2]

 

Note:  B. H. Carroll’s view of the church is a view that I wholeheartedly agree with as reflecting what the Bible says about the church. When a person comes to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, he does not become, thereby, a part of the church of Jesus Christ. He does, by the new birth, become a part of the family of God. However, it is only by means of the church ordinance of believer’s baptism that a convert becomes part of the body of Christ. This view of the church is a view held only by Baptists, and distinguishes Baptists from Protestants in this respect. To the degree some Baptists depart from this view of the church those Baptists have become Protestants.

 

c.   We need to understand that Asia in John’s time did not mean the great continent to the north and east, where the eastern portion of the Russian Republic and the whole of China and Mongolia are located. In John’s day Asia was a Roman province on the peninsula that we now refer to as Asia Minor.[3] Look at your map in the back of your Bible to locate Asia. You will find Asia on the map that traces out the missionary journeys of the apostle Paul.

 

d.   It is clear that John is making reference to seven distinct local assemblies located in this Roman province of Asia. This reality helps to clear up the notion that some religious groups have who believe that there are supposed to be denominational hierarchies over Churches, in which some regional bishop exercises authority over a local congregation. You will not find evidence in the New Testament to support such practices as commonly exist among the Protestants and Catholics. The reason John speaks directly to these seven Churches is because there was no hierarchy over them. They were autonomous congregations, which is the pattern throughout the New Testament, and is the conviction of this congregation.

 

e.   “This is the first of fifty-four uses of the word ‘seven’ in the book of Revelation. While these are symbolic of ‘completion,’ they are also literal references to various series of sevens that transpire in this prophecy.”[4]

 

2.   “Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was and which is to come,”

 

a.   What is grace? Turn to Ephesians 2.5 and read: “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).” The word “grace” comes from a Greek word meaning “favor.”[5] By the way it is used in the New Testament, always being a gift, we can readily see that the word “grace” is intimately associated with salvation. Salvation is a gift given by God, since no man can earn or merit God’s favor. God’s grace, then, is what you want, what you need, what you have to have.

 

b.   What is peace? Peace certainly includes the idea of the absence of hostility, but it is actually more than that. Peace has to do with the idea of prevailing goodwill. We know, from Romans 5.1, that peace with God is the result of being justified by faith in Christ. Romans 5.10 shows us that before someone is reconciled to God he was definitely His enemy. But once a person has experienced the grace of God, once a person has been justified by faith and he is saved from his sins, he can then enjoy the peace of God in his life and can enjoy peace with God for the first time.

 

c.   Notice from where this grace and peace comes. “From Him which is, and which was, and which is to come.” This refers to God, the Father, the first person of the trinity. Turn to Exodus 3.14: “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” In this verse, God speaks to Moses from a burning bush and describes Himself as the “I AM,” which means “He Who always is.” Grace and peace, then, comes from this One Who always is.

 

Note:    Before we continue, let me make mention of the one habit every Bible student needs to get into to understand the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Did you note how we found out who was referred to by the last phrase we examined? We looked for the answer in the Old Testament. If you will remember to look to the Old Testament for the interpretation of difficult to understand symbols, pictures, and phrases, this book will come alive for you. Notice how this works in the last phrase of verse 4. 

 

3.      And from the seven Spirits which are before His throne.” 

 

Here we have a second source of grace and peace described to us. So far, we know that grace and peace comes from God. Here we are told that grace and peace comes from “the seven spirits” before God’s throne. If you want to know what “the seven spirits” means turn back to the Old Testament. In Isaiah 11.2 we find the answer: “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.” Notice the listing given:

 

#1  The Spirit of Jehovah, which is what “LORD” means.

 

#2 The Spirit of wisdom.

 

#3 The Spirit of understanding.

 

#4 The Spirit of counsel.

 

#5 The Spirit of might.

 

#6 The Spirit of knowledge.

 

#7 The Spirit of the fear of Jehovah.

 

Because the book of the Revelation shows God superintending the affairs of mankind, and because Isaiah’s description of the Holy Spirit shows His sevenfold attributes, it is usually held that John’s is a description of the Holy Spirit. Now, if you are not willing to accept this explanation, then you can go out and start your own religion with the Divine Godhead being the Father, the Son, and the seven Holy Spirits. I am convinced, however, that John is referring to Isaiah’s description of the Holy Spirit of God. I am also convinced that he is telling us, in as impressive a manner as is possible, that grace and peace come from God the Father and the Holy Spirit of God, Who is before the Father’s throne.

 

(1.5)    And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

 

1.   “And from Jesus Christ”  

 

The Lord Jesus Christ is also the source of grace and peace. John 14.27 records the words of the Lord just before His crucifixion: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

 

2.   If God, the Father, is the source of grace and peace, and if the Holy Spirit is the source of grace and peace, and if the Lord Jesus Christ is the source of grace and peace . . . is not that a piece of evidence to support the tri-unity of God? Of course it is. The source of grace and peace is God, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

 

2C.      Description of Christ as prophet, king, and priest (1.5)

 

3.   “Who is the faithful witness”  

 

Jesus is the faithful witness Who always spoke those things which are true. He never once compromised or slighted the truth in any way. Is not this the function of a prophet, to give forth truth from God to man? And did not our Lord Jesus do just that? Who would step forward and truthfully accuse Him of compromising or slighting the truth in any way? No one. Well, if that be so, why do not people believe that He is Who He says He is? The problem, you see, lies not with the One Who speaks the truth, but with those who hear the truth and who refuse to believe it or act upon it.

 

4.   “And the first begotten from the dead”  

 

This phrase tells us that there will be others who will follow the Lord Jesus in the resurrection, though being first He will always be preeminent. In addition, do you know what will happen when those who are Christ’s are resurrected? In part, we will get new bodies, suited for heaven and eternity.

 

5.   “And the prince of the kings of the earth

 

Jesus Christ is the ruler over all the kings of the earth. This word “prince” translates the Greek word for “ruler.” He has not yet come back to earth to exercise that rule, but it is His right to do so. And someday He will come back to rule. Oh, what an interesting event that will be.

 

6.   “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His Own blood” 

 

a.   This book of the Revelation has much to say about God’s wrath falling down upon a wicked and gainsaying world. Because of that, the reader of the Revelation might lose track of a great and comforting truth . . . “Him that loved us.” In English, it appears that the verb “loved” is past tense, but in Greek, it is in the present tense. This means He does continually and ever-presently love us. And how does our Lord demonstrate His ever-present love? By washing our sins away in His precious blood, which was shed for the remission of our sins. Let me ask you a question. Who is it that offers sacrifices unto God for the remission of sins? Is it a priest? Jesus Christ is our Great High priest Who cleanses our sins away in His Own blood. So, we see the glorified Christ here as our prophet, as our king, and as our great high priest.

 

b.   This portion of verse 5 is very timely in light of the assertion that has been made by John Mac Arthur that when the Lord Jesus Christ was on the cross His blood ran down into the dirt and decayed. Please turn to Hebrews 9.12: “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

 

1)      In The Mac Arthur Study Bible, we find this statement in the notes for Hebrews 9.12: “Nothing is said which would indicate that Christ carried His actual physical blood with Him into the heavenly sanctuary.”[6]

 

2)      Mac Arthur’s note is consistent with his belief that while He was on the cross the blood of Jesus Christ ran down into the dirt and was corrupted. It is also consistent with Mac Arthur’s frequently stated position that the blood of Christ is a metonymy for the death of Christ. That is, what Christ wrought He wrought by His death rather than with His blood.  Why do I bring these points out in our study of Revelation 1.5? Look at Revelation 1.5 again and you will see that John here makes a declaration about the blood of Jesus Christ approximately 60 years after the crucifixion. How are we to understand this verse if the blood of Jesus Christ ran into the ground as He hung between heaven and earth and then dried and rotted?

 

3)      Let us carefully look at the word “washed” and then proceed from there. The Greek word is louw, which literally refers to using water to cleanse a body from a physical impurity.[7] Therefore, we can see that the word is used in this verse to refer to the blood of Jesus Christ cleansing sinners from their sins.

 

4)      If the blood of Jesus Christ ran into the ground while He hung on the cross, and if it later dried up and disintegrated, how are my sins cleansed some 2000 years later? In addition, how are sins continually cleansed, as First John 1.7 declares, if there is no more blood of Jesus Christ? These are questions that cannot be satisfactorily answered if the blood of Christ ran into the ground and is no more.

 

5)      But if John Mac Arthur is wrong about the blood of Christ, if the blood of Christ and the death of Christ are not precisely the same thing, and if the blood of Christ is in heaven as I speak, then there are no tough questions which cannot be answered. I believe the blood of Jesus Christ was resurrected along with the rest of His physical body, and that both His glorified body and His precious blood are now in heaven.

 

6)      What is the basis for my asserting this? There are several bases: First, I assert that the death of Christ and the blood of Christ are not the same, that the blood of Christ is not a symbolic representation of the death of Christ, based upon the fact that the communion of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated with two elements, not one. We serve both wine and bread, wine commemorating His shed blood, and bread commemorating His sacrificed body. If blood was supposed to represent Christ’s body, why are there two elements in the communion of the Lord’s Supper? Clearly, the blood and the body of Christ are not the same thing and should not be understood to be the same thing.

 

7)      Second, I believe the Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead without His body seeing corruption. This requirement is stated in Psalm 16.10, and was referred to by Simon Peter in his Pentecostal sermon in Acts 2.27: “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” But if Christ’s blood ran into the ground and rotted was this prediction fulfilled? In addition, would anyone assert that Christ’s blood was not a vital and integral part of His physical body? Therefore, you see, if Christ’s blood was not raised incorruptible with the rest of His body then the prediction of Psalm 16.10 was not fully realized.

 

8)      For the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse away sins, for the blood of Christ to wash us, there must be blood. Its existence must continue. And the only possible way the blood of Christ continues in its existence and continues in its efficacy is if it was raised up after three days and three nights with the rest of our Savior’s human body, glorified.

 

7.   Let’s sum up what this verse tells us:

 

a)   With the word “and” at the beginning of the verse, John connects the Lord Jesus Christ with God the Father and the Holy Spirit as the source of grace and peace. That is evidence which supports the Biblical doctrine of the tri-unity of God.

 

b)   The verse goes on to illustrate the Lord Jesus Christ functioning in His prophetic office, His kingly office, and His priestly office. Being the One Who is at the same time prophet, priest and king, this same Jesus must be, of necessity, the Messiah of Israel.

 

c)   Oh, how glorious it is that the eternal Son of the living God has loved us and has washed us from our sins in His Own blood. What advantage does the believer in Jesus Christ have. What deliverance the believer in Jesus Christ has. What blessings the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has.

 

d)   But it does not stop here. The next verse continues in its elucidation of Christ’s blessings for the believer.


[1] Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), [email protected]

[2] B. H. Carroll, An Interpretation Of The English Bible, Volume VI, (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2001), Revelation, pages 28-29.

[3] Footnote on Revelation 1.4, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1992.

[4] Footnote on Revelation 1.4, Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible, (AMG Publishers, 2000), page 1359.

[5] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 1079.

[6] Footnote on Hebrews 9.12, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1910.

[7] Bauer, page 603.

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