"Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
Unless Jesus Does First
Revelation 1 - Quick Links
As we begin our study of the book of Revelation, it is important not to lose sight that this book is about the "revelation" of Jesus Christ. It is not just about God's judgment on a Christ rejecting sinful world, as many believe. In the book of Revelation, God has also shared His plan for the future of the world and humanity.
"Revelation" is the Greek word "apocalypsis," where we derive our English word "apocalypse" from. "Apocalypsis" can mean to uncover, show, disclose, unveil, bring to light, make known a mystery, or reveal something not known or hidden. Therefore, a revelation given by God is something that wasn't known before.
In the Old Testament, the prophets were given revelation of future events. Many of these prophecies found fulfillment shortly after the prophet shared what God revealed to them. This authenticated that the prophet spoke the true Word of God (Deuteronomy 18:22). However, there were many prophecies that remained a mystery, or were "sealed," as was the case for Daniel:
Daniel 12:8-9 - Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, "My lord, what shall be the end of these things?" And he said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end."
While an angel told Daniel to "seal" his vision, another angel told John not to seal the prophecies in his vision because the time for fulfillment "is at hand" (Revelation 22:10). As we will discover, many of Daniel's prophecies also appear in Revelation. Since Revelation is not sealed, it is possible to understand it with the help of the Holy Spirit, especially as we approach the time of its fulfillment.
Consider that some prophecies not understood before, found fulfillment during the ministry of Christ. Although Christ clearly referenced many Old Testament prophecies as He fulfilled them, most still didn't understand - not even His disciples - that is, until the Father sent the Holy Spirit, who gave them understanding:
John 14:26 - But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
In short, the "Revelation of Jesus Christ" gives us insight through the Holy Spirit into prophetic events that God has orchestrated to deal with Israel and His enemies, as He prepares to begin His kingdom on Earth. This plan remained a mystery until it was "revealed" to John the apostle through the Holy Spirit. Also, Jesus will literally and visibly be "revealed" to the world when He appears again, as described below:
Revelation 19:11-16 - Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: King of kings and Lord of lords.
God the Father gave the Revelation of Jesus for His servants, who are His followers (John 12:26). In other words, this prophetic book was not given for the benefit of unbelievers. In fact, unbelievers cannot understand the Word without instruction from the Holy Spirit, as shown in the passage below. That said, faith can and does come through the reading of the Word (Romans 10:17), but only for those drawn by the Father, through the Holy Spirit (John 6:44):
1 Corinthians 2:11-16 - For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ.
Christ's followers, or body of believers, are known today as the "Church" (Acts 2:42-47). As shown in my "Pre-Tribulation Rapture" study, I believe that the Lord will call the Church to Heaven before the events in Revelation 4 unfold and the Tribulation begins. One might wonder why the Revelation of Jesus was given for the Church and not for those who are left behind and become believers in the Tribulation.
First, prophecy is not a survival guide. Prophetic Scripture gives credibility to God's Word. Second, the prophecies in Revelation show us that God's servants during the Tribulation are not immune to the judgments coming to Earth. In fact, as we will see in later chapters, most believers will become martyrs. Second, the written Word of God will likely be a scarce item during the Tribulation. Consider the following passage:
Joel 2:28 - ..."Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions."
Dreams and visions are not widely reported by Christians today in areas where the Bible is readily available. But even in our day, there are reports from nations like Iran that don't have ready access to the written Word, that people are getting saved through dreams and visions. John shares with us that the written Word of Revelation is clearly for the Church, but Scripture shows that God has other ways that He communicates His Word across the dispensations. However, dreams and visions being prevalent throughout the world by the end of the Tribulation suggest the written Word will be hard to come by, since dreams and visions are not common in areas that have ready access to the Word today.
An angel told Daniel that it would be a long time before the prophecies given to him would be fulfilled:
Daniel 10:14-16 - Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come." When he had spoken such words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless. And suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me, "My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength."
Unlike Daniel, who became overwhelmed with sorrow over the amount of time his people would have to endure tribulation, the Church is given hope that the prophecies in Revelation are imminent. Unfortunately, many scoff at the idea:
2 Peter 3:1-4 - Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation."
While nearly 2000 years seems like a long time for prophecy to take place, from God's point of view the time is short:
2 Peter 3:8 - But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
That said, the Greek word translated "shortly" can also mean "in swiftness" or "speedily." In other words, when the prophecies begin to occur, they will happen rapidly. However, this meaning does not negate the imminent fulfillment of these prophecies, as the angel told John in Revelation 1:3 that the "time is near."
Incidentally, the teaching of Jesus' imminent return to build His earthly kingdom predates the writing of Revelation. The apostle Paul believed that the Lord could rapture the Church during his life. He believed that this event would start the domino of events leading up to Christ's return to set up His kingdom (2 Thessalonians 2:1-8). Paul even comforted others with his belief in Christ's imminent return:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 - For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
The Greek word translated "signified" can mean to indicate, make known, or be represented by signs, symbols, and/or pictures, which the book of Revelation is chock-full of. Jesus used the same word to show that He would die on a cross:
John 12:32-33 - "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." This He said, signifying by what death He would die.
The picture of Jesus being "lifted up" brings to mind the bronze serpent. The people of Israel were only healed from the snake bites when they looked at the "lifted up" serpent:
John 3:14 - And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.
The word "angel" in Scripture simply means "messenger." One has to look at the context to know whether the angel is supernatural or human. We will discuss this more in Revelation 1:20. In this case, it will become clear as we go through the first few verses, the messenger giving John the Revelation is one of the Lord's holy angels from Heaven.
This is not the first time in Scripture that an angel brought a prophetic Word from the Lord. John the Baptist's father, Zacharias (Luke 1:11-19), Jesus' mother Mary (Luke 1:26-38), and some prophets (Daniel 6:22, Zechariah 1:11-19), all received prophetic messages from God's Holy angels.
There is little dispute that it was the apostle John who received the Revelation. It is interesting to note, while Jesus foretold of Peter's death, He curiously made the other disciples think that John would not die before His return. Presumably, John did eventually die in his old age, but not until he saw the Lord's return in the prophetic vision the Lord gave him, which he recorded in the book of Revelation:
John 21:20-23 - Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays You?" Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, "But Lord, what about this man?" Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me." Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?"
At the end of John's Gospel, he bears witness to all he wrote:
John 21:24 - This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
At the beginning of John's Gospel account, he says that John the Baptist came ahead of Christ to bear witness of the Word of God before Jesus' ministry even began, so people would know who to look for:
John 1:6-8 - There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
John 1:19-23 - Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ." And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No." Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?" He said: "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the LORD,"' as the prophet Isaiah said."
While John the Baptist bore the witness of the Word before Jesus came the first time, now John the apostle has borne the witness of the Word before Jesus returns again.
The testimony of Jesus Christ is both about Him and from Him. In other words, the "testimony" of Jesus Christ is both an adjective and a noun. Skipping ahead a few verses, we see that John became exiled because of his testimony of Jesus Christ, which was what he proclaimed about Jesus Christ:
Revelation 1:9 - I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Later, we see that the testimony of Jesus Christ is also the "spirit of prophecy":
Revelation 19:10 - And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
This means that prophecy, personified as a spirit, which testifies about Christ, Jesus Himself reveals through the Father:
John 5:19 - Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner."
In short, Jesus Christ is both the subject and object of His testimony. And John testified "to all things that he saw... that His testimony is true" (John 21:24), which echoes David in the following Psalm:
Psalm 19:7 - The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
Revelation 1:3 - Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it...
To understand Revelation we need to study the rest of Scripture. This in turn gives a better understanding of the rest of the Word of God. Indeed, blessings will come to those who read and hear the rest of the Word, as well as Revelation:
Revelation 22:7 - "Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
Luke 11:28 - ...blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!
The Greek word translated "to keep" means to heed, to hold fast, continually hold on to, watch over, or guard. The Greek word translated as "blessing" also means "happy." Therefore, keeping or heeding God's Word makes one happy or blessed:
Proverbs 16:20 - He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.
In the next few chapters of Revelation, Jesus points out to the first century churches things that needed improvement. Today churches are still in need of correction and improvement. Therefore, it is prudent for us to heed our Lord's correction and keep His Word.
After Revelation 3, there is no further instruction to the Church body. Nevertheless, understanding that this vision "must shortly take place" (Revelation 1:1), should prompt us to hang on to the promises of Christ's triumph over all the evil that is to come. We should also guard these prophecies, as many in the world scoff and despise them:
2 Peter 3:1-3 - Beloved, I now write... that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days....
1Thessalonians 5:20 - Do not despise prophecies.
Watchfulness for the Lord's return is also in view in the following passage:
Revelation 3:2-3 - Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
Those who don't take heed of the imminent return of Jesus, often have an attitude of "willful ignorance" because they do not want to own up to how they are living their lives in this world. Christ's coming will be like a thief to them; they are not ready because they are not watching. Watchfulness usually promotes holy living, because out of it comes understanding that Christ's Kingdom is everything, and this world is nothing. As Christians, we should want the Lord to find us living for Him, and not the world when He returns:
2 Peter 3:11-14 - Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.
The Greek word translated as "time" can mean season or era, and is used in a few passages that describe the time of Christ's first coming (Mark 1:15, Galatians 4:4). The following passages that describe the time when Jesus will return to set up His Kingdom also use the same Greek word translated as "times," or "seasons," as noted below:
Act 1:6-7 - Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority."
Act 3:19-21 - Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 - But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.
As discussed earlier, the time for the events given in Revelation, leading up to Jesus' return are imminent. The angel told John that the season or time of the Lord's return is "near," or "at hand." Adding to the discussion in the last section, we should strive to live holy lives because Jesus' return is "at hand" and "the Judge is standing at the door!"
James 5:7-9 - Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!
The angel directs John to share the Revelation with seven churches in Asia. Today we think of Asia as the "Far East," but during John's day it was a province in western Turkey.
In the next two chapters of Revelation, the Lord gives unique counsel to seven churches in Asia. Recall, that Revelation was for the "servants of Jesus" (Revelation 1:1) and all the churches when it was first written. Revelation was later canonized as Scripture, which shows that is also benefits all who are in the body of Christ:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
"Grace to you and peace" is a typical New Testament greeting that encompasses both the Greek and Hebrew forms of salutation. The Greek form "charis" translated as "grace" can also mean benefit, bounty, good will, loving-kindness, favor, and that which affords joy. The Greek word translated as "peace" is "eirene," which in Hebrew is the customary greeting "shalom," meaning "Jehovah is peace."
As shown in the next few sections, the greeting to John and the churches are from the Godhead; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. "Godhead" is the scriptural term for the widely used phrase: "the Trinity":
Romans 1:20 - For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead....
Colossians 2:9 - For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily....
The descriptive title: "Who is and who was and who is to come," indicates the eternal nature of God. Jesus gives Himself this same title in Revelation 1:8. However, the context indicates that the Father is in view here because the Holy Spirit and Jesus are separately listed in the same passage.
The Father and Son are "One" (John 10:30) and they are both eternal. Therefore, the title: "Who is and who was and who is to come," applies to both the Father and the Son. The Old Testament version of this eternal title for God is "from everlasting to everlasting" (1 Chronicles 16:36, Psalms 41:13, 90:2, 103:17, 106:48).
Jesus fulfilled Isaiah 61:1, when He declared that the "Spirit of the Lord" would be upon Him:
Luke 4:18 - "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed."
It is generally thought that "Holy Spirit" and "Spirit of the Lord" are interchangeable names for the third member of the Godhead. However, the following passage shows that the "Spirit of the Lord" is just one attribute of the Holy Spirit:
Isaiah 11:1-2 - There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
The Holy Spirit is one member of the Godhead with seven attributes, as described by Isaiah above:
2. Spirit of Wisdom
3. Spirit of Understanding
4. Spirit of Counsel
5. Spirit of Might
6. Spirit of Knowledge
7. Spirit of the Fear of the Lord
The following passages show how the Holy Spirit administers His attributes. Take note, in several cases, more than one attribute of the Holy Spirit is at work:
Exodus 28:3 - So you shall speak to all who are gifted artisans, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron's garments, to consecrate him, that he may minister to Me as priest.
Deuteronomy 34:9 - Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses.
Isaiah 30:1 - "Woe to the rebellious children," says the LORD, "Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin."
Isaiah 59:19 - So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.
Daniel 5:13-14 - Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king spoke, and said to Daniel, "Are you that Daniel who is one of the captives from Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you."
Micah 3:8 - But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the LORD, and of justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.
Acts 9:31 - Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
Ephesians 1:15-18 - Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.
Ephesians 3:14-16 - For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.
Later in Revelation, John describes the seven Spirits of God as follows:
Revelation 4:5 - And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
In Revelation 1:20, seven lamp stands represent the churches. It is clear from Revelation 4:5 the Holy Spirit is the source of the fire for the lamp stands. Interestingly, at Pentecost when the Church was born, the Holy Spirit manifested as cloven tongues of fire:
Acts 2:1-4 - When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
John tells us that the seven Spirits are before the throne of God. The reason the Holy Spirit is before, but not on the throne like the Son, is because He does not have the executive authority that the Father owns and has given to the Son:
John 5:26-27 - For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.
Instead, the Holy Spirit's commission is that of "the Helper," who gives instruction through the "seven spirits," or attributes, according to the Will of the Father and Son:
John 14:26 - But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
John introduces the Father and the Holy Spirit in Revelation 1:4. The Godhead's introduction is complete with Jesus Christ in this verse.
The Greek name "Iesous," and the Hebrew name "Yehosua" or "Yeshua," which means "salvation," transliterates in English to Jesus. The Greek word "Christos," which means the "Anointed One" and the Hebrew word "Mashiach," which means "Messiah," transliterates to Christ. Together, the name and title of "Jesus Christ" means the "Anointed One who saves."
Jesus Christ fulfills the messianic prophecies in the Old Testament that foretold of the coming "Anointed One":
1 Samuel 2:10 - The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth. "He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed."
1 Samuel 2:35 - Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever.
Psalm 2:1-9 - Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, "Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us." He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: "Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion." "I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.'"
Psalm 132:17-18 - "There I will make the horn of David grow; I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed. His enemies I will clothe with shame, but upon Himself His crown shall flourish."
Jesus is the "faithful witness." The Greek word translated "faithful" can also mean reliable or trustworthy. Jesus has a similar title later in Revelation:
Revelation 19:11 - Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
The following Proverb describes a "faithful witness" this way:
Proverbs 14:5 - A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness will utter lies.
This agrees with following passages that show us that it is impossible for God to lie:
Numbers 23:19 - "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?"
Titus 1:1-2 - Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.
Hebrews 6:17-18 - Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.
Jesus is the faithful witness in truth; not solely His own witness, but also that of the Godhead. In other words, at least two or three members of the Godhead fulfill the Old Testament Law, which requires two or three witnesses to judge a matter (Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15):
John 8:13-18 - The Pharisees therefore said to Him, "You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true." Jesus answered and said to them, "Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me. It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me."
John 18:36-38 - Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here." Pilate therefore said to Him, "Are You a king then?" Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, "I find no fault in Him at all.
1 John 5:6-10 - This is He who came by water and blood - Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.
Jesus' faithful witness revealed who His Father was. His witness was complete in His work on the cross:
John 1:18 - No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
Hebrews 1:1-2 - God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.
John 17:4-7 - I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You."
Jesus' resurrection from the dead is a prototype, or "firstfruits," that had to precede the resurrection for believers:
Romans 8:28-30 - And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
1 Corinthians 15:12-15 - Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up - if in fact the dead do not rise.
1 Corinthians 15:16-23 - For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.
Christ's resurrection fulfilled the feast of Firstfruits, rising from the dead on the first day of the week after the Sabbath during the Passover week:
Leviticus 23:10-11 - "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.'"
Matthew 28:1 - Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
Mark 16:9 - Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.
Christ is also the firstborn, or begotten Son of God, through whom salvation comes, because of His resurrection:
Acts 13:33-39 - God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You.' And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: 'I will give you the sure mercies of David.' Therefore He also says in another Psalm: 'You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.' "For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses."
Jesus is the begotten Son of God, in that He is the "express image" of God:
Hebrews 1:2-3, 5-6 - ...by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person.... For to which of the angels did He ever say: "You are My Son, today I have begotten You"? And again: "I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son"? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: "Let all the angels of God worship Him."
Jesus, the begotten Son of God and High Priest, "according to the order of Melchizedek," brought us eternal life through His sacrifice, which He fulfilled through His death at Passover, and resurrection on the Feast of Firstfruits (Leviticus 23):
Hebrews 5:5-9 - So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: "You are My Son, today I have begotten You." As He also says in another place "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek"; who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.
Jesus, the "King of kings" (Revelation 19:16), will fulfill the following Messianic Psalm that had partial fulfillment through David:
Psalms 89:24-29 - "But My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him, and in My name his horn shall be exalted. Also I will set his hand over the sea, and his right hand over the rivers. He shall cry to Me, 'You are my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.' Also I will make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. My mercy I will keep for him forever, and My covenant shall stand firm with him. His seed also I will make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven."
With all the turmoil and chaos in the world, one might believe that Jesus is not in charge at all:
Luke 4:5-7 - Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours."
Indeed, God has granted Satan authority over the kingdoms of the world temporarily. However, God is still sovereign. All authority and power given not only to Satan, but to all rulers of the earth will end, when Jesus returns to Earth to set up His Kingdom:
1 Corinthians 15:24-28 - Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
The Father manifests His love in the sacrifice of His Son:
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Jesus showed His own love toward us, in that He offered Himself as a sacrifice for us:
Ephesians 5:2 - And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
"The love of God which is in Christ Jesus," is enduring:
Romans 8:35-39 - Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We love God after we comprehend His love for us:
1 John 4:15-19 - Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.
Only the blood of Jesus can wash away our sin. There is redemption by the cleansing power of His blood:
1 John 1:7 - ...the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Matthew 26:28 - For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Romans 3:23-25 - For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.
Ephesians 1:7 - In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.
Colossians 1:20 - ...to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
The penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23). That is why God requires blood to atone, or cover sin:
Leviticus 17:11 - For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.
Hebrews 9:22 - And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.
The blood sacrifices of the animals under the Old Testament covenant could temporarily cleanse sin, but the Law required continual sacrifices. However, in the new covenant, Christ's blood cleansed our sin completely, so there is no more need for sacrifices:
Hebrews 9:12-15 - Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
Paul calls the Church body a "chaste virgin" betrothed to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2), and later the "Bride" and "Wife" of Christ (Revelation 19:7, 21:9). As the spouse of the "King of kings" (Revelation 19:16), we are royal heirs to the Kingdom:
James 2:5 - Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
Those who take part in the first resurrection will rule and reign together with Christ for a thousand years on Earth:
Revelation 20:6 - Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
God has made us our own priests, as our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Being a priest in the new covenant means that we minister to God by offering spiritual sacrifices (2 Corinthians 3:6 ); not blood sacrifices, as required in the old covenant:
1 Peter 2:4-5, 9 - Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.... But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
In the physical temple in Jerusalem, only the high priest could go into the most holy part of the temple once a year (Hebrews 9:25). A very thick curtain separated this area from the rest of the temple, or tabernacle (Exodus 26:33). When Jesus died, the veil was supernaturally torn:
Matthew 27:50-51 - And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.
Christ, as our High Priest, broke down the wall of separation, symbolized in the temple veil between us and the Father. That is why the Holy Spirit can now live inside of us:
Hebrews 10:18-21 - Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God.
Ephesians 2:13-18 - But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
God does not share His glory:
Isaiah 48:11 - For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; for how should My name be profaned? And I will not give My glory to another.
Other passages that include this same benediction show that God glorifies Himself by using us as vessels in which He supplies all our needs:
1 Peter 4:10-11 - As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:10-11 - But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Jude 1:24-25 - Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
A parallel passage that punctuates the everlasting aspect of God's dominion is found in Daniel:
Daniel 7:13-14 - "I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed."
Unless Jesus Does First
Revelation Flow Chart:
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