I.) Chapter 1. Salutations and Introduction.
“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants things which must shortly take place. And he sent and signified it by his angel to his servants.”
The order of the revelation is – God through Christ, to His angel, to John, then to His servants. The first portion is given to seven identified angels and seven identified assemblies.
Chapter 1:1-3 testifies to the nearness of the pending events. The book closes with the same warnings and admonitions (c. 22:6, 10). In the letters to the churches the Lord states repeatedly “…behold I come quickly,” indicating that this coming judgment of God was near.
To reveal things which must shortly come to pass means exactly what it states (in any language). Attempts to discount that are done to foster things that will never quite fit. Keep in mind that this book was written to a first century audience of believers and not to some wider audience thousands of years down the road. Once more: It was written to them and for us.
Christ is described as the “…faithful witness,” the “first begotten from the dead,” (as in Colossians 1:15 – “the firstborn from of every creature…” and 1:18 the “firstborn from the dead…”) and “Prince of the kings of the earth,” etc. (See also 1 Corinthians 6:11.)
His servants are “a kingdom of priests.” This is metonymy of the first order as there is no line or kingdom of priests within the Churches of Christ. The righteous are noted by their actions and lives to be a “peculiar people,” a set aside possession, the firstborn of the dead, in time to be “crowned” in heaven as kings and priests.
Verse 7 states, “Behold he comes in clouds…” The Bible nowhere says that Jesus will ever set foot upon earth again. The idea of a physical reign of some sort is not new, for even the Twelve Apostles seem to have expected that for a brief time. This is at the heart of the false doctrines and theories known collectively as Millennialism or the Advent. These spurious and non-scriptural theories are the most popular misinterpretations of the signs in Revelation and have become the primary end-time doctrines for most modern denominations.
Millennialism is the general category made up of premillennialists and postmillennialists. All premillennialists are dispensationalists. Dispensationalists believe we are in the “Church Dispensation” now, with a “Kingdom Dispensation” to follow. Premillennialists believe in a literal thousand-year reign, postmillennialists believe in a figurative one. Adventism “gave birth” to both groups and differs only in the details.
Though there are many variations, the general basics of premillennial theory are 1). Christ returns to earth in what is now commonly referred to now as “the rapture,” a word and concept that does not occur in the Bible. 2). The righteous dead are raised and the living saints are caught up in the air to meet the Lord. This is followed by the “marriage feast of the Lamb,” which is then followed by a period of great tribulation. At its end the church/kingdom is returned to earth (which is to those who teach this doctrine at the center of any interpretation of Revelation). 3). Christ assumes the title of King and rules from the rebuilt temple on David’s throne for 1,000 years. The nation of Israel is reestablished, and modified temple worship is restored. 4). Satan is loosed following this 1,000-year calm and the resurrection of the wicked follows. 5). After a great battle on earth (Armageddon), Satan and the wicked are dispatched followed by the final judgment. Except for the last phrase in the previous sentence (5), can the reader find any part of that in the New Testament?
Verse 8 identifies the Christ as the “alpha and omega,” “that which is, which was, and which is to come.” As is widely known, alpha (Α) and omega (Ω) are the first and last letters of Greek script. In other words, Christ is the beginning and the end – likening Christ to the Almighty – the exact representation of God. We would say Christ is “the A to Z.”
The place of the writing is Patmos, off the coast of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), the region referred to in the scriptures as Asia.
In verse 10 is the only occurrence in the King James Version of the phrase “the Lord’s Day”, where John stated that he was “…in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” This is a blend of two translated phrases: “The Lord’s” and “the day following the Sabbath.” “The day following the Sabbath” used here and elsewhere is rendered as “the first day of the week.” That noted, this phrase – “the day following the Sabbath,” may correctly be given as: “the Lord’s Day following the Sabbath,” or simply “the Lord’s first day of the week.” When combined the two phrases note and honor the Lord’s resurrection and the given day of Christian worship. The wording in the Greek corresponding to the phrase “the Lord’s” was in general use since Augustus, always identifying an Imperial event or Imperial day. Thereby, the phrase: “the Lord’s Day” is an appropriate translation, to indicate the first day of the week as the meeting day for the churches. This pairing occurs only here in the phrase “the Lord’s Day” in Revelation 1:10 and in 1 Corinthians 11:20 where it is found in the phrase “the Lord’s Supper;” and both of those are the single occurrence for each in the KJV. [Robertson, Word 290]
The simple bit of information above should act to dispose of the notion that the Christian day of worship coincided with the Sabbath, or that it is the Christian Sabbath. Seventh Day Adventists and others hold that the Sabbath should be observed as the Christian day of worship. Yet that observance was never given to all nations, but only to Israel (those under and beholden to the Law of Moses). While most (if not all) who read this are from the lineage of Japheth or Ham and not of the seed of Shem (or Jewish by family and ancestry); and only the Jews and Israel had been given the Ten Commandments – no one else. Further, Christians have no command to observe any of the Law of Moses – in fact they were condemned if they did. That means this notion is altogether wrong. Christ brought in nine of the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20 for us to keep. But observing the Sabbath and to keep it holy was excluded. So, to observe the Sabbath as a holy day was never commanded for any Christians then or now. These things are an invention of the Pharisees and leaders of the Jews from Christ’s day and of false teachers in more modern times.