Chapter 1 - Introduction to the Revelation of the Day of the Lord
Revelation Chapter 1: John's assignment - to write about the soon-coming Day of the Lord; the meaning of the term “revelation”; the true author of the Revelation; the purpose of the Revelation; benefits to those who read, hear, and obey the Revelation; John’s circumstances and assignment; identification of those to whom the Revelation is addressed; identification of the carriers of the Revelation; description of the magnificence and deity of Yahushua ("Jesus") the Messiah ("Christ")
1:1, 2 The (a) Revelation (b) of [Yahushua the Messiah], which [Yahuah] gave Him to show (c) His servants - things which must (d) shortly take place. And He sent and (e) signified it by (f) His angel to (g) His servant John, who (h) bore witness to the word of [Yahuah], and to the testimony of [Yahushua the Messiah], to all things that he saw.
- The word revelation in the original Greek is apokalupsis or, literally, uncovering. The Revelation is an uncovering of events that had been previously hidden or “sealed” from human knowledge that will happen during, as we shall see, the last seven years of the reign of Satan over Yahuah’s ("God's") creation and the events following those seven years.
- This is not the “Revelation of John,” as some translations state. It is the Revelation of Yahushua the Messiah, Yahuah the Son, given to Him by Yahuah the Father. John wrote what was shown and told to him by Yahushua and other heavenly beings.
- The purpose of the Revelation is to show the servants of Yahuah things which must take place in the future, namely, the events leading up to and including the often-prophesied "Day of the Lord" - the climax of world history. Both ancient Israel (before Yahushua), and the disciples of Yahushua the Messiah are referred to in the Bible as the Lord’s servants (Deuteronomy 9:27; 2 Chronicles 6:23; Psalm 79:2; John 18:26; Acts 4:29). The Revelation was given to both those of Israel who have not yet recognized that Yahushua is the Messiah (the Jews) and the Followers of Yahushua (spiritual Israel).
- “Shortly” could have any of several meanings. The Greek words, en tachos, can mean “soon to come” or “in quick succession.” It may mean soon to come from Heaven’s point of view, where “a thousand years is as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). It may mean that the events of Revelation are the next to occur in Yahuah’s agenda of significant scene changes in the drama of the history of the world. It may mean that, considering how short life is, for any individual the events will come very soon. Or, it may mean that once the events of the Revelation begin, they will all occur in rapid order. Whatever the specific meaning of “shortly,” it would appear that a sense of constant watchfulness and expectancy is meant to be conveyed, which was the attitude Yahushua told His Disciples to have (Matthew 25:13).
- The Greek word for “signified” (semaino) can mean either to give a sign/to indicate, or to communicate/make known. In this context, it would appear to mean to communicate or make known. Although the Revelation contains a lot of symbolism, it is not, as a whole, an allegory. Just as the events prophesied through highly symbolic imagery in the book of Daniel have been and are being fulfilled literally, the events of the Revelation will actually, literally occur.
- The Greek word translated “angel” (aggelos) literally means “messenger,” especially one sent from Yahuah. The Greek construction of this sentence seems to indicate that this is a special angel or messenger. Yahuah often assigns specific jobs or tasks to angels. Although John is spoken to by others and hears others speak, it appears that this angel is with him throughout the Revelation. It seems that he is assigned the task of making sure John gets the message revealed to him by the Lord and gets it written down (cf. 19:9-10; 22:8, 9).
- Conservative Bible scholars are almost universally agreed that this is John the apostle - the one “Yahushua loved” (John 19:26), who also wrote the gospel of John and the first, second, and third letters of John.
- The Revelation is not hearsay or a product of John’s imagination. It is the record of what he personally heard and saw.
1:3 (a) Blessed is he who (b) reads and those who hear the words of this (c) prophecy, and (d), keep those things which are written in it; for (e) the time is near.
- As Yahushua promised, while He was on the earth, blessings to those who keep His commandments (cf. Matthew 5:3-12), He promises blessings to those who read, hear, and keep the things written in His Revelation.
- The Revelation is intended for everyone - both those who read and those who hear.
- The Revelation is a prophetic book (like numerous books in the Tanakh). As the last book of the Bible, continuing where the book of Daniel in the BCE Scripture left off (cf. Daniel 12:9), it foretells the final events of world history.
- The blessings are not for those who are passive, merely reading or hearing the Revelation. The Revelation is a book of action, not just prophecy. It is a how-to manual for dealing with the terrible or wonderful (depending on one's point of view) times soon to come. As James wrote, “. . . be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (in thinking that you will receive any benefits by being passive) (James 1:22). For faithful obedience (Revelation 22:7), steadfastness (Revelation 2:25), alertness, spiritual purity (Revelation 16:15), victorious spiritual warfare (Revelation 21:7), and remaining united with the Lord to the end (Revelation 14:13), numerous blessings or benefits are promised, including: eternal life; freedom from all sorrow, weeping, or pain (Revelation 21:4); reigning with the Lord over all nations in His millennial kingdom on Earth; and reigning with Him forever after that in His eternal kingdom (cf. 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:26, 27; 5:10; 20:6; 22:5).
- The sense of urgency and expectancy is reinforced. Even though, from Earth’s perspective, it has been close to 2,000 years since the Revelation was written, from Heaven’s perspective (which is the perspective from which the Revelation was written) there is no difference between one day and a thousand years. The Lord transcends time. All of history is like a giant mural in His view. Something that will happen a thousand years from now, from Earth’s point of view, will happen very soon from the perspective of eternity.
1:4-6 John, to the (a) seven [assemblies] which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from (b) Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from (c) the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from (d) [Yahushua the Messiah], the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to (e) Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
- Some say that Revelation was written just to the seven assemblies or congregations of Asia Minor that are addressed in Chapters 2 and 3. But there are several indications that it was intended not only for the Lord’s people the Disciples of Yahushua, in general, but also for His people the Jews: (1) There were more than seven assemblies of Believers in Yahushua in Asia Minor. The distinctly different characteristics of the seven from one another seem to indicate that they are representative of all assemblies of Followers of Yahushua. (2) Seven is the number of completeness in Revelation: seven spirits before the throne (1:4), seven candlesticks (1:12), seven stars (1:16), seven lamps (4:5), seven seals (5:1), seven horns (5:6), seven eyes (5:6), seven angels standing before Yahuah (8:2), seven trumpets (8:2), seven thunders (10:3), seven thousand people killed (11:13), seven heads (12:3), seven crowns (12:3), seven angels (15:1), seven plagues (15:1), seven bowls (15:7), seven mountains (17:9), and seven kings (17:10). So, since Revelation is the prophecy of the completion of all things and what will occur during the final seven years of history, it would seem that the seven assemblies represent different aspects or different types of congregations of Disciples of Yahushua in general throughout history. (3) the Revelation was written not only to the seven assemblies, but to the angels of the seven assemblies (2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14). Addressing the Revelation to the angels, just as it was addressed to the seven assemblies, would seem to indicate that angels are responsible for doing something with it besides getting it to the seven, literal assemblies. Would not this special, important assignment be getting Revelation to Yahuah’s People in general, just as an angel was responsible for communicating it to John (1:1)? In fact, Revelation 22:6 indicates that the mission of Yahuah’s angel was more than to just show the Revelation to John, but to His people in general. And that would seem to indicate that the Revelation was intended for more than the seven literal assemblies in Asia Minor. (4) There are numerous prophecies about Israel in the Revelation. If it is written just to the seven assemblies, why would they be concerned about what will happen to Israel? (5) The language used by John appears to be directed to both Yahuah’s people the world-wide Assembly of Believers in Yahushua and to Yahuah’s people the Jews. For example, he points out that the dragon of Chapter 12 is “. . . that serpent of old, called the devil and Satan” (12:9). “Serpent” is the language of Yahuah’s BCE people Israel. In the BCE Scripture, the adversary of the Lord is called the “serpent” 34 times and “Satan” (Hebrew for “adversary”) 14 times, but never, of course, the “devil,” which is from a Greek (Gentile) word (diabolos). In the CE Scripture, he is called “Satan” 36 times and “devil” 35 times, but “serpent” only seven times. And two of those seven occurrences are in reference to his activities in BCE times. The other five are all in the book of Revelation. Therefore, it appears that John intended for his readers to be both the Followers of Yahushua and the Jews. So, why was John told to write to the seven assemblies rather than to the Jews (1:4)? That is obvious if we understand how Yahuah is dealing with them at the present time: The Jews have been temporarily blinded to the Gospel until the “fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (when the "commonwealth of Israel" will be complete) (Romans 11:25; Ephesians 2:12). Meanwhile, it is the Followers of Yahushua's job to preach the Gospel, including Revelation, to the whole world, especially to the Jews (cf. Romans 1:16). Then, when the Jews see all these things coming to pass, their eyes will be opened to the Truth that Yahushua is their Messiah, and “. . . all Israel [as a literal nation] will be saved” (Romans 11:26).
- This phrase refers to Yahuah the Father, but also, as is clarified in 1:8, it refers to Yahuah the Son. Yahushua is Yahuah!
- Some have conjectured that these are seven angels, but nowhere in Revelation does it explicitly state that the seven spirits are seven angels. In fact, note that in 3:2 the seven spirits of Yahuah and the seven stars (which are identified as angels in 1:20) are separate entities from one another. Some say they are the seven-fold Spirit of Yahuah (the Holy Spirit), but the term “spirits” (plural) is used in the Bible to refer to various entities, positive and negative, including familiar spirits (Leviticus 19:31), the four spirits of Heaven (Zechariah 6:5), unclean spirits (Matthew 10:1), evil spirits (Luke 7:21), the spirits of the prophets (1 Corinthians 14:32), angels (Hebrews 1:14), and the spirits of demons (Revelation 16:14). Also, the seven spirits are before Yahuah’s throne rather than emanating from it, as are the seven angels of 8:1, suggesting a position of submission and readiness to carry out the will of Yahuah. So, this commentator believes that the “seven Spirits of Yahuah” simply represent the various manifestations of the Holy Spirit, the executor of Yahuah’s will on Earth, whether through angels or otherwise, in perfectly and completely bringing about the end of the dominion of Satan on Earth during the Final Seven Years.
- Yahushua is seen in His divine attributes as Savior and Messiah - the witness to Himself, the Truth (John 8:14, 18); “firstfruits” of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:23); “King of Kings” (Revelation 19:16); and Redeemer (Titus 2:14) - making His Followers a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) who minister to Yahuah (cf. Joel 2:17).
- Why? - so that the Lord will receive glory and dominion over His creation forever (Revelation 19:1, 6, 7).
1:7 Behold, (a) He is coming with clouds, and (b) every eye will see Him, (c) even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
- The “second coming” of the Messiah (the “Day of the Lord” is the key, focal event, the central theme, of the Revelation. After Yahushua’s; apostles watched Him ascend toward Heaven enveloped in a cloud, “two men [angels] stood by them in white apparel,” and told them, “… this same [Yahushua] who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9, 10, 11).
- And it will not be a private, “secret” event; the whole world will see him. Other books of the Bible give us more details. Yahushua Himself told His disciples, As the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. . . . Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other [the ‘Rapture’] (Matthew 24:27, 29-31)
Then, the apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, gives us a few more details of the second coming: The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of Yahuah. And the dead in [the Messiah] will rise first [the resurrection of the Redeemed]. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air [the ‘Rapture’]. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
This will also be the fulfillment of the CE prophecy of Daniel 7:13-14. What an awesome event - the “Blessed Hope” of the Believers! As we go through the Revelation, many more details concerning the second coming, including when it occurs in the sequence of events of the seven years, will be filled in. And, as you will see, Yahuah does not want us to be confused about what is going to happen; it will all be very clear.
- Although everyone on Earth will witness the spectacular return of the Messiah, among those who witness His return will be “those who pierced [crucified] Him” and who will “mourn because of Him.” Who this includes is easy to determine because this is a direct reference, a quote, from Zechariah 12:10. And Zechariah 12:10, according to Hebrew scholars, is talking about Israel - not just Judah, but all twelve tribes of Israel, who, at the present time are scattered all over the world, “hidden” among the nations of the world. The word (Greek: phule) translated “tribes” in verse 7 can mean clans or families, as in the families or tribes of Israel, rather than nations or peoples in general. And the word (Greek: ge) translated “earth” in most translations can refer to “land,” or a specific nation. Apparently, in this verse, the people who “mourn him as they mourn an only son” (Zechariah 12:10) are Israel. In other words, the eyes of Israel (the true remnant of Israel, who really believe in the coming Messiah - cf. Romans 9:6), whose temporary blindness (cf. Romans 11:25) has been removed, will recognize that Yahushua is their Messiah when He returns and will mourn because they have rejected and crucified Him. (The words translated “mourn” in Zechariah and the Revelation mean mourning in sorrow for what has happened to another, not in dismay for what has happened to oneself.) And then, they will repent and, as a nation, be saved (Romans 11:26-27). How the salvation of the remnant of Israel who will not recognize the Messiah until He returns at the End of the Age (the Jews) fits together with the salvation of His Followers who have already accepted Him as their Savior and Messiah is a magnificent story of Yahuah’s amazing providence and grace and will become very clear as we proceed through the Revelation. And understanding that, in the end, “all of Israel will be saved” is a very important key to understanding how the Final Seven Years will play out on Earth and in Heaven.
1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
See verses 4, 11, 2:8, and 22:13. In the context of 1:7, this is referring to the Messiah, Yahuah the Son - the One who “is to come.” But it also refers to Yahuah the Father - “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (22:13), “the Almighty” (cf. Genesis 17:1). Also, note that the Son is called “the mighty God” in Isaiah 9:6. Again, Yahushua is Yahuah!
1:9 I, John, both (a) your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of [Yahushua the Messiah], (b) was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of [Yahuah] and for the testimony of [Yahushua the Messiah].
- Life in the Kingdom of Yahuah was not a cake walk for John. He described it as being “in the tribulation and patience of [Yahushua the Messiah].” In other words, like the apostle Paul, he was sharing in Yahushua’s sufferings (2 Corinthians 1:5). Life in the Messiah in this present life on Earth, contrary to the worldly-minded thinking of many, is not the life of a conquering crusader, dominionist, or materially successful and prosperous person. It is the life of, like Yahushua when He was on Earth, the suffering servant. The joy is spiritual. This understanding is very important in the interpretation of the Revelation, which is all about the “tribulation” of Yahuah’s People at the "End of the Age" (Matthew 24:3), Yahuah’s People the Followers of Yahushua are taken “out of here,” and Yahuah’s People the Jews are protected in hiding until the King of Kings returns, in person, to reclaim His dominion on Earth. The sequence of all these events and many more in the fantastic “showdown” between Yahuah and Satan in the Final Seven Years, contrary to the opinion of many, are made very clear in the Revelation of Yahuah.
- Patmos, off the coast of Asia Minor about 60 miles southwest of Ephesus, was an island to where criminals and enemies of Rome were exiled by the emperor Domitian, who ruled from 81-96 CE, at the time the Revelation was written (about 95 CE). Victorinus, a 2nd Century Christian writer, wrote: When John saw these things [the visions of the Revelation], he was on the Isle of Patmos, condemned to the mines by Caesar Domitian. There he saw the Apocalypse; and when at length grown old, he thought that he should receive his release by suffering; but Domitian being killed, he was liberated. (Introduction to the New Testament, Everett P. Harrison, page 473)
Like Paul, who wrote his most joyful letter, to the Philippians, while imprisoned in Rome, John saw every situation as an opportunity to spread the Word of Yahuah and the testimony of Yahushua the Messiah.
1:10-11 I was (a) in the Spirit (b) on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a (c) loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, (d) “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see (e) write in a book and send it to (f) the seven [assemblies] which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
- “In the Spirit” indicates that John was not physically present in the situations described in the Revelation. It was like he was in a trance, dream, or “out of body” experience, but it was more than that: It was a vivid vision supernaturally revealed to him by the Spirit of Yahuah.
- The Greek word translated "Lord's" (kuriakos) is used in only one other place in the Bible (1 Corinthians 11:20), in referring to the “Lord’s supper.” Contrary to popular opinion, in the absence of any other references to this day in the Bible, it would appear in this context to be one, solitary day chosen by Yahuah for a special purpose - the Revelation of the Day of the Lord (in Hebrew, there are no possessive contractions like “Lord’s”). In other words, John is being transported, in visions, to view the events leading up to and including the Day of the Lord. It is definitely not a reference to the Sunday "Sabbath" or Sunday "Lord's Day," Replacement Theology’s substitute for the seventh-day Sabbath.
- “A loud voice” compared to a trumpet blast, a peal of thunder, or the sound of roaring water is used 22 times in Revelation, where it always indicates a significant message from an angel or divine being.
- See the notes on 1:8.
- John was instructed to write what he saw in a book, so it was meant to be read and heard in the congregations of Believers in Yahushua (cf. 1:3).
- The seven congregations were in cities in western Asia Minor, east of Greece, across the Aegean Sea from Greece. They were all within a half-circle arc radiating out about 70 miles from Smyrna, the location of one of the assemblies, a city on the west coast of Asia Minor. So, it was only a journey of one to three days by foot between the cities. There was a road connecting the cities, and the assemblies are listed here and in Revelation 2 and 3 in the order in which they may have been visited by the apostles.
1:12-16 And I turned to the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw (a) seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands (b) One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand (c) seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
- The lampstands are identified in verse 20.
- "Son of Man," in referring to the Messiah, occurs only in Daniel (7:13-14) in the Tanakh, but 89 times in the B'rit Hadashah. Yahushua frequently used the title in referring to Himself. Some may object that "like the Son of Man" indicates that this person or being is not Yahushua, but the description in Daniel, which is very similar, refers to the Messiah. Also, the Greek term huios, translated "the Son" in this verse, is more correctly translated "a son" (lower-case "s"). In John’s vision, He looked "like" a man but was much, much more than that. Just because He resembled a man does not mean that He was not Yahuah the Son. Also, verses 17 and 18 of this chapter confirm His identity. One "like the Son of Man" appears again in Chapter 14, reaping the harvest of human souls. But in that context, he is an angel who represents the Messiah, and again, the “s” on “son” and the “m” on “man” should not be capitalized.
- The seven stars are also identified in verse 20.
1:17-18 And when I saw Him, (a) I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. (b) I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. (c) Amen. And (d) I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
- This is an appropriate response to such an awesome sight: the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (19:16), Yahuah the Son glorified. The Revelation is all about His Day, when He will return to Earth to claim, glorify, and take to Heaven those who belong to Him, His People the Bride of the Messiah, and hide His People the Jews in protective seclusion until He has finished pouring out His wrath (6:16) on the earth, destroying the global kingdom of Satan and Satan’s incarnation, Antimessiah. Then finally, He will return the earth to its original, magnificent, Edenic beauty and rule over it with His redeemed Saints. This whole scenario constitutes the long-prophesied Day of the Lord (Joel 2:1, et al.). And, as we will see as we proceed through this commentary, its sequence of events is crystal clear to those who read the Revelation in the same common sense, literal manner that every book of the Bible should be read.
- Compare this description with 17:8, which is a description of the beast, Antimessiah, the false (counterfeit) messiah.
- “Amen” is a word of finality or emphasis, meaning “So be it.”
- Death separates one from life. Hades is a waiting place for souls until the time of their final dispensation. The Lord Yahushua has the keys - controls who is subjected to Death and Hades (cf. Matthew 16:18).
1:19 “Write (a) the things which you have seen, and (b) the things which are, and (c) the things which will take place after this.
- These are the things John has seen up to this point (Chapter 1).
- These are the things happening at the present time on Earth and in Heaven (Chapters 2-5).
- These are things that will occur in the future (Chapters 6-22).
1:20 “The (a) mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven lampstands: The (b) seven stars are the angels of the seven [assemblies], and the (c) seven lampstands which you saw are the seven [assemblies].”
- A mystery is knowledge that has not previously been revealed. But the meanings of the stars and the lampstands are about to be revealed.
- Some have argued that the seven “angels” are human beings - messengers to or leaders of the seven assemblies. And indeed, in Jewish synagogues and early assemblies of Believers in Yahushua, the leading elder, who read messages to the assembly, was called “the messenger of the assembly.” But, the term “angels” in this verse apparently carries a double meaning. Just as the seven assemblies are types of assemblies throughout history, and the Greek term aggelos can refer to either messengers or angels, these human messengers of the seven assemblies may be types of messenger angels to the universal Assembly of Believers in Yahushua throughout history, just as it is an angel through whom the Revelation was given to John. There are several references in the Revelation to seven stars or angels who are assigned various tasks during the Final Seven Years. There are literal stars (e.g., in 8:12), angels in Heaven, and fallen angels (e.g., in 12:4, 9). Another indication that the seven “angels” are not merely human beings but are supernatural beings is that they are seen in the Lord’s right hand (ready to carry out His will) (2:1), just as groups of seven angels carry out His will in other situations (cf. 8:2, 15:2, 16:1).
- The Hebrew word translated “lampstand” in the BCE Scripture is menorah - a seven-branched lampstand. There were ten of these in Israel’s Tabernacle and Temple. But the Greek word translated “lampstands” here in the Revelation (luchnos) often means single candlesticks. So, these “lampstands,” although they are seen as separate, with the Lord walking among them (2:1), may also refer to the single candleholders on a menorah, indicating that these seven assemblies are parts of the single universal Assembly of Disciples of the Lord Yahushua the Messiah, representing different aspects or types of the Body of the Messiah.
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