18 September 2020

Revelation 1-5

Revelation 1:1-3
John establishes that his revelation is from God, who gave it to Jesus, who gave it to an angel, who delivered it to John. John has written, in his own words, what he has seen. John then blesses the reader, and the one who hears the reader, because "the time is near."

Revelation 1:4-6
The book is written to the seven churches (see verse 11) of the Roman province of Asia. These are represented before God's throne by the seven spirits. Seven is an important number as it represents the seven hills of Rome, and thus implies universality. Jesus is called here "the firstborn from the dead" foreshadowing that just as Adam was the first of mankind in the current world, Jesus will be the first of mankind in the world, or kingdom, that God is establishing.

Revelation 1:9-11
John establishes his identity and credentials, then begins narrating his vision. He begins to write on a scroll what the angel shows him.

Revelation 1:12-20
John receives a vision of a glorified Jesus standing before seven golden lampstands. He explains the meaning of this vision in verses 19-20.

Revelation 2-3
John gives instructions to each of the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3. This is John's theology, which at times stands in stark contrast to the theology of Paul. To those who hold fast to this theology, he promises certain blessings, such as eating from the tree of life and not being harmed by the second death.

Revelation 4
Chapter 4 starts with a vision of what is to come. Surrounding God's throne are 24 other thrones with 24 elders seated on the thrones. This gives us two sets of twelve. One set of twelve represents the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The other set of twelve represent the nations of the world.

Elders (sometimes translated as bishops, pastors, or presbyters), in John's time, were leaders of the people. Some were elders of a congregation, a town, a tribe, or of all of Israel. In 4:5 John refers to the "seven spirits of God;" these may be angels or it may refer to the Holy Spirit being present in all of the world. John then describes four flying creatures covered in eyes all around. These creatures may represent the natural world, their eyes constantly beholding the glory of God as they give him praise in verse 8.

Revelation 5
John sees a scroll with seven seals being held by God and an angel asks who is worthy to open it. John weeps because none are found in heaven, on earth, or beneath the earth (in death) who are worthy to open the scroll. As Christians, it is easy to miss the provocation of this statement. The Caesars had considered themselves god-emperors, the most worthy among all mankind, yet even they were found unworthy to open the scroll. Only one is found worthy, the lion of Judah, the lamb that was slain. Jesus is worthy because of power, purity, and sacrifice.

As the lamb is found worthy, all of creation worships God and the lamb.

Next week, chapter 6, the lamb will open the scroll, and we will see what God has planned for Rome.

Until then,
Peace be with you.

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