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Notes for

Revelation Chapter One


Special note: John was the last survivor of the twelve apostles. All the others had died violent deaths. Under the New Testament dispensation he was honoured as the prophet Daniel was honoured under the Old Testament dispensation. Both teach the same lesson - religious laws made by worldly governments (usually at the request of churches) have no jurisdiction over Christians and must be ignored. The instruction given to John was so important that Christ came from heaven personally to give it to His servant, telling him to send it to the churches. This information is to be the object of our careful and prayerful study for we are living in a time when men who are not under the teaching of the Holy Spirit will bring in false theories and laws.

These men are often standing in high places in churches and governments and they have ambitious projects to carry out. They seek to exalt themselves, and to revolutionize the whole showing of things. God has given us special instruction to guard us against such ones. He bade John write in a book what should take place in the closing scenes of this earth's history.

The words below are from an old book and explain why John was on the island of Patmos which is just off the coast of modern-day Turkey. Mention is made of an old tradition that John was once placed in a pot of boiling oil by Roman authorities, but was withdrawn and found to have suffered no injury at all. It is not quoted as an authority but merely because it is well written. I have added the underlining.

 

Out of a heart overflowing with love and gratitude, Christ's youngest disciple John bore witness of Christ as a risen Saviour, and no power could stay his words. To please the Jews, the Romans had crucified Christ, and now, to please them still further, they sought to place John where his voice could not be heard by Jew or Gentile.

Thinking to silence him forever, they cast him into a caldron of boiling oil. But his voice was not silenced. As the words were spoken, "So perish all who believe in Jesus of Nazareth," John declared, "My Master patiently submitted to all that Satan and his angels could devise to humiliate and torture Him. He gave His life to save the world. He died that we might live. I am honored in being permitted to suffer for His sake. I am a weak, sinful man. Christ was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. He had no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth."

The faithful servant was preserved as were the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace. John was removed from the caldron by the very ones who had cast him in.

Again the enemies of truth sought to silence the voice of the faithful witness. John was banished to the Isle of Patmos. Here, they thought, he could no longer trouble Israel, and he must finally die of hardship and distress.

To outward appearances the enemies of truth were triumphing; but God's hand was moving unseen in the darkness. The Lord permitted His servant to be placed where Christ could give him a more wonderful revelation of Himself than He had ever yet received; where he could receive most precious enlightenment of the churches. He permitted him to be placed in solitude, that his ear and heart might be more fully prepared to hear and receive the revelations that he was to be given. The man who exiled John [the Roman emperor] was not released from responsibility in the matter. But he became an instrument in the hands of God to carry out His eternal purpose; and the very effort to extinguish light placed the truth in bold relief.

John was deprived of the companionship of his brethren, but no man could deprive him of the companionship of Christ. A great light was to shine from Christ to His servant. The Lord watched over His banished disciple, and gave him a wonderful revelation of Himself. Richly favored was this beloved disciple. With the other disciples he had walked and talked with Jesus, learning of Him and feasting on His words. His head had often rested on his Saviour's bosom. But he must see Him also in Patmos. God and Christ and the heavenly host were John's companions on the lonely island, and from them he received instruction of infinite importance.

There he wrote out the visions and revelations he received of God, telling of the things that would take place in the closing scenes of this earth's history. When his voice could no longer witness to the truth, the messages given him in Patmos were to go forth as a lamp that burns. From them men and women were to learn the purposes of God, not concerning the Jewish nation merely, but concerning every nation upon the earth.

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1. Deuteronomy 29:29 We may understand all that is in the Bible

The secret things belong to the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Amos 3:7 God wants us to be forewarned

Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.

Psalm 119:130 It’s a gift!

The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

Reading the words of the Bible is like using the leaves from the tree of life for healing - they will soothe and refresh you. [Revelation 22:2]

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2.

The order:

God gave it to...

Jesus who passed it on to...

His angel who explained it to...

the prophet...

who wrote it down...

for us.

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3. Proverbs 8:32-35

Now therefore hearken to Me, O you children: for blessed are they that keep My ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that hears Me, watching daily at My gates [reading the Bible every day], waiting at the posts of My doors [asking the Spirit to explain the meaning of the words]. For whoever finds Me finds life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.

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4. Ezekiel 33:12-20 God's decision is based on our action

Therefore, you son of man, say to the children of your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turns from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sins.

When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he has committed, he shall die for it. [It is not the amount of sin that kills, it is the fact of its existence in us, for sin cuts us off from the God of life by causing rebellion].

Again, when I say to the wicked, You shall surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; if the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his sins that he has committed shall be mentioned to him: he has done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live. Yet the children of your people say, The way of the Lord is not equal [or fair]: but as for them, their way is not equal.

God's statement is true at the time it is made, but when the person changes so the truth changes.

When the righteous turns from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, he shall even die thereby. But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby. Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O you house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways.

The word of God (and therefore every prophecy) is conditional upon the situation remaining the same. A change of attitude in the people can alter (but not cancel) the prediction, for God's word is ALWAYS true.

This happened in the case of Nineveh. This city was founded by Nimrod soon after the Flood and hundreds of years later it became great and prosperous by following the goddess Ishtar. At the time of Jonah's prediction (810-750BC) it was classed as one of the greatest cities in the world.

The repentance of its inhabitants allowed God to protect the city for the time being. But the prophecy still came to pass because succeeding generations soon forgot the lesson learned by their elders and repeated the same sins, which brought the destruction some years later by Nebuchadnezzar's father in 612BC. Amazingly, its existence was soon forgotten, for two centuries after that not even the locals remembered what its name had been.

Jonah 3:1-10

And the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the preaching that I bid you. So Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.... and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came to the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes [a symbol of repentance]. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying,

Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God: yes, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?

And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that He had said that He would do to them; and He did it not.

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5. "the time" has always been right from God’s point of view. It is His people who slow Him down by not accepting His word. Consider Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9. God had to wait 68 years for His people to even consider going back to Israel. He had to wait till 1844 for Christianity to really think of Jesus as the High priest in the sanctuary in heaven. As we have seen regarding Nineveh, God does not have to wait for outward evidence of repentance, or length of time to prove it, He knows the intents and thoughts of our hearts. But He does have to wait for us to desire to move forward with Him.

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6. Psalm 2:7

I will declare the decree: the LORD has said to Me, You are My Son; this day have I begotten You.

Acts 13:32-33 That "day" was the resurrection day

And we declare to you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made to the fathers [the people of the Old Testament], God has fulfilled the same to us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, You are My Son, this day have I begotten You.

Not the first in time, but the first in importance. The head of Christianity.

Hebrews 1:6

And again, when He brings in the firstbegotten into the world, He says, And let all the angels of God worship Him.

1 Peter 2:9-10

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

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7. Matthew 24:27-30 Jesus tells us...

For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be...

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

John 19:33-37 He was pierced while on the cross

But when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they broke not His legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knows that he says true, that you might believe. For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another Scripture says, They shall look on Him whom they pierced.

Psalm 22:16-18 This piercing had been foretold

For dogs have compassed Me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me: they pierced My hands and My feet. I may tell all My bones: they look and stare upon Me. They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture.

Those that pierced Him, along with those responsible for His crucifixion, will be present because of the special resurrection we read about in Daniel chapter twelve. Others who have been very great opponents of His will be raised at that time to witness this universe-shaking event.

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8. Isaiah 9:6 Jesus is called 'The Mighty God'

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet. Jesus was claiming to be like His Father, eternal, and to warrant the same titles. He always was, He always will be, God Almighty.

He showed Himself to be so at His resurrection which He accomplished by the life which was in Himself, underived, unborrowed.

Romans 1:3-4 The proof of deity

Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power ... by the resurrection from the dead...

When we as students of prophecy set our hearts to know the truths of The Revelation, we will realise what an importance is attached to this search. Christ Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the Genesis of the Old Testament and The Revelation of the New. Both meet together in Christ. The first Adam and God are reconciled by the obedience of the second Adam, who accomplished the work of overcoming the temptations of Satan and redeeming Adam's disgraceful failure and fall.

The two Adams will meet in Paradise and embrace each other, while the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, and all who have refused the opportunities and privileges given to them at such infinite cost, and have not returned to their loyalty, will be shut out of Paradise.

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9. Revelation 19:10 Prophets (and angels) witness for Jesus

And I [John] fell at his feet to worship him [an angel messenger]. And he said to me, See you do it not: I am your fellowservant, and of your brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

John was exiled to the island of Patmos, a prison camp, simply because he was a Christian prophet. Tradition states that he returned to Ephesus when set free by the emperor Nerva in 95AD and then died about 100AD.

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10. Matthew 12:8 The Lord’s day is also the day of the Lord

For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.

Mark 2:27-28

And He said to them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.

It is not meant that the Sabbath should control us, but that we should enjoy the Sabbath and do good on it.

Matthew 12:10-12 Ritual is there when we have nothing better to do!

And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked Him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath days? that they might accuse Him. And He said to them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days.

Luke 6:2-5 Man’s religious interpretations have no control over Christians

And certain of the Pharisees said to them, Why do you that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath days? And Jesus answering them said, Have you not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungered, and they which were with him; how he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the showbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?

And He said to them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.

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11. John saw, and then wrote. Those who know say that the Greek grammar of The Revelation is that of a writer who is working quickly, not that of one who is thinking over and revising his work. He appears to have received the contents of the entire book in one long vision.

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12. Colossians 4:16 Letters were shared

[Paul wrote] And when this epistle [letter] is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

The Spirit of God did not think it necessary that we have a copy of the letter to the Laodiceans in our Bible. Just as He has decided with other prophets' works mentioned in the Scriptures.

1 Chronicles 29:29 Some of the books not required in our Bible

Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer...

2 Chronicles 9:29

Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer against Jeroboam the son of Nebat?...

There were more than seven churches in the region of Asia. These seven were churches of some importance however, because each possessed the characteristics mentioned in the letters Jesus sent to them. However, only seven (representing a complete unit in the Scriptures) were chosen because they displayed the major qualities shown by the Christian church over the period spanned by The Revelation. From 31AD to the second coming.

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13. Exodus 25:31-32 The literal candlestick had bowls with wicks

And you shall make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knobs, and his flowers, shall be of the same. And six branches shall come out of the sides of it [the main shaft]; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side...

In the Old Testament they are joined as one object as we have seen in Zechariah’s vision (The Oil of God) because he was used to them as they were in the sanctuary. However, the candlesticks are separated in John’s view with Jesus walking amongst them because in verse 20 they are identified as representing the seven churches.

God uses imagery which has meaning to us and to match this we have read of the seven spirits of God in verse 4.

Matthew 5:14-16 The Spirit works through the churches

[Jesus said to His disciples] You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel [basket], but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

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14. Turning, John beheld his Master, with whom he had walked and talked in Judea, on whose breast he had leaned. But, oh, how changed His appearance! John had seen Him dressed in an old purple robe and crowned with thorns. (John 19:2). Now He is clothed with a garment of heavenly brightness, and girt about with a "curious" or intricately worked golden girdle (Exodus 28:8), the uniform similar to that worn by the priests of old in which he had appeared to Daniel.

But He no longer looked like a typical Jewish priest as He had appeared to Daniel. He was now blond! He still retained His bright clear eyes, suntan colour and the natural musical sound to His voice though.

Half a century had passed since Jesus had ascended to present His church before God, and to prepare mansions for His faithful ones, and now He had come to His aged servant to reveal to him God's plans for the future.

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15. Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Isaiah 49:1-3

Listen, O isles, to Me; and hearken, you people, from far; The LORD has called Me from the womb; from the bowels of My mother has He made mention of My name. And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand has He hid Me, and made Me a polished shaft; in His quiver has He hid Me; and said to Me, You are My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

The "two-edged sword" which protrudes out of His mouth is a clear indication of how He fights, for it is by words that God attacks the sinful actions of men and women. He use no carnal or earthly weapon and neither should His followers.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ...

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16. Isaiah 25:8-9 He introduces Himself as the conqueror of death

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the LORD has spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.

Christ is pictured in the midst of the seven candlesticks, walking from church to church, from congregation to congregation, from heart to heart. He knows those whom He can fill with the holy oil, that they may impart it to others.

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17. The revelation covers events from then to now, and on into the future. To all its readers, there will be some history, some present-day facts and some forthcoming events. Each generation is therefore able to see where they fit in God's overall plan, and what they should be doing to help Him with it.

A mystery is usually a message from God that we are slow to understand, but these two are clearly explained so that we may have no need to puzzle and work hard to get these particular items of "treasure". Matthew 13:44.

"Angel" normally means a messenger from heaven, but in this case it represents those who are leading out in the seven churches, both literally and historically.

Each church (in every age) has a special light called "present truth" and this is what the candlesticks represent. It is this truth that each generation must respond to.

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