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Revelation 
Chapter One


Commentary by Tom Brown

1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,

revelation of Jesus Christ. The book focuses on the main character and hero. It is not primarily a revelation of the beast.

must soon take place. It concerns immediate future events, such as the fall of Rome and the Christianization of the World. The very end the book deals with the new heavens and new earth.

made it known. KJV “signified it” which means the book is given in symbolic form. That is, everything (including numbers) has symbolic meaning. The error of interpretation is to take some symbols and make them literal.

 

2 who testifies to everything he saw — that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Every symbolic vision must be interpreted by the word of God, not by current events. Many make mistakes by trying to fit current events into the various visions. Ex. taking the ten horns and trying to make it fit the European Common Market; in this case ten is a symbolic number meaning completion, not a literal ten nations.

3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

 

Blessed. There is a special blessing to the reader so long as he takes to heart what is written. There is no blessing unless the reader understands it.

4 John,

To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits a before his throne,

 

5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,

ruler of the kings of the earth. While it may not look like Christ is ruling, he truly is from heaven.

freed us from our sins by his blood. The blood is the only thing that can not only cleans us, but free us from the worldly system.

 

6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

kingdom and priests. The way Christ rules the nations is through us as kings and priests.

7 Look, he is coming with the clouds,

and every eye will see him,

even those who pierced him;

and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him.     

So shall it be! Amen.

 

Look, he is coming with the clouds. Make no mistake; the Lord truly is coming personally and visibly. There is no secret return of Christ. Everyone will see him when he comes.

8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

 

Alpha and the Omega. The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. His identity is clear: he is the Lord Almighty—the beginning and ending.

9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

companion in the suffering. John is writing to a persecuted church. Under the Emperor Domitian, the Christians have lost jobs, wealth, prestige, and even their lives. You must read the book with these saints in mind.

    10 On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,

On the Lord's Day. Likely Sunday.

loud voice like a trumpet. Trumpets were used to sound a battle charge. This book is calling the Christians to spiritual arms.

11 which said: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea."

Write on a scroll. Experts in Greek confirm that the writings of revelation seem very rushed. It is as though the apostle writes just as he is seeing the visions.

12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands,

seven golden lampstands. It was the Jewish Menorah. See Ex 25:31-32. 

13 and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," b dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.

 

14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.

hair were white like wool. Common hair color for judges. White speaks on wisdom.

and his eyes were like blazing fire. Jesus sees through everyone and convicts just by his look. Peter felt his penetrating look when he denied the Lord three times.

15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.

His feet were like bronze. He crushes his enemies.

16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

 

In his right hand he held seven stars. The stars, which represent the leaders of the churches, were not over the lampstands, but were in Christ hands. Pastors should not use their authority to dominate the laity.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.

right hand. Strong. Christ gives strength to John.

18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

I was dead, and behold I am alive. The identity could not be clearer: he is Jesus Christ.

19 "Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.

what is now. Though the vision is about the future, much of the visions are about the present. An error people make is assuming all the visions (seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls of wrath) are about the future. But in many cases, John sees what has already occurred and what is occurring in his day. Ex. In the cases of the seven seals, it is very clear that the first seal brings forth Christ as the rider of the horse. And the other three riders bring war, famine, and disease—which are things currently taking place in the world.

  20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels c of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

seven stars are the angels. Angels mean messengers. Likely a reference to the leaders of the churches.

seven lampstands are the seven churches. Like many parables that Jesus gave, he explains the meaning of the first vision. After this, he or the angel provides very little interpretation of the symbols. He counts on the reader to interpret the symbols correctly.

Chapter 2

Click here if you are interested in Tom Brown's CD series on "The Book of Revelation."

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