1 This is a revelation from[a] Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon[b] take place. He sent an angel to present this revelation to his servant John, 2 who faithfully reported everything he saw. This is his report of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
3 God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.
John’s Greeting to the Seven Churches
4 This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia.[c]
Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit[d] before his throne; 5 and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world.
All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. 6 He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
7 Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven.
And everyone will see him—
even those who pierced him.
And all the nations of the world
will mourn for him.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,”[e] says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”
Vision of the Son of Man
9 I, John, am your brother and your partner in suffering and in God’s Kingdom and in the patient endurance to which Jesus calls us. I was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching the word of God and for my testimony about Jesus. 10 It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit.[f] Suddenly, I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet blast. 11 It said, “Write in a book[g] everything you see, and send it to the seven churches in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”
12 When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. 13 And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man.[h] He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. 14 His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. 15 His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. 16 He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.[i]
19 “Write down what you have seen—both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen.[j] 20 This is the meaning of the mystery of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands: The seven stars are the angels[k] of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Well it’s time to take a crack at Revelation. We will walk through it, not necessarily chapter at a time.
First, let’s look at John’s situation. John says he was exiled to the Island of Patmos. Here is a short blurb about Patmos.
Early tradition says that John was banished to Patmos by the Roman authorities. This tradition is credible because banishment was a common punishment used during the Imperial period for a number of offenses. Among such offenses were the practices of magic and astrology. Prophecy was viewed by the Romans as belonging to the same category, whether Pagan, Jewish, or Christian. Prophecy with political implications, like that expressed by John in the Book of Revelation, would have been perceived as a threat to Roman political power and order. Three of the islands in the Sporades were places where political offenders were banished. (Pliny, Natural History 4.69–70; Tacitus, Annals 4.30)
According to Tertullian (in The Prescription of Heretics) John was banished after being plunged into boiling oil in Rome and suffering nothing from it.
An interesting note about John. He survived the boiling oil, and somehow survived the exile at Patmos, which you weren’t expect to do. He was the only Apostle that would eventually die of natural causes. The rest were all killed for their faith.
John mentions he is writing to the 7 churches in Asia. That is the area of western Turkey today.
Revelation is full of symbolism and visual descriptions that John is seeing. We need to remember a couple things about this. 1. John is describing things way in the future to the best of his ability and understanding. Just imagine if we saw a picture of a helicopter or some really modern invention two thousand years ago. How would you describe it? 2. I was taught a long time ago that if a description was meant to be taken literally, there will be an explanation somewhere. A great example of that is right here in chapter 1 where John sees the 7 stars and 7 lampstands. We don’t have to wonder what these are or what they represent, it is explained further in the chapter. Now that doesn’t mean we will necessarily know why those particular visuals are used, but we know what they mean at least.
The Lord has decided to show John what is happening and what is about to happen, and John is to record it for all of us to know. John is given this experience while he is exiled on Patmos.
John suffered much persecution in his time as an apostle. But this clearly did not stop him from his mission of serving the Lord. According to this chapter, John was shown the vision while he was deep in prayer. This reminds me of the story of Joseph when he was put in prison. This did not stop him from serving God, but rather he used it as an opportunity and was content to serve Him from right where he was. We may not always understand why we find ourselves in tough situations, but if these examples show us anything, it’s that we can trust that God has a plan if we are willing to trust and be faithful.
Thank you Lord for your faithfulness. Help us not to doubt when things look bleak. Help us to stay focused on you, because we know your Word says You have a plan to bless each one of us. God give us understanding as we look into this book, give us insight and understanding. in Jesus name, amen.
- 1:1a Or of.
- 1:1b Or suddenly, or quickly.
- 1:4a Asia was a Roman province in what is now western Turkey.
- 1:4b Greek the seven spirits.
- 1:8 Greek I am the Alpha and the Omega, referring to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.
- 1:10 Or in spirit.
- 1:11 Or on a scroll.
- 1:13 Or like a son of man. See Dan 7:13. “Son of Man” is a title Jesus used for himself.
- 1:18 Greek and Hades.
- 1:19 Or what you have seen and what they mean—the things that have already begun to happen.
- 1:20 Or the messengers.