Charles finely describes as "the harmony restored between God and man through Christ. That is in itself a common title for God. But to get the full meaning of this we must look at it in the Greek, for John bursts the bonds of grammar to show his reverence for God. We translate the first phrase from him who is; but that is not what the Greek says.
A Greek noun is in the nominative case when it is the subject of a sentence, but, when it is governed by a preposition it changes its case and its form. It is so in English. He is the subject of a sentence; him is the object. When John says that the blessing comes from him who is he should have put him who is in the genitive case after the preposition; but quite ungrammatically he leaves it in the nominative. It is as if we said in English from he who is, refusing to change he into him. John has such an immense reverence for God that he refuses to alter the form of his name even when the rules of grammar demand it.
John is not finished with his amazing use of language. The second phrase is from him who was.
Literally, John says from the he was. The point is that who was would be in Greek a participle. The odd thing is that the verb eimi Greek to be has no past participle. Instead there is used the participle genomenos from the verb gignomai, which means not only to be but also to become. Becoming implies change and John utterly refuses to apply any word to God that will imply any change; and so he uses a Greek phrase that is grammatically impossible and that no one ever used before.
In the terrible days in which he was writing John stayed his heart on the changelessness of God and used defiance of grammar to underline his faith. Anyone who reads this passage must be astonished at the form of the Trinity which we meet here. We speak of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These seven Spirits are mentioned more than once in the Revelation Revelation ; Revelation ; Revelation Three main explanations have been offered of them. They were what we call the archangels, and "they stand and enter before the glory of the Lord" Tobit They had the care of the elements of the world--fire, air and water--and were the guardian angels of the nations.
They were the most illustrious and the most intimate servants of God. Some think that they are the seven Spirits mentioned here. But that cannot be; great as the angels were, they were still created beings.
The Spirit, as Beatus said, is one in name but sevenfold in virtues. If we think of the sevenfold gift of the Spirit, it is not difficult to think of the Spirit as seven Spirits, each giving great gifts to men. So it is suggested that the conception of the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit gave rise to the idea of the seven Spirits before the throne of God. In Hebrews we read of God giving "gifts of the Holy Spirit.
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So the idea here would be that the seven Spirits stand for the share of the Spirit which God gave to each of the seven Churches. It would mean that no Christian fellowship is left without the presence and the power and the illumination of the Spirit. It is a favourite idea of the Fourth Gospel that Jesus is a witness of the truth of God. Jesus said to Nicodemus: "Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen" John Jesus said to Pilate: "For this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth" John A witness is essentially a person who speaks from first-hand knowledge.
That is why Jesus is God's witness. He is uniquely the person with first-hand knowledge about God. The word for first-born is prototokos Greek It can have two meanings. If it is used in this sense, the reference must be to the Resurrection. Through his Resurrection Jesus gained a victory over death, which all who believe in him may share. When Paul speaks of Jesus as the first-born of all creation Colossians , he means that to him the first place of honour and glory belongs. If we take the word in this sense--and probably we should--it means that Jesus is Lord of the dead as he is Lord of the living.
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There is no part of the universe, in this world or in the world to come, and nothing in life or in death of which Jesus Christ is not Lord. There are two things to note here. In that story the devil took Jesus up into a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth and their glory and said: "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me" Matthew ; Luke It was the devil's claim that the kingdoms of the earth were delivered into his power Luke ; and it was his suggestion that, if Jesus would strike a bargain with him, he would give him a share in them.
The amazing thing is that what the devil promised Jesus--and could never have given him--Jesus won for himself by the suffering of the Cross and the power of the Resurrection. Not compromise with evil, but the unswerving loyalty and the unfailing love which accepted the Cross brought Jesus his universal lordship. The King James Version is in error here.
A Devotional – Revelation in Scripture
It reads: "Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood. But there is no doubt that the oldest and best Greek manuscripts read luein Greek Again "in his own blood" is a mistranslation. The word translated "in" is en Greek which, indeed, can mean "in"; but here it is a translation of the Hebrew word "be-" the e is pronounced very short as in "the" , which means "at the price of. What Jesus did, as John sees it, is that he freed us from our sins at the cost of his own blood.
This is exactly what he says later on when he speaks of those who were ransomed for God by the blood of the Lamb Revelation It is exactly what Paul meant when he spoke of us being redeemed from the curse of the Law Galatians ; and when he spoke of redeeming those who were under the Law Galatians In both cases the word used is exagorazein Greek , which means to buy out from, to pay the price of buying a person or a thing out of the possession of him who holds that person or thing in his power.
This is a very interesting and important correction of the King James Version. It is made in all the newer translations and it means that the well-worn phrases which speak of being "washed in the blood of the Lamb" have little scriptural authority.
These phrases convey a staggering picture; and it must come to many with a certain relief to know that what John said was that we are set free from our sins at the cost of the blood, that is, at the cost of the life of Jesus Christ. There is another very significant thing here. We must carefully note the tenses of the verbs. John says that Jesus loves us and set us free.
Loves is the present tense and it means that the love of God in Christ Jesus is something which is continuous. Set us free is the past tense, the Greek aorist, which tells of one act completed in the past and it means that in the one act of the Cross our liberation from sin was achieved. That is to say, what happened on the Cross was one availing act in time which was an expression of the continuous love of God. That is a quotation of Exodus "You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. Through him we may become the true sons of God; and, if we are sons of the King of kings, we are of lineage than which there can be none more royal.
The point is this. Under the old way, only the priest had the right of access to God. When a Jew entered the Temple, he could pass through the Court of the Gentiles, the Court of the Women, the Court of the Israelites--but there he must stop; into the Court of the Priests he could not go; no nearer the Holy of Holies could he come. In the vision of the great days to come Isaiah said: "You shall be called the priests of the Lord" Isaiah In that day every one of the people would be a priest and have access to God.
That is what John means; because of what Jesus Christ did access to the presence of God is now open to every man. There is a priesthood of all believers. We can come boldly to the throne of grace Hebrews , because for us there is a new and living way into the presence of God Hebrews From now on in almost every passage, we shall have to note John's continuous use of the Old Testament.
He was so soaked in the Old Testament that it was almost impossible for him to write a paragraph without quoting it. This is interesting and significant. John was living in a time when to be a Christian was an agonizing thing. He himself knew banishment and imprisonment and hard labour; and there were many who knew death in its most cruel forms. The best way to maintain courage and hope in such a situation was to remember that God had never failed in the past; and that his power was not grown less now.
In this passage John sets down the motto and the text of his whole book, his confidence in the triumphant return of Christ, which would rescue Christians in distress from the cruelty of their enemies. John takes as his picture of that return Daniel's vision of the four bestial powers who have held the world in their grip Daniel There was Babylon, the power that was like a lion with eagle's wings Daniel There was Persia, the power that was like a savage bear Daniel There was Greece, the power that was like a winged leopard Daniel There was Rome, a beast with iron teeth, beyond description Daniel But the day of these bestial empires was over, and the dominion was to be given to a gentle power like a son of man.
It is from that passage in Daniel there emerges the ever-recurring picture of the Son of Man coming on the clouds Mark ; Mark ; Matthew ; Matthew When we strip away the purely temporary imagery--we, for instance, no longer think of heaven as a localized place above the sky--we are left with the unchanging truth that the day will come when Jesus Christ will be Lord of all. In that hope have ever been the strength and the comfort of Christians for whom life was difficult and for whom faith meant death. To make this point John again quotes the Old Testament, from Zechariah which contains the words: "When they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born.
God gave his people a good shepherd; but the people in their disobedient folly killed him and took to themselves evil and self-seeking shepherds. But the day will come when in the grace of God they will bitterly repent, and in that day they will look on the good shepherd whom they pierced and will sorrowfully lament for him and for what they have done.
Study Guide for Revelation 1 by David Guzik
John takes that picture and applies it to Jesus. Men crucified him but the day will come when they will look on him again; and this time, he will not be a broken figure on a cross but a regal figure to whom universal dominion has been given. The first reference of these words is to the Jews and the Romans who actually crucified Jesus. But in every age all who sin crucify him again. The day will come when those who disregarded and those who opposed Jesus Christ will find him the Lord of the universe and the judge of their souls.
The passage closes with the two exclamations--"Even so. Nai Greek is the Greek and amen Greek is the Hebrew comapre Hebrew for a solemn affirmation--"Yes, indeed! So let it be! Alpha Greek 1 is the first letter and omega Greek the last of the Greek alphabet; and the phrase alpha Greek 1 to omega Greek indicates completeness. The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is aleph and the last is tau; and the Jews used the same kind of expression.
The Rabbis said that Adam transgressed the Law and Abraham kept it from aleph to tau. They said that God had blessed Israel from aleph to tau. This expression indicates that God is absolutely complete: he has in himself what H. Swete called "the boundless life which embraces all and transcends all. That is to say, he is the Eternal. He was before time began; he is now; and he will be when time ends.
He has been the God of all who have trusted in him; he is the God in whom at this present moment we can put our trust; and there can be no event and no time in the future which can separate us from him. The word for Almighty is pantokrator Greek which describes the one who has dominion over all things. The suggestive fact is that this word occurs in the New Testament seven times. Once it occurs in 2 Corinthians , in a quotation from the Old Testament, and all the six other instances are in the Revelation.
This word is distinctive of John. Think of the circumstances in which he was writing. The embattled might of Rome had risen up to crush the Christian Church. No empire had ever been able to withstand Rome; what possible chance against Rome had "the panting, huddled flock whose crime was Christ"? Humanly speaking the Christian Church had none; but if men thought that, they had left the most important factor of all out of the reckoning--God the pantokrator Greek , in the grip of whose hand were all things.
If men are in the hands of a God like that, nothing can pluck them away.
If behind the Christian Church there is a God like that, so long as she the Church is true to her Lord, nothing can destroy her. John introduces himself, not by any official title but as your brother and partner in tribulation. His right to speak was that he had come through all that those to whom he was writing were going through.
Ezekiel writes in his book: "Then I came to the exiles at Telabib, who dwelt by the river Chebar, and I sat there overwhelmed among them" Ezekiel Men will never listen to one who preaches endurance from the comfort of an easy chair, nor to one who preaches heroic courage to others while he himself has sought a prudent safety. It is the man who has gone through it who can help others who are going through it. As the Indians have it: "No man can criticize another man until he has walked for a day in his moccasins.
John puts three words together--tribulation, kingdom, steadfast endurance. Tribulation is thlipsis Greek Originally thlipsis meant simply pressure and could, for instance, describe the pressure of a great stone on a man's body. At first it was used quite literally, but in the New Testament it has come to describe that pressure of events which is persecution. Steadfast endurance is hupomone Greek Hupomone Greek does not describe the patience which simply passively submits to the tide of events; it describes the spirit of courage and conquest which leads to gallantry and transmutes even suffering into glory.
The situation of the Christians was this. They were in thlipsis Greek and, as John saw it, in the midst of the terrible events which preceded the end of the world. They were looking towards basileia Greek , the kingdom, into which they desired to enter and on which they had set their hearts. There was only one way from thlipsis Greek to basileia Greek , from affliction to glory, and that was through hupomone Greek , conquering endurance.
Jesus said: "He who endures to the end will be saved" Matthew Paul told his people: "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" Acts In Second Timothy we read: "If we endure, we shall also reign with him" 2 Timothy The way to the kingdom is the way of endurance. But before we leave this passage we must note one thing. That endurance is to be found in Christ. He himself endured to the end and he is able to enable those who walk with him to achieve the same endurance and to reach the same goal. John tells us that, when the visions of the Revelation came to him, he was in Patmos.
It was the unanimous tradition of the early church that he was banished to Patmos in the reign of Domitian. Jerome says that John was banished in the fourteenth year after Nero and liberated on the death of Domitian Concerning Illustrious Men, 9. This would mean that he was banished to Patmos about A. Patmos, a barren rocky little island belonging to a group of islands called the Sporades, is ten miles long by five miles wide. It is crescent-shaped, with the horns Of the crescent pointing to the east.
Its shape makes it a good natural harbour. It lies forty miles off the coast of Asia Minor and it was important because it was the last haven on the voyage from Rome to Ephesus and the first in the reverse direction. Banishment to a remote island was a common form of Roman punishment. It was usually meted out to political prisoners and, as far as they were concerned, there were worse punishments. Such banishment involved the loss of civil rights and all property except enough for a bare existence.
People so banished were not personally ill-treated and were not confined in prison on their island but free to move within its narrow limits. Such would be banishment for a political prisoner; but it would be very different for John. He was a leader of the Christians and Christians were criminals. The wonder is that he was not executed straight away. Banishment for him would involve hard labour in the quarries.
Sir William Ramsay says his banishment would be "preceded by scourging, marked by perpetual fetters, scanty clothing, insufficient food, sleep on the bare ground, a dark prison, work under the lash of the military overseer. Patmos left its mark on John's writing. To this day they show visitors a cave in a cliff overlooking the sea, where, they say, the Revelation was written.
There are magnificent views of the sea from Patmos, and, as Strahan says, the Revelation is full of "the sights and the sounds of the infinite sea. Strahan writes: "Nowhere is 'the voice of many waters' more musical than in Patmos; nowhere does the rising and setting sun make a more splendid 'sea of glass mingled with fire'; yet nowhere is the longing more natural that the separating sea should be no more.
It was to all the hardships and pain and weariness of banishment and hard labour on Patmos that John went for the sake of the word given by God So far as the Greek goes, that phrase is capable of three interpretations. It could mean that John went to Patmos to preach the word of God. After you log in your content will be available in your library.
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